The Vermont Division IV state soccer championships came to Applejack Stadium in Manchester on Nov. 4, with the defending champion Leland & Gray Rebels in the girls' final taking on the top-seeded Arlington Eagles, and the undefeated Twin Valley Wildcats facing the defending champions, the Winooski Spartans, in the boys' final.
In a pair of games that showcased the four of the best soccer programs in Vermont, Arlington defeated Leland & Gray, 2-1, while Winooski kept its crown with a 1-0 win over Twin Valley.
• Leland & Gray was making its third straight trip to the championship game. While the Rebels came away with a 2-1 win in their only regular season game on Sept. 12 in Townshend, the rematch at Applejack was a reversal of that result.
Abigail Emerson gave the Rebels a 1-0 lead in the ninth minute, knocking in the rebound after an initial stop of a teammate's shot by Eagles goalkeeper Sheya Wehrman.
After that, Wehrman was perfect in goal and thwarted several good scoring chances by the Rebels. However, the Rebels defense and goalkeeper Annabelle Brookes kept the Eagles from scoring until they finally broke through in the final 15 minutes of play.
Sidney Herrington got the tying goal for the Eagles during a scramble in front of the net. Taylor Wilkens then scored the game-winner with 8:57 remaining, following up the rebound of a shot by Herrington that was deflected by Brookes.
It was a tough ending for the Rebels, who finished with a 12-4-1 record. To get to the title game, Leland & Gray defeated third-seeded Rivendell, 2-1, in a semifinal game on Oct. 31 in Townshend. Emerson and Mary Sanderson were the goalscorers, and Ava LeCours and Sam Morse each picked up an assist.
The Rebels will lose Lecours, Sanderson, Amanda Fontaine, Dylan Person, and Maggie Parker to graduation, and should return a strong core of players for making another championship run in 2024.
• Over the course of this season, Winooski was not a high-scoring team. With nine shutouts heading into the championship game, it was defense that carried the Spartans.
The Spartans followed that blueprint against Twin Valley. Abdoul Lailati scored the game's lone goal in the 48th minute and prevented the Wildcats - who entered the title game having scored 84 goals - from scoring.
To get to the championship game, the Wildcats had to play though a snowstorm in Wilmington on Nov. 1 that turned Hayford Field into a winter wonderland that was not exactly conducive to playoff soccer.
But the Wildcats shook off the prematurely wintery conditions and rolled over Rivendell in the semifinal match, 7-1. Cody Magnant scored three goals and assisted on two others. Brayden Brown also scored three goals and assisted on another, while Steven Oyer had a goal and an assist. Kaelyn Lackey had four stops in goal.
Twin Valley finished with a 16-1 record, and will lose Magnant, Noah Dornburgh, Garrett Cunningham, and Garrett Ryan to graduation. The rest of this team that almost achieved perfection are expected to be back for another shot at a state soccer title in 2024.
Terriers fall to Falcons in OT
• For the second time in three weeks, the third-seeded Bellows Falls Terriers made the long trip to Newport on Nov. 3 to take on the second-seeded North Country Falcons in the Division II football semifinals.
On a cold night in the Northeast Kingdom, the Falcons needed overtime to defeat the Terriers, 21-20, to deny Bellows Falls a fourth straight trip to the state championship game.
North Country took a 14-0 lead into halftime on touchdown runs by Haiden Boivin and Justin Young. BF cut the lead in half with a 2-yard touchdown run by running back Jesse Darrell late in the third quarter. Quarterback Cole Moore then forced overtime when he scored on a 1-yard drive with 12 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Tied 14-14, the game went into OT. The Falcons had the ball first and, on fourth down, quarterback Watson Laffoon scored on a 1-yard plunge. The point-after kick was good for a 21-14 lead.
The Terriers then got the ball, and Darrell dashed into the end zone on BF's first play from scrimmage. Head coach Bob Lockerby then called the play that would decide the game. BF faked an extra point attempt, and tried for the two-point conversion that would win the game…if it worked.
Moore - the holder for extra points - took the ball, rolled to his left and lofted a pass to Darrell in the corner of the end zone. It was a little too high for the well-defended Darrell to reach, and the incomplete pass punched North Country's ticket for a trip to Rutland this Saturday to play for the state title for the first time since 2004.
