It’s October: South Burlington and Champlain Valley are bound to play a tense high school boys soccer team with a memorable goal … by a Rebel player.
For the third time since last October, the Rebels slipped past the Redhawks with a late strike. In all three matchups, including last year’s Division I semifinals, South Burlington served as the host, and on Wednesday night, sophomore Patrick O’Hara was the game’s star.
Taking a low cross from Rakesh Subedi, O’Hara curled a one-timer into the far left corner in the 75th minute, giving South Burlington the 1-0 triumph in a game CVU held a decided edged possession and had the better of the chances.
“It’s crazy. It’s something about CVU, those games are always so close,” said O’Hara.
The win improved the Rebels to 9-2 while the Redhawks (10-1) fell for the first time this season.
How did the game unfold? My three thoughts:
CVU ‘cursed’ at South Burlington?
This is probably best chance so far: pic.twitter.com/WVDH0BHdUh— Alex Abrami (@aabrami5) October 8, 2015
Second-year CVU coach Katie Mack is 0-3 on South Burlington’s artificial turf field.
“This field is cursed for me,” Mack said.
Mack and the Redhawks should feel snake-bitten. Consider what has transpired in the Metro rivals’ three meetings:
• Oct. 1, 2014: Abukar Hassan knocked in a one-timer off Aiman Ginawi’s looping feed with 28 seconds to go for the 1-0 win.
• Oct. 29, 2014: After Ginawi scored on a deflected free kick for the 78th minute equalizer, Dinesh Khadka fired in the overtime winner to send the Rebels to the Division I final, where they won in a penalty shootout.
• Wednesday: Despite dominating the second half with chance after chance, CVU failed to put one away, and the Rebels took advantage on O’Hara’s rip for their third straight win.
From Cooper O’Connell’s redirected volley into the gut of South Burlington goalie Tyler Ayers (eight saves) to the long runs on the outside flanks by Trey and Tawn Tomasi to the midfield work of Will Yakibuk, CVU couldn’t connect on that piece inside the 18-yard box.
“We produced opportunities, we just didn’t finish. It’s good to get a loss out of the way now,” Mack said.
SBHS: ‘Absorb and counter’
The strategy was bold, but if the Rebels wanted to win they had to strike against CVU on the counter attack, according to coach David Martin.
“That’s the team we are. We have to be when we play the good Division I teams. We are not going to out-possesses them,” Martin said of a squad that starts six sophomores and one freshman.
South Burlington picked its spots to go on the offensive. In the first half, Amerlin Nemaye, taking a feed from O’Hara, pushed a shot just wide of the right post on a counter — the best chance of either side before the intermission break.
And South Burlington’s goal was also set up on a break, one that started with a free kick. After the set-piece was driven off the crossbar, the Rebels gained a throw-in. Subedi collected the ball and, surrounded by CVU defenders, made a quick move and sent a cross just inside the 18-yard box for O’Hara, who turned and fired past CVU goalie Aidan Johnson (five saves).
“We had a game plan and we stuck to our game plan and came out ahead,” Martin said. “First thing we wanted to do today was convince ourselves — we are so young — that we can play with the big dogs of the Metro. And we did that.”
Late drama not new for O’Hara
O’Hara has developed a knack for late game-winners. There was the go-ahead goal against Burlington, the Rebels’ first quality win of 2015, early in the second half of a 2-1 victory. And there was the overtime tally — with five seconds to play in the first extra session — to beat Colchester on the road.
And then came Wednesday’s heroics against “Soccer Central.”
The sophomore — a key fixture on last year’s senior-heavy state-championship team — slipped into an attacking position and popped one on frame from 17 yards out that eluded the diving attempt of Johnson. It was a heady play by one of the state’s rising players.
“For a sophomore, he’s played remarkably well,” Martin said.
O’Hara: “I just tried to put it on goal.”