WHITE RIVER JUNCTION, Vt. – It has been an emotional, trial-filled season for the Enosburg boys soccer team, so it made sense that the Hornets would have to battle to the final seconds to finish their season the way they envisioned.
Top-seeded Green Mountain gave No. 3 Enosburg all it could handle in the late stages of Saturday’s Division III state championship game, but when the final horn sound, it was the Hornets celebrating a 4-3 championship win at Maxfield Sports Complex.
With the last few months Enosburg has had, dealing with the situation that arose in a game against Winooski in September and the aftermath, the Hornets didn’t take their eye off the prize they coveted.
“To have a season like that under any circumstances is impressive, but for them to hold it together through all of the Winooski stuff and still keep working hard in practice and executing in games, hats off to them,” said Enosburg coach Randy Swainbank.
The Chieftains were left wishing they had a few minutes more to potentially tie the contest.
Green Mountain looked dead in the water midway through the second half when the Hornets extended their lead to 4-0 on a Levi Webb goal.
But true to their form, the Chieftains didn’t give up.
Green Mountain took advantage of a foul in the box and were awarded a penalty kick. Their 100-goal scorer Everett Mosher was the obvious man for the job and he buried a hard, low shot into the left side of the net to cut into the lead.
The Chieftains kept pushing, and with 7:11 to play, Green Mountain got a great shot on goal that was saved by Enosburg keeper Ethan Jackson. Everett’s younger brother Eben Mosher was playing up given the deficit and made his presence felt, crashing the net to put home a rebound attempt.
Green Mountain got the deficit to one goal with 3:24 to play. Everett Mosher dribbled the ball deep into the box down the left end line and buried a shot from a tough angle.
The Chieftains were inches away from tying the game in the closing seconds. Green Mountain got a great throw-in from the left sideline that Everett Mosher got his head on. The ball was ticketed for the goal, but ended up going just left of the near post.
“We worked real hard all game. It’s hard coming from behind and we haven’t had to do that much this year,” said Green Mountain coach Jake Walker. “We were right there, so it’s tough. Our goal was to get here and then once we’re here it is what it is.”
The Chieftains dominated shots and possession for much of the first half, but couldn’t find the back of the net.
“The first half, they really took it to us. We just had to absorb pressure and sort some stuff out,” Swainbank said.
Enosburg kept the game scoreless during that stretch due to some great goalkeeping by senior Ethan Jackson, who had 11 first-half saves. The Hornets back line stepped up in crucial spots too, most notably clearing a surefire goal off the goal line later in the first half.
Soccer is about momentum and Enosburg got its momentum with a late first-half goal. A Hornets shot forced GM keeper Evan Hayes off his line, and after a couple attempts, Enosburg’s Silas Kane put home a rebound with 2:32 in the half.
It was an eventful day for Kane, who ended up having to play some goalie in the second half after some hard contact forced Jackson out. On that play late in the second half, Eben Mosher was given a red card for charging into the jumping keeper while trying to head a ball home. Jackson eventually came back in to finish the game.
Following Kane’s score, the Hornets carried the momentum over to the second half with three goals in the span of less than 14 minutes.
Webb had a perfectly placed corner kick to the near post that Blair Archambault headed in with 35:27 to play.
The next two goals came in large part to Enosburg’s speed. Webb had a run that forced Hayes well off his line and the senior got behind him to put one in with 28:29 to play.
Webb had a similar goal with 22:18 to play that put the Hornets up 4-0.
“They’re fast and they’re well-skilled up top,” Walker said. “They did well to break us and capitalize on their chances. We had a lot of chances and we couldn’t really finish them.”
Green Mountain was making its third straight trip to the D-III title game. The Chieftains were crowned champions in 2019 and runner-up in 2020.
Enosburg had last won a state championship in 2006 before Saturday’s win.
Written by Adam Aucoin, Rutland Herald