October 31, 2013

Bobcats claim Class C girls' title


PLATTSBURGH — The Northern Adirondack girls’ soccer players are put in pressure situations in practice all the time, so when they’ve faced them during the Section VII playoffs, the Bobcats have been unflappable.

After winning a semifinal contest in penalty kicks, Northern Adirondack pulled out a 1-0 victory over Seton Catholic Wednesday at Plattsburgh High School to claim the Class C championship.

“We were trying to hold off at the end. It was getting a little shaky down there, but we ended up holding them off,” said Rachael Venne, who scored the game’s only goal. “And we’re just so happy as a team. This is just incredible.”

The Bobcats (13-3-2) advance to the NYSPHSAA regionals Nov. 5 at a Section X site to be announced.

“Honestly, they’ve been able to handle the pressure real well,” Northern Adirondack coach Sharon Relation said. “I put them in situations in practice. ‘They’re up 1-0. The weight of the world’s on your shoulders. Grandma and Grandpa, everybody’s leaving the stands; you let us down.’

“Is it right? I don’t know. They seem to be resilient in games like this. We work on that mental toughness.”

The first half featured back-and-forth action. Shots were even at 1-1 midway through, and then both teams started to create more opportunities. Seton Catholic had two great shots that slipped just wide of the net.

Then Venne put No. 1 seed Northern Adirondack ahead on a second-chance opportunity out front, sending the ball into the left side past a diving Kelli Ryan. Elle Warick earned the assist.

The Bobcats controlled play for most of the second half, outshooting the second-seeded Knights 6-1 in the first 20 minutes. They had a 2-on-1 with about 16 minutes left but just missed the net.

Later, Venne sent a perfect cross out front, and Ryan made a terrific, point-blank save to keep the Knights within a goal.

Seton Catholic had some chances late in the half, including a corner kick during the frantic final two minutes. But Northern Adirondack hung on.

“We have been close the last couple years, but we’ve never pulled it off. And this is just amazing,” Venne said. “We haven’t had our name on the banners at school for a while.”

Anna Lashway earned the shutout with six saves for the Bobcats. Relation singled out the play of Makenna Magee but said that all of the players stepped up.

The longtime coach also added that she was honored that three former players were on the sideline for the game.

Ryan finished with 13 saves for Seton Catholic (12-6).

Relation has been trying to build her team’s confidence all season.

“I’m hoping that the kids truly believe in themselves now,” she said. “I kept saying all along, ‘You’ve got something girls that I haven’t seen in a while.’”

Northern Adirondack 1, Seton Catholic 0

Seton Catholic 0 0 — 0

Northern Adirondack 1 0 — 1

First half- 1, NAC, Venne (Warick), 21:34.

Shots: Seton Catholic 6, Northern Adirondack 14.

Saves: Ryan, SC, 13. Lashway, NAC, 6.

Email Courtney