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Cosmos Soccer Stops Hartford

Springfield, Vt. — Springfield midfielder Megan Thomas had not scored a goal all season. But she was: standing over the ball getting ready to take a direct kick, standing outside the 18 yard-line yesterday in the first half of a scoreless Division II semifinal against Hartford, in the biggest game of her young life.

Thomas’ shot went over the lined-up defenders 10 yards away and carried toward the goal, where Hartford keeper Heather Illingworth jumped up, but the ball escaped from the tips of her fingers and into the net.

“Oh my God, I was so excited,” she said after the game.

Springfield tacked on a second-half goal on a penalty shot to win 2-0 and advance to the championship game, which will be played Saturday at 10 a.m. in Randolph. The Cosmos, second-seeded at 14-2-1, will take on top-seeded, 14-2, Montpelier. The Solons won their semifinal yesterday, 3-0, over Mount Abraham.

Initially, Thomas thought that Illlingworth had made the save, but then she saw the ball in the net.

“What a way to get your first goal,” she said. “My heart was pounding.”

Thomas was given the shot after Illingworth stepped outside the 18 in an attempt to boot the ball. Once she stepped out, she was called for a handball.

Illingworth’s coach, Jeff Acker, said that he thought Illingworth got confused by the lines on the field. The field, at Riverside Middle School, was used after other soccer facilities in town were deemed unplayable. There were yellow lines for the middle school students and white lines added for the high school game.

The game’s second goal came on a penalty kick with 22:27 left in the second half. A handball inside the 18 game Springfield the free boot and Chelsea McAllister converted on a shot that she kicked high and inside the post to Illingworth’s right. Illingworth had no chance.

“They got two flukey goals, but that’s soccer,” said Acker, who felt bad for the six seniors on the team. “It’s a shame. I wish they could have had a better ending.”

It was the first Division II loss for the sixth-seeded Hurricanes, who played 10 Division I games during the regular season and ended with a 10-7 mark.

Springfield coach Christian Craig thought his team carried the play and credited his defense, led by Kylie Bellows, Abby Garaffa, Amelia Thomas and Keeper Lauren Bolduc, as the key to the win.

“They are so focused,” Craig said. “They just anticipate so well and they are so smart.”

While the Hurricanes were shut out, they had opportunities — particularly during a spell in the second half during a span of several minutes where they buzzed around Bolduc, but never found an avenue to score. Mariah Palmer and Zoe Tsongalis both had clear looks at Bolduc, but could not get the ball on goal. Hartford had three corner kicks in the second half, but two of them were kicked in back of the net.

In the first half, Hartford’s Devon Day was behind the defense, but her shot went right at Bolduc, who not only made the save, but didn’t allow a rebound.

“We had our chances,” Acker said.

Springfield finished with an 8-6 edge in shots.

“Gosh, this is a great feeling,” Craig said.