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Raptors rise to the occasion

  • Rivendell Academy's Mikayla Stever is carried off the field Wednesday by Raptors athletic director Ross Convertino at the West Rutland School. Stever collapsed with leg cramps after her team's 2-1 victory in the Vermont Division IV semifinals, during which she scored the winning goal. (Tris Wykes - Valley News) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Purchase a reprint »

  • Rivendell Academy's Sienna Carter, center, watches West Rutland players be introduced before Wednesday's Vermont Division IV semifinal. Coach Tim Goodwin and Moria Haehnel flank Carter. The visiting Raptors won, 2-1, behind goals by Carter and Mikayla Stever. (Tris Wykes - Valley News) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Purchase a reprint »

  • Rivendell Academy's Moria Haehnel (4), Kendyl Boisvert (3) and Rachel O'Hearn (17) surround West Rutland standout Kiera Pipeling during Wednesday's Vermont Division IV semifinal. The No. 2 Raptors beat the No. 3 Golden Horde and advanced to play No. 1 Proctor in Saturday's final at Bellows Falls High. (Tris Wykes - Valley News) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Purchase a reprint »

  • Rivendell Academy's Kendyl Boisvert (3) arrives to congratulate winning goal-scorer Mikayla Stever, being hugged by Eliza Tse, during Wednesday's Vermont Division IV semifinal. The visiting Raptors won, 2-1, and play top-seeded Proctor on Saturday at Bellows Falls High. (Tris Wykes - Valley News) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Purchase a reprint »

  • Rivendell Academy's Mikayla Stever (2) dribbles past West Rutland defender Emma Sovigny during the Vermont Division IV teams' Wednesday semifinal playoff clash. Stever had an assist and scored the winning goal with 15 minutes remaining. (Tris Wykes - Valley News) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Purchase a reprint »

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 10/30/2019 10:18:16 PM
Modified: 10/30/2019 10:18:05 PM

WEST RUTLAND, Vt. — After lifting the Rivendell Academy girls soccer team to the Vermont Division IV finals Wednesday, Mikayla Stever had to be carried off the field.

Stever, one of the Raptors’ seven seniors, scored during the 76th minute, giving the No. 3 Raptors a 2-1 victory over No. 2 West Rutland. At game’s end, the forward collapsed with leg cramps, crying out and lying on the muddy turf while her teammates went through the handshake line.

Helped off by athletic director Ross Convertino, Stever slumped in a chair on the sideline while goalkeeping coach Mike Gilbert rubbed her legs. Teammates arrived, one after the other, to exchange hand slaps and tousle the hero’s hair.

Rivendell (11-6) will play No. 1 Proctor in the title game on Saturday at Bellows Falls High. The Raptors last reached that stage when they won the 2010 Division IV title.

“I didn’t think we were going to win, but we finally took control in the second half of the second half,” Stever said, noting that teammate Kendyl Boisvert moving from defense to midfield with about 30 minutes to play was a crucial development. “We got a little bit too excited after we scored the first goal, but when (West Rutland) scored, it set us straight.”

The Raptors did not win the battle of possession and for about 15 minutes early in the second half, were mostly pinned in their own end. Rivendell goalkeeper Cora Day made a pair of point-blank saves during the 11th minute.

Rivendell opened the scoring during the 61st minute when Stever sent a pass wide left to a streaking Sienna Carter, who got behind her defender and bore down on goalkeeper Serena Coombs. The senior sent a low shot across the goal mouth and into the right side.

“We’ve been working on that kind of play all year,” Stever said. “She had great placement inside the post.”

West Rutland (14-3) answered fewer than four minutes later, Olivia Cyr sending a left-footed, 12 yard shot that squeezed under a sprawling Day. That set the stage for Stever’s scoring heroics, when she split Golden Horde defenders Elizabeth Bailey and Bailey Sevigny in the right side of the penalty area before lunging to poke it across the line from 6 yards.

“I saw the goalie was planted on the opposite side,” said Stever, one of three current Raptors who had sisters play on the 2010 title team. “I think she was counting on a defender to stop me and then I got a quick touch by her.”

Rivendell moved to Division III in 2011 but dropped back into Division IV this season after going 33-13-1 the past three seasons. The Raptors’ enrollment pushed the move, but their last 12 opponents of the regular season were from their former alignment. In contrast, West Rutland played only Division IV foes, its losses coming against Proctor, which had the same schedule setup.

“They were really taking it to us,” ninth-year Rivendell coach Tim Goodwin said of West Rutland. “They distributed the ball well and they were enjoying the slight downhill slope of the field in the second half. It doesn’t look like much, but when you’re running for 80 minutes it does.

“Once we got Kendyl forward and got a little more pressure on the ball in the middle of the field, that really made a difference.”

Notes: Former Rivendell athletic director and boys soccer coach Bob Thatcher attended the game. … Goodwin credited Alex McFate with effectively defending Golden Horde offensive standout Kiera Pipeling. … Boisvert’s mother, Shannon, was a vocal sideline presence, recalling similar days when she coached the Lebanon High girls team. … Roughly 50 Rivendell fans made the two-hour trek, waving a flag, hoisting signs and giving the contest the feel of being played at a neutral site. … Eleven of Division IV’s 16 teams finished the regular season with a losing record. … Goodwin said Rivendell was the smallest Division III school last year and is now the fifth-largest in Division IV.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com.




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