PLATTSBURGH — The Chazy boys’ soccer team did not achieve its ultimate goal last season.
The Section VII-champion Eagles fell, 1-0, to Section III’s Hamilton in the NYSPHSAA Class D championship game at Middletown High School.
This year, the Eagles have been on a relentless mission, destroying everything in their path thus far, looking to make amends for the disappointing end to last season.
“Last year, we had a great season,” said Chazy coach Rob McAuliffe. “But, it still ended in disappointment for us.
“We’re pretty focused on the weekend — we know what happened last year, but we’re more focused on playing well now. We want to come home with two wins.”
Next up for the unbeaten Eagles (19-0-1) is Section III’s Poland (17-0-4), which is also unbeaten, in today’s 12:30 p.m. Final Four semifinals at Middletown’s Twin Towers Grass Field.
The first semifinal of the day has Section II’s Fort Ann versus Section V’s Jasper-Troupsburg at 9:15 a.m. The Class D state championship game will be played at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday on the Faller Stadium Turf Field.
Chazy and Poland are currently ranked No. 1 and 2, respectively, in the state in Class D.
The Eagles and Tornadoes aren’t strangers to one another. Chazy recorded a 3-0 victory over Poland to win the state championship in 2005 and beat them, 1-0, in 2007 for another state title.
“They have a program similar to ours,” said McAuliffe. “They have a good soccer program and get very good support from their community.
“We know it’s going to be a difficult weekend for us. Poland has a very big team, especially up front. My guys in the back will have their hands full.”
The lone blemish for the Eagles thus far was a 1-all overtime tie with Class B Beekmantown in their second game of the season on September 1. Since then, Chazy has beaten everyone it has played by as least three goals.
The Eagles hold a 122-9 scoring advantage over their opponents, including a 31-2 edge over four foes in post-season play.
“The numbers speak for themselves,” said McAuliffe. “We haven’t had many close games. I know some people will say we haven’t gotten tested enough, but my players will still be prepared.
“We have a lot of players very experienced at this level and 25 players on the roster who know what they have to do. “We’re not going to be in awe of the situation and we’re not going to be just happy to be there.”
Brandon Laurin leads the offensive attack with an eye-popping 104 points (46 goals, 12 assists).
Laurin scored three goals and assisted on another this past Saturday in the Eagles’ 7-0 rout of Section X champion Heuvelton at Potsdam High School.
Chazy has eight players with 13 points or more, including Nathan Reynolds (20-16-56), Josh Barriere (15-15-45), Derek Drake (13-16-42), David Poitras (7-2-16), Hayden Guay (5-6-16), Nelson Pelton (3-8-14) and Craig Botten (3-7-13).
“We’ve played well all season,” said McAuliffe.
Poland advanced to the Final Four semifinals by outlasting Section IV’s Marathon in penalty kicks. Mark Hennings scored for the Tornadoes in regulation before the game went into the books as a 1-all tie. Poland then recorded a 5-3 victory in penalty kicks, with Marathon’s fifth shooter not needed.
The Tornadoes won the Section III title with 4-0 victory over Old Forge as Mark Shelhammer scored two goals, while Ross Agen and Daniel Borner added one each.
Poland, in its previous game, posted a 3-2 overtime win over Watertown I.H.C., which upset Hamilton, 2-1, the game before.
“We know it’s going to be a very difficult game for us against Poland,” said McAuliffe. “The field is a little smaller than I would like, It’s probably going to be a one-goal or a two-goal game.
“We will need to defend well and finish the opportunities we are given.”
Under McAuliffe, this will be Chazy’s 13th trip to the Class D Final Four. The Eagles have won five state championships — 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010.