Team will reload in 2009
Oct. 30, 2008
By Mal Boright
Following his team’s 2-0 quarterfinal loss to second-seeded South Burlington High on Friday, disappointed Champlain Valley Union High soccer coach T.J. Mead was philosophical about his team’s first early exit from the Division 1 playoffs in seven years.
Observer photo by Ben Sarle
Champlain Valley Union High senior Brayden McKenna (12) winds up for a pass during Friday’s playoff game against South Burlington High. South Burlington knocked off the Redhawks, 2-0, ending CVU’s bid for a seventh-straight Division 1 title.
“Our expectations are always for nothing less than a championship,” Mead said. “We underachieved in the regular season and in the postseason, but it was not for lack of effort.”
Having lost 13 graduates from the 2007 team that captured the Redhawks’ sixth consecutive title, CVU (8-6-2) fielded one of its youngest teams in years.
(At least two of those graduates from last year’s team, co-captains Tyler Macnee and Micah Rose, are playing on college varsity teams this fall.)
Young or not, the Redhawks were not the team South Burlington coach Tom Schaeffer wanted to be paired against so early in the playoffs.
“We did not want to see them now,” Schaeffer said, even though the Rebels had nipped CVU twice during the regular season.
The affable Rebel coach had too many memories of South Burlington losses to CVU in two of the last three Division 1 title games, and a semifinal defeat in the other.
Thus it was a great sigh of relief that came from Schaeffer after the contest.
And Schaeffer is no doubt well aware that next fall the Redhawks will be flapping their wings again — players from the undefeated jayvee team will fill out roster spots left by nine departing seniors.
As for the game itself, Mead said his team “worked extremely hard,” but played, “in spurts.”
The Rebel goals were of the accidental variety, but as Mead allowed, “each goal is worth as much as a bicycle kick from midfield.”
After a scoreless first 40 minutes, South Burlington scored with just over four minutes gone in the second half. Mark Mallory’s shot ricocheted from an upright, glanced off a defending Redhawk near the goal line and dribbled into the cage.
CVU net minder Chris Howard said he had the goal covered but the ball unfortunately bounced off a defender.
The Redhawks, with Matt Sulva and Kyle Logan leading downfield charges, got to the Rebels’ last line of defense, but could not get a ball on goalie Sam Phelps. According to the official book, Phelps had two saves. This account had him with seven.
South Burlington got its second tally with 4:16 remaining in the game. Ethan Martin, who drew an assist on the first goal, got loose on a breakaway. Howard came out some 20 yards to stop him, but the ball bounced a few feet away and Martin recovered in time to launch a snap shot into the cage.
CVU’s best scoring opportunity came midway through the first half. Midfielder Nick Hart, from about 20 yards out, launched a vicious direct kick at the South Burlington cage. Phelps, leaping across the goal mouth, just got to the ball to stop it from angling into the left corner.
It was the last time in the red soccer flannels for seniors Tom Eddy, Andrew Lieberman, Marc Vecchio. Colin Frost, Brayden McKenna, Dan Lambert, Jack Jesset, Howard and Sulva.