They may have moved up a division this season, but the Bellows Falls Terriers field hockey team has been as dominant in Division II as they were in Division III for the past two seasons.
On Nov. 4 at the University of Vermont, the top-seeded and undefeated Terriers shut out the No. 2 Spaulding Crimson Tide, 6-0, to win the Division II state championship.
It was the third straight championship for the 17-0 Terriers, who have won 40 consecutive games dating back to 2015, and back-to-back state titles in Division III in 2015 and 2016. It was the fifth state title in school history.
All season long, the Terriers have used a combination of speed, pinpoint passing, and hard shots on goal — a big reason why the Terriers have outscored their opponents 109-4 this season.
Another big explosion of goals was inevitable, and Molly Kelly and Abbie Cravinho delivered with two goals apiece against the 14-2 Tide. Dani Marchica and Madison Streeter also scored.
Streeter opened the scoring three minutes into the game off a penalty corner. Cravinho got the assist.
The second goal also started with a penalty corner, but after two defensive stops by the Tide during the scramble in front of the net, Cravinho cashed in on the third try off a rebound at the 15 minute mark.
Relentless pressure by the Terriers near the end of the first half resulted in a goal by Kelly with 4:02 left in the first half.
It was more of the same in the second half. Kelly scored on a counterattack in the 37th minute, and Cravinho got her goals off a penalty corner from Streeter midway through the half, and an unassisted goal with 13 seconds to play.
Spaulding put only two shots on goal in the game as BF goalies Emma Lober and Kylie Comstock combined on the shutout. Tide goalie Calista Hannah made eight saves.
The Terriers got to the championship game on Oct. 30, with a 3-0 win over fourth-seeded Burr & Burton in a semifinal at Middlebury College.
Heavy rain before the match made the artificial turf at Middlebury slippery, but once the Terriers found their footing, the goals followed.
BF scored twice late in the first half. With 2:35 left, Kelly took a crossing pass from Alice Salter-Roy and put it into the net. Marchica added an unassisted goal about a minute later.
Eight minutes into the second half, Cravinho got the third goal when she managed to tap in an errant shot on goal by Marchica.
Lober needed to make just one save to earn the shutout victory, while Burr & Burton’s Hannah Callen made seven saves.
With another championship banner for her program, BF coach Bethany Coursen is already thinking ahead to next year, and petitioning the Vermont Principals’ Association to move the Terriers into Division I. She said the school tried to do it this year, but they weren’t able to untangle the logistics of playing the northern schools. Don’t be surprised if the Terriers do seek new worlds to conquer.
Terriers will play again for state football title
• Bellows Falls, the defending state champions in Division II, have had only two losses this season — a 23-6 loss in Week 3 to Burr & Burton, and a narrow 21-20 loss to Fair Haven in Week 7.
One of those losses was avenged by the fourth-seeded Terriers on Nov. 4, with a heart-stopping 22-16 win over the top-seeded Bulldogs in a Division II semifinal game in Manchester.
Now, the Terriers will have a chance to settle the score with the Slaters this Saturday at Rutland’s Alumni Field when they play for the Division II title.
Burr & Burton entered the semifinal game with an eight-game winning streak, their only loss having come in the opener against Burlington. They had plenty of incentive to knock off the Terriers, having lost to them, 20-14, in the 2016 state championship game. A year earlier, the Bulldogs beat BF, 28-7 to end an undefeated season with a state title.
The 1-2 offensive punch of running back Shane Clark and quarterback Logan Cota is a big reason why BF entered the game leading Division II in scoring with 419 points, or an average of more than 46 points per game. But Burr & Burton entered the game with the stingiest defense in Division II, having given up a total of 91 points.
For much of the first half, it looked like the Bulldogs had the upper hand. They scored on its first possession when, after a BF pass interference penalty kept their drive alive, quarterback Jay McCoy threw to receiver Cameron Hedberg, who was wide open down the left sideline. He reeled in the ball and raced to the end zone for a 73-yard TD. Hedberg kicked the extra point for a 7-0 lead with 9:27 left in the first quarter.
Burr & Burton had BF on the ropes in the second quarter after an 85-yard scoring drive that was capped off by a two-yard run by McCoy. The Hedberg extra point made it 14-0 with 6:35 left in the first half.
But that turned out to be the high water mark for the Bulldog offense. According to published reports, McCoy broke a rib on the second play of the game and tried to stay on the field as long as he could. McCoy would leave the game midway through the third quarter after having trouble breathing.
BF responded to the second Bulldog score with a scoring drive of its own. Shane Clark finished it when he burst up the middle and ran 34 yards for a touchdown. He also ran in a two-point conversion to cut the lead to 14-8 with 4:45 remaining in the second quarter.
The Terriers got the ball to start the second half, and unleashed a display of classic Bellows Falls power football. A 14-play, 67-yard scoring drive featured 12 runs and two passes and gobbled up more than 6 minutes of the clock.
Shane Clark and fullback Spencer Clark alternated pounding the ball through the middle of the Bulldog defense before Shane ended up with his second touchdown of the day on a two-yard toss sweep to the left side. Cota was stopped on the conversion run, but BF tied the game at 14-14 with 5:52 remaining in the quarter.
With McCoy out, and his brother and second-string QB Joey McCoy also out of the game with an apparent concussion, it fell to third-string QB John Morgantini to bail out the Bulldogs. But the Bulldogs went 3-and-out on their only possession of the third quarter, and the Terriers quickly got the ball back to go on another long, clock-eating drive.
