MIDDLETOWN — Rob McAuliffe now stands alone.
McAuliffe became the first NYSPHSAA boys’ soccer coach to win seven state championships when his Chazy Eagles and Jasper-Troupsburg Wildcats battled to a grueling 1-all overtime tie in Sunday’s Class D championship game at Middletown High School.
After playing 110 minutes of soccer, the two teams were declared co-state champions.
In typical fashion, McAuliffe would only talk about his players.
“I can’t be any prouder of this team,” he said. “There were so many reasons for us not to be here this season. But this group was determined to be state champions.
“I’ve said all along that this isn’t the most talented team we’ve had at Chazy. But I will always remember this group because I’ve never coached a team more determined and who worked this hard.”
Chazy standout Josh Barriere, who scored the Eagles’ lone goal Sunday, was more than willing to talk about his coach.
“Coach never gives up on our team and is always encouraging us,” Barriere said. “He’s very thoughtful and unselfish. He never takes credit for how well we do and it’s all about the players with him.
“He is irreplaceable to our program and we couldn’t do this without him.”
The Eagles (17-1-4) left everything on the field Sunday.
Chazy had to overcome fatigue and injuries in overtime to hold on against a very good Jasper-Troupsburg team. The Section V champions pressured Chazy to the end.
The Eagles, however, nearly had a golden chance to win it with four minutes left in the first 15-minute overtime when Zach Brothers, who was chosen as Chazy’s Most Valuable Player, bobbed and weaved his way through the Wildcat defense into the box only to be hauled down. The officials, however, chose not to blow the whistle for a penalty kick.
That was to be Chazy’s only opportunity as the Eagles could not get a shot on goal over the final 30 minutes of the contest.
“We had some chances to win the game in regulation when we hit the crossbar,” McAuliffe said. “And also in overtime when the penalty kick was not called.
“But we had players injured and we didn’t have much left in the tank in overtime.”
Neither team scored in the first half. The best chance for the Eagles came when Wildcats’ keeper Dalton Cady tapped a Barriere shot over the crossbar.
Jasper-Troupsburg was the first team to break through at the 11:44 mark of the second half. Pierce Gunn got possession of the ball in transition, brought it down the right side and fed a perfect cross in front to Tyler Van Skiver.
The Eagles, however, responded and started playing some of their best soccer of the game after falling behind.
Hayden Guay took a corner kick and Alec LaPierre put a shot on net that Cady got his fingertips on to deflect off the crossbar.
Chazy was then able to square it up at the 17:54 mark off another Guay corner kick. This time there was a big scramble in front and Barriere was able to score.
The Eagles weren’t done and nearly grabbed the lead later on when Dylan Garrow, who scored the game-winning goal the day before in a 2-1 Final Four semifinal win over Fort Ann, got behind the Wildcats’ defense and sent the ball off the crossbar from straight on.
“We played hard today and wanted the state championship to ourselves,” Guay said. “But it is what it is and we’re co-champions.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever played in two games back-to-back that were as difficult as these two. All the teams in the (Class) D Final Four played well and played hard.”
“Overall, it was a pretty evenly played game,” McAuliffe said. “But we have 20 boys who were determined not to go home without a state championship.”
The Section VII and defending state champions held the edge in shots until the overtime as Jasper-Troupsburg finished with a 12-8 overall edge.
Trent Blais, wo played well in net the day before, made saves on two of the three shots he had come his way before leaving the game with an injury. Austin Gravelle was up to the task in relief, stopping all eight shots.
It was a fitting end of the weekend and a just result for the Eagles and Wildcats. Jasper-Troupsburg had to go into penalty kicks the day before to eliminate Section III winner Watertown-Immaculate Heart Central.
Chazy 1, Jasper-Troupsburg 1, OT
Chazy 0 1 0 0 — 1
Jasper-Troupsburg 0 1 0 0 — 1
Second half- 1, J-T, Van Skiver (Gunn), 11:44. 2, C, Barriere, 17:54.
Shots: Jasper-Troupsburg 12, Chazy 8.
Saves: Cady, J-T, 5. Blais (2), Gravelle (8), C, 10.