By LAUREN READ
Colchester Sun correspondent
BURLINGTON — For 45 minutes Colchester goalkeeper Olivia Moore stymied the potent Champlain Valley offense.
Six minutes into the second half, the Redhawks figured out how to get the Lakers brick wall: keep the ball away from her.
“Olivia has been that way all season for us,” said Colchester coach Jeff Paul. “She is next-level good. She’s been that way all season and nothing changed today. In the big game, she came up big for us.”
After CVU earned a corner kick, Olivia Zubarik served a ball to the far post — one that Moore had no chance to get a hand on. Gilwee met the ball in the air and headed it in for a 1-0 lead.
The Champlain Valley defense, which allowed just three goals all season, made the goal stand and the Redhawks captured their second straight Division I girls soccer title Saturday at Burlington High School.
“CVU is as good as they come. They are skilled defensively, they are big, they are strong,” Paul said. “I thought we created some good opportunities for ourselves. We were trying to get ourself in position, it just didn’t happen for us today.”
Zubarik, who had 15 assists this season, stepped up to take the corner with two thoughts: keep it away from the goalie, and find Gilwee on the back post.
“Catherine and I have played together a lot,” Zubarik said. “She is one of those people that can get a head on it. If I just served it into the box and she was there, I knew it was going to go in.”
The connection was yet another for the talented sophomore class at CVU, which has won two titles and not lost a game since the 2016 final. Despite the departure of six seniors from the title-winning group, the future looks bright for the Redhawks.
“That’s the beauty, the balance, and the versatility of the group,” said CVU coach Stan Williams. “That front five was pretty dynamic and the back five too, they play off each other so well.”
Moore — who finished the game with 10 saves — kept CVU off the board in the first half, coming strong out of net to cut off several runs from the Redhawk forwards.
“I am just so proud of her, she played phenomenally,” Paul said. “You appreciate how well she plays when you see her work ethic. She is a special athlete.”
Her strong play continued in the second half until the Zubarik-Gilwee connection broke the tie.
“It’s amazing,” Gilwee said. “It feels awesome.”
CVU goalie Maryn Askew (two saves) had a quiet game in the cold, steady rain and did not have to make a save in the second half to earn the clean sheet.
With the win, Champlain Valley captured its seventh title in eight years. Colchester finishes with a 13-5 record.
“We tell our athletes, ‘All you can do is put yourself in a position to be successful.’ And they did that today,” Paul said. “Special group we have at Colchester, I am going to miss them. I am a very proud coach today.”