OFA, Area Support Aids Red Devils Final 4 Plans
Updated: Nov 15, 2019
BY DAVE SHEA
"It's all about the team," said Hammond Central Girls Soccer Coach Shawn Dack when asked what the key to the Red Devils' hopes for competing for a state championship in New York State Class D Final Four on Saturday.
Hammond (18-1-0) will carry a number two state ranking and a Capital Region Championship into Saturday's 12:30 p.m. semi-final against eighth ranked Section 5 champion Avoca (19-2-0) at Homer High School.
Avoca won the Far West Championship in a 7-1 win over 11-8-0 North Collins which was the only Class D team in Section 6. Delaney Stowe scored a hat trick for Avoca in the Section 5 quarter-finals and Selina Jude scored the lone goal in a 1-0 win in the sectional title game.
The other semi-final game will seed top ranked and undefeated Section 3 champion Poland (19-0) meeting n Section 8's Northville for the other slot in Sunday morning's 10:30 a.m. championship game at SUNY Cortland. Poland bested Marathon 3-1 and Northville advanced past the Mount Academy 3-1.
LEAGUE MVPS LEAD HAMMOND
The Devils will be led into the contest by the NAC West Division's Offensive and Defensive MVPs in forward Avery Kenyon and stopper Nora Pease. Avery Kenyon combines up front with 40-goal sniper extraordinaire Bennett who earned All-NAC West First Team honors along with sweeper Zoey Cunningham.
Kenyon is a high energy attacker who scores off hard shots and strong runs, sets up goals with long crosses and corner kicks and is very effective in the air. Halfbacks Hailey Cunningham and Hailey Manning were All-NAC Second Team selections. First year goalie Alyvia Crosby who has developed into a stellar keeper earned the NAC's NAC Outstanding Sportsmanship Award.
Bennett has scored all of Hammond's 10 goals in in the postseason including the only goal in a 1-0 win over Section 7 Chazy on Saturday. She delivered a shot into the net after a Kenyon header redirected a direct kick by by Caitlin Cunningham.
"We have been led by Kelsey Bennett and Avery Kenyon but every piece we have that makes this machine run," said Coach Dack.
"In my mind the story is about the whole team. The way the team had come together, played together, done things together, and going places together has really galvanized them.
More importantly what and why. Not for success or recognition but for a man who dedicated his life for Hammond. Who is Hammond. The ONLY COACH HAMMOND Will ever have and that is Mr Tom Chapman. He’s taught us so much over the years and he continually does today. He is a fighter and that’s what we are. Fighters. I’m so proud of these girls. Words can’t express it. Not for the record. Or wins. But for the WHY. We lost a great supporter in Earl Dillon. And there isn’t a day that goes by I don’t think of him as (Like Coach Chapman) represents HAMMOND. And as we move forward. I pray these girls continue just to play the way they play and do what they do. As no matter what. They have already won."
Bennett played regularly on Hammond's 2016 Final Four team and seconds her coaches' advice.
"We like to play aggressively and for us we just have to run, run, run," says Bennett.
"I played on the left wing as a freshman and I tell Brooke Manning that she has go hard all of the time and get to the rebounds."
Manning has produced big goals all season through excellent positional play around the goalmouth.
Just like in 2016 other schools in the Section 10 family and area colleges have supported Hammond's Final 4 preparations. The Devils practiced twice on OFA's turf field which was cleared after Monday night's winter snow which buried Hammond's field and most of the area's soccer fields.
DEVILS GIVE THANKS
Hammond Central School and especially the Girls Varsity Soccer team want to thanks OFA for accommodating them to prepare for the NYS Final 4.
"After the Regional win we were contacting everyone as our field was covered with snow and wasn’t playable. Our section and the colleges who we contacted we all very accommodating and receptive of hosting us and giving us the opportunity to use their beautiful facilities.
SUNY Canton was our first contact but Mother Nature had other plans after the snowfall and cold. But I still want to thank SUNY canton for giving us the opportunity even though it didn’t pan out," said Hammond Coach Shawn Dack.
"Thank God OFA cleared their field and graciously hosted two of our practices this week and allowed us to stretch our legs on their field. In 2016 SUNY Canton hosted us. In 2019. OFA. It’s amazing the support this county gives towards each other. Otherwise we’d had a week of soccer in our gym to prepare for the final 4. And that wouldn’t have been good.
Other facilities who tried to accommodate us were Indian River. And Ultimate Goal in Watertown. We head down tomorrow to practice at SUNY Cortland on their turf and hopefully get to the next step on Sunday."
OFA's turf field has also been used this week by the Gouverneur and Potsdam football teams in their preparations for regional championship games. Potsdam will play host to Schuylerville on Friday night at 7 p.m. at OFA's Coach Ron Johnson Football Field. Gouverneur will play at a Section 2 site.