There is about a month of competition left before state championships in both Vermont and New Hampshire, in several sports, in several divisions, will be on the line. One team we presented to you last week, which has some lofty sights, is the Bellows Falls Girls Cross Country team. Three other girls teams, the BF Field Hockey team, as well as the Green Mountain and Leland & Gray girls soccer teams, have elevated sights as well.
Bethany Coursen is used to winning. Her Bellows Falls stickers have captured three Vermont State titles in a row. Last fall, they won the Division II championship defeating Spaulding 6-0. Before that, they brought home two straight Division III pieces of hardware for the trophy case: in 2015 with a 2-1 win against Stowe and in 2016 with a 4-0 win over Missisquoi. You may have noticed the Terriers didn’t give up a goal in all three of those title contests.
Bellows Falls has also not yet been scored on this fall. They are 7-0, won three of their games by that same 7-0 advantage. This year, when the play-offs arrive later this month, Coursen’s team will be competing at the Division I level. The veteran Bellows Falls coach had her team scrimmage always tough South Burlington and New York power Hoosick Falls in the preseason to make sure they would be battle tested. “We held our own,” Coursen remembers about those August match-ups.
Not only does Bellows Falls not give up goals, they certainly scored them. They averaged four goals a game, capturing the three titles in as many years and now are sitting with 49 goals, a perfect average of 7 goals a contest to match the 7-0 start. Certainly don’t play this team at 7 p.m.
“We scrimmaged a couple of tough teams before the season began,” Coursen noted. “We are given a schedule to play and that’s the best way we could prepare to get ready for everything.” The Purple and White is home both Thursday and Friday this week hosting Woodstock and Brattleboro respectively.
Carolynn Hamiton and Lucas Bates, the coaches of both Green Mountain and Leland & Gray girls soccer, also believe in making yourselves better by playing as much tough competition as you can. Green Mountain had a preseason contest against Burr & Burton. “That one let us feel some pain,” was Hamilton’s comment surrounding the get-together, which showed her young team how the game is played. Leland & Gray met both Arlington and Thetford in non-league encounters prior to league action in regular season games. Bates tells me, “Those are the type of games that prepare your team for the play-offs.”
Green Mountain defeated Leland & Gray in a head-to-head game last week 3-2. Hamilton said of the Rebels, “That was a good win. They will be waiting for us over there on the 15th.” The two teams meet again on that date at 4 p.m. “Their field is a tough place to play.”
I had spoken to Bates first, but now I wonder if he would have said the same thing about the playing surface in Chester?
Green Mountain stands at 8-1, which is third in the Vermont Division III standings. Leland & Gray is 5-3 and is seventh. Most of the difference between the teams is the outcome of their game together. I have Oct. 15 penciled in on my calendar. I hope my overall slate will allow me to take in that game.
Both Green Mountain and Leland & Gray are young teams overall with a strong veteran influence. The Lady Chieftains lost six players to graduation, but another half dozen transferred, went out for another sport or whatever, making the team -which was expecting to have all kinds of experience – a team which will take a little longer to jell. On the other hand, the Rebels were suppose to be exactly what they are. Both teams could meet a third time and one team could really spoil the other’s season.
Paige Karl scored all three goals the first time these two teams met. She also had all four goals in a crazy 4-3 victory over Windsor. She is surrounded and supported by veteran teammates Brigid Karl, Rachel Guerra, Reilly Merrill, Maddie Wilson, Erin Otis, and the developing young athletes.
On the Townshend side of the rivalry, Arin Bates had the game winner in the team’s most recent 3-2 win over Otter Valley. She also had both goals against Green Mountain. She has plenty of support from veterans also. The play of Maris Linder, Sierra Fillon, Erin Cutts, and Ellie Longpo – “possibly the fastest player around” according to Bates – lead the way with the young Rebel corps ready to assist.
Two teams, similar scripts, some good talent. The rest of this fall should be exciting.
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