POTSDAM – It was a battle worthy of state-ranked competition.
The top two teams from the NAC East and West Divisions, Chateaugay and Heuvelton, met for the Section 10 Class D championship at Potsdam High School on Thursday, with the Bulldogs from the East emerging from the frey with a 1-0 double overtime victory to maintain their unbeaten record and advance to state tournament action at 1 p.m. on Saturday. It is the fifth consecutive Class D title for Chateaugaywhich will face a familiar foe in the Chazy Eagles, at Plattsburgh High at 1 p.m..
Chateaugay (18-0-1), ranked second in the latest NYS Sportswriters Association Class D poll, scored the games lone goal just 47 seconds into the second 10-minute overtime session to hand the Heuvelton Bulldogs (16-1-2) their first loss of the 2013 fall season.
Senior standout Hannah Cook, who was named the East Divisions Offensive MVP for a second consecutive season, scored the games only goal from just inside the 18 to sustain the unbeaten run.
That was one heck of a battle, stated Chateaugay coach Steve Lang, who faced Heuvelton coach Gus Burns for the second time this season. The two squads battled to a nonleague 0-0 double OT deadlock on Sept. 28, the only non-victory on the Chateaugay record this season.
We played close to 200 minutes of soccer this season against Chateaugay and just one goal was scored. We had some pushes at the end but we just didnt finish them. But I have a lot of respect for that Chateaugay progam. Theyre just a good team, said Heuvelton coach Gus Burns.
As the game progressed, I liked our chances. We knew it was going to be a tight game. After the first 10 minutes of overtime, Coach Lang and I shook hands. We both knew that this game was pretty equal. They had a better of the play first half and we had some great chances in the second half. I think one of our defenders might have got a touch on that goal and redirected it. Our defense played so well tonight against a very dangerous offensive team. Im proud of the season we had.
The rematch mirrored the first meeting, with Chateaugay outshooting the West Division champs, but failing to solve the Heuvelton defense and goalie Paige McCormick (13 saves).
But the Bulldogs of the East finally solved the task.
Katie Beach opened up the scoring rush with a steal on the far side of the field, beat a Heuvelton player up the side line and slid a pass over to Cook, who had moved up to the front line from her center midfield position. Cook dribbled to the middle of the field against heavy pressure from the Heuvelton defenders, stopped on a dime, and as the flow continued to move past her, she fired a low liner back inside the post much to the delight of her teammates, coaches and fans in the stands.
Katie did a great job stealing the ball and getting it to me, recalled Cook. As I moved to the middle, I saw their goalie (McCormick) move also, so I stopped and tried for the inside of the post behind her. I was so happy when the ball went in.
All game long, our shots were right at her and we needed to do something different, and we did, added the jubilant CCS senior, who now gets the chance to earn a return trip to the Class D final four, where Poland ended the season for CCS last year in overtime.
CCS opened up the game the way they ended it, with pressure on the Heuvelton defense and its goalie. But McCormick was up to the challenge and denied the East Division Bulldogs time and time again, as Chateaugay pounded eight first-half shots at her.
The West Division Bulldogs also had their chances during regulation. The best coming on corner kicks by sweeper Maddie St. Pierre. One drive went into the middle of the crease where CCS goalie Kennedy Boyea (3 saves) deflected the kick. Neither team could gain control of the sphere in the ensuing scrum, with the Heuvelton team finally getting a shot off, but it went high over the crossbar.
With just 39 seconds left in regulation, CCS freshman Rachel Young let loose a left-footed blast from outside the 18, with the ball smacking loudly off the center of the crossbar back into play. The ensuing rebound was also sent high over the top of the goal.
This was two state-ranked teams going right at each other, said Lang. Both teams played some very aggressive defense and we were fortunate to come away with the win.
NOTE: Journal sportswriter Steven Heaton contributed to this report.