When the schedule reads Essex vs. Champlain Valley, soccer fans are usually in for a treat.
The high school girls soccer powerhouses didn’t disappoint Wednesday, renewing their rivalry with an overtime thriller.
Charlotte Stuart scored her second goal on the day in the second overtime to lift the Hornets to a 3-2 win over the Redhawks in a battle of topflight Metro Division teams.
“I just really wanted to win it for our team because we’ve been working really hard,” Stuart said. “I’m beyond happy. We worked together as a team and pulled it together at the end.”
CVU, last year’s Divison I state champions, netted its first goal two minutes into the first half. Audrey Morehouse picked up a pass from Haliana Burhans just outside the 18-yard box. Essex goalie Essie Fiore came out to challenge, but Morehouse got by her and buried a shot for the lead.
After much of the play was contained in the host’s offensive end, the Hornets broke through in the 11th minute. A 50-50 ball was won by an Essex midfielder and landed just to the right of Redhawks goalkeeper Lily Harris outside the 18. Stuart came down the left side, beating Harris and another defender to the ball and slipping it inside the far post to level the score.
With the score deadlocked, much of the play was contained at midfield and the teams exchanged scoring chances. Essex capitalized in the 26th minute. After an initial scramble just outside the box, Angie Krywanczyk received a pass back and drove a 20-yard shot past the diving keeper.
In the second half, the Redhawks came out with intensity, ringing a shot off the post just three minutes in. The hosts did not relent, putting constant pressure on Fiore and the Essex back line. The Redhawks’ tenacity paid off in the 25th minute as Kate Raszka found the back of the net to knot the score at 2-all.
The teams battled back and forth for the rest of regulation and into extra time. It looked like the game might end in a tie, until Stuart tallied in the 98th minute.
Two CVU players slipped on the soggy turf, leaving Stuart all alone to pick up a cross just outside the penalty area. With only the goalkeeper challenge her, the Hornet forward touched it to her left and netted the game-winner with three minutes remaining in the last overtime period.
Both goalies were solid throughout the match, each making 11 saves. The Redhawks had only allowed one goal all season before this match, outscoring opponents 18-1. The Hornets had earned shutouts in all their previous contests.
Champlain Valley coach Brad Parker isn’t discouraged by the outcome. “I thought we played very well. We regained our composure in the second half, because their two goals rattled us a bit,” he said. “It’s the fifth game of the season, so we’ll learn from it, and move on.”
“Our game plan was to play hard and hope for a bounce, which we got,” Essex coach Bill O’Neil said. “They are a very, very good team. It was our day today, but we’ll see them again.”