PLATTSBURGH — To say the Chateaugay girls’ soccer team is excited about this weekend’s NYSPHSAA Class D Final Four is an understatement.
“The girls are so excited that they’re bubbly,” joked Chateaugay coach Steve Lang on Wednesday night. “You can’t fault them for that, but I’m going to have to tighten things up a little at our next practice.”
The Section X-champion Bulldogs (20-0), who are unbeaten and now ranked No. 1 in the state in Class D, opposes Section XI winner Smithtown-Christian today at 2:30 p.m. in the state semifinals at Tompkins-Cortland Community College.
Smithtown-Christian (9-4-1), ranked fifth in the state, got second-half goals by Gennifer Vandeventer, on a penalty kick, and Rebecca Giancana in a 2-1 win over Livingston Manor in regional play and then moved into the Final Four with a 3-1 victory over Loudonville Christian on two goals by Vandeventer and one by Christy Clinton.
“I was able to watch them play against Loudonville Christian and that will help us,” said Lang. “They have one very strong player (Vandeventer) and a couple of other dangerous ones up front. We match up fairly well against them and are looking forward to the game.
“They play a completely different style than we do and our style might surprise them a little. They don’t sub very often at all, but they seemed in good shape. We do, however, want to pick up the pace.”
Today’s other Final Four semifinal will have Section III’s Poland taking on Section V’s Jasper-Troupsburg at 2:30 p.m. at Homer High School. The Class D championship game is set for 1 p.m. at SUNY Cortland on Sunday.
Five of Chateaugay’s wins this season were one-goal victories, including last Saturday’s 1-0 overtime regional win over Section VII champion Elizabethtown-Lewis at Potsdam High School. Hannah Cook scored the game-winning goal, with Alexis Beach picking up the assist.
“We’ve had some lopsided games this season, but a lot of pressure games as well,” said Lang. “Some of those 3-1 games we played were also very good.
“Our defense has played well as a unit — we’ve given up seven goals in 20 games. The girls keep their eye on one another and communicate well. We will have to do a good job marking Vendeventer because she has as strong a foot I’ve ever seen.
“Our front line has been scoring goals and clicking, although I would like to see us finish on more of our chances.”
Chateaugay will have some experience on its side.
“Out of the 19 players on our roster, nine are seniors,” said Lang. “We’ve won four Section X titles in a row, only to lose to Chazy until this year when we were able to beat Elizabethtown-Lewis.
“We play a lot of players — that’s our style. Our game agsinst Smithtown-Christian is on turf and we’ve played well on turf fields. We have good team speed. We want to control the ball and use our passing skills.”
Up front, the Bulldogs will be counting on Courtney Boyea, Alexis Beach, Cook and Katie Beach.
The midfield will be handled by Stephanie Whyte, Danielle Charland, Taylor Winch and Morgan Legacy.
Key players on defense include keeper Makayla Fleury, and backs Abby Barnes, Sarah Gardiner and Lindsey Matthews.
“We have other players who also play a lot,” said Lang.
This will mark Chateaugay’s second trip to the Final Four.
“We went to the Final Four in 2004,” said Lang. “We beat Willsboro, 3-1, in the regionals and then Arkport, 1-0, in the state semifinals. We lost to McGraw, 1-0, in the state championship game.”
The Bulldogs are hoping to take it a step farther this season.