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Shocking comeback gives Hamilton state soccer title

Winning a state championship in any high school sport is a memorable feat. But the Hamilton boys soccer team made sure its feat would be remembered for a long, long time to come.

Down by three goals to defending state champion Chazy with less than 20 minutes to play in Sunday's state Class D final, the Emerald Knights made it all the way back, then pulled out a 4-3 victory when Dan Kraynak scored less than a minute into overtime.

"It's the best feeling in the world," said Kraynak.

Despite the chilly wind, cold temperatures and winter motif, a full army of partisans poured into the National Hall of Fame complex in Oneonta, all of them waiting to see on Sunday afternoon if their heroes would win the second state championship in the program's history.

Yet even the most die-hard of Emerald Knights fans had to wonder if the ultimate title was out of reach when Chazy, the defending state Class D champions from Section VII, zoomed to a 3-0 lead.

Hamilton had controlled the early stages of the game, but were unable to convert. That became a problem in the 25th minute, when Chazy's Jason Baker launched a 30-yard shot past Will Keever into the net to give the Eagles a 1-0 edge.

A questionable free-kick call led to Andrew LaPierre scoring in the 34th minute, doubling the margin to 2-0 by halftime. And when a Hamilton player got caught with a handball inside the 18-yard box in the 56th minute, Stetson Fields converted the penalty kick, and it was 3-0.

At this point, said Hamilton head coach Brian Latella, he was not thinking about victory, but just the fact that his team had scored at least once in every game this season.

"We did not want to get shut out," he said. "We knew we would get one."

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