Chieftain boys take center stage

This fall in the town of Chester the shoe is on the other foot. When it comes to soccer success, the girls’ team has received most of the applauding in recent seasons. If things continue to trend the way things have started in 2019, Cole Wilhelm’s boys’ team may be the team that carries the biggest chance for success in the postseason in the school.

The Chieftains boys’ soccer team stood center stage just short of two weeks ago when they captured the prestigious Josh Cole Tournament title. They easily handled Mount Saint Joseph in the semifinal game 8-0 before Wilhelm’s team were able to outplay the defending champions, Leland & Gray in the title match. Wilhelm said, “It was very fitting to be able to win this championship against Leland & Gray because they defeated us here a year ago.”

Springfield receiver Anthony Steele making a catch versus Otter Valley. The Cosmos are home again this Friday versus Bellows Free Academy of Fairfax. Photo by Doug MacPhee

What’s the difference between these Chieftains and the ones who wore the very same uniforms one year ago? “They are playing more possession based soccer. Their movement off the ball has become much better,” Wilhelm said. This is Wilhelm’s second year at the helm and he thinks the players are picking up how he wants things done. “I started to introduce things last year. I was the JV coach before I moved up so now, all the players have played under me for more than one season. I know this is a very good team, but they have to keep focused one game at a time.”

The season opener was a tough 1-0 defeat to Woodstock. Every game since then has fallen into the win column. They defeated MSJ 6-1 in another contest prior to the Cole Tournament. They shutout neighboring Springfield 5-0. Then in their latest victory they outlasted Twin Valley 1-0. Believe me that was no easy task. In case you were not aware, the Chieftain victory ended a Twin Valley 23-game regular season winning streak. That game was a classic and then some. James Anderson tallied the only goal of the game following an Eben Mosher free kick with 1:23 remaining in overtime.

Green Mountain is now headed back to the field for a Tuesday afternoon contest against a Division II Fair Haven team that was just behind Woodstock in the standings. Woodstock was the last team to defeat Green Mountain so the Slaters from the same background could prove to be a challenge. Then again, Wilhelm is constantly telling his team to stay focused. “We focus on things one game at a time.”

The Chieftains are second in the Vermont Division III rankings behind only unbeaten Winooski, a team that is outscoring opponents at an alarming rate, almost 10 goals to under 1.

When I asked the coach about the northerners, he remained focused. “I don’t know a thing about them. We don’t play them next.”

Okay Bill Bellichick, I mean Cole, on to Fair Haven.

Green Mountain boys’ soccer has not reached the semifinals in at least a decade. This team has a chance to push things to levels past the quarterfinals the girls’ team reached three times in that period of time.

  Football success continues

I can’t imagine how long it has been sine the three area football teams had a combined 8-3 record after 11 games. However, that is exactly the case this time around. All three teams won last week and in a very unusual occurrence Fall Mountain will have the easiest game this week.

Orion Binney’s team, which won for the first time Saturday 38-0, hits the road again this Saturday, Sept. 28 and will have a 1 p.m. kickoff at Farmington. Despite a not very special 0-2 start, Binney said he was not “one bit surprised we opened things up last week. I thought we had the talent to do it. Although I will say, I was a little surprised in the big way we did it. We played the best two teams right off so we need to keep moving in the same direction.”

Wildcat Izaak Westover ran for 140 yards and a touchdown and ran in three two-point conversions while Morgan Wilbur added two touchdowns.

Just like the Green Mountain boys’ soccer team, Bellows Falls fell in their opening contest but have won all their games since. The Terriers also have to be thinking about advancing deep in the post season with the way they have been playing. Everyone knew this team had plenty of skill position players coming back, but the wonder of how good they would really be came down to the development of their offensive and defensive lines.

McGregor Vancor at the end of a big gain versus Lyndon in Bellows Falls third straight win last Saturday. The Terriers dominated even more than the final score of 37-14 indicates. Photo by Doug MacPhee

Bellows Falls totally dominated Lyndon 37-14 last Saturday on the Lyndon Institute front lawn. Lockerby handed out praise to the growth of the lines beginning on offense with center Carver Scott, guards Hunter Smith and Grady Lockerby, and tackles Dominic Kendall, Nick Streeter, and Patrick Barbour. On the defensive side in the line are interior linemen Dakota Jones and Dom Bates with Lockerby and Kendall flanking them on the outside. Everything now becomes centered on a game this week at home Saturday versus Union 32 with the winner possibly hosting a state semifinal game. The coach told his team, “The level of play is going up next week,” referring to the next contest, challenging them to be ready for kickoff at Hadley Field at 1 p.m.

Todd Aiken’s Springfield Cosmos are 4-0 and face what Oxbow coach Chad Westcott says is “the best football team in our division,” after Bellows Free Academy of Fairfax defeated his team last Saturday.

The Cosmos were more than impressive in defeating Otter Valley 46-7 before yet another large home crowd at Brown Field last Friday evening. Aiken said, “Tonight we were a team that showed up and worked together and for the most part dominated the game. But there were times we were sloppy, and when that happened they refocused and pushed through. This was a much better team than the one who faltered at times against Windsor.”

Of course, Springfield played Oxbow earlier and Westcott’s summation that BFA is better gives the Cosmos reason to take the performance they put on versus Otter Valley and spend a week preparing to get even better to meet a tough team head on in the second of three straight Friday night home games this week.

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