Boivin finished with 83 yards on nine carries for the 8-2 Falcons, while Young had 12 carries for 72 yards. Darrell led the 5-5 Terriers with 90 yards on 13 carries, while fellow running back Walker James - back in action after missing two games with an ankle injury - rushed for 68 yards on seven carries.
While the Terriers will lose Darrell, James, Moore, Colby Dearborn, Remy Lacroix, Curtis Green, Colby Bernier, Andrew Wilbur, Jaxon Clark, Jaxyn Lovell, and Angel Rivera to graduation, they have a large group of underclassmen who are ready to step up for the 2024 season.
Rec. Dept. offers indoor sports opportunities for adults
• With the days growing shorter and colder, the Brattleboro Recreation & Parks Department offers a variety of activities at the Gibson-Aiken Center for folks who want to stay active through the winter months.
Adult Soccer/Futsal is offered on Thursdays from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Third Floor Gym. The program is intended to be inclusive of all skill levels with emphasis on learning and enjoying the game. Pickup games will be played. The fee per night is $5 for Brattleboro residents and $7 for non-residents. Space is limited to 18 players per night.
Pickleball is offered on Tuesday nights from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Third Floor Gym. This program is designed for adults of all abilities. This is a freelance program with no instructor. Pickup games will be played. All levels and abilities are welcome. The fee per night is $5 for Brattleboro residents and $7 for non-residents.
Table tennis will be offered on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 6 to 8:30 p.m., sponsored by the Brattleboro Area Table Tennis Club, It is open for ping pong players of all skill levels, and they strongly encourage beginners to join. Time is spent doing warmups and practice and then competitive games are played between the players who are present. Groups of players go to a local tournament each year. There is an intra-club tournament at the end of the year. The fee per night is $3 for Brattleboro residents and $5 for non-residents.
Badminton is offered on Thursdays from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the Third Floor Gym. This program is designed for adults of all abilities. This is a freelance program with no instructor. Pickup games will be played and all levels and abilities are welcome. The fee per night is $4 for Brattleboro residents and $6 for non-residents.
Volleyball is offered on Mondays from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Third Floor Gym. This program is designed for adults of all abilities. This is a freelance program with no instructor. Pickup games will be played and all levels and abilities are welcome. The fee per night is $5 for Brattleboro residents and $7 for non-residents.
For all programs, events, facility information, and more, visit www.brattleboro.org and click on "Sport and Recreation" tab found on the blue horizontal bar. A new drop-down menu will appear that will take you to "Recreation and Parks." If there are special needs required for these programs, let them know five days in advance by calling 802-254-5808.
Senior bowling roundup
• It's the mid-point of the fall/winter season of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League at Brattleboro Bowl, and Week 9 action on Nov. 2 saw Stepping Stones (29-16) have a 0-5 week but still stay in first place. Moving into second after a 5-0 week was Four Seasons (28-17), followed by No Splits (27-18), Four Pins (26-19), High Rollers (25-20), Dumblebor, Skippers, and Hairiers (all 24-21), and PEWJ (10-35).
Pat Bentrup had the women's high handicap game (245), while Doris Lake had the high handicap series (691). Charlie Marchant had the men's high handicap game (261) and John Walker had the high handicap series (690). Dumbledor had the high team handicap game (884) and series (2,578).
Walker had the men's high scratch series (621) with games of 224, 205, and 189. Milt Sherman had a 558 series with a 218 game, Gary Montgomery had a 544 series with a 204 game, and Marty Adams had a 542 series. Fred Ashworth and Warren Corriveau Sr. each had a 511 series with Corriveau rolling a 190 game. Marchant had a 508 series and Al Dascomb had a 193 game.
Pam Greenblott had the women's high scratch series (463) and game (175). Bentrup had a 170 game, while Deb Kolpa had a 164 game and Carol Gloski had a 161 game.
Randolph T. Holhut , deputy editor of this newspaper, has written this column since 2010 and has covered sports in Windham County since the 1980s. Readers can send him sports information at [email protected].
This Sports column by Randolph T. Holhut was written for The Commons.