PERRY L. NOVAK
CORTLAND — The only thing that could ruin Chateaugay’s bid for a perfect season was a perfect shot, and Tara Seigle delivered one for Poland ‘s girls soccer team at the right time Sunday.
The junior forward’s second goal of the match gave the Tornadoes the lead for good midway in the second overtime period and the Section III team held on for a 3-2 victory in the Class D final at Cortland State. Twice Poland (21-1) took a lead in the second half but both times the Bulldogs (21-1) evened the score in dramatic fashion to force extra time.
Seigle’s goal came off a short pass from freshman Mikayla Blumenstock. It was in the middle of the field and Seigle had enough room to hit a floater of more than 30 yards that Bulldogs goalie Makayla Fleury jumped high to get, but was just beyond her reach. Unlike the first two scores, Poland had better possession after the score and was able to run out the clock, with a late corner kick being Chateaugay’s best chance to force more OT drama.
“The kids played well; we ran into a real good team,” Chateaugay Coach Steve Lang said. “We played with them at times and better them at times.
“We thought we had a chance to win after we tied it at 2. We wanted to win bad because Section X has never won a state title (in girls’ soccer) and for our fans. They were so supportive with their donations of money and food …”
There wasn’t a lot of drama early as both defenses limited scoring chances. Chateaugay’s best runs in the first half were by Hannah Cook and Alexis Beach while Seigle, Blumenstock and Paige Sullivan helped direct Poland ‘s precise passing.
“The first half was back-and-forth, but the second half was more wide open, people started spreading out and both sides stepped up play,” Lang said.
Blumenstock, Poland ‘s leading scorer, finally broke through in the 47th minute. The freshman took advantage of a defensive misplay to win the ball in traffic. She fired a shot in from close range that Fleury had no chance on.
But if Poland ‘s players thought Chateaugay had no chance to rally they were proved wrong less than a minute after the goal. Alexis Beach set up Katie Beach for a goal. A good run on the wing started the play, as well as a good move to get by a defender to get numbers up near the goal. Sophomore Courtney Green’s slight hesitation at one point gave Katie Beach just enough time to ensure the match would be 1-1.
“It was right off the face-off after they scored. I’ve never a goal that quick,” Lang related. “Alexis dribbled a couple of times and sent it over to Katie who was angling in from the right shot and Katie beat the keeper to the far side.”
Poland came right back with better possession over the next few minutes and it paid off with a goal in the 71st minute. It was set up by another Chateaugay breakdown on defense and a scrappy play by Blumenstock. It led to Seigle’s first goal. Things looked good for the Tornadoes to clinch the first state title for a girls team in school history until Alexis Beach broke loose on the wing once again. The senior forward fed freshman Brianna Cook for the tying score with less than two minutes to play in regulation.
“We took a defender out and moved Cook up from halfback for extra pressure,” Lang explained. “Alexis slid it back to Brianna and she scored on a perfect line-drive shot from the 18. It was a beautiful shot.”
Poland ‘s players hung their heads for awhile after the score, but bolstered by a man advantage — the Bulldogs finished the match with just 10 players due to a second yellow card — they began to have better possession than the Section X champs. Hannah Cook’s speed kept giving Poland fits during the OT sessions, but the Tornadoes played better defense down the stretch to deny any great scoring chances. And Seigle’s winning shot was a rather ironic game-winner as the Tornadoes misfired on their long range shots badly all match long until that long ball with a championship hanging in the balance.
“The girls kept fighting, even though we played with 10 people the first overtime and part of the second,” Lang said. “We had a great season (21-1) and my assistant coach, Shelly Cook, did a great job. We wouldn’t have made it this far without her.”
Poland 3, Chateaugay 2, OT
Chateaugay 0 2 0 — 2
Poland 0 2 1 — 3
Second half - 1, Pol, Blumenstock, 6:09. 2, Chat, K. Beach (A. Beach), 6:40. 3, Pol, Seigle (Blumenstock), 30:08. 4, Chat, B. Cook (A. Beach), 38:12.
Second overtime - 5, Pol, Seigle (Blumenstock), 5:00.
Shots: Poland, 12; Chateaugay, 12.
Saves: Green, Pol, 10; Fleury, Chat, 9.