by Richard Creaser
copyright the Chronicle 9-23-2013
CRAFTSBURY COMMON — Craftsbury Academy Charger Austin Masi’s three-goal performance, capped off by an overtime winning goal, was the icing on the cake for a well-played match against the visiting Chelsea Red Devils on Saturday. Throughout the game, even when the home team was down 3-1, Craftsbury Head Coach Mike Ruetz never lost hope.
“It was amazing,” Coach Ruetz said after the game. “It showed the team how you come back from being two goals down. This is what I’ve been working toward for the last four years, building that attitude.”
The winning attitude persisted even through the darkest moments of Saturday’s contest. Chelsea took the early lead as Sam Amber chipped a shot over back-up keeper Chris DeLaBruere a minute and a half into the opening frame. Craftsbury would respond three minutes later with a goal of its own off the foot of Noah Coville, to tie things up.
It would take another 17 minutes of play before the Red Devils broke the 1-1 tie on a goal from Leandro Martin. Chelsea would cement its lead with six minutes left to play as Amber netted his second goal of the game to give the visitors a commanding 3-1 lead.
Even as the Chargers found their footing and executed their plays, what enabled them to remain in the contest was the superb effort of Chris DeLaBruere between the pipes. DeLaBuere, filling in for an ill Anders Hanson, displayed some of the range that distinguished him as a member of last season’s United Christian Academy Crusaders squad.
“If he didn’t make some of the stops he did, we wouldn’t have been able to win,” Masi said after the game.
“Chris had a great game in net,” Coach Ruetz said of his fill-in keeper. “We’re lucky that we have good depth. Even with some key guys out sick, we still put a competitive team on the field.”
Despite the two-goal deficit coming out of the first half, Coach Ruetz spoke highly of the caliber of play his team put forth. They played to position, communicated well and executed well, he said.
“This is a great bunch of guys to coach because they always have such a positive attitude,” Coach Ruetz said. “Even when they were down, they were never out.”
The Charger rally started 14 minutes into the second half when Massi curled a shot past Red Devils keeper Alex Richardson to cut Chelsea’s lead to one. With the clock counting down into the final ten minutes of the game, Masi came up big yet again, burying the tying goal and setting the stage for a Craftsbury win.
DeLaBruere proved his chops in the net, sprawling to make a key save less than one minute after Masi’s goal. Both sides had several opportunities to end it in regulation, but stingy defense and even stingier goaltending sent the contest into overtime.
The Chargers’ bench was so primed to play that they took to the field early The referees sent them back to the bench to wait out the full intermission. That energy was just as prevalent a few minutes later when the clock started once again.
The Chargers’ attack started early and was strong, forcing the Chelsea squad back on its heels. Suddenly the opportunity presented itself for Craftsbury to make one last determined push to end it. Masi charged through the Red Devil backfield, splitting the defenders as he rushed headlong at the Red Devils’ keeper Richardson. Whether it was the fear of an impending collision or the confidence that Richardson would gather the ball as he had a dozen times before, Chelsea’s defenders rolled aside leaving Masi and Richardson completely alone.
“It just felt great the whole time,” Masi said, recalling that final charge. “When I saw the opening I just went for it.”
Masi rolled past the keeper, bolting through the gap opened up by the Red Devils defenders and shot in the winning goal as a perplexed Richardson could only turn and watch. The roar of his teammates and the crowd nearly drowned out the whistle that called the game to an end.
“We just never gave up,” Masi said of his team’s effort. “We never gave up and always played for the win.”
The Craftsbury Academy Chargers return to action on Tuesday against visiting Concord. The game is scheduled for a 4:30 p.m. start.
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