BEEKMANTOWN — Ava McAuliffe's goal with 3:22 remaining in the second half proved to be the difference Saturday against Boquet Valley.
The tally off the eighth-grader's foot, her second goal of the game, was a rocket that curled its way into the back of the net and ended up sealing a 2-1 victory for the top-seeded Eagles (11-8-0) over the second-seeded Griffins (11-8-0) in the Section VII Class D girls soccer championship.
The game-winner was McAuliffe's 20th goal of the season and resulted in all her teammates surrounding her with excitement as Chazy knew it was close to its second consecutive sectional title.
"I knew that the game was going to be ending soon, so I knew I had to take the shot," McAuliffe said. "If I missed, I missed, but I had to take that shot. Right when I saw that ball curve in, I was so excited.
"This was an experience I will never forget. I get to go home now and just keep thinking about it and how special my team is."
McAuliffe opened scoring for the Eagles when she put home a rebound that popped free in the 6-yard box after Celine Juneau had a shot hit off the post with 18:53 to go in the opening half.
"Ava has been my challenge this year, and she's challenged herself as well," Chazy coach Samantha Signor said. "She expects so much from herself and out of her teammates and out of me. She makes me a better coach. She's had some big moments this year, and her goal late was the biggest."
Boquet Valley evened the game shortly after McAuliffe's first strike when Analise Burdo tallied just over three minutes later with an assist from Abbey Schwoebel.
The Griffins held a slim 9-8 shot advantage against the Eagles and had some of their best scoring opportunities in the first 40 minutes of play.
Olivia Rotella made a tremendous diving save with four minutes left in the first half, stopping a shot from Burdo that would have given Boquet Valley a 2-1 advantage.
Rotella finished with five saves, and Griffins goalkeeper Abby Monty registered two stops.
"Boquet Valley did not make it easy," Signor said. "They deserved to be here.
"As a whole, we struggled to find a groove in the first half. We started to click better in the second half. We had a hard time finding feet and a hard time settling the ball.
"I don't know if we just needed that halftime to come together and regroup or what, but we came out stronger in the second half in every way."
Chazy hosts a Section X representative in a NYSPHSAA Class D regional at 1:15 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, at 1:15 p.m. at Beekmantown.
While a sectional title is special, the Eagles want more.
"The one thing I have loved about coaching at Chazy is winning a sectional championship is not the final step," Signor said. "It's almost as if you won a normal game during the regular season. The community, the coaching staff and the team expects way more.
"Olivia McLennan, a junior captain, said it best after the game for us, stressing that we are not done and are not happy right now.
"We will be happy once we get to the final four and try and advance from there. That's the mentality the players have, and that's what they need."
Chazy 2, Boquet Valley 1
Boquet Valley 1 0 — 1
Chazy 1 1 — 2
First half- 1, CCRS, McAuliffe (Juneau), 18:53. 2, BV, Burdo (Schwoebel), 15:44.
Second half- 3, CCRS, McAuliffe (Smith), 3:22.
Shots- Boquet Valley 9, Chazy 8.
Saves- Monty, BV, 2. Rotella, CCRS, 6.
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