BF coach Bob Lockerby switched up the offense on that drive, putting in Griffin Waryas at quarterback and moving Cota to running back. Between the power of the Clark brothers and the speed of Cota, the Bulldogs had no way to stop the Terriers.
Aided by a couple of Bulldog penalties and a 30-yard reception by Cota, BF got the ball down to the Bulldog 5, where Cota ran it in for the go-ahead touchdown. Shane Clark’s conversion run made it 22-14 with 9:47 left in the fourth quarter.
Burr & Burton got the ball back and had some success with Morgantini running a no-huddle offense. They got as far as the BF 25 before Morgantini was sacked for a big loss on 4-and-6. The Bulldogs then got the ball back on the next play, when they recovered a BF fumble on the 38 yard line with 7:54 to play.
The Terriers appeared to be in trouble, but the Bulldogs then self-destructed with several costly penalties on the ensuing drive, including a pass interference call and a personal foul that nullified the potential tying score.
BF got the ball back with 5:49 to play, and Lockerby put Cota back at quarterback and kept the play calling conservative to try and run out the clock. They eventually had to kick the ball away, and the Bulldogs got one last chance to get a touchdown with 3:01 to play and the ball on their 20.
Morgantini almost pulled off the comeback, but Cota rescued the Terriers with a diving interception of a Morgantini pass on the 1 yard line with 50.3 seconds left. BF ran out the clock, with Cota tackled in the end zone for a Bulldogs safety as time expired.
Shane Clark led the BF rushers with 155 yards on 25 carries, while Cota added 34 yards on 12 carries and Spencer Clark picked up 39 yards on nine carries. Despite his broken rib, Jay McCoy had 35 rushing yards on nine carries and had an 8-for-13 day passing for 135 yards with two TDs. Morgantini was 8 of 22 for 82 yards and an interception.
This gritty, hard-hitting game will only intensify the rivalry between these two schools. But as satisfying as the win over Burr & Burton was, Terriers fans will be disappointed if their team doesn’t beat Fair Haven this Saturday, because Bellows Falls has what it takes to win another title.
Stowe again dashes title hopes for Twin Valley
• For the third straight year, the No. 2 Stowe Raiders denied the No. 3 Twin Valley boys’ soccer team a chance at the Division III title. Stowe, winners of the state championship for five years running, edged the visiting Wildcats, 1-0, in a semifinal match on Oct. 31.
Both teams were riding high entering this game. Twin Valley came in with 11 shutout wins and a six-game winning streak with 18 unanswered goals, while Stowe could boast of having 11 straight shutouts.
With two strong defenses on the field, something had to give. But, as it turned out, only one scoring chance would pan out for Stowe.
Two minutes into the first half, Jace Boerger settled a 30-yard crossing pass at the top of the penalty area from Johnny Driscoll. Boerger was immediately surrounded by Twin Valley defenders once the ball hit the ground, but he had just enough space to get off a hard shot to the left post that beat Wildcats goalkeeper Josh Carpenter-O’Hearn.
Twin Valley had a couple of quality opportunities in first half, including a header off a corner kick by Dylan Howe and a point-blank shot by Colin McHale. But Stowe goalkeeper Sam Schoepke made five saves to keep the Wildcats scoreless.
Carpenter-O’Hearn made eight saves to keep Twin Valley in the game.
The Wildcats finished with a 15-2 season after reaching the state semifinals for the seventh straight year. They have consistently been one of the best boys’ soccer programs in Vermont. They just have to find a way to beat Stowe.
Senior bowling roundup
• The top four teams have been reshuffled after Week 9 of the fall season of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League. Team 1 (28-17) is now in first place. Team 5 (27-18) moved into second, and Team 8 is now tied with Team 7 for third (both 25-20). Team 3 and Team 9 (both 23-22) are tied for fourth place, followed by Team 10 (21-24), Team 2 (20-25), Team 6 (19-26), and Team 4 (14-21).
In Week 9, Bunny Fogg had the women’s high handicap game (234), while Roberta Parsons had the high handicap series (663). Robert Rigby had the men’s high handicap game (265) and series (691). Team 5 had the high team handicap game (891) and Team 9 had the high series (2,522).
Robert Rigby (667) had a 600-plus series with a pair of 200-plus games (257, 215). Josie Rigby (547) had a 500-plus series with a high game of 202. Jerry Dunham (539), Wayne Randall (534), Marty Adams (555), Warren Corriveau Sr. (589), Fred Ashworth (537), and Charles Marchant (546) joined Josie in the 500-club. Corriveau (225, 204), Ashworth (203), Dunham (200), and Adams (213) all had 200-plus games.
I left out the Week 8 scores last week, so here they are now. Bunny Fogg and Pamela Greenblott had the women’s high handicap game (250), while Greenblott had the high handicap series (672). Bob Wistrom had the men’s high handicap game (249) and Charles Marchant had the high series (664). Team 5 had the high team handicap game (875) and Team 6 had the high series (2,485).
Robert Rigby (621) had a 600-plus series with three 200-plus games (207, 201, 213). Josie Rigby (519) had a 500-plus series. She was joined by Jerry Dunham (509), Wayne Randall (518), Marty Adams (535), Fred Ashworth (511), Wistrom (504) and Charles Marchant (532).
Fogg (204) had the lone 200-plus game for the women, while Marchant (200), Wistrom (201), Randall (201), and Ashworth (208) were in the 200-plus club for the men.