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Rivendell Boys Win First Title in School History

  • Rivendell goalie Dashiel Fukushima makes a save with Long Trail's Levin Coe right with him during the Division IV boys soccer state championship in Randolph, Vt., on Nov. 4, 2017. Rivendell won 1-0. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Rivendell teammates Johnny Vogelien (6) and Charlie Bradley celebrate Bradley's score on Long Trail goalie Luc Carmel and his team's defense in the first half of their championship game in Randolph, Vt., on Nov. 4, 2017. The sole goal was enough to take the Division IV state title. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Rivendell fans Mikayla DeBois, left, Jenna Gilbert, and Maddie Eastburn celebrate in the last seconds of the game in Randolph, Vt., on Nov. 4, 2017. Rivendell Academy beat Long Trail School 1-0 to win the Division IV boys soccer state championship. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Rivendell's Owen Pelletier celebrates his team's win against Long Trail School in Randolph, Vt., on Nov. 4, 2017. Rivendell Academy won 1-0. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Saturday, November 04, 2017

Randolph — A celebration of the Rivendell Academy boys soccer team’s season started before kickoff. It had made history just by showing up.

Students, parents and teachers waved flags, blew horns and sang songs in a huddled crowd behind the Rivendell bench before, during and after the VPA Division IV championship match between top-seeded Raptors and No. 2 Long Trail at Randolph Union High School.

Can you blame them? Rivendell boys soccer had never made it this far. Its supporters were just making up for lost time. And they had more reason to celebrate afterward.

The Raptors, talented and motivated, took an early lead and rode out Long Trail’s desperate push in the second half for a 1-0 win on a sunny Saturday morning.

It was Rivendell’s first boys soccer title in the school’s 17-year history and, beyond that, its previous iteration as Orford High.

“It’s a great feeling,” Raptors junior defenseman Max Haehnel said. “We had a lot of support from our fans. It’s been an incredible season. … I’m excited to go again next year.”

Longtime Rivendell coach Bob Thatcher praised his team’s composure after Long Trail poured on the late pressure.

“We scored a lot of goals this year,” said Thatcher, standing among the on-field celebrants, having finished his 46th year as coach of the program. “They pressured. They were filling up the 18(-yard box). These kids are unflappable.”

Junior midfielder Charlie Bradley scored the game’s only goal in the 12th minute, when he finished off a scramble in front of the net that left Long Trail goalkeeper Luc Carmel and two Mountain Lion defenders helplessly on the ground. The Raptors took six shots in the first half and took the one-goal lead into halftime.

But Rivendell’s defensive performance in the second half secured its title. Long Trail played much of the final 40 minutes in front of Raptors goalkeeper Dashiel Fukushima, getting two corners and seven shots on net in the final frame.

“They totally changed in the second half,” Haehnel said. “They came at us really hard. They definitely did not make it easy. … We really had to step up on being aggressive.

Rivendell’s specialty is its defense. The Raptors let up only 10 goals in 18 games this fall and only two goals in its three previous tournament games. Rivendell shut out two foes in the playoffs.

Rivendell captains Haehnel, Noah Martel and Griffin Formica — all defenders — spent much of the late morning shutting down Long Trail chances deep in their end. Haehnel came up the biggest with less than 10 minutes remaining, when he stepped in front of a shot from Lions’ Ben Boggio on a partial breakaway. The ball redirected off of Haehnel’s foot and harmlessly into the arms of Fukushima.

“A lot of the shots were pretty soft. They weren’t hard, they weren’t placed well,” Fukushima said. “There were a few well-placed balls based on the opportunities they had but, mostly, it was just slowing the game down and keeping everything simple.”

The win was the 11th shutout of the year for Fukushima, who gave much of the credit to the Raptors’ back line.

“They’re all veterans back there. They’re all seniors or juniors. They know the system,” the senior keeper said of his defense. “They play well. They know what Coach Thatcher wants them to do, and they don’t do anything more or less. I just think we worked really well as a team today.”

Rivendell’s state title can be considered a culmination of Thatcher’s body of work. He stepped down as the school’s athletic director earlier this year but remained on as its boys soccer coach. Stepping away from it all, he admitted, was a tough pill to swallow. Turning down a chance to coach this fall’s championship squad would have been a punch to the gut.

But Thatcher, a title now in his back pocket, is as committed as ever to the program he put on the map.

“I’m back,” Thatcher said of his future, a smile on his face. “Without a doubt.”

Does finally winning a long-awaited title reignite his passion for coaching?

“You know what?” he said. “The fire never goes out.”

Notes: Long Trail outshot the Raptors 15-9 and finished the game with a 3-1 advantage on corner kicks. … Bradley’s goal was his second of the year and second of the playoffs. He also had six assists on the season. … Rivendell graduates Fukushima, Formica, Martel, athletic forward Owen Pelletier and midfielder Lennart Burgwedel

Josh Weinreb can be reached at jweinreb@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.