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November 15, 2013

NAC girls soccer team heads to semifinals for first time

ELLENBURG — When the Northern Adirondack girls’ soccer players were grumbling about the damp, chilly weather earlier this season, coach Sharon Relation told them, “Good teams play in the snow.”

It was just something she said to stop the complaints, and later they joked about it.

But there they were Wednesday, practicing in 27-degree weather with patches of snow on the field.

And there was no complaining. Relation said she kept checking to see how they were doing in the bitter cold, “and they’re like, ‘No, no, this is good.’”

Good, because the Bobcats are one of just four Class C teams whose season is still going on. Northern Adirondack (15-3-2) will face Holland in the NYSPHSAA Class C semifinals Saturday morning at Cortland High School. Haldane and Lansing will meet in Saturday’s other game, and the state championship will be decided Sunday.

The Bobcats, ranked fourth in Class C, defeated Section II’s Canajoharie in the regional finals last week.

“We’ve already made it this far, and it’s a great accomplishment. But we know we can achieve more,” senior Elle Warick said. “And we’re all going to work together and work hard, and we have a focus. We’re going there with a purpose.”

Warick is Northern Adirondack’s points leader with 19 goals and 11 assists, and junior Rachael Venne (20 goals, seven assists) is the other top scoring threat. Warick said the two feed off each other. But she also said the team’s success starts in the back.

“We wouldn’t be able to do that if it wasn’t for our defense,” Warick said. “Our defense, seriously, have played amazing. We call them the Diamond D. They just work so well together. They’re our backbone back there.”

Goalkeeper Anna Lashway, a junior, said the players charged with keeping the ball out of the Bobcats’ net have become a “little family,” and they’ve learned how to work together and recognize each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

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