“Fine” was Lily Williams’ one-word assessment of top-seeded Champlain Valley Union High School’s performance against U-32.
Maybe the daughter of Redhawks’ coach Stan Williams was just being a 6-year-old. Or perhaps she was being coy beyond her years, aware of their success this season saving a better word for Saturday.
As in Championship Saturday.
After a commanding 5-0 victory over the fourth-seeded Raiders in Wednesday’s Division I girls soccer semifinal, that’s all that remains in the Redhawks’ quest for perfection and a third state crown in as many years.
Champlain Valley (17-0) managed to hang four goals in the first half despite a well-organized U-32’s best efforts and hoarded possession after the break to book its spot in the title game against No. 6 Essex at Burlington High School.
“I think they gave us fits in the first half and we finished,” said Stan Williams. “We finished our chances and that’s something we’ve really been stressing the last few weeks.”
Mackenzie Kingston set the Redhawks on their way 65 seconds into the contest, tucking away one of Haliana Burhans’ two assists.
“Oh, that was fabulous. That was so nice,” CVU senior Emma Davitt said. “It kind of felt like we score a minute in and it just shows, you come to play on our field, we’re going to dictate how the game goes. We’re going to show you what CVU soccer is all about.”
Paige DuBrul proceeded to double the lead in the eighth minute. The junior midfielder rose just inside the 6-yard box to head Kaelyn Kohlasch’s corner kick down and over the line before a U-32 defender could clear it away.
Freshman Sierra Morton streaked down the right flank for a neat, outside-of-the-foot finish inside the near post in the 23rd minute. Catherine Cazayoux made it a 4-0 game with her unassisted tally in the 30th minute, winning back possession deep in the U-32 half, cutting right across the top of the box and thumping in a shot off the bottom of the crossbar.
“It’s so typical of soccer because we didn’t play well in the first half but we still got four goals and we played so much better and had one in the second,” Burhans said.
The Redhawks added an extra midfielder for the second stanza and turned it into a half-field game with pressure in the U-32 end for nearly the entire 40 minutes.
Burhans’ tally in the 42nd minute — a gorgeous, left-footed chip off the far post after collecting her own rebound in the left side of the box — was the only production after the break. There could have been more if not for several solid stops by U-32 goalie Bailey Starr (12 saves).
“They weren’t over there jumping up and down that it was 4-0. The first thing they said was we need to be better in the second half and if we get to Saturday we need to be even better than that,” Williams said of his team’s response to play the first half.
“Before we had said anything they were talking about what they needed to do better and they were right on,” he said. “They know soccer, they know what they’re doing, they know themselves.”
Maddie Turnau needed just one save for the Redhawks’ 16th shutout in 17 games this season — a balance of 71 goals for and just one against.
“We’re obviously thrilled with our first 17 games but we need our 18th to be our best one yet,” Williams said.