VUHS girls’ soccer reaches D-III title game; Eagles vs. Otters in field hockey
ADDISON COUNTY — Three local high school teams all won playoff semifinals in dramatic fashion on Wednesday and will play in championship games on Saturday.
The No. 2 Vergennes Union girls’ soccer team hung on for a 2-1 victory over No. 3 Leland & Gray in a Wednesday afternoon Division III semifinal.
The 11-4-1 Commodores advanced to the final for the second straight season. They will play No. 1 Thetford (14-2-1), the defending champion, at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Hartford High School.
Later on Wednesday two local field hockey teams prevailed in overtime in separate D-II semifinal games played under the lights at South Burlington High School. In one game, No. 1 Otter Valley got past No. 4 Burr & Burton, 3-2, and in the other game Mount Abraham survived No. 3 Hartford, 2-1 (game details below). The Otters and Eagles will square off in the D-II final at 1 p.m. on Saturday at the University of Vermont.
COMMODORES HANG ON
In Vergennes the Commodore soccer team controlled most of the first half and got goals from two seniors, one from midfielder Emily Rooney and one from forward Maya Praamsma — who scored her first career goal.
In the final 25 minutes Leland & Gray (14-3) came on strong and dominated play. Commodore goalie Kate Gosliga twice ranged out to the penalty stripe to stop breakaways by Rebel striker Ellie Longo, once by pouncing on the ball and once by blocking Longo’s right-footed shot.
Gosliga finished with seven saves. VUHS Co-Coach Peter Maneen agreed she deserved the game ball, but credited all the Commodores.
“It took the entire team to get through. We got the early lead. They were really pressing the second half. They were really taking it to us. We were staying as composed as we could,” Maneen said. “Our backs did a tremendous job today, and Kate came up some big saves.”
Longo threatened to break in twice more in the late going, but Ema Gernander and Elsa Makelainen broke up her runs at the last moment. Maneen also credited backs Sophie Hatch, Lauren Curtis and Ella Hameline.
“Our defense won it together,” Maneen said. “It was a unit today.”
The Commodores took the lead in the seventh minute. Commodores Ali Croke and Hannah Kelly pressed on the right flank and the ball popped to Rooney, who took two touches into the box and drilled the ball into the lower right corner past L&G keeper Sydney Hescock (four saves).
Praamsma made it 2-0 in the 31st minute. Croke, from the left side, found her just outside of the box, and Praamsma’s left-footed shot looped high over Hescock.
VUHS pushed forward early in the second half, but on a Rooney direct kick Hescock came out to snatch the ball away from Felicia Poirier and Ryley Olson to snuff out the best chance.
After the Commodores’ defensive heroics L&G scored with 4:59 to go, when Izzy Ameden one-timed home Arin Bates’ strong serve from the right end line. But VUHS shut the Rebels down the rest of the way to set up a D-III final rematch with Thetford, a 2-1 winner over the Commodores a year ago.
Maneen said the Commodores might have to show more poise on Saturday, but also pointed out only two teams have the opportunity to do so.
“We definitely have to play a little bit more composed than we did. I thought we did a pretty good job in the first half,” he said. “But the nerves kind of got the best of us. Those things happen in big games. Ultimately a win is a win, whether it was pretty or ugly, and this was a mix of both. So we’ll take it. On to the finals.”
OV IN OT
The 13-2 Otters got a Brittney Jackson goal with eight minutes left in the second overtime period to defeat Burr & Burton, 3-2. The 9-7 Bulldogs had defeated OV in overtime during the regular season and had carried much of the play in the first half and early in the second. Alia Edmunds intercepted a Bulldog pass and set up Jackson’s game-winner.
OV Coach Stacey Edmunds said Jackson “brilliantly lifted the ball over BBA’s Hannah Callen for the win.”
Katie Crabtree put BBA on the board at the 23:00 mark in the first half, but OV’s Ryleigh LaPorte evened the score at 15:30. Lola Herzog gave BBA the lead at 17:17 of the second, but the Otters began to come on strong. Their pressure paid off in a penalty stroke that defender Livia Bernhard whipped home with 4:21 left in regulation.
“Livia Bernhardt tied the game with a beautiful penalty stroke,” Edmunds said.
Callen finished with eight saves for the Bulldogs, and OV’s Ellie Ross blocked nine shots.
The Otters will be seeking their fourth D-II title and first since 2015, when they defeated Mount Abraham, 1-0. The OV program has also won three D-III crowns.
Molly Laurent provided the OT game-winner for the 11-3-2 Eagles vs. the 11-4-1 Hartford. Coach Mary Stetson said Madison Gile sent the ball into the circle on a restart to Laurent, who had her back to the goal. Laurent then spun around a defender and the goalie and tucked the ball inside the post with six minutes to go in the first overtime period, making the score 2-1.
Stetson said the Eagles dominated the first half, but cashed in on only one of their scoring chances. Sydney Perlee got the goal, again on an assist from Gile, the Eagles’ central midfielder.
But she said the Hurricanes tilted the field their way in the second half, and the Eagles were fortunate that before Hartford tied the game they hit the crossbar on a penalty stroke.
“They kept pressure on us and scored in the last five minutes,” Stetson said.
Hartford’s Daisy Phelps put the ball in the cage with 3:54 to play, and it was on to extra time.
Stetson said the Eagles were confident once they reached overtime after playing OT seven times this season.
“We played numerous overtime games,” she said.
Still, immediately before Laurent’s game-winner Eagle goalie Kira Murray had to make a point-blank save, Stetson said, with the goal coming in transition from that play.
Murray made five saves, and Hartford’s Bailey Cameron stopped eight shots.
The Eagles and Otters have been eyeing each other since the preseason.
“It will be a great game,” Stetson said.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].
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