No repeat title for GM Chieftains in tight 1-0 game

By Christian Avard
©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC

HARTFORD

Soccer is a cruel sport, especially if your team is the reigning 2019 Division III champions and it loses in the final minutes of the 2020 championship.

The GM Boys Soccer team captains accept their trophy after a difficult game against Peoples Academy. Photo by Christian Avard.

But that’s what happened to the Green Mountain Boys’ Soccer Team on Saturday when Oliver Nigro of Peoples Academy scored the lone goal with seven minutes remaining in the game at the Maxfield Sports Complex in Hartford.

With seven minutes left in the game, the Wolves hit a corner kick on the left side of the field. Chieftains goalie Skylar Klezos saved the corner, but the ball got loose. A scrum ensued in front of the Chieftains’ goal.

The ball went back and forth until Nigro spotted it. “I just remember thinking to myself, someone’s got to get” the goal in, Nigro said. “I was going to go in for the corner, and let my teammates come and run back to me at my position. The ball got loose. All I could do was kick it.”

Green Mountain stepped up the offense in the finals minutes of the game, but Peoples’ defensive unit held the line until the final horn. The Wolves celebrated on the field. Some Chieftains sat on the field, stunned in defeat.

The third-seeded Chieftains came into the championship defeating seventh-seed Winooski in the quarterfinals and sixth-seed Enosburg in the semifinals. The fourth-seeded Wolves punched their ticket to the championship by defeating fifth-seed Leland & Gray and stunning first seed Vergennes in the other Division III semifinal.

The two teams couldn’t be more similar. Green Mountain and Peoples Academy matched well, player-to-player and strength-to-strength.

Neither team got an advantage over the other. Each had equal chances to score in the first half, but no one could get the ball past stellar keepers: Klezos of Green Mountain and Peoples’ Dylan Haskins.

The Wolves put pressure on the Chieftains’ defense in the second half. They forced Green Mountain to turn over the ball several times and took their best shots on net.

Green Mountain also took advantage of their offensive opportunities. Midfielder Liam O’Brien hit an open shot, but it went wide-right. The Chieftains’ best opportunity came when midfielder and captain Jack Boyle set up a shot for his freshman teammate Austin Kubisek. Kubisek’s shot hit the right post, and the Wolves dodged a bullet.

But Peoples was not out of trouble. The Wolves committed a foul in front of their own net. GM’s Everett Mosher kicked it over the Wolves’ defensive wall, but Haskins got a hand on the ball and knock it out of bounds.

The Chieftains also had key injuries. Kagan Hance suffered a foot injury and Eben Mosher sustained an injury going up for a head ball late in the game.

“With (them) being out, we had to change some things around and have to play some formations we haven’t usually played,” said Green Mountain Head Coach Jacob Walker. “We had to deal with what’s going on in the game.”

It’s no easy feat winning a championship and going back to the championship the following year.  Walker said he couldn’t have been prouder for his team.  “Our journey was to get here, we did,” Walker said. “I was very proud of them.”

The 2020 Green Mountain Chieftains Boys’ Soccer Team: Captains Jack Boyle, Sawyer Pippin and Elias Stowell-Aleman. Ty Merrill, Ty Veysey, Skylar Klezos, Liam O’Brien, Everett Mosher, Evan Hayes, Mitchell Rounds, Kagan Hance, Colby Clouart, James Birmingham, Jayden Hinkle, Eben Mosher, Jake Goodman, Conner Miles, Ben Munukka, Brody Massey, Keegan Tate, Noah Cherubini, Austin Kubisek, and Forrest Garvin. Head Coach Jacob Walker.

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Filed Under: Education NewsLatest NewsSoccerSports News

About the Author: Christian Avard has been a journalist for 15 years, having written for Vermont publications such as The Deerfield Valley News, The Rutland Herald, The Commons and The Chester Telegraph. He also edited The Message for the Week and The Vermont Standard. Avard, who currently lives in Montpelier, is also a sports correspondent with The Barre-Montpelier Times-Argus.

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