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Wasps Stung by Highlanders in D-II Title Game

  • Woodstock's Emilio Montano, right, pressures Harwood's Markus Baird during the Division II high school boys soccer state championship game in South Burlington on Saturday, November 3, 2018.

  • Woodstock's Isaac Emery, left, chases down the ball under pressure from Harwood's Markus Baird during the Division II high school boys soccer state championship game in South Burlington on Saturday, November 3, 2018.

  • Woodstock's Tom Bissaillon, right, is consoled by Harwood's Charlie Zschau after the Division II high school boys soccer state championship game in South Burlington on Saturday, November 3, 2018. Harwood defeated Woodstock 3-0.

  • Woodstock's Isaac Emery is sent off the pitch after a yellow card during the Division II high school boys soccer state championship game against Harwood in South Burlington on Saturday, November 3, 2018.

  • Harwood's Charlie Zschau celebrates the matches first goal against Woodstock by commemorating the memory of former teammates Cyrus Zschau and Eli Brookens during the Division II high school boys soccer state championship game in South Burlington on Saturday, November 3, 2018. Zschau and Brookens were two of five teens killed in a car crash in 2016. Harwood's Wyatt Adams, left, is seen with Zschau.

  • Woodstock's Isaac Emery, second from right, shakes hands with Harwood's Jesse McDougall after the Division II high school boys soccer state championship game in South Burlington on Saturday, November 3, 2018. Harwood defeated Woodstock 3-0.

  • Harwood's Duncan Weinman, left, knocks Woodstocks's Mason Harkins to the ground during the Division II high school boys soccer state championship game in South Burlington on Saturday, November 3, 2018.

  • Harwood's Charlie Zschau, center, offers to help Woodstock's Mason Harkins, right, after he was knocked to the ground by Harwood's Duncan Weinman during the Division II high school boys soccer state championship game in South Burlington on Saturday, November 3, 2018.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 11/4/2018 12:02:28 AM
Modified: 11/4/2018 12:02:29 AM

South Burlington, Vt. — In cold, slippery conditions during Saturday’s Vermont Division II boys soccer championship game, only the Highlanders of Harwood Union High were able to find purchase.

Senior forward Charlie Zchau scored late in the first half and early in the second, then assisted on Harwood’s next goal in a 3-0 win at South Burlington High School to help the No. 1 Highlanders (14-0-1) finish the year undefeated.

It’s the first state title in 11 years for Harwood, which also knocked off Woodstock in last year’s semis. The second-seeded Wasps finished the year 12-4-1.

Speedy Harwood dominated possession throughout, racking up advantages of 24-2 in total shots and 10-1 in shots on net. Junior goalie Steve Bianchi made seven saves for Woodstock, which allowed an opponent to score for the first time this postseason and was shut out for the first time since a scoreless tie in the season opener.

High winds forced Woodstock players and coaches on the sideline to hold up the team tent to prevent it from blowing away, but it was a state championship that remained elusive for the Wasps. The program fell to 0-6 all time in finals.

“I think the conditions affected us mostly in the second half,” said Woodstock coach Tom Avellino, whose team played for a title for the first time since back-to-back appearances in 2014-15. “The wind was at (Harwood’s) back, and we had a lot of difficulty getting it past the midfield.”

Playing in Woodstock’s end for big chunks of the first half, Harwood continually came up empty on scoring attempts. The Wasps’ back line of Lucas Piconi, Blake Heston, Min Purvis and Mason Harkins kept play largely at the perimeters, causing off-balance bids that sailed wide of the net or too soft to get past Bianchi.

“(Woodstock’s) defense was solid. They’re a championship-caliber team,” said first year Highlanders coach Joe Yalicki, a sophomore at Harwood the last time the Highlanders won it all in 2007. “We have a lot to be proud of this season, and so do they.”

Woodstock’s only shot of the half came following a free kick in the 15th minute from Purvis to Christian Bloch, but Harwood keeper Max Hill made his lone save of the game at chest level.

Three minutes later, the Highlanders’ Wyatt Adams drew a penalty kick, but missed wide left. A header by Markus Baird off a corner kick plunked into the side of the net in the 22nd minute, and Bianchi later saved a bid from Zschau off a direct kick.

Bianchi slid to save yet another strong bid from Duncan Weinman with 7:20 to go before halftime, and it appeared as though Woodstock might earn a scoreless deadlock with a chance to regroup at halftime.

Instead, Harwood finally broke through just 1:06 before the break. Adams gathered a short free kick and sent a long crossing pass to the far post for Zschau, whose header went back across the goalmouth to beat Bianchi’s right.

“I think we still would have felt pretty good at halftime even if we didn’t score there, because of the way we were playing,” Yalicki said. “That said, it was a good goal to get because we wanted to score early and that didn’t happen. And it was a nice goal, well executed.”

Zschau struck again four minutes into the second half, splitting defenders on a through ball and plunking it high past Bianchi to make it 2-0.

“He did all the work on that play,” Yalicki said of Zschau. “I’ve known Charlie since he was in seventh grade, working with him in both soccer and basketball. He’s just as good of a kid off the field as he is a player on it, so it was nice to see him do well in his final game.”

Harwood’s next goal came on a double header off a corner kick with 24:43 to go, and Zschau used his own noggin to redirect it off of teammate Will Lapointe to make it 3-0.

The cold wind intensified to blow the rain sideways during the latter stages of the second half, exacerbating Woodstock’s attempts to rally. Players waiting to be substituted in shivered in short sleeves at midfield.

It was far from a wasted effort for Avellino, whose team won eight straight games to reach the final and doubled up opponents in aggregate goals this season, 36-18.

“We’ve been to the final three of the last five years, which not a lot of teams can say,” Avellino said. “I’ll keep coming back here every time we’re invited.”

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Free Kicks: Both teams were whistled for 11 fouls, including yellow cards to Woodstock’s Tom Bissaillon (31st minute) and Isaac Emery (48th). … Harwood led 8-1 in penalty corners. … It was the final game for Wasps seniors Will Crompton, Emilio Montano, Isaac Emery Purvis and Piconi.

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3216.




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