PITTSFORD — West Rutland and Proctor had played about 179 minutes this year with neither team scoring. Tim Blanchard ended the drought by scoring on a direct kick from 25 yards out with 10:58 remaining in Saturday’s boys soccer game at Taranovich Field.
West Rutland’s 1-0 victory pinned the season’s first loss on the Phantoms (10-1-1), marring Proctor’s homecoming and Senior Day.
The aftermath of the game bore more resemblance to the post-game of a state championship game than a late regular season contest. The Golden Horde was celebrating wildly; the Phantoms were disconsolate.
The teams had already battled through a 0-0 game back on Sept. 14 in West Rutland.
The common denominator of the two afternoons nearly a month apart — West Rutland goalkeeper Kyle Laughlin and his defense. They have shut out the Phantoms for 190 minutes this season.
Laughlin scrambled, leaped and went horizontal to deny the Phantoms throughout the day. He also had help from his trusted backs Liam Beaulieu, Patrick Smith, Drew Frankenberg and Ryan Smith.
Ian French, who was in the other net in West Rutland in September, was relegated to the sidelines by a hamstring pull. Cam Richardson took his place and was solid all day.
But there was no stopping Blanchard’s shot.
Blanchard said that even though nobody else had beaten the Phantoms, the Horde was confident going into the game.
“We had the right mindset,” Blanchard said. “We felt that if we played hard, the defense could get us the game.”
Laughlin said the confidence was still there at halftime even though the Horde had gone another 40 minutes of not scoring on the Phantoms.
“We knew that we just had to keep the energy up, keep the pressure up and go hard,” he said.
The victory lifts Westside’s record to 7-4-2 and it is a team on a four-game winning streak that might be peaking at the right time.
West Rutland coach Dillon Zaengle felt a key to the win was the role Tyler Serrani played.
“Tyler Serrani was excellent for us all day in the way that he possessed the ball. That was huge for us,” Zaengle said.
Serrani’s crisp crosses also kept life interesting for Richardson and his defense.
Proctor seniors Joe Valerio, Solomon Parker and Logan Starling were honored in a ceremony before the game. Valerio’s corner kicks and direct kicks were a big piece of the offense and Conner McKearin, Brennon Crossmon, Joel Denton and Hunter Bridge all came close to capitalizing on them. Sometimes they were just high or wide, but when they were on goal, there was that guy Laughlin.
The All-State keeper making the great save is a scene the Phantoms have seen all too much of this season.
The Phantoms pressed the attack hard until the end, feverishly working to come up with the equalizer.
The last gasp was with 40 seconds remaining. Valerio sent a kick into the box that McKearin elevated for. The Valerio-McKearin combination had struck many times this year and in previous years for goals, but this time Laughlin also went high inthe air and came down with the ball, the victory as good as in his hands.
“I thought it was a very even match,” Proctor coach Chad Wilson said. “Their defense and their goalaie was super. He came up with some big saves.
“It was a spirited, classic rivalry game.”
NOTES: Laughlin and Beaulieu played on the Proctor baseball team in the spring because West Rutland did not have a baseball team. ... Indications are French will return to action for Proctor next week.