Chantae Miller may have 107 career goals, but scoring may not even be her specialty.
Meet the national record holder for assists in a career. The Williamsville North junior did more than earn All-Western New York honors for the third year in a row. Her 19 assists gave her 98 in her career, breaking the record of 95 held since 1999-2000 by Laree Beans of Emmaus, Pa.
"I think in any sport, assists are overlooked a lot," said Miller. "There's been some assists that come off amazing passes, and then the goal is right there. What makes a lot of goals is how they're set up."
Miller also had 18 goals, which may not compare to the 35 she had as a sophomore and the 32 she scored as a freshman, but consider: she played the season without knowing she had a torn ligament in her ankle. Her doctors told her the ligament was being held together by scar tissue.
Miller had surgery immediately after the season. She shed her crutches last week and will begin light jogging this week. What was only a 14-game storm-shortened season had to seem much longer when Miller missed two games with mononucleosis. Still, she managed to stay a step ahead of the competition as North finished with a 12-2 record.
Injury and illness didn't keep her from also being named to the 2006 Penn Monto/NFHCA High School All-American second team. Coach Kris LaPaglia continues to marvel at the talent of Miller, a dominant player for the Spartans since seventh grade.
"Over the past couple years she started to see the whole field. She's like two steps ahead of everyone else as far as what she's seeing," said LaPaglia. "She can calculate when she should go to the goal, and when to pass off. She's had some solid kids around her too that have elevated their level of play to keep up with her."
Iroquois makes final four
Iroquois was the only team in Section VI to reach the state semifinals. Coach Pete Tonsoline would have never predicted that in August. The Chiefs graduated two first-team and two second-team All-WNY players, and had two more starters go down with ACL injuries over the summer.
"I was devastated. It was like, where do I go?," said Tonsoline, in his 13th season with the varsity. "We had a real young team. I never expected this." Tonsoline said his team was playing "OK" before the October storm. When the unwelcome break from the storm ended, the team came back with a new focus.
In the postseason, Iroquois won two games in shootouts and one in overtime. The team was playing with confidence behind All-WNY defenseman Rachel Sluberski. The team finished with 12 shutouts among its 14 wins.
Around the cages
The 17th annual All-WNY team is chosen by league coaches. Miller, senior Rachel DiNunzio of Williamsville South, Katie Brown of Akron and Ainsley Stoll of Williamsville North are repeat selections. . . . Most members of the All-WNY team also played for the Empire State Games team for Tonsoline. "That Rachel DiNunzio [of Williamsville South] epitomizes what it means to be dedicated to the sport. What an athlete," he said. "For five years she's been the backbone of that team. She keeps getting better and better." . . . Akron outscored its Niagara-Orleans League opponents, 63-6, and was 12-0-2 overall. "Katie [Brown] was our hub who constantly fed the offense, controlled the center of the field and kept the attackers she marked scoreless," said coach Mary Borden.