- Special Sections
ORLEANS -- The Lake Region Rangers pulled out a gutsy 3-2 overtime victory on Senior day against the Winooski Spartans Thursday.
Coach Tom Evans, was not able to be at the game because of his two game suspension, but he was able to pay tribute to his seniors before the contest. The graduating seniors are: Caleb Royer, Kyle Perry, Matt Morin, Tony Stuart, and Corey Whitten. Before Coach Evans left the field he was asked what this group of seniors has meant to him. "It has been 4 years of a relationship of watching these young men grow on and off the pitch. This is what its all about for me, it's not all about wins and losses."
Varsity Girls coach Brad Urie, took over the reigns for the contest and the team came out a little flat. Miscommunication cost the Rangers early, as Winooski's Lay Lay put his team out in front 1-0, with a shot from 6 yards out. But from that point on, the Blue and White looked as if they had the advantage.
A Winooski defensive lapse inside their own 18 resulted in Caleb Royer tying the contest for Lake Region. The Spartans looked as if they were going to clear the ball from their own zone, but when the ball was struck poorly Royer capitalized on the mistake. This sent the game to half-time all squared at 1.
The Blue and White came out in the second half with immense pressure. 2 minutes into the half, Morins' direct kick from 25 yards out just missed the crossbar; minutes later a Drew Gallup ball from 30 yards out was barely punched up and over the goal by Winooski's Onesphort Mwamba.
Just off the bench with 25 minutes left in the contest, Trey Lalime narrowly missed putting his team out in front. His initial shot was denied, but he followed the play only to have his 2nd attempt be off target.
As the time on the clock got closer and closer to zero, the intensity and physicality level grew. Rijad Mezetovic of Winooksi received a yellow card for unsportsmanlike conduct, but his card was caused be a bad no-call on the part of the officials, who missed Mezetovic getting cleaned out by a Ranger player. Later on in the contest Morin would receive the same card, caused by a complaint on another bad no-call.
With 15 minutes left in regulation, Corey Whitten would not be denied, as he took the Kyle Perry offering and slammed it into the back of the net, giving his team the lead with little time left on the clock. But Winooski was not done either. Another Rangers' miscue inside the 18, led to Lay's 2nd goal of the game, and just like that the game was all square with 10 minutes remaining.
Lake Region had their opportunities to end the game before the final whistle as Gallup missed on a half-volley attempt from 18 yards out and a coast-to-coast attempt from Josh Thibault was turned away from 15 yards out. But it was not enough, and the game was sent to an extra session.
Just under a minute into overtime, Whitten looked as if he was going to secure the victory, but his shot missed wide left, but these seniors were not about to let the win get away from them on their day. With 4 minutes gone, Jesse Breault's indirect dick from midfield was put home by Tony Stuart, giving Lake Region the 3-2 overtime victory.
After the game Coach Urie said, "When we stopped worrying about the refs and the field conditions and we settled down and started playing soccer, we dominated. Winooski played well and they definitely played the whole game, but we were the better team once we settled down."
Stuart was all smiles on the bench after scoring the game-winner. "That goal is definitely special to me," he said. "It's one that I will never forget."
The win brings the final regular season record to 7-6-1 and has the Rangers in position to claim the 7th seed in the Division 2 playoffs. But, they will need to wait until Monday afternoon before they officially know their playoff fate.