Girls soccer falls in overtime thriller

By

 Maddie Finelli skies for a header in front of Burr and Burton's goalkeeper last Saturday's state finals game at Burlington High School. (Photo by Colin Flanders)

Maddie Finelli skies for a header in front of Burr and Burton’s goalkeeper last Saturday’s state finals game at Burlington High School. (Photo by Colin Flanders)

Eighty minutes weren’t enough. Neither were 95.

Slowly, as the sun peeked through gray clouds last Saturday afternoon, the Division I girls soccer state championships neared its final moments.

Defenders flicked corner kicks away from the box. Slivers of open net closed instantly by goalies’ instinct.

It was a game that seemed like it’d never end. By the way each team was playing, not too many people would have complained.

Eventually, in the 108th minute of double overtime,  after an injury timeout that seemed to freeze both game clock and the world around it, a Burr and Burton header would sink the Lakers, ending Colchester’s  season.

It was a devestating end to a magical 16-2 season for the Lakers, who were seeking their first title since 1993.

For head coach Jeff Paul, however, the Lakers had already wrote their story.

“I’ve always told my players that at the end of the day, if you don’t have any regrets, you’ve already won.”

Indeed, the Lakers have little to regret after a gutsy performance on the state’s biggest stage, trading blows with the tournament’s No. 1 seed.   

The game moved at near a blistering pace.  One minute, sophomore Maddie Finelli would tear off downfield after lumbering lob, jutting between defenders. Moments later, the Lakers called upon goalkeeper Gabby Gosselin to secure a shot on goal.

Autumn Hathaway battles for the ball. (Photo by Colin Flanders)

Autumn Hathaway battles for the ball. (Photo by Colin Flanders)

After the final whistle, a few Colchester players fell to the ground near their bench, a pure display of exhaustion and disappointment.

“They left everything they had on the field,” Paul said.

The loss comes a year after Colchester fell in the semifinals to Champlain Valley Union after a flawless regular season.

It was the final game for seniors Brenna McMannon, Amber Sicard and Alyssa Jenkins.

Yet with 14 returning players, half of whom are currently just sophomores, and the Lakers have a bright future ahead.

Still, Paul focused on the here and now, reflecting on his team’s “absolutely memorable, amazing and special season.”

“I don’t think there’s anybody to be more proud of,”  he said.