McKearin

Proctor’s Maggie McKearin dribbles the ball toward the goal during a girls game against Sharon Academy.

Over two months of preparation will culminate with a lot of make-or-break moments when girls soccer playoffs kick off next week.

Teams across Vermont are doing everything they can to lock up the best possible seed for the post-season, but some things are simply out of their control. A handful of schools already finished up their 14-game regular season and will anxiously await the results from Friday’s and Saturday’s matches to see where the chips fall.

A lot of programs are making a final push to secure of first-round home game for the tournament, while others are already looking ahead to the quarterfinals and beyond.

In Division I, Rutland is attempting to lock up a high seed after stringing together nine straight shutout victories late in the season. The Ravens’ winning streak was snapped during Wednesday’s 1-0 loss at Mount Anthony, but Rutland can still earn the No. 2 seed if Mount Mansfield tops Colchester on Friday.

North Country is another non-Metro team that will host at least a playdown in D-I. The Falcons opened the season with nine straight victories and will attempt to snap a four-match winless streak when they host rising D-III star Paine Mountain on Friday.

The Spaulding girls (9-4) are likely to hit the road for a match at North Country or Burr & Burton, which isn’t the worst draw for the Crimson Tide. Division I dark horse Essex (4-8-1) could visit Burlington or South Burlington in the first round of playoffs.

Harwood sits atop the D-II standings despite suffering a 3-1 loss to Stowe during Tuesday’s battle between undefeated teams. Woodstock (10-2-1) has won five straight games and is another D-II title threat, while Fair Haven (10-2-2) owns six straight victories.

Mount Abraham (4-8-1) opened the season with five straight losses but is riding a three-game undefeated streak after victories over U-32 and Milton and a draw with Rice. One looming question in D-II is how far Stratton (10-3) could potentially go in the tourney. The Bears have defeated some of the best D-IV teams, including Arlington, Rivendell and White River. But their strength of schedule is relatively weak for a D-II program.

Even though defending champ Stowe (12-0-2) appears untouchable in D-III, it hasn’t been a walk in the park for coach Tyler Post’s team. The Raiders settled for ties with U-32 and North Country in addition to barely holding off Paine Mountain and Peoples Academy.

The Wolves (3-10) are currently No. 13 in the standings and Thetford (3-9-1) is No. 12, so the potential for upsets is high. Stowe could face Randolph (6-7) in the quarterfinals and Paine Mountain in the semis.

The Raiders earned a 4-3 victory over Paine Mountain five weeks ago. Since then the cooperative team featuring Williamstown and Northfield athletes sky-rocketed up the rankings, thanks to six victories in a row. Leland & Gray has won nine straight matches and will also be the D-III title conversation.

The Northern and Central Vermont squads in D-IV don’t have many common opponents with the Southern Vermont League teams. As a result, there’s no shortage of mystery heading into the tourney. Brooke Bishop and Alyssa Fullam scored to give MSJ a 2-1 halftime lead over Proctor (13-0) before the Phantoms rallied to a 3-2 victory last Thursday.

Two days later Proctor coasted to a 10-0 victory over MSJ, led by Laci French (three goals, two assists) and Maggie McKearin (three goals). McKearin boasts 35 goals for the Phantoms and is followed by teammates Isabel Greb (20 goals), Emma Palmer (17 goals) and French (12 goals).

Up-and-coming Twinfield (7-6) swept Danville and Craftsbury and earned a 3-2 victory over Blue Mountain. Rivendell (8-4-1) has won five straight matches and is attempting to overtake West Rutland (10-4) for the No. 2 seed.

Here are the newest Rutland Herald/Times Argus power ranking before tourney brackets are released Monday:

1. CVU (10-1-2) The Redhawks suffered their first regular-season loss in five years during a 2-1 defeat against Essex. CVU bounced back by outshooting South Burlington 14-6 during a 2-1 victory. Ava Barron and Chloe Pecor scored for CVU and goalie Emma Allair made five saves.

