With her free kick from 40 yards rattling the football upright hanging over the crossbar in the second minute, Milton’s Addison Wennar provided the shot across the bow.
With goals in the first 20 minutes, Dallas Brodhead, Caitlyn Dabagian and Brooke Phillips drove the point home.
Cinderella’s historic run would not escape Milton intact.
In command from the start, the third-seeded Yellowjackets had No. 15 Middlebury on the ropes early en route to a 4-2 victory in Tuesday’s Division II high school girls soccer semifinal.
“Our record at the beginning — I could tell it would be a good season,” Phillips said, referring to her team’s 6-1 start to the season.
“We’ve had the team for a long time but it’s just getting there and having the determination, and I think we did this year,” she said. “All we’ve got is the ‘ship left.”
Milton (13-3-1) advances to the D-II title game — for the fifth time in six years — where it will meet top-seeded Mill River (16-1). That game is Saturday at Randolph Union High School.
Middlebury (4-13), the first 15-seed, boys or girls, to reach the semis since the 1970s, entered with as much momentum as any team left in the tournament. The Tigers solved a nine-game scoring drought with two goals in playoff upsets of No. 2 Lake Region and No. 7 Montpelier and eyed one more stunning win to reach the final.
“Like with a lot of things, we just needed to get a couple goals and get the belief,” Middlebury coach Wendy Leeds said. “My feeling was (of) these final four teams that were in, Milton’s the hardest to beat.
“I told the girls if we can get through this, we’ve got a legit shot at this thing.”
But the Yellowjackets, who outscored Middlebury a combined 9-0 in two regular seaosn meetings, wasted no time dismantling that notion. In the sixth minute, Dabagian teed up Broadhead to drive a shot from the top right corner of the box across the goal and into the side netting for the opener.
Eight minutes later, Dabagian doubled the lead off a corner, knocking the loose ball through a crowd at the goal line.
Then Phillips made it a 3-0 lead with 20:21 left in the half, one-timing a volley inside the far post after Erin Turner’s cross from the left flank beat Middlebury goalie Riley Fenster (13 saves).
“We were kinda nervous that people would come out too cocky,” Wennar said. “That was perfect.”
“I knew that first goal would be key. If we gave up a goal to them their confidence was going to be soaring since we shut them out two prior games,” Milton coach Cory Payson said. “To their credit, we hung three on them pretty quick but they kept fighting and fighting.”
Katherine Holmes got one back for the Tigers before the break, burying a penalty kick in the 35th minute off the inside of the right post that gave Milton’s Kayleigh Reid (four saves) no chance.
Hailey Flynn’s second posteason tally, off an in-stride feed from Phillips, made it 4-1 Milton in the 48th minute. Sara Boe’s goal for the Tigers with 9:30 left in the contest was the only glitch the rest of the way as the Yellowjackets regained their spot in the state title game after missing out last fall.
“The one thing when I came here three years ago, that’s always the goal, to get to that last Saturday,” Payson said. “Now (the seniors) get it, the kids who haven’t been there get it. That’s the ultimate goal here.”