Kendra Sabotka struck the shot well and the ball soared up and into the rain that was falling in sheets. The ball climbed to its apex and on its descent it looked like it had a chance. Mount Anthony goalie Madison Breese tracked the arc of the ball but as it got closer it was apparent she had no chance as it slipped under the crossbar and into the back of the net.
Sabotka’s shot at 68:48 broke a scoreless deadlock and lifted the Rutland Raiders to a 1-0 victory over Mount Anthony. It was the difference in an evenly played Marble Valley League girls soccer game at a soaked Alumni Field Thursday evening.
The game was played in the pouring rain, which started almost in unison with the playing of the National Anthem and continued throughout, sometimes pelting down hard.
But it did not seem to faze either team, who play the game like mirror images and went strong at each other for 80 minutes.
“This is the third game we’ve had just like that: evenly played, one goal either way and either team deserved to win it,” MAU coach Mike Boudreau said. “They ended up getting it and we didn’t. It’s always a good game with Rutland.”
It certainly was not for lack of trying on the Patriots’ part. After Sabotka’s goal, MAU came back hard at the Raiders, testing the defense and goalie Elise Magro at every turn.
On MAU’s next run down the field into the Raider end, Haley Breese broke down the right wing and slipped her mark. She got off a strong shot that Magro tipped and then snatched out of the air.
But the Raiders could not afford to breathe easily as MAU kept coming; Keana Gauthier got off a hard shot on goal, Chloe Cicanowski had a great bid and Jordan Mattison trained a shot on net but Magro (7 saves) was able to cover everything and the Raiders helped by knocking the ball out of the zone and transitioning back to offense.
“It was back-and-forth possession,” Raider coach Lori McClallen said. “I felt our girls were a little stronger on the possession side. They had a lot of great combination play, which we’ve been struggling to do on a consistent basis. Tonight, I felt they gave us 80 minutes of good soccer.”
In the early going, the battles were mostly at midfield. The teams, each playing a short passing game, endeavored to build their attacks. Strong defensive play in the midfield short-circuited many of those attacks, but each time the teams went back to do it all over again.
At intermission it was 0-0 with just three shots on goal — Rutland with two and MAU one. But the teams got into it in the second 40 minutes as the Patriots attacked down the wings with Alyssa Bullett and Rebecca Crosier spearheading the attacks.
Meanwhile, Rutland’s Logan Kinsman and Maggie Schillinger worked the midfield and sent Sabotka, Camryn Kinsman and Erin McClallen on runs to the goal.
But it was pretty much no dice as the rain continued to fall and it looked as though it might go into overtime unless a team made a mistake.
It was hardly a mistake but more like good fortune that set up the lone goal.
On a goal kick, the MAU defender spotted the ball and struck it. The ball did not find air but spun along the ground out to Sabotka, who made a quick move and then quickly got off her shot from 25 yards out. When the ball billowed the back of the net the Raiders were frenzied with joy and when the goal held up as the horn sounded the Raiders rushed the field.
Rutland improved to 4-7, 2-2 in the league, while MAU is 6-5. Each team plays Brattleboro next with Rutland facing the Colonels on Saturday, while MAU has Bratt on Tuesday.