NEWPORT–The North Country Falcons will find themselves against a familiar opponent when they travel to UVM for the Division III field hockey semi-finals today at 3:30.
Coming off their dramatic 1-0 win over Bellows Falls, the team's spirits are high.
"They are excited," said Bouchard. "They really want to get out on the field and just play."
Missisquoi Valley Union (11-3-1), ranked third in D III, were the Falcons first round advisories last year, and they defeated NCU in well-fought battle on the hard-packed sand in Swanton.
This year the teams will be playing on a neutral sight, and coach Chantelle Bouchard took her team to the parking lot at the high school to give them a feel for the artificial surface that awaits them at the new field hockey facility near Gutterson Field House.
As far as their game plan once they get to UVM, they are going to stick with what was successful for them last weekend, explained Bouchard.
"We are just playing our own game, much like we did all year.
"They have the mindset that they want to win, so we will see."
The biggest threat to the Falcons is perennial all-star Camille Rainville, whose mother Jeanne Rainville, formerly Gaudreau, was a stand-out for North Country, before moving to play at UVM.
"We are probably going to put two girls on her," said Bouchard. "She only had one person on her last game, and didn't score until the second half. She is a great player, but she is not someone that we need to freak out about."
As for the Falcons own roster, all great teams start with great goaltenders, and Danielle Gabucci is as good as they come in Division III.
Last game she stopped twenty shots, and will more than likely face a bunch more this afternoon.
"I am going to stay in my zone and trust my team," Gabucci said of her game plan. "I know that if they play well it is going to be easier on me, and if I play well it is going to be a lot easier on them.
"It is a give and take relationship."
Playing in front of Gabucci, the defense will be remaining the same as it was last game.
Mara Spates, Stefanie Tarryk and Jess Buckles, are just three of the girls that will be responsible for providing protection for Gabucci.
Brittany Verge, who has spent a lot of time on D, and recently more time on offense, will have more of an offensive presence in the match.
Said Bouchard, "When we have anything inside the 25, she is going to switch with my center because her pushes and drives are amazing. So she is going to get in their so we can get some hard pushes."
Senior Mariah Roberts will lead the offensive charge, backed by a talented crew of underclassmen, including freshman Phoenix Alix and sophomores Brittany Fortier and Adrianna Fournier.
Fortier, whose tally in the Bellows Falls game led to the Falcon win, spoke about how it feels to be playing in such an important game.
"I am really excited. I think if we can play like we did this past weekend, we can win," she said.
So lets break it down.
The advantage as far as momentum is concerned, lies with North Country, as they are coming off of a win over a number two seeded Bellows Falls, while MVU defeated number six Fair Haven.
Experience-wise, you have to give it to the Thunderbirds, as they have been here time and time again.
As far as pressure goes, you can look at it two ways.
Missisquoi no doubt is expected to win, but NCU, with the exception of XC's Sam Brunnette, is the only athletic team still in competition, and for them to represent the school in a championship game would be huge.
Which leads me to my final point, Pride.
A deadly sin, or something that one should have for their school, your choice.
But I will tell you this, if ever there was a time that North Country could use a team to rally around it is now.
It was a tough fall, athletically speaking, for the Falcons.
Only one varsity team had a winning record (girl's soccer) this season, and nobody else won a play-off game besides the field hockey team.
So if you can make the trip, go and cheer on the Falcons as they try for upset number two; A chance to fly past the Thunderbirds and soar into the championship game on Saturday.