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NORTHEAST KINGDOMâ€“UCA ended its annual Spirit Week with a pair of varsity soccer matches. Once again, this years Spirit Week is in memory of former UCA student Eli Goss, who lost his life in a motor vehicle accident one year ago.
Varsity Boy's Coach Alyssa DeLaBruere said, "Even though he his not here, we can still feel him around us." While originally scheduled for a double-header at Gardner Park, the girl's game was moved to the North Country Junior High School, with the boy's remaining at Gardner.
In girl's action, the Lady Crusaders looked to build upon their (2-3) start to the season. Coach Sarah Roy said that she has seen a lot of growth in her young team this season.
"We have no Seniors on your team, so it is up to my Juniors to lead the way. Our eighth graders have shown a lot of growth throughout the season and are becoming more accustomed to the style of play that their is at the Varsity level."
The Lady Crusaders got down early as Canaan's Alicia Marquis received a beautiful pass from Ritza Arias and made it 1-0. UCA Freshman Kathryn Daigle and Junior Captain Laura Libby kept the Eagle defenders on their toes, as they threaded the needle and peppered the Eagle goalie Rebecca Marchesseault with shot after shot.
But, it was not enough as the Eagle's 3-headed monster of Erin Marchesseault, Marquis, and Arias, would continue to to slice through the Crusader's defense, resulting in a 4-0 half-time score in favor of the Eagles and a deep hole for the Purple and White to climb out of.
Coming out of half-time UCA seemed more focused and determined to get back into the game.
Early in the 2nd half Moriah Lafoe would cut into the Eagle lead, as she slipped a shot past the keeper to make it 4-1 UCA.
Canaan would tack on 3 more goals before Olivia Foster, found the back of the net and cut the lead to 7-2. The Purple and White weren't ready to end the match in favor of the Canaan Squad, as with just under 1 minute to play in regulation Laura Libby added a goal of her own, moving the score to 7-3.
After the game Coach Roy was disappointed with the result, but pleased with the way her team responded in the second half. "We were much more focused in the second half, our passing was better and we scored 3 goals. I am really proud of the way the girls kept their heads up after the rough first half."
UCA returns to action today against the Winooski Spartans, and will look to improve upon their 2-4 record. Kick off is set for 4:00.
As for the Boy's team, who are still looking for their first victory of the season, they too faced off against the visiting Canaan Eagles.
The Crusaders came out strong as they took shot after shot at the Eagle keeper Kevin Arias, but they were denied on each attempt. A defensive break down inside the 18-yard line resulted in Rafal Costa slipping in a shot past UCA's Chris DeLeBruere and making it 1-0 Canaan.
Coach DeLaBruere made a defensive switch at half-time, moving Dale Martell into the keeper position and moving Chris DeLabruere into the half-back slot. The move proved to pay dividends as Martell, turned away all 9 Eagles' shots he faced in the second half, while UCA would go on to out-shoot Canaan 18-12.
Captain Ji Hwan Kim looked as if he was going to tie the game with 7 minutes to go, as he slipped untouched into the 18, but Arias stood tall and the shot was denied.
In the final seconds of play the Purple and White looked once again like they were poised to knot the game and send the Crusaders into an overtime period.
Eighth Grader Mitchell Roy, took a pass out of his defensive end and carried it up the right sideline. He threaded the needle perfectly, slipping the ball passed 3 Eagle defenders, and on to the waiting foot of Ji Kim. Kim got the shot off from 12 yards out, but just as before, Canaan's keeper wouldn't be fooled, and the shot was turned away.
Coach DeLaBruere after the game couldn't have been more proud of her team.
"That was a tough one to lose," she said. "We played so well and had so many shots on goal. Our second half was amazing, I give credit to Canaan's keeper, we couldn't find a way to get a shot passed him. Sang Mo Kang, played really well on defense today. Jon DeLaBruere played well at midfield today and it isn't a position that he is used of playing."
The talk after the game however was the last minute pass from Mitchell Roy. "How about that pass, from number 3," said Coach DeLaBruere. "That has to be the play of the year for him. He is a just turned 13 year-old 8th-grader and he is really stepping his game up."
UCA is still in search of the first win of the season as their record stands at 0-6. They will look to pick up win number 1 when they travel to Richford on Monday, October 10th with a 3:30 start.