PLATTSBURGH — Northeastern Clinton's hard work paid off in its 1-0 defeat of Beekmantown in the Section VII Class B girls soccer championship game.
After a scoreless first half, the Cougars' (9-6-2) Elle Prairie was able to put the decisive goal in the back of the net off an assist from teammate Audrianna Hollister.
Prairie scored at the 14:14 mark of the second half after a cluster in the Beekmantown (14-2-1)18-yard box where Northeastern Clinton players had repeatedly taken shots on goal.
Hollister was able to keep the ball from straying out of bounds and force it back into the 18-yard box where it connected to Prairie, who slipped it in the goal by Eagles goaltender Bailey Carter in the lower right corner of the net.
Top-seeded Beekmantown pushed back for the remaining 14 minutes, but was unable to equalize or push overtime.
“After I scored, there were 10 minutes that were super stressful because you could tell that they (Beekmantown) really wanted it,” Prairie said. “So I'm glad that we really worked on putting on a hard defense, and I'm glad that we didn't let a goal in.”
For Prairie, the key to winning Friday was working together as a team.
“I don't think we could have done it without any one person that was on the field,” she said.
Hollister agreed that the success of the night was due to the dedication of the team as a whole.
“In the beginning of the year, our dream was to win the sectional game and then go to finals, and we achieved it,” she said.
For Northeastern Clinton coach Tim Surprenant, the win was due to all the hard work and conditioning the girls had done over the season.
“For us, we do a lot of work on conditioning, and it shows it in the second half of the games. We usually come on pretty heavy. The girls get into the game, and we never get tired,” Surprenant said.
The Cougars really picked up their performance in the second half as the Eagles defense began to crack.
“There was a cluster in front and then Elle got a pass through the middle and just stepped to the side and buried it,” Surprenant said. “She had a couple of other good chances, and it was unlucky she didn't make them, but that was the one she did.”
One goal was all Northeastern Clinton needed to defeat Beekmantown in order to take the lead for good.
The Eagles led in shots in the first half, 13-10, but the Cougars responded with gusto in the second half.
“Beekmantown was the No. 1 seed for a reason. They're a good team,” Surprenant said. “We were fortunate. They have two really skilled players with a lot of speed, and our game plan was to shut them down, and we shut them down.”
One player that Northeastern Clinton focused on was Avery Durgan who had accumulated 45 points with 19 goals and seven assists over the course of the season for Beekmantown.
According to Surprenant, Durgan was held back by Bryn Sample and has the potential to be the league MVP.
The Cougars' Abby Racine tallied seven saves and earned her sixth shutout of the season with her performance Friday.
“Abby's been coming along,” Surprenant said. “She had a great game against Saranac in the semifinals in penalty shots and here she did the same thing. She made the saves she needed to make.”
Bailey Carter came away with eight saves for the Eagles.
Northeastern Clinton will be competing in Chittenango on Nov. 5 against the winner of Section III at 4 p.m.
“I'm excited,” Surprenant said. “This is a great opportunity for the girls, and we're going to go down there and be prepared.”
Northeastern Clinton 1, Beekmantown 0
Northeastern Clinton 0 1 — 1
Beekmantown 0 0 — 0
Second half- 1, NCCS, Prairie (Hollister), 14:14.
Shots- Northeastern Clinton 18, Beekmantown 13.
Saves- Racine, NCCS, 7. Carter, BCS, 8.
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