NEWPORT–Eighth grader Caleb DeLaBruere score his first career varsity goal with 22:00 left to play in the first half, and that is all UCA would need as they one the second game of the UCA/Craftsbury Academy doubleheader on Saturday afternoon.
"I was just really, really excited," said DeLaBruere about his tally. "I didn't think it was going to go in at first."
The win was a huge one to say the least as it puts UCA over .500 for the first time in a couple of years.
"Oh my gosh we have a winning record for the first time in two years," exclaimed UCA coach Alyssa DeLaBruere after the contest.
"We are pretty excited. We went into this season in a positive, but in a really reserved way... cautiously optimistic you might say. Now we just have to stay healthy."
The game itself was a story of two halves.
The first one belonged to UCA, while Craftsbury controlled the second.
Right off the bat it was the Crusaders getting off to the good start.
The duo of Justin Limoge and Dale Martell were clicking right away, and their hard work was rewarded with two great chances early, but Academy keeper Anders Hanson was up to the task.
His only miscue would be on DeLaBruere's goal.
Martell fired a shot on net which Hanson handled, but the ball came right to Caleb, and the rookie made no mistake, sending it home for the only tally of the contest.
Being one of the smallest guys on the field is not a problem for Caleb, as he has dealt with it for a while and has adapted his game thusly.
"I've had to learn to get used to it, I've always been small so I learned to use it to my advantage," he said.
His coach has also made the adjustments with how her team works with the smallest DeLaBruere on the field.
"Caleb is one those 'mighty kids in a small package.' He has a lot of soccer experience but he is 4'10" and 80 pounds going up against 6' seniors, but he is not going to back down from anyone," said DeLaBruere. "We've learned to compensate and create opportunities for him. We can work with size, but you can't teach the amount of soccer smarts that he has."
Later in the half each team found the goal post, but nothing more and it was 1-0 UCA going into the second.
The score would stay the same for the remainder of the game, but the play on the field shifted in the other direction as Craftsbury really took it to UCA.
Austin Masse, along with Josh Coville and captain Frank Spiese were the driving forces behind the Chargers in-game resurgence.
"We decided to possess the ball, and we did so very well," said Craftsbury coach Mike Ruetz.
The trio pressed hard and created several opportunities, but each time they came down the field they were met by a UCA defense anchored by Paul Saaman.
As the pressure increased, Saaman's game got better.
So much so, that he spelled his fellow defenders, as well as his offensive teammates, when, with just five minutes left to play, he grabbed a ball near mid-field, slashed his way through the Chargers, and blasted a ball at Hanson that went wide.
"There aren't words to describe Paul's soccer ability," said his coach. "I think that Paul could play toe-to-toe with any division one defender there is. He is not a D IV level soccer player. If he sees an opening he has permission from me to go and he is going to take it."
Spiese had the final chance of the game, but his last second shot missed the net and the game was over.
"Austin was getting some shots in, Frank had a couple of opportunities... We are getting that first part of the game in where Frank gets the ball up top, but now we need to change gears and look for the hard low shot to the corner, getting the ball back post and on the goal," said Ruetz
Chris DeLaBruere had five saves to earn the shut-out while Hanson had six in the loss.
Now 2-1, UCA will host Richford this Tuesday at 4:30 where they will hope to keep their winning streak entact.