The two heavyweights of Division IV boys’ soccer, the Proctor Phantoms and the Twin Valley Wildcats, took the field on Nov. 7 in Manchester with a state title on the line.
The two teams slugged it out through 80 minutes of regulation time to end up tied, 1-1. Two 15-minute overtimes didn’t settle things either. It took a penalty kick shootout to decide who would be the state champion.
Twin Valley’s McHale, Luke Rizio, Aaron Soskin, Izaak Park, and Finn Fisher all found the back of the net as the Wildcats won the shootout, 5-3, and repeated as Division IV champs.
McHale scored on a free kick in 31st minute to give the top-seeded Wildcats a 1-0 lead at the half. It was the 69th goal of McHale’s varsity career, Joel Denton tied the game for the third-seeded Phantoms midway through the second half.
Then it was up to goalkeeper Liam Wendell and the Wildcats’ defense to keep the Phantoms from scoring in extra time to force the shootout.
While Conner McKearin, Bryson Bourne, and Denton all scored for the Phantoms in the penalty kick sequence, then Brennon Crossmon missed the net with his shot. Fisher then scored the championship winning goal for Twin Valley with a 12-yard kick that Proctor goalkeeper Ian French couldn’t stop.
It was another masterful coach job for Twin Valley’s Buddy Hayford, the all-time winningest soccer coach in Vermont. The Wildcats finished 10-1 and hung together through the disruptions of a COVID-altered season. And, for Fisher, McHale, Park, and Soskin, it was a fantastic finish to their high school soccer careers.
Jacks jump Colonels for football title
• The 7-on-7 touch football season in Vermont came to a close on Nov. 4 at Natowich Field when the Windsor Yellowjackets beat the Brattleboro Colonels, 42-21, to win the Hartford Region championship.
Since this type of football is totally alien to Vermont, the teams that were successful were the teams that could adapt to a 100-percent passing game.
Windsor, like Bellows Falls, is a football program that traditionally emphasizes running the ball. I expected they would struggle to get used to playing 7-on-7. Instead, they entered the championship game with a 10-1 record.
The Jacks split the season series with the Colonels, as Brattleboro beat them 26-19 in Windsor on Sept. 30 and the Jacks pulled out a 27-21 win at Natowich Field on Oct. 2.
The familiarity with the Colonels definitely helped Windsor in the championship game, as the Jacks’ defense intercepted five passes and held Brattleboro to just one touchdown in the second half. Ben Gilbert, Owen Abrahamsen, Jordan Hart, Kaleb Swett and Jordan Place all had interceptions.
Maison Fortin threw four touchdown passes for the Jacks, connecting with Logan Worrall twice. He finished the season with 41 TD passes. Place threw for two touchdowns, too, and caught a TD pass from Fortin.
Things started out promising for the Colonels with a 10-play scoring drive capped off by an 8-yard TD pass from Colonels quarterback Devin Speno to Spencer Lawrence. In the second quarter, Colonels quarterback Henry Thurber threw a 20-yard TD pass to Gavin Howard as Brattleboro trailed 21-14 at the half.
In the third quarter, Windsor twice intercepted Speno and ultimately scored on a 5-yard TD pass to John Cook with 4:17 left in the third quarter. The Colonels answered with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Speno to Cobe Mager, but they could not score after that.
Aaron Petrie, Trinley Warren, and Finn LaMorder all had interceptions for the Colonels, and placekicker Reed Sargent went 3-for-3 on point-after attempts.
Brattleboro finished the season with a 7-4 record. It was a respectable showing for a team that was in transition after losing their two big stars — Tyler Millerick and Chris Frost — who led the Colonels to a Division II state title last season.
Will we see a return to normal football in 2021? I hope so. Playing 7-on-7 touch football was better than no football at all, but the players and coaches who went through this weird season don’t want to go through another year like this one.
Another win for BF’s Broadley
• Abby Broadley of Bellows Falls finished her junior season undefeated as she was the winner at the All-State cross-country Meet of Champions in St. Albans on Nov. 7.
Broadley, the three-time Division III individual state champ covered the 5K course in 18 minutes, 42 seconds.
In the team competition, which pitted the top 10 teams from Vermont’s three divisions against one another, the Terriers — the Division III champs — finished eighth.
Running for the Terriers were Stephanie Ager (10th in 20:02), Victoria Bassette (43rd in 21:43), Birgess Schemm (67th in 24:29), Lily Ware (71st in 25:30), Molly Hodsden (69th place), and Shelby Stoodley (72nd place).
State announces guidance for winter school sports, ski resorts
• Local high schools will be able to offer basketball, ice hockey, and bowling this winter, but no spectators will be allowed to watch them.
And Vermont ski resorts will be open this winter, but will face new limits on access and capacity.
These changes to the winter sports scene, brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, were announced by state officials at a news briefing in Montpelier on Nov. 3.
According to the guidance, which was developed with input from health experts and educators and reviewed by the Department of Health and Agency of Education, spectators will not be allowed for any indoor games or practices. Alpine and nordic skiing, and snowboarding, will not be affected by the no-fan rule.
Team-based social gatherings will be discouraged, and the mask mandate will be expanded to referees and coaches.
Otherwise, practices for the winter school sports season can begin Nov. 30 and inter-school competition can begin on Jan. 11. These dates could change if the number of COVID-19 cases increase in Vermont.
The guidelines that were put in place for the fall high school sports season were a success, and influenced the thinking about how the winter season should go forward.
Yes, the masks, social distancing, and limits on fans at games were a pain to deal with, but they were put in place to ensure that the students were able to play. Because everyone associated with interscholastic sports in Vermont took the guidelines seriously, no high school games were canceled due to COVID-19 in Vermont.
Skiers and snowboarders also face restrictions at Vermont resorts. Visitors will be required to comply with travel guidelines and provide contact tracing information. Lift capacity will be reduced to 50 percent, unless visitors are traveling together as a unit. Base lodges must also reduce capacity to 50 percent, or a maximum of 75 people at a time.
Snow sports are an important part of the Vermont economy, and if there is going to be anything that resembles a ski season, it will take the same attitude of mutual responsibility that enabled the Vermont fall sports season to take place.
Senior bowling roundup
• Team 6 (30-17) took over first place after Week 10 of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League at Brattleboro Bowl. Team 4 (30.5-19.5) is now in second place, followed by Team 1 (30-20), Team 3 (22.5-27.5), and Team 5 and Team 2 (both 19-31).
Nancy Dalzell had the women’s high handicap game (255) and series (705). Charlie Marchant had the men’s high handicap game (253) and series (728). Team 4 had the high team handicap game (912) and Team 1 had the high handicap series (2,568).
In scratch scoring, Robert Rigby had the high men’s series with 588. Marchant rolled a 197 game as part of his 560 series, and Warren Corriveau Sr. had a 561 series. No male bowlers rolled a 200-plus game last week.
Shirley Aiken had the high scratch game of 174 to lead the women. Josie Rigby had the high series with a 534.