In girls field hockey: Falcons clinch Division III state championship
copyright the Chronicle November 5, 2014
by David Dudley
BURLINGTON — The North Country Union High School Falcons defeated the Stowe Raiders 1-0 to clinch the Division III state championship in Burlington Saturday.
Brittany Fortier scored the game-winning goal eight minutes into the second half to lift the Falcons to their first state title since 1980.
“From the first day of practice, our girls had it in their minds that they were going all the way this year,” Falcons Coach Chantelle Bouchard said in a phone interview. “I knew we had a shot because we had made it to the semifinals for two consecutive years, and we had ten seniors this year.”
To face the Raiders in the championship game this year brought the Falcons full circle. In last year’s DIII semifinals, the Raiders defeated the Falcons 2-1, effectively ending the Falcons’ run for the title.
This year, Ms. Bouchard, who has coached the Falcons for 11 years, saw the spark that the Falcons needed to take it to the next level.
“They had passion,” she said. “Sure, they had great stick work. They played as a team. And they were finding the net each game. But the difference this year was passion.”
Passion is, of course, an intangible. But when two evenly matched teams face off, the will to win can be the determining factor.
“Ultimately, our girls just wanted it more,” Ms. Bouchard said.
It was that passion that lifted the Falcons, who finished the season with a record of 9-5, over St. Johnsbury in this year’s semifinals. It was that passion that fueled Fortier’s game-winning goal against the Raiders Saturday. And it was that same passion that drove goalie Bailee Desrochers to rack up 83 saves on the year — six of which kept the Raiders scoreless throughout their match with the Falcons. Two of those came in the final moments of the championship game. Not a single one got past Desrochers.
This season saw two previous meetings between the Falcons and Raiders. In the first, a preseason scrimmage, the Falcons walked away with the victory. In their second meeting, the Raiders prevailed, 3-1. And, in this final meeting of the season, the Falcons held tightly to a one-goal lead throughout the second half of a thriller.
Ms. Bouchard watched on nervously, as those final suspenseful moments ticked away. When the clock finally hit zero, she was filled with emotion.
“No words can describe how I felt, watching those girls come off the field Saturday,” Coach Bouchard said. “Some were laughing, some were crying tears of joy. This whole year — these past few years — have been so amazing. They’ve really grown together like a family. I’m so proud of them.”
contact David Dudley at [email protected]
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