MIDDLEBURY – At the beginning of the season, chatting over high school field hockey season previews, South Burlington coach Anjie Soucy pointed out just one incoming player: Kate Hall.
On Monday night, in the Division I semifinals, the freshman made her coach look very forward thinking.
Hall struck for her second goal of the game with 1 minute, 50 seconds remaining in a deadlocked contest to lift the top-seeded Rebels to a 2-1 win over No. 4 Mount Mansfield.
“That was a great semifinal,” Soucy said. “We just put in one more than they did.”
The win vaults South Burlington (12-3-1) into its 13th state championship game and the program’s first since it won the title in 2012.
“It’s really exciting,” Hall said. “My team is awesome and I am excited to have another week with them.”
The Rebels will play the winner of the No. 2 Essex vs. No. 3 Champlain Valley semifinal, which is set for 7 p.m. tonight at Middlebury College. The state championship is slated for Saturday at the University of Vermont.
“This group has just been working so hard all season” Soucy said. “They really play well together and I think they really wanted it.”
Hall’s tally, which came off a penalty corner, put South Burlington ahead in a game that seemed destined for overtime.
The two teams, who traded goals early in the first half, settled into a midfield battle, with shots and scoring chances few and far between.
“Division I level for sure,” said Mount Mansfield coach Paige Manning. “It was anybody’s game and with a little under two minutes they happened to come out on top of it.
“It came down to those last couple of minutes and they got it in.”
The Rebels broke through with a set piece with just over two minutes to play, putting Mount Mansfield goalie Jess Peura (four saves) on the defensive. After the ball was served into the circle, South Burlington flooded the front of the net and, with Peura laying across the goalmouth, Hall got a stick on the loose ball and pushed it across the line.
“It was joy, just really surprised and overwhelming,” Hall said of her reaction when the ball rolled into the net. “From the beginning, this was one of our goals.”
“There was a lot of stuff going on in front of that net and as a coach you just hope you hear the bang in the back and not the whistle that it’s coming out,” Soucy said. “Luckily, it was the bang in the back.”
Hall’s second of the game was very similar to her first, which came eight minutes into the first half and tied the game 1-1.
After Mount Mansfield had gone ahead 7:37 into the game, with Shannon Springer finding Maeve Poleman in front of the net, Hall responded for the Rebels less than a minute later.
South Burlington earned a penalty corner and Hall again found a loose ball in front of the net and tucked it in.
“She has just been fantastic,” Soucy said. “She’s done it again.”
Mount Mansfield finishes the season at 10-5-1.
Liz Sargent earned the win for South Burlington in goal.