SWANTON–The Falcons put it all on the line on Friday afternoon against the Missisquoi Thunderbirds, but MVU was just too good, topping North Country 3-0.
"They had the game of their life," said Coach Bouchard, "They knew it could potentially be their last game, so they gave it their all."
Despite losing by a larger margin than in their previous bout with MVU, North Country played a much better game. They were significantly more aggressive, and had several forays into T-Bird territory, compared to their limited time spent in the blue and white's end the first time out.
While they were able to stop Camille Rainville before, the junior forward would not be denied this day. She scored two of the three goals on the afternoon, one with such authority it had to be seen to be fully appreciated.
The game opened up with an early flurry of offensive pressure from the Falcons. Not known for their quick starts, the Falcons surprise the Birds by heading down the field towards goalie Nicole Rainville. While they did register a shot, their message of "We are here to play, so get ready" was sent loud and clear.
Missisquoi got on the board midway through the first half. After Rainville blasted a shot that was kicked away with equal authority by Danielle Gabucci, she would get the ball back and blow her second attempt past the North Country goalie for the 1-0 lead.
The two teams would continue to battle it out on the bumpy field, and the score would stay at 1-0 after the half.
In the second half, the best player on the field was not Rainville, but fellow junior Mollie Parah.
"Mollie has really stepped up her game," said MVU's Coach Jeanne Rainville, "She has great stick skills, she's fast, and she probably had the best game she's had all season today."
The Falcon D had a hard time containing the smooth moving junior, who at times seemed as if she was skating on a sheet of ice as she stick-handled in and out of a sea of maroon players.
Her prettiest play of the day set up the game's, as well as Rainville's second goal. Again, it was that silky smooth stick-handling that got Parah open as she made her way down the bench side of the field. She sent a perfect pass into the middle where an open Rainville one-timed the feed into the North Country net.
The third "goal" was simply put, a mistake by the officials. After venturing out of her net, Gabucci was unable to get to a shot by Vallary Ross. However, Haley Wilcox did get to it, clearly stopping the ball before it crossed the line with her foot. There was some confusion on the call, as neither team was sure if it was a goal or not, but in the end the refs signaled to midfield and the "goal" was allowed.
That would wrap up the scoring in the contest as North Country fell to the top seeded Thunderbirds 3-0.
It was an emotional Falcon group that gathered together after the game, and Ashley Papp summed up her experience with some very wise words.
"We had a lot of good times together," said Papp, "If you have a close team, the score doesn't matter. It's how you end up as a person."
Sage words from the Falcon senior, who was the top performer for North Country on Friday.
Bouchard summed up Papp's play simply, "She had a beautiful game."
The coach was high on her keeper as well, as Danielle Gabucci stopped nine shots while being a vocal presence in the NCU backfield.
"She did an awesome job, some really great saves."
Coach Bouchard's girls finish the year 1-12-2, but despite the record, were a tough team to face for the majority of 2011.