Rebels win state girls’ soccer title
Bellows Falls lineman Dillan Perry (62) pushes away Brattleboro linebacker Charlie Clark (3) to open a hole for running back Walker James (22) during the second half of a Division II football semifinal on Nov. 4 at Hadley Field.

Rebels win state girls’ soccer title

Terriers defeat Colonels to advance to football final; BF falls in field hockey semis

It had been 31 years since a Leland & Gray girls' soccer team has hoisted a state title plaque.

Abby Towle emphatically ended that title drought by scoring three goals in the first half to give the top-seeded Rebels a 3-0 win over the No. 2 Proctor Phantoms in the Division IV championship game on Nov. 5 at Applejack Stadium in Manchester.

The loss ended Proctor's bid to win a fourth straight state title as the Rebels shut down one of the most prolific scoring attacks in Vermont girls' soccer.

In the regular season, Proctor's Isabel Greb scored 27 goals and dished out 10 assists, while teammates Jenna Davine had 18 goals and 11 assists and Emma Palmer had 14 goals and 17 assists to lead the Phantoms to their 12th straight appearance in the Division IV final.

Leland & Gray was not fazed by those numbers. The Rebels had beaten Proctor, 2-1, in the second game of the season, and they had Towle, a senior midfielder who entered the title game with 25 goals in 2022.

Towle, the Rebels' all-time leading career goal scorer, cemented her status with her first-hand exploits against Proctor. The first came just 2:39 into the game as her free kick from 22 yards out sailed high into the net near the far post.

When McDonald was fouled in the goal area less than two minutes later, Towle blasted the penalty kick to the right of Proctor goalkeeper Candace Goodwin.

Towle then completed her hat trick when she scored on another direct kick from about 20 yards out with 9:37 left in the half.

While Towle was the headliner, it's worth a reminder that the Rebels were not just a one-woman show on offense this season. Eighteen different players scored goals for the Rebels; sophomore Abigail Emerson and juniors Maggie Parker and Mary Sanderson had seven goals apiece and senior Mary McDonald added another six.

The Rebels also had a great goalkeeper in senior Makaila Morse, who picked up her third shutout of the season in this game, as Morse and the Rebels' defenders shut down Proctor's top three scorers. Ava LeCours was a standout, breaking up Proctor's best scoring chance with a defensive save in goal.

The closest that Proctor got to scoring a goal came in the first half when Greb put the ball into the Rebels' net and was also fouled in the goal area. However, both calls were nullified by an offside call that was made before the foul and the goal.

Leland & Gray finished with a 16-0-1 record. While the Rebels will be losing Towle, McDonald, Morse, Catherine Shine, Savannah Cadrin, and Ruth Wright to graduation, they have a solid foundation to contend for another title in 2023 and a chance to be the first Rebels team to repeat as girls' soccer state champs since the back-to-back title teams of 1990 and 1991.


• The champs will get another chance to defend their crown.

Unbeaten and top-seeded Bellows Falls will be facing the second-seeded Mount Anthony Patriots for the Division II state football championship in Rutland this Saturday. It will be a rematch of the 2021 title game, and it should be a good one.

To get to that game, the Terriers had to overcome their own mistakes, as well as a determined opponent, in a 28-14 win over Brattleboro in a Nov. 4 semifinal game before a huge crowd at Hadley Field.

When BF and Brattleboro met in the season opener on Sept. 2 at Hadley Field, it was a shootout won by the Terriers, 56-40. It was a hint at what was to come for BF's season. They outscored their opponents, 208-64, and scored at least 30 points in every game but one. As for the defense, most of the points were given up by the second-string players.

Since the opener against BF, Brattleboro had a couple of blowout wins, but mostly got into the playoffs by winning the close ones, with two victories decided by less than a touchdown. They were not going to let the Terriers score 56 points again, but the challenge for the Colonels was getting their offense going against a much improved BF unit.

It didn't look good at first as Brattleboro went nowhere in their first possession, while Bellows Falls marched down the field on their first drive and scored on a 1-yard run by quarterback Jamison Nystrom, who also kicked the extra point for a 7-0 lead with 5:46 left in the first.

But Brattleboro got it together on their second drive, and tied the game on a 60-yard pass from quarterback Devin Speno to wide receiver Tristan Evans. Jordy Allembert's point after kick made it 7-7 with 1:57 left in the first quarter.

The most electrifying play came later in the first quarter. With BF driving, running back Caden Haskell got hit hard at the line of scrimmage and the ball popped loose and landed in the waiting arms of Colonels defensive lineman Justin Packard Jr. The ginormous sophomore showed he also has some speed to go with his size as he rumbled 64 yards for a touchdown and a 14-7 lead for the Colonels with 1:37 left in the first quarter.

But BF was not rattled. On the ensuing kickoff, a 40-yard run by Walker James set the table for a 2-yard smash up the middle by Haskell to tie the game at 14-14 with 10.7 seconds left in the first quarter.

The second quarter was a scoreless slog with lots of penalties racked up by both teams. BF head coach Bob Lockerby was not happy about that.

