PLATTSBURGH — The Canton girls’ soccer team, heading into Tuesday’s Class C regional game against AuSable Valley, hadn’t allowed a goal in its last six contests going back to October 24.
That changed when Rachel Knapp’s goal with 11:49 left in regulation gave the Patriots a 1-0 victory in the opening round of the NYSPHSAA Tournament.
The Section VII champion Patriots (8-11) will head to Stillwater on Saturday to play in the state quarterfinals against Section II champion Hoosick Falls. On the line is a trip to the Final Four.
“The girls played an awesome game,” said AuSable Valley coach Bruce Bourgeois. “We knew going in that it was going to be a low-scoring game because Canton hadn’t allowed a goal in quite a while.
“And, they play against big schools in their league, just like we do during the regular season.”
The Golden Bears (12-6-1) had a few chances here and there, but the Patriots held the edge in play with a 12-3 shot advantage. Canton did not have a shot on goal in the first half.
“They came out a little stronger than we did at the beginning,” said Bourgeois. “But then we began to play well. I felt we were able to control the better of play and had some great crosses.
“I felt we might get a couple goals because Canton looked nervous when we got the ball in their end. I did feel better, however, about things when we got the first one.”
It, however, remained a scoreless contest until the 28:11 mark of the second half.
Knapp got the ball from Haley Taylor and sent a hard shot from 25 yards out into the corner of the net.
“Rachel has a powerful shot and she is actually better from 25 yards out than 18,” said Bourgeois. “It was a beautiful goal. She practices from that distance a lot in practice.”
Canton tried to get the equalizer, but it was AuSable Valley that had the best chance to make it 2-0 in the late going when a shot from in close deflected off the post and Canton freshman keeper Katie Clemmer made the save on the rebound.
The Golden Bears did make one final attempt in the final minute while trying to get behind the Patriots’ defense. The ball, however, was kicked out of harm’s way and a shot was never taken.
“Both teams had some chances,” said Bourgeois. “Sierra Snow and Haley Taylor had a couple of good chances for us earlier in the game.
“Once again, our fullbacks did a good job keeping the ball away from our net and stepped up well to start the offense.”
Bryce Douglass recorded the shutout in net for the Patriots with three saves and Clemmer stopped 10 shots for the Golden Bears.
“Taylor Saltus and Meghan Strong played well for us up front and created some chances on the inside,” said Bourgeois.
“And I can’t say enough about our defense of Logan Snow, Sierra Snow, Sumra Sikander, Priscilla Coats and Tiffany Evans.”
The Patriots haven’t been scored on in post-season play, shutting out two foes in winning the Section VII championship prior to Tuesday.
Hoosick Falls won the Section II championship on Tuesday with a 6-0 rout of Mechanicville.
AuSable Valley 1, Canton 0
Canton 0 0 — 0
AuSable Valley 0 1 — 1
Second half- 1, AVC, Knapp (Taylor), 28:11.
Shots: AuSable Valley 12, Canton 3.
Saves: Douglass, AVC, 3. Clemmer, Can, 10.