It did not take very long for Chateaugay junior Hannah Cook to realize she might be part of a special girls soccer team.
In the second game of the year, the Bulldogs faced their top divisional rival from the previous season, Parishville-Hopkinton, and routed them 7-1.
“When we beat (Parishville-Hopkinton) 7-1 I thought we could do a lot,” said Cook, the Times All-North Northern Athletic Conference MVP.
She was correct.
The Bulldogs cruised through the area competition and did not lose a game until the state Class D championship game, falling 3-2 in overtime to Section 3 champion Poland.
Chateaugay finished 21-1 and outscored the opposition 83-11, and four of those 11 goals were given up in the state championship weekend.
Cook was a major reason for Chateaugay’s success, participating in both offense and defense from her midfield position. She finished with 11 goals and 16 assists for the Bulldogs.
“She knew both sides of the game, that’s what’s awesome about Hannah,” Bulldogs coach Steve Lang said. “She started ball-handling around the defense. She could pass and she had a long shot from outside. She’s a complete player.” Cook scored the overtime goal that sent Chateaugay to the state final four in a 1-0 win over Section 7’s Elizabethtown-Lewis.
“When the score was close and we needed a goal, she would stop up from halfback,” Lang said. “Nobody can guard Hannah. She started (the season) so defensively, but when we started running into better teams it was harder to score so she started carrying the ball more. We tried to control the possession of the game.”
Cook’s success at midfield helped her teammates Courtney Boyea and Alexis Beach become the team’s scoring leaders. Both girls finished with 26 goals.
“That’s where Hannah comes in,” Lang said. “If you only have one (scorer), Hannah will mark her up. If someone tries to mark up Alexis or Courtney, then someone will step up. Hannah has a strong shot and as we got on turf (fields), her ball-handling skills and her speed would let her dribble by people.”
Boyea and Beach also assisted Cook because trying to guard them in practices made it seem easier in games when she was playing against players who may have had less skill.
“She anticipated where the ball would be,” Lang said. “If you were dribbling, she would wait for the right time to steal it. She’s a tough kid.”
When asked whether she enjoyed defense or offense more Cook said, “Probably stopping goals. It doesn’t really matter to me about scoring goals, as long as we win.”
Cook has also had the rare experience of being a starter in state championship games in two different sports. She was the point guard on Chateaugay’s 2011 girls basketball team, which lost in the state Class D title game.
“You think you’ll maybe get to a final four once,” Cook said. “When you do it in both sports, it’s just amazing. But it’s frustrating getting to the championship game in each sport, and then losing it. You just want to win one.”
With the talent returning from last year’s squad, there is a chance Cook and her soccer teammates could make another trip to the state final four in basketball, but that’s not going to be known until March.
And the success Cook has had on the soccer field is starting to draw some interest from college teams. SUNY Potsdam and Clarkson had made some preliminary contacts about her.
“It’s kind of scary but exciting,” Cook said. “It’s weird thinking about leaving high school.”