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WRV Wildcats Soak Mount St. Joseph in Program’s First Home Match

  • White River Valley school defender George Carr goes into a slide to kick the ball away from Mount St. Joseph Academy's Ethan Courcelle in South Royalton on Monday, Sept. 10, 2018. White River Valley School defeated MSJ 2-0. (Valley News - August Frank) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • White River Valley School forward Jacob Barry runs after a ball surrounded by Mount St. Joseph Academy's Dustin Clarke, left, and Chase Wiegers in South Royalton, Vt., on Monday, Sept. 10, 2018. White River Valley School defeated MSJ 2-0. (Valley News - August Frank) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • White River Valley School forward Jack Simack is congratulated by teammate Gabriel Feeney after scoring the teams second point of the game in South Royalton, Vt., on Monday, Sept. 10, 2018. White River Valley School would go on to defeat MSJ 2-0. (Valley News - August Frank) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • White River Valley School goal keeper Sam Fisk dives to stop the ball in place in the game against Mount St. Joseph Academy in South Royalton, Vt., on Monday, Sept. 10, 2018. White River Valley School defeated MSJ 2-0. (Valley News - August Frank) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Umbrellas line the sidelines of the White River Valley School versus Mount St. Joseph Academy boys varsity soccer game in South Royalton, Vt., on Monday, Sept. 10, 2018. (Valley News - August Frank) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Correspondent
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

South Royalton — Continuous rain, gusting winds and steadily dropping temperatures had a distinctly chilling effect on those hearty fans in attendance at Monday afternoon’s boys soccer game between White River Valley and Mount St. Joseph.

For the Wildcats, however, hosting their first-ever game since combining with Whitcomb and South Royalton to form the regional White River Valley School, just the opposite reaction to the elements took place.

WRV’s Wyatt Slater broke a scoreless deadlock early in the second half with a half-volley goal from close range, and from there the Wildcats steadily ramped up the pressure, ultimately earning a well-deserved 2-0 win.

“Well, we definitely started slowly, and we talked after the game about how we can’t afford to do that moving forward,” said WRV coach Alex Montano, “but the good news is we warmed to the game. We got better as things progressed.”

Slater’s goal came on WRV’s third shot on target of the game and first of the second half. Sophomore classmate Carder Stratton earned an assist on the strike, sending an out-swinging corner kick from the right flag toward the near post, where Slater found just enough room to make right-footed contact.

The ball may not have exactly snapped into the back of the net, but the timing of Slater’s run and his ability to redirect the ball in heavy traffic was enough to knock it past MSJ keeper Austin Clarke, who had little chance of reacting to the shot.

“Wyatt is only a sophomore, but he’s proven to have a knack for being in the right place at the right time,” Montano said. “He’s good at finding that little bit of space, of being in the right place at the right time to create chances.”

Prior to the game’s opening goal, WRV had been playing steadily, if conservatively, in the difficult conditions. The Wildcats forced MSJ keeper Clarke to make just two saves in the first half, neither of them particularly testing, but in its own defensive third WRV was even stingier.

After Ezra Robichaud’s floated, wide-angle shot forced a save from Wildcat keeper Sam Fisk in the game’s 10th minute, the WRV back line basically closed the door on any dangerous chances for the remainder of the game.

MSJ featured crafty, technical players in Robichaud and midfielder Joey Giancola, but chances to make a final, penetrating pass were simply not there for the Mounties.

WRV wide backs Timber Russell and Dominic Craven, alongside center backs Gavin Turner and George Carr, consistently moved in unison, communicating well and closing quickly on loose balls. Carr was strong in the air throughout the game, and his backfield mates either blocked MSJ shots or forced them wide of the target when shooting chances arose.

“To be honest, how our back four would look was probably our No. 1 concern heading into the season,” Montano said. “But they’ve been very solid. We emphasize being patient and disciplined, and when we win the ball, not to panic.”

After Slater’s opener in the 46th minute, WRV’s play noticeably perked up, and the Wildcats kept MSJ hemmed in for long stretches. WRV finished the game with a 10-1 edge in shots on target, including an 8-0 advantage in the second half.

With 18:20 remaining, WRV senior midfielder Jacob Hewitt created the game’s second goal with an impressive display of transition play. Hewitt picked off an MSJ clearing attempt 40 yards from goal along the left sideline, took two positive touches to create enough space to serve a cross, and then delivered a spot-on driven ball into the Mountie penalty area.

Wildcat senior Gabe Feeney, running toward the near post, got just enough of his head on the ball to redirect it to sophomore Jack Simack, who never broke stride in volleying a shot home inside the left post.

“We’ve been told that as soon as we get it, to look inside,” Hewitt said. “Try and take advantage of that quick change in possession. Luckily, on the second goal, Gabe was able to flick it just enough, and Jack was there to finish it off.”

WRV improved to 2-0 with the win. The Wildcats return to action on Tuesday afternoon with a home game against Craftsbury, their third contest in four days.

MSJ dropped to 1-1.