PLATTSBURGH — The Eagles are headed back to the Class D final four.
Chazy (16-2-1) defeated Chateaugay, 3-1, in Saturday’s NYSPHSAA Class D girls’ soccer regional title game to move on to the state semifinals in Cortland.
The Bulldogs (18-1-1) hadn’t lost a match all year, but Chateaugay was playing off of one day’s rest and their fourth game in eight days.
“It’s just tough to come back,” Bulldogs coach Steven Lang said. “But I think the girls ran well and played well, but still having a game before state qualifiers (hurt us).”
The Eagles struck first, as Amber Polomsky played a ball over the top of the Chateaugay defense where teammate Rachel Pombrio was able to run on to and get a shot off on Bulldogs keeper Kennedy Boyea.
Boyea made the initial save, however, Pombrio never gave up on the play and was able to cut off an attempted clear from a Chateaugay defender and knock the ball into the back of the net.
“We wanted to set the momentum,” Pombrio said. “They play more of kick and run and we knew if we went right to (the ball) we’d be able to score first.”
“We do a lot of possession during practice,” Polomsky added. “I knew if I could get it to either Rachel or Hannah (Laurin) on their feet I knew they could put it in.”
Chazy held the lead at halftime, but the Bulldogs led 6-5 on shots on goal.
However it was Chateaugay that scored first in the second half.
At the 7:57 mark, Haylee Tower played a ball over to an open Katie Beach on the left wing. Beach was able to muscle past two Eagle defenders and keep with the play and eventually put a shot past Chazy keeper Logan Baker.
“We’ve been down before and we’ve been tied before. We know we can come back with heart,” Eagles coach Karin Sherman said. “We just kept pushing and pushing, and that’s what we strive for.”
With the equalizer, Chazy’s adrenaline seemed to kick in as they kept the pressure on the Bulldogs’ defense. And it worked.
Just past the 15 minute mark, Hannah Laurin got a head on Polomsky’s corner kick and flicked the ball toward the net. A Chateaugay defender attempted to clear the shot, but was unsuccessful and the ball deflected into the goal.
“We have been working on that all year,” Polomsky said. “Normally teams get down, but we wanted to keep up the momentum and get it back.”
The Bulldogs came storming back one minute later and nearly tied the game at two.
A scrum in the middle of the Eagles’ box ended with the ball in the back of the net, but a late whistle came in just after the shot and Chateaugay was called offsides.
“Having the goal called back was a heartbreaker,” Lang said. “I thought it was tied 2-2.”
With five minutes left in the match the Eagles’ Bailey Pepper got a pass off to Pombrio who was able to bury a shot in the back right corner of the net where Boyea had no chance to get a hand on it.
“I have a problem with hitting it to the keeper, so I kind of tried to aim it towards the corner,” Pombrio said.
With the goal, the Eagles knew they were a lock to head to the final four, a place they looked to get to since the start of their season.
“I looked back at my sweeper (Olivia Blais) and said, ‘we got this’,” Polomsky said. “We wanted this so bad, it’s just a great feeling to work hard and get it.”
“We had a lot of heart,” Sherman said. “We thought of not making it last year and that didn’t taste too good. We really wanted to make it back this year.”
Although Chateaugay’s season was cut short, Lang was happy with his team’s performance all year.
“I thought we played well, but Chazy defenders did well,” Lang said. “I’m proud of the girls and happy with the attitude and effort we showed. It’s been a great year for the Bulldogs. I just want to thank all of our fans that supported us all year.”
As for the Eagles, emotions ran high after their win. They were excited about the opportunity to play for a chance at the state championship, especially after a disappointing end to their season last year.
“That has been on our minds since Aug. 9 and last year was a reality check,” Polomsky said. “We’ve worked our butts off from that point on and it’s just good redemption that we needed.”
“I still kind of want to cry, I’m so happy we won it,” Pombrio added. “Last year we lost, but it feels good to go back and claim the title.”
Boyea finished the game with nine saves for the Bulldogs, while Baker ended the day with eight saves for the Eagles.
Chazy will head to Cortland Nov. 16 and face Section V ‘s Jasper-Troupsburg to play in the NYSPHSAA Class D semifinals. If they win Saturday, they will play the championship game on Sunday, Nov. 17.
Chazy 3, Chateaugay 1
Chateaugay 0 1 — 1
Chazy 1 2 — 3
First half- 1, Chazy, Pombrio (Polomsky) 31:20.
Second half- 1, Chat, Beach (Tower) 7:57. 2, Chazy, Laurin (Polomsky) 15:37. 3, Chazy, Pombrio (Pepper) 37:35.
Shots: Chateaugay 8. Chazy 14.
Saves: Boyea, Chat, 9. Baker, 8.