With the clock counting down in the first overtime period and all zeros on the scoreboard, the Champlain Valley boys soccer team was looking for something, anything, to separate themselves in the Division I semifinals.
Unfortunately for the Redhawks, Burlington found their magic moment first.
Arun Karki struck a perfectly placed shot from 15 yards out that fit right under the crossbar to lift the Seahorses to the 1-0 win over Champlain Valley on Tuesday afternoon.
“It was an even match,” said Champlain Valley coach Katie Mack. “They had a really incredible shot, we didn’t get one.”
The loss wraps up the season for the Redhawks, who finish the year at 12-3-2 after earning the No. 3 seed in the VPA tournament.
“This group has been plagued by injuries and we have had a couple of bad losses but the ability to be resilient is a huge hallmark of this group,” Mack said. “No matter what…everyone felt equally invested in the team and that says a lot about the kids.”
CVU will say good-bye to nine seniors, including captains Tre Tomasi, Brock Werner, Joey Franceschetti, George Davis, Joe Parento, Kyler White-Hansen, Max Akey, Max Hamrell and Dillon Hamrell.
“Their dedication and their enthusiasm and their loyalty to each other, that drove a lot of our success” Mack said of her graduating seniors. “I am really proud of this season and the kids and the heart that they put onto the field.”
The game was a story of momentum changes and trading scoring chances, with the Redhawks coming out of the gate strong.
After a few looks at goal for CVU, the Seahorses turned the tide toward Redhawks goalie Aidan Johnson (five saves) and had some shots of their own.
The second half was much of the same, with the two teams trading who got the better look, but neither side was able to crack the goal.
“We executed our game plan really well,” Mack said. “I think it was a really balanced match…we just couldn’t get one in. We needed to have a little bit more danger in the box.”
With just under 10 minutes remaining in the first OT, Seraphin Iradukunda tapped the ball to Karki, who made a couple of moves across the top of the penalty box and then unloaded a shot that found its way just under the crossbar and just over the outstretched hand of Johnson.
“We are really evenly matched teams,” Mack said. “We had opportunities that we could have put away…ultimately they got one in and we didn’t.”
BHS goalie Niels Arentzen stopped two shots to earn the shutout. With the win, Burlington moves on to the D-I title game, where the second-seeded Seahorses will face No. 1 Essex.
In the Division I quarterfinal match against Burr and Burton last Friday, CVU stuck to their game plan: controlling the ball, with lots of chances while keeping the pressure on the Bulldogs.
“We just didn’t execute our game plan 100 percent. We were just a little tight coming out,” said CVU coach Katie Mack. “They kept their composure.”
The switch flipped in the second half, with Joe Parento striking for two goals, and CVU emerged with the 4-0 win over the sixth-seeded Bulldogs to advance to the semifinals.