During the past two girls soccer seasons, the Chateaugay Bulldogs have lost only twice, and both of those games came in the state playoffs.
The Bulldogs have produced a 39-2-1 record over that span and one of the big reasons why the team has performed so well has been senior midfielder Hannah Cook.
Cook repeated as the Northern Athletic Conference Most Valuable Player on the Times All-North team this fall after Chateaugay lost nine seniors from last seasons state runner-up team.
Cook finished this season with 22 goals and 16 assists, after scoring 11 goals with 16 assists in her junior year.
We had nine or 10 new kids and she helped them mature and not get down, Bulldogs coach Steve Lang said. She improved her ball-handling. She carried the ball from the 18 to the 18 and then shed pass or shoot.
Like her coach, Cook wondered what would happen this fall without the players the Bulldogs lost from the previous season. It turns out she didnt have to wonder very long.
I had to step up and score some goals that were needed, Cook said. A lot of younger girls moved up and they did an awesome job. I didnt expect to have that many goals this year. The girls on the (forward) line, they all have great moves and make great plays.
Said Lang, Before the season started we didnt really expect at all to win the Section 10 (Class D) title. After we scrimmaged Malone, and won our first few games, we could tell it sure seemed we were as good as last year. Hannah improved her overall game and we had nine kids back. Since Hannah improved so much and we had such a solid player in the middle of the field, our expectations changed after the third or fourth game.
Four games into this season, the Bulldogs were 4-0 and had already scored 26 goals, giving up just two. The numbers kept piling up for Chateaugay. During the regular season the only time the Bulldogs failed to score was a 0-0 tie against Heuvelton in a nonleague game at Clarkson. Chateaugay wound up defeating the Bulldogs 1-0 in the Section 10 title game.
We knew if we played hard we could meet Heuvelton in the finals, Lang said.
Being a midfielder meant Cook was just as concerned with stopping the other team from scoring, as she was with setting up goals.
Theres always pressure to score a goal, but its more fun stopping a goal, Cook said. I definitely like passing for the other girls to score. I feel like a ball hog if I have the ball too much. At some points I did feel like I had to do more. In big games, if it was 0-0, I felt like I had to step up more. The girls on the team are reliable and all worked hard.
Cooks defensive and offensive ability aided her team in other ways. Bulldogs players had to try to get past her, defensively, in practice, and Chateaugays defenders had to try to stop her from scoring in practice.
That was one of the keys to our defense, they had to guard Hannah in practice, Lang said. If we faced a girl with 25 or 30 goals Id tell them that I dont think she is better than Hannah, who they face every day in practice. That was a great advantage we had.
Cook is now planning for the future. She hopes to play in college and may not wind up very far from home.
I am looking at (SUNY) Plattsburgh, Cook said. Im thinking about studying nursing, and they have a good program.
Cooks reasons for studying nursing sound a lot like the same attributes that made her a good soccer teammate and captain.
I like helping people and interacting with them and having a positive impact on people, Cook said.