PLATTSBURGH — After losing 14 players off last year’s state title team as well as leading scorer Derek Drake to a season-ending early on this year, Chazy boys’ soccer coach Rob McAuliffe wasn’t sure how far his team could go.
Little has changed, however, as the Eagles find themselves back in the NYSPHSAA Class D final four.
“After Drake was injured, that left us with two starters returning,” McAuliffe said. “But the goal for this team is to win a state championship. We weren’t going to use losing a lot of players from the season before as an excuse. We set that in the beginning.
“We felt this team would be good enough to win it. And what makes this team special is that everyone has contributed over the course of the season. Different players have scored big goals for us and our defense has played well all season.”
The Section VII-champion Eagles (16-1-3) will take on Section II winner Fort Ann (19-1), pitting the No. 1 and No. 2-ranked teams in Class D, respectively, in today’s 2:45 p.m. final four semifinals at Middletown High School’s turf field.
Section V’s Jasper-Troupsburg and Section III’s Watertown-Immaculate Heart Central tangle in the first game at 12:30 p.m. The Class D championship game is set for 1 p.m. on Sunday.
Chazy and Fort Ann are certainly familiar to one another.
The Eagles edged out a 1-0 victory over Poland in last year’s semifinals before recording a 4-0 win over the Cardinals in the state championship contest.
This year’s Fort Ann team advanced to the states with a 2-1 win over Northville and then posted a 1-0 decision over Smithtown-Christian in regional play.
The Cardinals are outscoring their opponents, 93-11, with Chris Jackson leading the way with an impressive 40 goals.
“Fort Ann didn’t lose as much as we did from last year and we knew the possibility was there that we would be playing them again,” McAuliffe said. “They have an experienced team that was there last year and will not be in awe.