“We had more penalties tonight than we've had in any game this season,” he said after the game. “Those penalties took at least two touchdowns away from us. We got away with it this time, but we can't do that against Mount Anthony.”

BF had a chance to break the tie midway through the second quarter with a 35-yard field goal try by Jamison, but the kick clanged off the goal post.

Brattleboro's offense also struggled, but their problems extended into the second half. They were held to just five first downs in the final three quarters of the game.

The Terriers got the ball to start the second half, and began to seize control of the game with a long drive that ended with a 5-yard touchdown run by James for a 21-14 lead with 8:00 left in the third quarter.

BF's defense took over from there as the Terriers started the fourth quarter with a sack of Speno and a fumble recovery by linebacker Cole Moore with 11:17 to play. After another stop of the Colonels' offense, BF cashed in with a 5-yard touchdown run by Haskell with 4:54 to play, and delivered the final blow on the ensuing series when defensive back Eli Allbee tipped a Speno pass into the arms of Nystrom with 4:01 left.

Speno had a hard time getting time to pass as he was chased by BF linebackers Moore and Jaxson Clark and defensive lineman Dillan Perry. Speno finished with nine completions on 19 passes for 122 yards.

Brattleboro's running game was stymied also as Charlie Clark and Noah Perusse were held to 25 and 10 yards rushing, respectively. While Evans had seven catches for 119 yards, Cam Frost was the only other Colonel to catch a pass, gaining 3 yards on two receptions.

BF's running attack was led by Haskell, who had 147 yards on 24 carries, and James, who added 124 yards on 16 carries. Nystrom ran for 29 yards on eight carries and had a 2-for-5 night passing the ball. Moore caught both of Jamison's passes.

“Our running game was fine tonight,” said Lockerby, “but if we didn't have all those penalties, this game wouldn't have been as close. And the defense was much better than the first time we saw Brattleboro. They gave us a great effort.”

While he was unhappy with the way his team won, Lockerby said they did what they had to do “to earn the right to be one of the last two teams playing in the last game of the season.”

• Mount Anthony punched their ticket to the title game with a 49-8 rout of Fair Haven on Nov. 4 at Spinelli Field in Bennington in the night's other semifinal game.

Quarterback Tanner Bushee threw four touchdown passes in the first half as the Patriots took a 42-0 lead at halftime. Bushee also ran for a touchdown and gained 74 yards on nine carries. Running back Ayman Naser ran for 70 yards in the first half and finished with two touchdowns and 103 yards on 17 carries.

On defense, Bushee and Naser had one interception each, while Aaron Johnson picked off two passes. Fair Haven quarterback Joe Buxton spoiled the Patriots' shutout bid with an 18-yard TD pass to Nate Jones late in the game.

“Mount Anthony is one heck of a football team,” said Lockerby. “It's going to be a great game.”

Field hockey

• Bellows Falls is the smallest public high school in Division I, with a total enrollment of 214 students. Champlain Valley Union, in Hinesburg, is the largest high school in the state, with 1,297 students.

Despite the size difference, Bellows Falls chose to compete in Division I in field hockey starting in 2018 and play against the strongest programs in Vermont, such as CVU.

The Terriers knocked CVU out of the Division I tournament in 2018, 2019, and 2020, but the top-seeded Redhawks got their revenge on Nov. 1 with a 2-1 win over the fourth-seeded Terriers in a semifinal game at Middlebury College.

The loss ended a streak of seven straight appearances in state championship games. In that time, BF has won championships in all three divisions, a tribute to the great program that has been built up over the years by head coach Bethany Coursen.

As good as BF has been this season, CVU has been even better and the Terriers had their hands full dealing with the Redhawks.

CVU scored first off a penalty corner with 9:58 left in the second quarter. Tess Everett dished off a pass to Miranda Oppenheimer, who rifled a one-timer from the top of the circle.

Clare Marcoe got an insurance goal in the second half before BF's Ava LaRoss scored off a rebound with 2:02 left in the final quarter.

Bellows Falls finished the season with a 12-3-1 record and will lose five seniors to graduation - starting goaltender Mary Wallace, Emma Hallock, Jules McDermid, Ashlin Maxfield, and Ella Clark.

Senior bowling roundup

• Week 10 of the fall/winter season of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League on Nov. 3 saw first place Keglers 4 (37-13) have a 4-1 week to open up an 11-game lead over second place Good Times and Split Happens (both 26-24), followed by Trash-O-Matic, The Strikers, and Lucky 7 (all 25-25), Old Farts (19-31), and Slow Movers (17-33).

Shirley Aiken had the women's high handicap game (252) and series (671), while Warren Corriveau Sr. had the men's high handicap game (246) and series (654). Good Times had the high team handicap game (913) and series (2,603).

In scratch scoring, Chuck Adams led the men with a 632 series that featured games of 237 and 225. Corriveau rolled a 585 series that featured games of 222 and 209. Robert Rigby had a 575 series that featured games of 225 and 183. Jerry Dunham had a 562 series with games of 201 and 182, while Gary Montgomery had a 534 series with games of 202 and 180. Fred Ashworth had a 180 game.

Aiken had the women's high scratch series (518) and game (198). Nancy Dalzell rolled a 176 game.

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