NEWPORT–This past Friday, it took the Stowe Raiders (7-5-2) all of four minutes to dash the North Country girls soccer team's hopes of a home play-off game, as the Raiders scored a pair of goals in said time frame to defeat the Falcons (8-5-1) 2-1 in the regular season's closing contest.
"I thought we played really hard and I thought there were a lot of fouls called, and I know you can't blame that, but they had a lot more then we did, but that is just how the game goes," said coach Joe Batista.
Friday was senior day at Falcons Field, and before the game, the school acknowledged the four departing seniors; Baylee Jacobs, Katie LeBlanc, and co-captains Elizabeth Maxwell and Anna Bingham.
"They gave it their all. They knew it was the difference between starting the play-offs at home or on the road, and I feel bad for them. It could have been a nice home game to start the play-offs," said Batista, expressing his regret for a lost opportunity for his seniors.
Jenna Moss was busy in the opening minutes of the game, stopping Katelyn O'Toole’s difficult shot.
Moss then had a little adventure in the net, causing the fan’s hearts to race.
On a high ball that was descending rapidly, Jenna made the initial catch, but the wet sphere bounced out of her hands, precariously close to a Stowe striker.
Luckily, the Falcons were able to clear the ball out of the way before any damage was done.
North Country then regrouped and Chelsea Bianchi fed Natalie Sykes, whose left-footed shot slid just inside the left post, to give the Falcons the 1-0 lead.
Moss was called upon late to make another tough save, this time showing her leaping ability to punch a ball over the net keeping Stowe off of the scoreboard in the first half.
As play resumed in the second, the discrepancy in calls started to irritate coach Batista, and he had no problem letting the official know that his girls were not getting half of the calls that the Raiders were.
Stowe's goal scoring frenzy started with 33:48 left to go in the half.
Ali Leach sent a bomb over Moss' outstretched hands and into the top corner, knotting things at one.
Two and half minutes later, Moss returned the favor with another nice arial stop that kept things at 1-1 for the moment.
Stowe's second goal came after a call against the Falcons.
Stowe missed the freebie, but were rewarded with a corner, which they sent into the the box with well-positioned kick.
Brooke Wells grabbed the loose ball and fired it in through a screen, and the Raiders had the lead.
Said Stowe coach Tim Ziegler, "We have had three tough games in a row where we didn't score a goal, and we said just score a goal and lets see what happens from there."
What would happen is a 2-1 win since, try as they might, North Country could not get the equalizer.
Moss finished with seven saves while Stowe's Caroline Armbruster had five.
As it stands now, the Falcons look to start the postseason in Barre for an eighth versus ninth battle against Spaulding.
The Tide won 3-1 in their only face-to-face match with NCU this season.
Pairings and game times will be announced as the VPA releases them.