CORTLAND – They reached the highs and the lows of the fall sports season – all in less than 24 hours.
The dream of a state championship for Chateaugay fell one goal short at SUNY Cortland on Sunday, as the CCS girls varsity soccer team suffered its only setback of the 2012 fall season to Poland Central.
Playing in their first New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class D championship game since 2004, the previously unbeaten lady Bulldogs fell 3-2 in overtime to the Poland Tornadoes and should finish the fall season as the second-ranked team in the state. The loss drops the CCS girls to 21-1-0 for the season while Poland claims the Class D crown with a 23-1-0 mark.
It was not the dominating game that the Bulldogs had on Saturday in the semifinal win against Section 11 champion Smithtown Christian. In fact, it was the opposite, as Poland had several offensive chances while the Bulldogs attempted to disrupt the Toronadoes midfield-control game.
Neither team solved the others goalie during the opening half, with the two state-ranked squads battling to a 0-0 draw at the break.
Poland struck first with standout Mikayla Blumenstock netting an unassisted marker, but the resilient Bulldogs came right back – just five seconds later – and tied the game as Katie Beach converted a pass from sister Alexis.
The two squads battled back and forth, with CCS countering the Poland attack with one of its own to seemingly take the lead, but the ball failed to cross the goal line. Hannah Cook, who was named the games most outstanding player, took a sharp-angled shot from the wing that clanked off both the post and crossbar and bounced back to Poland goalie Green, who controlled the ball without any further damage with 28 minutes remaining in regulation.
Poland took its second one-goal lead with 9:52 remaining in the second half as Tara Siegle fired a long, cross-corner shot from 25 yards out that was just out of the CCS keepers reach.
With the game clock under two minutes, Chateaugay put forth a valiant effort and struck for the final time in regulation, sending the title contest into a pair of 10-minute OT sessions.
Alexis Beach took a clearing pass down the right wing, beating a pair of Poland defenders and drawing a third toward her. Beach calmly slid the ball to the front of the goal where Brianna Cook was waiting. Cook turned, found herself all alone against the Poland keeper and had little trouble putting the sphere into the top corner to extend the season by 20 minutes for both teams.
Both squads battled fiercely during the first OT session, with the Tornadoes controlling the play at midfield, but getting only a couple of shots off against the aggressive Chateaugay defenders.
Midway through the first OT period, a decisive blow was dealt to the Bulldogs as one of their players was issued a yellow card and immediately received a red card, which left the CCS squad finishing the game with 10 players on the field.
Chateaugay continued to stay even with Poland for the remainder of the first overtime, but with the Bulldogs one player short, the Tornadoes took to the offensive and blasted home the game winner with 5:01 left in the season.
Siegle lifted a floater which found the underside of the crossbar to hand the Class D crown to the Poland contingent, sending the CCS girls back home with the runner-up plaque.
This is a tough one to take, stated Coach Steve Lang. Its tough playing a team like Poland with just 10 players, but the girls gave it their all.
We are all obviously disappointed with the loss, but these girls have nothing to hang their heads about, continued Lang. We had a tremendous season.
I am so proud of this team. We tried to win the game in overtime, but it just wasnt meant to be, Lang added. The girls are disappointed right now, as am I, but in time, when we look back, they will realize just what they accomplished this year.
This was a very talented group of girls. They worked hard from the beginning of the season right straight through to the end, summarized the coach. It was a pleasure making this run toward a state title with them.