WEST RUTLAND — The juniors did the scoring but West Rutland seniors Liam Beaulieu, Kyle Laughlin, Ryan Smith and Kenneth Lynch had the Senior Game they were hoping for — a 3-0 victory over Sharon Academy in boys soccer action on Friday.
Tim Blanchard had two goals and Tyler Serrani the other.
Serrani’s was the first one and it was one of the most gorgeous shots of the season. It was a bullet from 30 yards out in the upper corner that gave goalie Ben Rodis little time to react. It came with 21:38 remaining in the opening half.
Blanchard sent the Golden Horde into halftime with a 2-0 lead on a low corner kick that caught the Phoenix players ball watching. It found its way over the goal line 14:28 before the break.
Blanchard’s second goal came with 3:46 remaining after Mac Perry’s corner kick.
It was Laughlin’s fifth shutout of the season and he earned it, as the Phoenix played much of the second half in their offensive third of the field. Laughlin kept their attack grounded by frequently hustling to the edge of the box to dive on balls, snuffing out threats before they could materialize into better scoring chances.
Laughlin credited the defenders in front of him — Beaulieu, Patrick and Ryan Smith and Blanchard — for their contribution to the shutout.
“We are looking to win out and win the SVL (Southern Vermont League),” Laughlin said.
“We believe in ourselves. We think we can do that. That’s our goal,” Westside coach Dillon Zaengle said.
That would mean pinning a defeat on unbeaten Proctor, currently 8-0-1. West Rutland played Proctor to a scoreless tie earlier this year and meets Proctor on the Phantoms’ home field on Oct. 12.
West Rutland improved to 5-4-2 and winning out would not only give them the SVL crown, but secure at least one home playoff game.
“I would love to play another game on this field. This is my home,” Laughlin said.
Sharon falls to 2-7. That record includes a 3-1 loss to the Golden Horde in Sharon.
The Phoenix came out with some intensity and had the first shot of the game courtesy of Daniel Henderson. Laughlin and Sharon’s Ollie Skeet-Browning then got to a loose ball simultaneously and it squirted loose, giving the Phoenix another scoring chance in the early minutes.
Zaengle had seen enough.
“Up the intensity. Be first to the ball,” he yelled.
They did. The Golden Horde pretty much owned the rest of the half.
The Phoenix responded to coach Blake Fabrikant’s halftime message. They spent the final 40 minutes in an attacking mode. Riley Eastman missed wide with a left-footed shot early in the half and that set the tone with the Phoenix keeping life interesting for Laughlin and his defenders.
The Phoenix came close to converting Ever Tofel’s corner kick. Henderson directed the ball on goal but Laughlin elevated and punched the ball away, Zaengle describing the athletic play as Laughlin’s “volleyball skills.”
Laughlin made one of his few mistakes when he touched the ball with his hands outside the box, awarding the Phoenix a free kick inches outside the box. Tofel hit it well but Laughlin redeemed himself by plucking the ball out of the air.
“We worked on finishing a lot this week,” Zaengle said.
That manifested itself in Serrani’s screamer from the perimeter.
“Scoring has been a problem but we are definitely getting better,” Laughlin said.