by Richard Creaser
copyright the Chronicle 10-28-2013
ORLEANS — It was a subdued group of Lake Region Rangers that walked off the field following Friday afternoon’s DIII quarterfinal match against the visiting Rivendell Academy Raptors. The Raptors would come from behind to win 2-1. It was the second early exit for a Lake Region squad that week and the sting was perhaps even more pronounced given the rough and tumble nature of the game.
Both teams displayed an aggression on the field that kept the officials busy. Much to Lake Region’s chagrin, it also lead to a red card for Alex Beauregard and a yellow card for his teammate, Austin Roberge.
Throughout the game both coaches could be seen prowling the line, expressing frustration over calls made or calls missed. Given the intensity of the players on both sides, the fact that the officials became an integral part of the game came as no surprise. The one-and-done playoff format breeds a certain amount of intensity bordering on desperation. A team’s entire season rests on their showing in a single game.
Though disappointed at the conclusion of the game, Lake Region Coach Tom Evans had no harsh words for either his team or their Rivendell opponents.
“We had a good season,” Coach Evans said. “They played a good second half and they won. Hats off to Rivendell.”
Rivendell Coach Robert Thatcher commended the Rangers on their strong showing. Coming into the contest, Coach Thatcher expected that this would be an intense match.
“This is a pretty short season and I told my boys that we need to be at our peak game by game ten,” Coach Thatcher said, referring to the 14-game varsity schedule. “You want to nurture some of that fire and carry it into the playoffs.”
The game began well for the Rangers. Lake Region (10-2-2) displayed the speed and strength that helped propel them into fourth place in DIII. Rivendell would finish out the regular season in fifth place with an identical 10-2-2 record suggesting that the two sides would be evenly matched.
Alex Beauregard would get Lake Region on the board first as he chased down a lob from Sam King in front of the Raptor net. Rivendell’s Josh Marshall, in an attempt to beat Beauregard to the ball, slid out only to have Beauregard pick up the rebound, vault the prone keeper and drill home his twenty-sixth goal of the year with 23:55 to play in the first half.
Despite surrendering the first goal, Rivendell did not surrender, Coach Thatcher said. The ability to persevere has been a hallmark of this club all season long, he said.
“They never throw around blame,” Coach Thatcher said. “They never get down on someone for making a mistake. They pick each other up, and that’s why I think they can win it all.”
The Raptors would prove their resilience by roaring back with only 13 minutes remaining in the game. Raptor Scott Calhoun would deliver a perfect cross to Sam Emerson who banged in the tying goal. the cross was so skillfully executed that Ranger keeper Danny Epinette truly had no chance to prevent it.
Four minutes later, with only 9:27 remaining to play, The Raptors would strike again. Just as Beauregard had taken advantage of a keeper miscue to record the Rangers’ goal, Kolin Huntington would recover a fumble from Epinette and kick in what would turn out to be the winning goal.
To say that Epinette cost the Rangers the game would be a gross injustice to a player who has provided his teammates with every opportunity to win. Winning is a combination of offense and defense and having one without the other isn’t going to win you many playoff games.
“Danny played a good game and a great season,” Coach Evans said. “I love this team. All of them. That’s all I have to say.”