CORTLAND – Poland girls soccer’s Alexis Bates stopped on a dime just inside the 20-yard marker.
The Tornadoes’ senior forward, in a flash, wound up and kicked.
The ball beelined to the upper center of Chateaugay’s net — a shot perfectly placed out of the reach of Bulldog goalkeeper Kaelyn Morgan.
Bates’ shot raised Poland’s advantage to 3-0, merely 11 minutes into the game — a lead the Tornadoes stretched into a 7-0 Class D state semifinal win, Saturday evening at Cortland High School.
“I’m proud of us,” Bulldog defender/midfielder Kylee Peterson said. “I’m beyond proud of how we played this season. We come from a low school (Class D) and they’re (Poland is) a really good team.”
With the victory, Poland advanced to Sunday’s championship game at SUNY Cortland, against Mount Academy with an opportunity to defend its 2019 title. The Tornadoes lost, 3-2. It was Poland’s first defeat in 74 games.
“That team is clearly as good as advertised,” Chateaugay head coach Jason LaPlante said of Poland. “They are really talented, everywhere, and — we didn’t lay down. We played. Sometimes you just get beat by a better team, and that’s what they were. We’re really proud of our kids. They have nothing to hang their heads for.”
Poland jumped on the board three minutes into the contest, when Maddison Haver recollected a shot deflected by Chateaugay’s defense and tucked a shot away while parallel to the Bulldogs’ left post.
The Tornadoes led 5-0 at halftime.
After defeating Morristown, Colton-Pierrepont, Lisbon, and Willsboro, to reach the Final Four, the Bulldogs’ playoff run ended two games from Class D’s peak. Saturday marked only the fifth girls’ soccer Final Four appearance in Chateaugay’s school history.
“It took a lot for us to come together and realize how good and how much talent we had,” Chateaugay midfielder Grace Jarvis said. “And to come together and play like the way we did – we had a good game, it was just, they were a very physical, tough team.”
Morgan finished Saturday’s semifinal match with 17 saves in net, while Tornado goalkeepers Chloe Roark and Zyanna Irving each collected two.
Poland’s Logan Cookinham led the game with three goals, while Haver and Bates each netted two.
Chateaugay this summer will graduate five seniors; Adrienne Secore, Avery Tam, Jarvis, Peterson, and Emma Carlisto. It can return as many as 13 players from its semifinalist team.
“We’ve made it. We know we can make it (to the state semifinals). We have potential,” Morgan said. “We’re losing some amazing faces some amazing players and it is gonna be hard, but, I know people are gonna step up and play in the positions the seniors had and they’re gonna try and get here again. It’s gonna be great.”