Another Great Day For Hammond, Coach Chapman
BY DAVE SHEA
BEEKMANTOWN - Hammond rattled a few shots off the crossbar in second half of Saturday's Capital Region Class D Championship Girls Soccer game against Section 7's Chazy at Beekmantown Central. With the game scoreless Hammond Central Girls Soccer Coach Shawn Dack had some uneasy moments feeling it might be "one of those days."
But it turned out to be another great day for the 17-1-0 Devils, senior Kelsey Bennett who scored the only goal with 6:56 left in the second half and most importantly another great day for Coach Tom Chapman.
Chapman, the retired teacher, coach and athletic director at Hammond Central, has become a symbol of steadfastness for the Lady Devils as he continues a long, unrelenting fight against cancer.
"We finished it off. Regional Champions. What an accomplishment for these kids. The fans. The community. The school. But you know what was the first thought they had. COACH TOM CHAPMAN," said Coach Dack.
"They were so very proud of doing this for him. He really exemplifies this team. He fights. He fights. He fights. And that’s what we did today. And will continue to do next week.
God Bless you Coach Chapman. This was for you!!!!"
The only goal of the game came off a direct by halfback Hailey Cunningham which Avery Kenyon headed to the foot of Kelsey Bennett who buried her 40th goal of the season. Bennett has scored all 10 of Hammond's goals in four postseason games.
"At the start we were very sluggish. To much standing around offensively speaking. And the halfbacks were tentative. But we withstood any opportunity we gave them during those moments. We still made good runs but it was not like what we are accustom to," said Coach Dack.
"In the second half we regrouped. And came at them hard. Hit some nice shots had some great sequences and really played well. Hit the crossbar couple times and I just knew it was one of those soccer games. About six minutes left or so in second period it happened. A nice serve by the halfback, off Avery’s (Kenyon's) head to Kelsey’s foot and BOOM we the lead. I will say the defense played wonderful throughout the game. "
Bennett also played the lead role in Hammond's Senior Play "The Virgil Family Reunion" on Saturday night. Eight members of the Hammond team were in the cast which will perform the play again tonight.
"We knew Coach was watching the game on television which was great. We had some nice chances. Avery (Kenyon) played some good balls to me but I just couldn't one in the net until I finally got one," said Bennett.
"When we got back we stopped at his house and then went right to school to get ready for the play. It an emotional train wreck of a day."
Bennett also played on Hammond's Final 4 team of 2016 as a freshman. Hammond will play in the state semi-finals next Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at Homer Central School against Section 5 Champion Avoca. Avoca downed Section 6 representative North Collins 7-1 in the Far West Regional on Saturday. North Collins advanced as the only Class D team in its section and had not played in three weeks.
The title game is set for next Sunday at SUNY Cortland.
Alyvia Crosby stopped just two shots in the shutout and Olivia Rottella handled 12 saves for Chazy (11-8) which regrouped after an 0-5 start to win the Section 7 title.
"Our defense played very well again. Norah Pease marked their big scorer (eighth grader Ava McAuliffe), Zoey Cunningham was strong at sweeper and Jordan Kloepping and Caitlyn Cunningham played well on the outside," said Bennett.
"They only had two shots and only one was a good shot."