CASTLETON — Seventh Heaven. The dynastic Stowe boys soccer program won its seventh consecutive state championship Wednesday evening at Dave Wolk Stadium, edging Twin Valley 1-0 in the Division III title match.
It was a game played at video game speed with several near misses after great runs. But it only took one score and Jace Boerger got it 7:21 before the half on a breakaway.
Jack Seivwright played the ball to set up Boerger, who went strong through a defender to find himself on the breakaway and the rest was easy.
Boerger nearly padded the lead 30 seconds into the second half. It was another breakaway and he was presented with a wide open net but shot the ball just wide.
“It is what it is. The goalie did a good job of cutting down the angle,” Boerger said.
Both keepers were stellar. Twin Valley’s Logan Boyd, owner of 13 shutouts this season, was spectacular. Perhaps his best save came early in the second half when he stopped one right next to the post.
Raider keeper Sam Schoepke was also outstanding in the face of heavy pressure by Twin Valley. He had help in turning in the shutout with his backs Mike Pelletier, Jules Gershman, Alex Tilgner and Noal Lepikko solid in front of him.
Twin Valley was still attacking with gusto when it was forced to play a man down the final 11:56 after a player was ejected.
It was an ugly scene with the player attempting to grab the red card out of the official’s hand upon being ejected. He was restrained by several teammates. Finally, when they got him to bench, he made an obscene gesture.
Following the incident, the officials stopped play for several minutes for a cooling off period.
“It was unfortunate. It’s tough enough to play against Stowe with 11 players,” Twin Valley coach Buddy Hayford said.
Hayford and the Wildcats are all too familiar with Boerger.
“He ended our season last year in the semifinals. He’s tough and he’s fast,” Hayford said.
The Wildcats were the top seed and unbeaten (16-0) until they ran into the Raiders.
“I am proud of what we accomplished this year,” Hayford said.
Boerger and Rai Bleda-Vilaita were a difficult combination for the Wildcats to deal with. More than once, Bleda-Vilaita played a ball perfectly to Boerger’s feet when he was on the move at breakneck speed, nearly resulting in a goal.
Both teams created good scoring opportunities with their speed and skill.
The Wildcats made a strong bid for the equalizer with 15 minutes remaining — a laser off the foot of Jack McHale that was only inches wide.
Even after the Wildcats were down to 10 men, they still had an attack, Jack Kehoe testing Schoepke with a couple of shots on goal.
The Raiders have had three different coaches during this streak. This year’s coach, Brian Buckzek started it all in 2012, left and came back.
“I heard they might be going up to Division II. I won’t miss them,” Hayford said.
Whether they go up to D-II or not, he is rid of his nemesis Boerger, a senior.
The others playing their final game in the green and white uniforms were Alex Pelletier, Kevin Crawford, Schoepke and Lepikko.
It was the 12th state crown for Stowe. The Raiders are 12-2 in state championship games.