2. Colchester (8-1-3) Ties with Burlington and South Burlington combined with a 3-2 loss to CVU are the only things preventing the Lakers from taking over the top spot. Ava Moore and Kyla Lumbra scored in a 2-0 victory over St. Johnsbury as the Lakers outshot the Hilltoppers 16-3. The Lakers outshot Essex 14-6, with McKenna Conrad-Pawlik scoring on a Moore assist during a 1-0 victory.

3. South Burlington (9-3-1) Rachel Kelley scored and Merceds Rozzi stopped 12 shots in the loss to CVU. Ava Hamme and Kelley found the back of the net for the defending champs in a 2-0 victory over BFA-St. Albans The Wolves will travel to play Burlington at 5 p.m. Friday.

4. Mount Mansfield (8-4-1) The Cougars have quietly inched up the rankings since starting the season at 2-2-1. Sydney Sears and Naia Surks scored in a 2-1 victory over Burlington. Sears (two goals) and Surks (one assist) led MMU to Tuesday’s 2-0 victory over BFA-St. Albans.

5. Burlington (8-2-3) Two goals from Brooks DeShaw sparked a 3-1 victory over St. Johnsbury. Goalie Vivian Halliday made three saves for the BHS defense, which held opponents scoreless during matches vs. Mount Abraham, Rutland, St. Johnsbury, BFA-St. Albans, CVU, Colchester and Essex.

6. Rice (8-4-1) Keeper Sunshine Clark made three saves in a scoreless tie with Mount Abraham, which snapped the Green Knights’ seven-game winning streak. Three days later Maris Lynn’s hat trick triggered a 6-0 victory over Milton. Olivia Waite (one goal, two assists), Laura Hoak (one goal, one assist) and Maddie Goddard (two assists) added to the balanced offense for Rice, which could face Harwood in the semifinals.

7. Stowe (12-0-2) Lucia Lovell scored on an Isabel Donza assist and Parker Reeves made eight saves in a 1-1 tie with North Country. Sarah Hailey scored twice in a 3-1 victory over Harwood, which was missing two of its top scorers. The Raiders capped the second unbeaten regular season in program history, but the only opponents they shut out were Craftsbury, Lyndon, Thetford and Vergennes.

8. Harwood (10-1-1) Senior Tanum Nelson, one of the top midfielders in New England, tallied her team’s only goal in a 3-1 loss to Stowe. Coach Mike Vasseur’s squad rallied to tie Mount Mansfield in the season opener and is talented enough play with the best squads in D-I. There’s a decent chance the Highlanders will host a quarterfinal against Lamoille, which suffered a 9-0 loss to HU before rattling off five straight victories midway through the season.

9. Essex (4-8-1) The Hornets are frightening as the No. 12 team in the D-I standings. Maya Desautels scored on assists by Anna Ganguly and Sarah Hall in the victory over CVU. Goalie Kelsie Scanlon made 10 saves for Essex, which hosts St. Johnsbury on Friday.

10. Rutland (10-4) Eleven players have scored for the Ravens, whose resume stacks up with most of the Metro powers. Goalie Kathryn Moore and the Ravens opened the season with a 1-0 victory over Mount Mansfield before suffering 1-0 losses to Burlington and Essex. Camryn Kinsman and Bethany Solari lead the attack with four goals apiece.

TOP FIVE TEAMS

DIVISION I

1. CVU (10-1-2) 2. Colchester (8-1-3) 3. South Burlington (8-2-1) 4. Mt. Mansfield (8-4-1) 5. Burlington (8-2-3)

DIVISION II

1. Rice (8-4-1) 2. Harwood (10-1-1) 3. Fair Haven (10-2-2) 4. Montpelier (7-4-1) 5. Woodstock (10-2-1)

DIVISION III

1. Stowe (12-0-2) 2. Paine Mt. (9-3) 3. BFA-Fairfax (9-1-1) 4. Leland & Gray (10-2) 5. Thetford (3-9-1)

DIVISION IV

1. Proctor (13-0) 2. MSJ (8-3-1) 3. West Rutland (10-4) 4. Poultney (7-6-1) 5. Rivendell (8-4-1)

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