Rutland was losing a home field hockey game earlier this season to Windsor and there were reminders all around that day of the great program Rutland used to be.
There were two former Raiders on the RHS sideline who were NCAA Division I field hockey players. Theresa O’Connor Sunderland was there as Kayla Ploof’s assistant coach. She played at Central Michigan University.
Jenney Everett, who starred for Rutland and Wake Forest, was on the RHS sideline that day, up from George Mason University in Virginia where she is the Chief Financial Officer in the athletic department.
Following the game, Everett took the time to impart some instruction to the players. While she was working with Sierra McDermott on some techniques, I wondered if McDermott realized she was being helped by field hockey royalty.
Everett signaled what was ahead just five games into her freshman year at Wake Forest when she scored a program record five goals with two assists in a 10-0 victory over Appalachian State.
She was the first Wake Forest field hockey player to be inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame.
So there were Sunderland and Everett and then you get home and turn on the TV to find another Rutland High field hockey great right in your living room. It was Liza Casella, in a TV commercial, who also had a great career at Wake Forest.
Yes, there were heady times in Rutland field hockey.
RHS coach Lynne Sanders would have the players say in unison, “Losing in not an option” just before they took the field. Usually, it wasn’t an option.
There was a stretch from 1993 through 1995 when the Raiders won three consecutive state crowns — edging Spaulding in 1993, tying Essex 1-1 for the co-championship in 1994 and beating Middlebury 3-2 in the 1995 title game.
Rutland is struggling now but Ploof is determined to put down a foundation that will be the beginning of the return to glory.
The numbers are solid and there is a blueprint available. You can find it Bellows Falls coach Bethany Coursen’s possession.
The Terriers graduate great players who go on and often make their mark on the college fields and players simply come along and replace them. The Terriers never seem to miss a beat. It goes on and on. They are trying to get to a state championship game for the eighth straight year.
Coursen and her staff have a well developed feeder program so kids have a stick in their hands at a very young age.
Field hockey is a separate language spoken around Bellows Falls.
Over the weekend, the BF graduates were making their presence known. Abby Cravinho scored for Clark University in a 3-2 victory over Salve Regina. Maya Waryas had a goal and an assist for St. Joseph’s of Maine to help lead the Monks to a 6-0 win over Rivier.
Back home, Emma Bazin was knocking in three goals for the Terriers in their 6-0 win over Rutland. Ashlin Maxfield also scored two for BF and Sadie Scott notched the other..
The Terriers are unbeaten and still ranked No. 1 in this week’s Rutland Herald/Times Argus field hockey power rankings.
Ploof got a good look that day at the team she wants her Rutland team to become.
Building a program is not an overnight happening. You look for small steps and do things to make certain those steps keep going in the right direction.
Rutland’s goalie Emma Cosgrove going to field hockey camp over the summer was one of those steps.
Now, more summer involvement by more players will help to take the program in a positive direction. A direction that Ploof hopes will someday lead the program back to those glory days.
Here are this week’s Rutland Herald/Times Argus power rankings. They were constructed prior to Wednesday’s games.
Last week’s ranking is in parentheses.
1. Bellows Falls 3-0 (1) Is the question, can anyone beat the Terriers? Or is it, can anyone score on them? They have outscored opponents 19-0.
2. CVU 1-0 (UR) The Redhawks defeated defending Division I state champion South Burlington 3-0.
3. Essex 1-0 (2) The short trip over to CVU on Sept. 20 should provide some answers.
4. Spaulding 2-0 (UR) The Crimson Tide have two decisive victories against Montpelier and St. Johnsbury. They become the first Division II team in the poll.
5 Hartford 3-0 (5) Hartford is out of the gate in style, outscoring the opposition 17-2. Would you expect anything else? It is not just a great team in White River Junction, it is a great program like Bellows Falls.
6. Rice 1-1-1 (9) The Green Knights had a bad loss (5-0) to Essex but the victory over perennial D-II power Mount Abraham is an eye-catcher.
7. Mount Abraham 1-1 (3) The Eagles stumbled against Rice by a score of 2-1. They’ll be fine but D-II is a horse race this year and Spaulding, Hartford, Mount Abe, Woodstock and Burr and Burton Academy all have a great chance to be there at the finish line.
8. Woodstock 2-0 (UR) The Wasps look like the real deal. Especially notable is the 4-0 defeat they hung on a very good Otter Valley team.
9. Colchester 2-0 (UR) Both of the Lakers’ wins are by shutouts.
10. Burr and Burton 1-1 (UR) The Bulldogs are putting that season-opening 6-1 loss to Queensbury, New York far back in the rear view mirror.
A game to watch will be the one on Sept. 20 against Otter Valley. The Bulldogs get the Otters at home on the turf.
The Bulldogs edged Windsor 2-1 at Windsor and that is no small feat.
“Winning at Windsor is always tough, always a good win,” Burr and Burton coach Barb Miceli said while attending Saturday’s Castleton Athletic Hall of Fame induction for Burr and Burton graduates and siblings Matt, James and Marie Van Der Kar.
TOP FIVESDivision I — 1. Bellows Falls 2. CVU 3. Essex 4. Rice 5. Colchester.
Division II — 1. Spaulding 2. Hartford 3. Mount Abraham, 4. Woodstock 5. Burr and Burton.
Division III — 1. Lyndon 2. Windsor 3. Montpelier 4. Missisquoi 5. North Country.