It was Senior Night at Alumni Field for the Rutland High girls soccer team and two of the seniors took center stage within the first two minutes of the Raiders’ 3-2 victory over Mount Abraham.
Senior Caroline Coloutti, making her first start in goal this year for the Raiders, made a couple of outstanding saves before classmate Erin McClallen converted a gorgeous cross from Kendra Sabotka to give Rutland a 1-0 lead just 1:39 into the game.
McClallen had a goal and an assist and her cousin Camryn Kinsman had two goals for Rutland but you have to look beyond the scoresheet to find one of the biggest heroes of this victory.
The Eagles got off a blistering shot with the score still 1-0, a ball that seemed ticketed for the equalizer, but junior back Justine Peters came out of nowhere and made a spectacular saving play in front of an open net.
“That was a fantastic play,” Rutland coach Lori McClallen said.
Addy Harris did net the tying goal for the Eagles, a header off one of Mae Peterson’s patented corner kicks. It came 24:19 before the half.
The Raiders broke the tie only about five minutes later with a scintillating display of passing. Maci Celentano made the pass that set the play in motion. Sydney Wood set up Kinsman with a pretty feed and Kinsman banged it home, 19:31 before the half.
Kinsman pushed the score to 3-1 6:33 into the second half with McClallen earning the assist.
Kathryn Moore played the second half in goal for the Raiders and she made several difficult saves. One of the best came just a couple of minutes after Kinsman’s second goal.
The Eagles sliced the lead to 3-2 with 17:25 remaining. Lucy Guy’s goal was assisted by Peterson.
The Eagles brought a 9-1 record to Alumni Field and it was evident as to why they are in the throes of such a strong season — they had an energized attack that unloaded some testing shots on both Coloutti and Moore.
Both Rutland keepers were on their game.
“We have confidence in both of them,” coach McClallen said. They both have their strengths. Caroline is very good at communicating with the other players.”
“I was nervous because it was my first start this year,” Coloutti said. “I just told myself to focus and to focus on the ball.”
Just as important to the defensive effort as the keepers and Peters was the play in the back of Caitlin Pelkey. She was a rock all night and was especially in the thick of things when the Eagles were pressing the attack hard in an attempt to get the equalizer over the final 17 minutes.
Seniors honored in pregame ceremonies were Coloutti, Pelkey, Megan O’Connor, McClallen, Kathleen Gilmond and Logan Kinsman.
Logan kept the Raiders on the attack all night by winning balls at midfield and putting them in the offensive third with her strong and accurate serves.
The Raiders improved their record to 3-7.
Mount Abraham entered the match as the No. 2 team in the Division II standings behind U-32 (8-1). The Eagles are attempting to maintain their position but could be overtaken by Montpelier (7-0-3), Fair Haven (7-2-1), Lamoille (5-1-1), Springfield (8-2), Stratton (5-0) and Harwood (7-3).
Mount Abe coach Dustin Corrigan felt his players had a difficult time in adjusting to the speed of the ball on the wet artificial turf.
Getting on the board first against a quality opponent that had been used to winning was crucial for the Raiders.
“Kendra set me up perfectly,” Erin McClallen said. “I think we all thought this was our game.”
NOTES: Erin McClallen got her varsity soccer career off to an early start as an eighth grader on Mount St. Joseph’s team. One of her most memorable goals was as an eighth grader in the playoffs against Proctor, a goal that sent the game into overtime and eventually to penalty kicks. ... The first half was played in ideal conditions but the second half took place in a steady downpour. ... Mount Abe’s seniors were also recognized before the game.