MIDDLETOWN — Make no mistake, Chazy played like the better team Saturday.
But it took one of the strangest goals imaginable to propel the Eagles into today’s NYSPHSAA Class D boys’ soccer championship game.
Brandon Laurin’s goal with 11:56 gone in the second half lifted top-ranked Chazy over second-ranked Poland, 1-0, in a battle of unbeatens at Middletown High School’s Twin Towers Grass Field.
The Eagles (20-0-1) will play Section II’s Fort Ann, a 2-0 winner over Jasper-Troupsburg, in today’s 12:30 p.m. title game at the Faller Turf Field.
Section III’s Poland ended its season at 17-1-4.
After dominating opponents throughout the season, the question was how the Eagles would fare in a close game. Chazy passed the test Saturday, playing against a very physical opponent on a smaller field.
“We’ll take it,” said Chazy coach Rob McAuliffe. “We haven’t had many close games this year. The guys had to fight and battle for 80 minutes today.
“We’re happy with the win and we have a few hours to enjoy it. But we need to win tomorrow.”
Chazy held the edge in play with a 13-3 advantage in shots. The Eagles, however, couldn’t break through until the second half when Laurin never saw his game-winning kick go into the net.
The Eagles were awarded a free kick from 20 yards out after Nathan Reynolds was taken down and Laurin sent it straight on net to Poland keeper Mitch Jones, who made what appeared to be an easy save. But when Jones tried to tuck the ball away like a football player, it slipped out of his hands, behind him and into the net.
“I wanted to put the ball on net, but it was an awful hit,” said Laurin. “I turned right away because I wasn’t happy with the shot. I didn’t see it go into the net, but I’m happy it did.”