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Otter boys roll past West Rutland soccer for eighth win

BRANDON — The Otter Valley Union High School boys’ soccer team controlled play to defeat visiting West Rutland under the lights on Saturday, 2-1.
The Otters finished at 8-5-1, the program’s most wins since at least the early 1990s, and will probably be the No. 11 seed in Division II and visit No. 6 Harwood (7-3-1) on Monday or Tuesday. The Vermont Principals’ Association was set to release playoff pairings on Monday morning. West Rutland finished at 10-4.
The Otters dominated possession, with midfielders Maxwell Williams, Justin Tremblay and Reilly Shannon in particular doing good work, and they outshot the Golden Horde, 28-7.
Defenders Sawyer Heath, Cole Letourneau and Nate Claessens and goalie Clay Hays (two saves, both outstanding) had to work hard to contain Horde standout striker Eric Maxham, whose 22-yard bomb with 7:32 to go created late drama.
But Coach Dick Williams correctly noted the Otters were unfazed when their lead shrank.
“This is the way they played all season, and I give they credit because they have a never-say-die spirit,” Williams said. “It doesn’t matter if we’re winning or not winning, if the score is for us or not, they just push it right through to the last seconds of the game, and I love that about these guys.”
After a flurry of early OV chances, Hays got his right hand on a Maxham bid ticketed for the right corner in the 13th minute, the only WR shot of the first half.
Meanwhile, the Otters launched 13, but didn’t break through until 3:51 remained in the half. Shortly after Kody Smith had twice been denied from point-blank range on an OV corner kick, once by a defender, Tremblay sent a through ball to Smith, who broke in alone and found the lower left corner past diving Horde keeper Kyle Laughlin (13 saves).
Early in the second half Hays got his hands on a Maxham blast, only to see the ball trickle behind him. Hays scrambled back and dove to push it wide left.
OV finally made it 2-0 in the half’s 26th minute. Tremblay’s corner kick from the left side bounced loose to Josh Letourneau (who threatened all day) on the 18, and his one-timed bullet hit the upper left side.
Maxham found room seven minutes later to make it 2-1, but OV held firm down the stretch.
Williams would have liked to see the Otters convert more of its chances on Saturday — and all season.
“If we made as good on as many chances as we’ve had we would have a different record now,” he said.
But that was a minor complaint: After three years of dedication under Williams to better ball movement and defensive positioning, the Otters — who will graduate Heath, Williams, Josh Letourneau and Tremblay — have gone from two wins to eight.
“Every year it just kept building, You can see the progression in our seasons,” Williams said. “Their soccer IQ has changed in three years.”

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