Scooter MacMillan, Editor
CVU 5, St. Johnsbury 0
The Champlain Valley Union girls soccer team’s winning ways continue.
The Redhawks are undefeated so far this year. At 6-0-1, the 1-1 tie against Burr and Burton Academy in its second game of the season is the only game CVU didn’t win outright.
With the 5-0 home shutout of the Hilltoppers, the Redhawks’ matchup at Colchester this Wednesday, Oct. 12, at 7 p.m. looms even larger with Champs undefeated with a 7-0 record unblemished by any ties.
But before then, the Redhawks will need to get past Mount Mansfield (6-1-1) this coming Saturday, Oct. 8, at 12:30 p.m. at CVU. They already defeated Mount Mansfield in an away game to give the Cougars its loan loss of the season.
In Monday’s game, junior Chloe Pecor gashed St. Johnsbury Academy for an amazing four goals to effectively seal the win, but Lily O’Brien, also a junior, contributed as well with a goal of her own.
CVU 4, Burlington 1
By the second half, the Redhawks had gotten over any intimidation about playing on the road at Burlington High School on Saturday, Oct. 1, putting up a win 4-1.
Saturday’s game was a nail-biter up until halftime, with the Redhawks and the Seahorses knotted at 1-1 at the break. The second half was another story with the Redhawks knocking in three goals to Burlington’s none to take a 4-1 win.
“It was a great game by Zoe Klein,” coach Stan Williams said.
“Great game” is a bit of an understatement to describe Klein’s performance. The junior scored three goals to notch a hat trick.
Junior Pecor scored the Redhawks’ other goal.
Senior goalie Emma Allaire had eight saves for the Redhawks.
CVU 2, Essex 0
On Wednesday, Sept. 28, the Redhawks played a strong defensive game to defeat Essex High School 2-0.
After scoring two first goals in the first half, it was all defense for the rest of the game.
“We defended well all over the field,” Williams said. “In the second half, we were able to use our defensive pressure and control of the ball to see out the game.”
Although Williams was pleased with his players’ performances all over the field, he singled out Lauren Knudsen, Stella Dooley and Norah Munn for their strong defensive play in the backfield.
CVU 2, South Burlington 1
Champlain Valley took an extremely close game at South Burlington High on Sept. 23.
Williams called the win over the Wolves “a tremendous high school soccer game.”
He had high praise for this team’s play, especially in the second half and the overtime.
“I’m so impressed with their relentless play and resilience. I have never seen a game tied at the final second like this one,” Williams said.
As the final seconds of regulation ticked down, Klein made a huge hustle to keep the ball in the Redhawks’ possession and fed it to Pecor. Pecor drove hard to 18 yards out where she was dragged down with 2 seconds remaining.
This resulted in a CVU penalty kick, which Pecor drove home to force overtime.
The Redhawks continued to press in overtime. Stella Dooley was awarded a free kick which she passed to Klein, who knocked it home for the win.
“It was a great team win, and the kind of game that you will never forget,” the coach said.
CVU 31, Hartford 19
For three quarters, the Redhawks’ football game against Hartford High was a great gridiron contest — for a viewer who didn’t have strong loyalty for either team.
For most of the game, it was an exciting back-and-forth affair with Champlain Valley getting ahead and then Hartford storming back to keep it close.
It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the Redhawks took a decisive lead. Coach Rahn Fleming said it was the kind of game that will age a football coach.
“I started the game at 63. I’m pretty sure I finished it at 70 or so,” Fleming said. “But a win, even a close win, is like the Fountain of Youth. It brought me right back.”
The game started slowly with the Redhawks getting a touchdown to take the lead, but Hartford responded with a TD of its own. CVU retained a 7-6 lead off the Hurricanes’ missed extra point. This is where the score stood when the first quarter ended and for most of the second quarter.
The second quarter was another defensive struggle, until just before the half, when backup junior quarterback Ollie Cheer connected with Alex Provost, who worked his special brand of magic to make two defenders miss and find the endzone.
Provost’s performance on that play is typical of how he plays, Fleming said, “He runs precise routes. He would battle anybody for the ball and come down with it.”
Whatever sense of confidence CVU might have felt, coming out of the break with a 14-6 lead, was immediately challenged as the Hurricanes started the third quarter with an opening kickoff return to pull back within a point.
“Our guys showed a terrific amount of character in the face of the kind of letdown and disappointment that giving away an opening touchdown on the kickoff can bring,” the coach said. “That was a backbreaking play that did not break their backs.”
The CVU squad’s numbers are so few that many of the team play on both the offensive and defensive lines, which can be very tiring, particularly late in a game. However, the Redhawks battled strong against an excellent Hartford line.
“We were everything we needed to be in the trenches,” Fleming said.
Critical interceptions by sophomore Chase Leonard and junior Jack Sumner and defensive coverage by sophomore Dylan Frere of Charlotte helped CVU keep its tenuous lead.
Wide receiver Billy Bates, who turned 15 just days before the contest, gave himself a belated birthday present, scoring on an option play. Fleming said it might be the sophomore’s first TD at the varsity level.
In the fourth quarter senior starting quarterback Max Destito found Provost, his favorite target, to finally put the game away.
Fleming compared the two players’ instinctive knowledge of what the other is going to do to Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.
“You can’t teach it,” said Fleming. “Max always knows almost exactly where Alex is going to be, and Alex knows within a yard or two where
Max is going to throw the ball.”
So, in two plays the two longtime teammates, both seniors, had gone 70 yards to the end zone.
Shortly after, CVU was marching to the goal, but was stopped by a penalty. The extra 5 yards made it too long to go for it on fourth down, so junior kicker Aidan Morris came on for a field goal attempt. Morris’ kick was true, giving the Redhawks a 12-point lead and the coach a chance to breathe a little easier in the contest’s closing minutes.