Parity and uncertainty highlighted an exciting 2015 Vermont high school boys season. In the end, a No. 3 seed (Rice), No. 6 seed (U-32), No. 3 (Stowe) and No. 2 (Proctor) claimed divisional titles on Championship Saturday.
And now that’s it’s still fresh in my mind, I offer my final power rankings for the 2015 campaign.
1. Rice (16-2): Finishing on a 14-game winning streak, the Green Knights proved their worth in their first Division I tournament, seizing wins over annual Metro contenders Essex, South Burlington and Champlain Valley, the last coming in the finals for a 2-0 triumph. Rice, with a D-II title in 2014, went 33-3 in the last two seasons. Last week: 3
2. Champlain Valley (16-2): Many good things can be said for the 2015 Redhawks. They yielded only five goals. They were balanced in scoring, paced by Cooper O’Connell’s 10 goals. And they seized eight 1-0 wins, two of those coming in overtime against nemesis Essex. But it wasn’t enough to counter Rice’s set-piece strategy in the final. Last week: 2
3. South Burlington (14-3): Ranked No. 1 for the last couple weeks of the season, the Rebels had the look of a title contender despite their youthful roster. The loss to Rice in the semifinals on their home turf ended a chance at a repeat crown, but the Rebels should be returning plenty in 2016. Last week: 1
4. Burlington (13-3): One of the most talented teams in the state, the Seahorses’ home quarterfinal loss to Mount Anthony was surprising. But it shouldn’t diminish a solid fall that included handing Rice its last lost and erasing 2014’s four-win season. Last week: 4
5. Mount Anthony (12-4-1): Considering what the Patriots lost to graduation, the southern power turned in big results in 2015. In yielding just 10 goals this season, MAU rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the playdowns against Middlebury and then, in its best win, edged Burlington 1-0 in double overtime. Last week: 10
6. Colchester (9-6-1): The Lakers took out host BFA-St. Albans in the playdowns and had a wealth of opportunities in the quarterfinals but ultimately fell 1-0 at South Burlington. Last week: 6
2015 POWER RANKINGS ARCHIVE
7. Essex (10-5-1): The Hornets went 1-3-1 down the stretch but were the only team to hold a lead against Rice — albeit for 37 seconds — in the Division I playoffs. Last week: 5
8. Stowe (12-4-2): Starting with one-goal losses to Burlington, St. Johnsbury and CVU, the Raiders cracked on the team bus following the third defeat that they “were the best 0-3 team in the country.” Well, at the very least, they proved to be the best in D-III for the fourth straight year, going 12-1-2 in their final 14 games, and earning a spot in the final top 10 of 2015. Last week: Bubble
9. U-32 (13-4-1): The Raiders’ last loss? 2-1 to Stowe on Sept. 22. Since? An 11-0-1 run capped by the overtime victory over Woodstock in the Division II finals. And U-32 had one of most exciting #vtplayoffs of any team in 2015 — a penalty shootout win in the quarterfinals over rival Montpelier and a thrilling rally over previously unbeaten Lake Region completed with 14 seconds to play (Ethan Scharf the hero in both). Last week: Bubble
10. St. Johnsbury (10-5-1): South Burlington, CVU, Colchester and Burlington. The Hilltoppers couldn’t solve their Metro foes — four of those games, counting a second meeting with the Redhawks, were one-goal decisions — and thus SJA couldn’t advance past the Division I quarterfinals. Last week: 8
Bubble: BFA-St. Albans (9-6), Burr and Burton (8-7), Lake Region (16-1), Harwood (9-2-3), Montpelier (12-3-1), Rutland (8-5-2), Woodstock (15-3)