The South Burlington field hockey team members find themselves in a familiar place: the Division I State Championship Game.
The second-seeded Wolves came back to beat Colchester 2-1 in overtime on Monday to book their spot in the title game for the fourth year in a row.
After No. 3 Colchester took a lead early in the second half, it looked like the undefeated Lakers might finally earn the edge over the higher-seeded Wolves (14-1-1).
“We were really controlling the game,” said South Burlington coach Anjie Soucy. “That is the crazy thing about this game, sometimes it’s just one goal. It took us a couple of minutes to shake that goal off.”
But shake it off they did, scoring with just over five minutes to play to even the score. Lily Turchon jumped on a loose ball in front of the goal and netted it for the 1-1 tie.
Senior Kate Hall did the rest, netting the game-winner in overtime to send South Burlington to the final.
“We earned a penalty corner and everyone has several corners to choose from,” Soucy said. “I told Kate Hall to pick the one she wanted and she wanted that play. We executed it perfectly.”
Now, the Wolves have their spot booked for UVM’s Moulton Winder Field for the field hockey state championship triple header on Saturday. While the scenery may be familiar, their opponent is not.
South Burlington will take on No. 1 Bellows Falls, who is undefeated in their first season in D-I. The 16-0 Terriers, who moved up this season after winning two straight D-II titles, beat No. 3 Rice 3-2 to advance to their first D-I championship game.
“We have to just keep working hard every day,” said Soucy of their title game preparation this week. “The harder we play against ourselves in practice, the better.”
As South Burlington prepared to take on Vermont girls soccer’s version of Goliath, coach Cory Payson reminded his players that Champlain Valley can be beaten.
“No one plays a perfect game, everyone makes mistakes,” Payson said. “We just have to capitalize on theirs.”
The fifth-seeded Wolves took on No. 1 Champlain Valley on Wednesday at 3 p.m. in Hinesburg. Results were not available at press time.
“I basically feel like we have nothing to lose,” Payson said. “CVU is the favorite. We are going to play our positions and make them work for everything. You’ve got to play the best at some point in the playoffs, now it’s our turn.”
South Burlington advanced to the semifinals with a 3-1 win over No. 4 Burr and Burton on Friday afternoon.
Bella Nevin had two goals in the win for the Wolves and Payson knows that the leading scorer has caught the attention of CVU coach Stan Williams.
“I told everybody that they have to contribute,” Payson said. “I know Stan will have a plan for Bella, other players are going to have to step up and make plays.”
It will be a tall task for South Burlington to unseat the winners of six of the last seven D-I titles but the Wolves knocked out Burr and Burton, who have been to the finals the last two years and who handed the Redhawks their only postseason loss in the last seven seasons two years ago, giving the team confidence.
“I think a lot of teams let CVU snowball on them,” Payson said. “We are definitely going to attack. We aren’t going to sit back and wait for penalty kicks.”
SOURCE: Lauren Read, Correspondent