CHAZY — Fresh off a 2-1 win to claim the Section VII Class B championship, the Plattsburgh Hornets face Section X champion Potsdam in today’s regional matchup at 6 p.m. in Chazy.
Coming into the season, the Hornets had two goals: win the sectional championship and make it to the Final Four. Plattsburgh met the first goal after reeling off three postseason wins as the fourth-seeded team, including a comeback win against top-seeded Beekmantown in the semifinals.
“We’re obviously happy with what we’ve done so far,” Plattsburgh coach Tim Mulligan said. “The playoffs have been good for us. Coming into the postseason, our girls weren’t really happy with how the regular season went, but they flipped a switch and turned it on.”
Lack of a big regular-season win irked the Hornets entering the playoffs, Mulligan said. Plattsburgh finished with a 9-4-2 overall record, including a 5-0 start. The Hornets tied and lost both Beekmantown and Saranac and were swept by Northeastern Clinton. Division wins against Peru, AuSable Valley and Saranac Lake boosted morale, though.
“At the beginning of the playoffs, I reminded everyone that the postseason is a new season,” Mulligan said.
Despite winning just one of its final five regular-season games, Plattsburgh regrouped and knocked off Saranac Lake, Beekmantown and Saranac in the sectional playoffs. The Hornets outscored their playoff opponents 9-4, including a 4-1 win against Saranac Lake in the quarterfinals.
Marle Curle led the team with 10 regular-season goals and added three more in the playoffs, including a two-goal performance against Saranac Lake. Then in the semifinals, Madison Trombley netted two goals as the Hornets rallied for a 3-2 win. During the championship game, Brooke Knight registered two scores as the team rolled to a title.
“We have weapons and that helps us a lot,” Mulligan said. “Who knows? Maybe someone else will step up against Potsdam.”
Combating Potsdam in net will be keeper Karlie Neale. Neale has four shutouts this year and has made seven saves in the postseason, including four stops against Beekmantown.
Neale and the rest of the Hornet squad will try to stifle a Sandstoner offense that went on a playoff run of their own. Postdam entered its playoffs as the top seed and knocked off Salmon River 4-0 and then beat Gouverneur 2-1 for the championship. Nette Rishe, Ally Miller and Abby Gruneisen all tallied goals for the Sandstoners against Salmon River. Rishe and Abby Gagnon then scored in the title game.
Kalie Grant and Rishe both lead Potsdam with seven goals while Breanna Sapp and Jenny Tardelli have split duties in net.
To counter Potsdam, the Hornets will need to just continue playing their game, Mulligan said. This is Plattsburgh’s first trip to the regional round since 2009 and Mulligan said this team has what it takes to move on.
“We’re getting more opportunities and scoring chances, now we just need to finish,” Mulligan said. “Our girls are playing with more confidence and that can go a long way.”
Marle Curle (13-5-31)
Brooke Knight (9-5-23)
Madison Trombley (5-3-13)
Hailey McLaughlin (2-2-6)
Adrienne Nye (3-0-6)
Karlie Neale (95 saves, 4 shutouts)
AuSable Valley vs. Canton
PLATTSBURGH— After a three-goal explosion in the second half against Northern Adirondack, AuSable Valley cruised to a 3-0 win for the Section VII Class C championship. The game, like the season, was a product of strategic adjustments. AuSable Valley will now play Section X opponent Canton in today’s regional game at 6 p.m. in Plattsburgh.
“We have to be very intense,” AuSable Valley coach Bruce Bourgeois said. “We need to be a first-half team as well as a second-half team. Against NAC, we were a second-half team. Canton’s a team we don’t know much about, so we can’t wait around to see what happens.”
The Patriots are an unusual team, in that they have actually been outscored by their opponents 35-37, but have still found ways to win. After a 1-4 start, the team kept pace against bigger schools and picked up regular-season wins against Saranac Lake, Lake Placid and Peru. As of late, AuSable Valley has keyed in and executed the important aspects of the game, Bourgeois said.
In their three playoff games, the Patriots have outscored their opponents 16-2, including back-to-back shutouts in the semifinals and finals. A 7-2 regular-season finale win against Seton Catholic boosted AuSable Valley into the postseason mindset.
“Right now, we’re doing everything right,” Bourgeois said. “If everyone continues to do their job, it gives us a good shot.”
The Patriots will need to stifle a Canton offense led by Emily Rexford’s eight goals and 12 assists. Kali Frank, Tori Dailey and Lauren Smith have combined for 17 tallies. Keeper Katie Clemmer pitched a four-save shutout in the Bears’ 2-0 win against Tupper Lake for the championship. Canton has not allowed a goal in six straight games. The Bears were last scored upon Oct. 24 against Malone.
Looking to buck the Canton trend are Taylor Saltus and Rachel Knapp who lead the Patriots in goal scoring while Bryce Douglass has backstopped the team through the playoffs. Saltus has four postseason goals, including two in the title game and Douglass hasn’t allowed a goal in two games.
“I’m confident with our girls at this point,” Bourgeois said. “We need to be very focused, have good passing and just finish chances. Our front line and midfielders need to continue their stellar cross passes and that will open up more opportunities.”
AuSable Valley (7-11)
Taylor Saltus (7-4-18)
Rachel Knapp (6-5-17)
Meghan Strong (5-4-14)
Maddy Rondeau (2-7-11)
Bryce Douglass (47 saves, 2.5 shutouts)
Nichole Pulsifer (57 saves, 1.5 shutouts)