By Lauren Read
All eyes were on South Burlington on Monday. Well, all the eyes of the Champlain Valley Union field hockey team were focused on South Burlington.
As the Wolves took on Essex in the final game of the regular season, seeding was up in the air for the Division I playoffs.
“We were at practice checking Twitter to see who was winning,” said CVU coach Tucker Pierson. “To have such a big game as the one game on Monday … it was fun.”
Essex ended up earning a 1-0 win and jumped up to the No. 2 with a 5-1 record.
That left 8-1 Champlain Valley with the No. 3 seed and quarterfinal match against No. 6 Colchester (3-5) on Saturday at 10 a.m. The Redhawks will play on the turf field at South Burlington as the home team.
“I am really excited,” Pierson said. “I think that it is going to be surprising. I don’t know that it is going to be the higher seeds over the lower seeds as it has been. There are going to be some close games.”
For CVU, confidence entering the postseason is high. The team has beat all of the other top five seeds, with the exception of No. 1 Bellows Falls, a team the Redhawks did not play in the regular season. CVU had regular-season wins over No. 2 Essex, No. 4 South Burlington and No. 5 Rice (twice).
“We do feel some measure of that confidence,” Pierson said. “Playoffs are a whole different season. We know that each game that we get to play will be a battle.”
With the 8-1 record and wins against the state’s top teams, the Redhawks are fully focused on the state title and capturing the program’s first D-I championship since 2008.
“I cannot even joke about it, they are so fired up,” Pierson said. “They are really building each other up, they are pumping each other up.”
First up for CVU will be the Lakers, a team the Redhawks beat 4-1 in the final game of the regular season.
“Colchester is a really fast team,” Pierson said.
CVU has a week to get ready for the postseason, a nice change from the fast-paced regular season, which saw them play nine games in a month. Players will spend that time working on the fundamentals and skills to keep them sharp.
“We haven’t had a lot of time to practice. We havent had time to do a lot of team-building,” Pierson said. “We are going to try to do some of those fundamental things, brush up on skills.”
If CVU beats Colchester on Saturday, the team will play the winner No. 2 Essex vs. No. 7 Mount Mansfield in a Wednesday, Oct. 28 semifinal game.