They Eagles are back and they’re looking for another title.
Chazy will make its fourth appearance in five years at the NYSPHSAA Class D girls soccer final four Saturday in Cortland.
The Eagles’ season ended disappointingly last year, with a sectional final loss to Elizabethtown-Lewis. This year, they’ve already claimed the Section VII crown, but last year’s loss still weighs heavily on their shoulders.
“Losing last year didn’t feel great,” Chazy coach Karin Sherman said. “It can be so easy (for our season) to be taken away from us. Every school in New York State tries to make it here, and our goal is to become New York Class D champions.”
The Eagles defeated Section X’s Chateaugay 3-1 at Plattsburgh High School in the regional finals to move on to the final four. Saturday, Chazy will look to get past Section V’s Jasper-Troupsburg and move on to the championship Sunday.
The Wildcats are led offensively by Kaitlin Huyler, who has accumulated a team-leading, 28 goals along with 14 assists this season. Not far behind in goals is teammate Kendall Austin with 27.
In goal for Jasper-Troupsburg is Elizabeth Groff, who has made 46 saves this season with a save percentage of 88.5.
Sherman said she and her staff have done a thorough scouting report on the Wildcats and are aware of their offensive prowess, but they aren’t emphasizing the opposition too much this week.
“We don’t dwell on what the other team does,” Sherman said. “We try to focus on making them play with us. We know some of the strengths they have, but I don’t focus on it at practice.”
“It’s just a mental game,” Sherman added. “We focus on feet to feet, and transitioning the game to our style of play.”
The same mentality is shared amongst the players, who have an idea of the Wildcats’ strengths but aren’t worrying too much about what Jasper-Troupsburg will be doing on the field.
“We know how to defend these people; we just have to play our game,” junior Rachel Pombrio added. “We have to play with everything we have.”
The Eagles are led by their four veteran captains, Pombrio, Logan Baker, Amber Polomsky and Kinnan Latremore.
“It’s great to have girls who know what it’s about, and they’re great leaders,” Sherman said. “Every year I feel like they want to make it, but this year I truly feel for us, we have the heart and we know what our mission is.”
Baker, Chazy’s senior leader in net, has recorded eight shutouts thus far and is looking to end her career on top.
“It makes me want it even more,” Baker said. “We’re pumped, (we just have to) give it our all.”
Pombrio leads the team offensively with 21 goals and 14 assists this season. With all the excitement of preparing for the weekend, Pombrio isn’t taking anything for granted.
“Nothing is guaranteed,” Pombrio said. “We have to play with everything we have.”
Only a junior, Latremore already has two state titles under her belt, as she was part of the 2010 and 2011 championship teams. However, the two state championship titles aren’t what’s on Latremore’s mind. Instead, it’s the early exit from playoff contention last season.
“We still want revenge right now,” Latremore said. “We’re excited, but we can’t take any game lightly. It might be the last we play.”
Polomsky played a huge role in the Eagles’ victory over Chateaugay last weekend, as she assisted on two of Chazy’s go-ahead goals. Her senior leadership has been vital all season for the Eagles, and she is determined to end her career as a state champion.
“It’s bittersweet, especially after last year,” Polomsky said. “We just have to stay focused, play our game and just remember what we’re going there for.”
As for Sherman, she knows what it takes to win. She has coached four state final teams, and although all four obviously had talent, she admitted this year’s squad has been one of the closest groups she has ever been part of.
“They know how I feel about them,” Sherman added. “We’re family; we’re there for each other. It’s unbelievable the heart we have.”
“I think last year we had the skill but not the heart. Every single girl on this team wants it so bad,” Polomsky added. “It’s honestly one of the greatest feelings, having our family so supportive.”
The Eagles intend to depart for Cortland today. With the game soon approaching, Sherman will try to have her girls as loose as possible.
“It’s a big weekend. Some teams can get nervous, but coach is keeping us relaxed,” Polomsky said.
“It’s going to be mental for us, but once we get our momentum, I strive for them to let it go and play, play, play,” Sherman added. “I think we try to do everything five minutes at a time, play with our heart and if we make a mistake we keep on working, move on and shake it off.”
For updates from this weekend's girls' soccer games, follow @RyanHayner on Twitter.