Last year, in the midst of a run to the Division I state title, the South Burlington field hockey team could turn to Anne-Marie Farmer when it needed to make something happen.
On Thursday afternoon, coming off a tough loss to Colchester and needing a strong effort against visiting Champlain Valley, the Rebels found their next go-to player: Courtney Barrett.
Barrett scored two goals and added an assist as South Burlington held for a 3-2 win over CVU, handing the Redhawks their first loss of the year.
“That was a big win,” South Burlington head coach Anjie Soucy said. “After Tuesday’s loss, you don’t want to get into the situation of consecutive losses, and CVU is a great team — so this was a great game for us.”
South Burlington (3-1-1) jumped out to a lead just two minutes into the first half, capitalizing on its first penalty corner. After an initial shot by the Rebels was saved, the ball bounced around the circle before Katerina Kacer pounced and knocked it into the back of the net. Barrett earned an assist on the play.
“Our passes were connecting better today,” Soucy said. “We had more penetrating passes where their defense had to readjust and we really, really wanted to score today.”
Champlain Valley (3-1) responded five minutes later when Amanda Whitbeck tapped a loose ball past South Burlington goalie Alex Warshaw.
After the quick goals, the two teams settled down and began trading chances. Champlain Valley got some excellent play from goalie Evageline Dunphy, who made 10 saves in the first half.
South Burlington came close to jumping back on top, but between Dunphy and three defensive saves from the CVU backfield, the Redhawks kept the game tied at 1.
Then Barrett took over the game for the South Burlington offense.
“Today we knew we had to come out and be the regular Rebels team, and this was what we are,” Barrett said. “It was big win, crucial.”
With five minutes remaining in the first half, the senior forward got control of a rebound and beat Dunphy (12 saves) for her first goal of the game and a 2-1 Rebels lead.
Barrett came through again 30 second into the second half, this time dribbling through the CVU defense herself and eluding Dunphy for a 3-1 lead.
“(CVU) had possession there right at half time, so for us to come up with it and put it in the net was a huge pick-up,” Soucy said. “(That) got us on the right track.”
After the third South Burlington tally, Champlain Valley took a timeout to regroup. The Redhawks came out pushing for a goal and with 20 minutes remaining in the game, Whitbeck struck again.
The senior capped off a sequence of solid ball movement. Emily Griesser made a pass from the top of the circle to Katie Arms on the end line. Arms then sent a feed to the front of the goal to Whitbeck, who tipped it past Warshaw (four saves) to make it a 3-2 game.
Champlain Valley threatened for the next 20 minutes, but struggled to break through the South Burlington back line, which did not allow the CVU offense many opportunities.
“Our defenders just do a great job of keeping their sticks down and playing a clean game, and not giving up many corners,” Soucy said.
The Redhawks turned on the scoring pressure with three minutes remaining in the game, but could not find the back of the goal as the Rebels held on for the win.
“It would have been nice to come away with one, but it’s only September 19th,” CVU head coach Kate McDonald said. “It’s okay to gain a little perspective. All in all, I’m pleased — but this is a game we really get psyched for, so this will give us some motivation.”