Varsity Girls Take Soccer Championship in 2-1 Thriller

Varsity Girls Take Soccer Championship in 2-1 Thriller

At times during the Thetford Academy – Vergennes Union High School Division III state championship game on Saturday, Nov. 3, it looked like intermittent heavy downpours would add an element of chance to the game.  But the Panther girls’ resiliency, superior ball-handling skills, and deep playoff experiences over the past three years didn’t leave anything to chance — even as the ball and field conditions became slippery.

An insurance goal was added midway through the second half, resulting from a scramble in front of the goal after another Casey MacVeagh corner (one of nine she took during the game).  According to the Valley News, “The pass landed in the middle of a pack where it was shot by Madi Powers and blocked before Namya Benjamin kicked it into the net.”

Scoreless for the first 38-plus minutes, both number one seed Panthers and the number six seed Commodores played outstanding soccer through the first half, with the 15-1-1 Panthers taking a 1-0 lead on a Kiana Johnson header off of a Casey MacVeagh corner kick with 1:11 remaining in the half.

The rain contributed to the Commodores’ only score with 18:40 remaining, as a slippery ball penetrated the Panther goal.  For awhile, it looked like the momentum was transferring to Vergennes, but the TA’ turned up the heat under pressure.  Strong defensive play, excellent goaltending by Emma Berard, and the depth of the Panther bench ensured a TA 2-1 victory.  The Panthers’ third consecutive appearance in the title game resulted in their second straight state championship under Coach Dave Williams and Assistant Ted MacVeagh.

And as the bus returned to the TA campus, the Town of Thetford’s firetrucks and police car were on hand to escort the team back to Anderson Hall, sirens blazing as the girls circled the bus in driving rain on Academy Road, just in front of the school.  Parents and students were on hand to cheer them on, and a victory celebration followed in the café.  Congratulations, Panthers!