NEWPORT–On a gray and chilly afternoon, the North Country field hockey team paid tribute to their twelve departing seniors on Tuesday before their well played 2-0 loss to the Missisquoi Valley Union Thunderbirds.
"I'm really going to miss them," said Coach Bouchard of her outgoing seniors, "They have been my backbone ever since I started coaching here."
Three girls in particular hold a special place in Bouchard's heart; Kelsey O'Donnell, Lindsay Cotnoir and Molly Manning.
"Those three have always been on their game. They are my leadership group, and it is really sad to see them go."
After the festivities, the game got underway with a flourish as the Falcons, usually the comeback kids, were the aggressors in the early going. It was a very even half, with the chances being about 55-45 in favor of MVU. Not bad work considering they were playing the top team in division two, and the scoreboard read zeros at the end of the first half.
The focus of the North Country game plan was to shut down the electric T-Bird forward, number six Camille Rainville, and it paid off.
Rainville is the daughter of MVU Coach Jeanne Rainville, formerly Gaudreau who was a standout field hockey player at North Country in the late 70's before heading on to play at UVM.
The Falcons were successful in keeping Camille from scoring, but she would have an impact later on in the second half.
"First of all, I would like to compliment North Country. I thought they came out and played us really, really well," said Coach Rainville, "They did what they were supposed to do, and that is covering my number six. They had three or four players on her and she couldn't move, so at half time I moved her back on defense."
With Rainville playing D and thusly brining her coverage with her, chances would begin to mount for the Thunderbirds.
North Country held MVU at bay for the first twelve minutes of the half, but a string of corners would be the Falcons undoing.
As North Country was trapped in their own circle for almost two minutes dealing with all the infractions, Rainville got the ball to Dakota Raleigh who beat Danielle Gabucci to get MVU on the board with 17:23 left in the half.
Less than a minute later Erica Patterson one timed a Chelsea Boudreau feed to put the Thunderbirds up by a pair.
MVU would make the two goal lead stand, but it was not easy.
Molly Manning led two great charges up the field in the final ten minutes, including a partial breakaway, that brought the Falcons very close to tying the game, but neither she or her teammates could get a shot off against the T-Birds defense.
The game ended in a 2-0 loss, but it was easily the best game that North Country has played all season.
"They were insane, and it was awesome," said Bouchard, "They played like they've never played before. They knew what to expect going into the game, so I don't know if it was because it was their senior game and they wanted to own it, but they did."
"This game was very important," said senior Lindsay Cotnoir, "I definitely hope we play at the same level when we play Lyndon."
Cotnoir, who played the game with a broken thumb, said the busted digit was not really a factor in her abilities on the field.
"It's good. I caught a drive off it last game and I didn't tell anybody about it and just kept playing. It didn't hurt really at all."
Cotnoir and the rest of the Falcons are poised and ready for their final game, as a trip down I-91 to the Institute will close the regular season for the Falcons as they square off against Lyndon. Game time is 3:45.