Assistant Sports Editor
BENNINGTON -- With Mount Anthony Union High School leading Rutland 1-0 late in the second half on Wednesday night, Rutland's Brandon Westburg found himself with the ball and an open late to Patrick Cody and the MAU goal.
Westburg charged, then let go of a rocket with his boot towards the far corner. The ball looked goalbound. Felt goalbound.
But Cody had something to say about that.
Going off of his reactions, Cody jumped perfectly with the shot, arms raised high. His hand just hit the ball, and the shot was redirected over the crossbar and out for a corner.
The save would prove critical, as the Patriots held on to win 1-0 at Spinelli Field.
"I just reacted," Cody said. "I've seen shots like that before, and I can't believe I got it. It was a nice hit, I can't believe I got my hands on it."
The second half was in stark contrast to the first 40 minutes of play on Wednesday. In the opening stanza, Mount Anthony pressured the Raiders incessantly to try and create chances, with Ethan Anderson highlighting the effort of the Patriots.
"I thought [Ethan] had the best all-around game today," coach Mike Molloy said. "He was a workhorse. I thought this was his best game for us."
And it would be Anderson that would find the winner for the Patriots.
10 minutes into the contest, MAU's Brad Anair hit a seemingly innocent ball over the top of the Rutland defense and towards goalie Daniel Kurchena. But as Kurchena went to bring the ball in, Anderson had made a run and found himself right in front of the goalie. The movement took Kurchena off guard momentarily, and when he dropped the ball Anderson was there to put it in the net.
"His goal was just working hard," Molloy said.
The Patriots would see a few other opportunites pop up in the first half, with Owen Page getting a shot off that Anderson was almost able to smash home on the rebound, and Anair seeing a shot saved and then one go just wide of the post.
But the Raiders were able to hang in. Kurchena was able to settle in after the miscue and keep the Patriots' shots in front of him.
"Dan has had a superb season," Rutland coach Ron Henderson said. "His game has elevated every time he has stepped on the field."
Late in the half, Rutland's first opportunity came when Peter Lynn found himself bearing down on goal. But central defender Luke Keenan was able to keep pace with Lynn, and forced Lynn to take a shot with him on his shoulder, leading to the shot heading wide.
"Luke and Nick [Altland] played fantastic and did what they needed to do today," Cody said of the two defenders in front of him.
In the second half, Rutland would start to take control of the game.
In the opening minutes, Sam Brochu played a ball to Lynn that caught the defense off-guard, but Lynn's shot went wide of the near post.
"We moved some players around and it started to work," Henderson said. "But we couldn't find the back of the net. Luck wasn't on our side tonight."
Later, Lynn would force a save out of Cody, then Westburg would smash the post with a shot from close range.
But still no goal.
Then, it seemed like the goal had arrived.
Westburg received the ball on the left, and was able to get around the edge of the Patriots net before he bore down on goal. But Cody was there, and Westburg's shot was saved to secure the clean sheet.
"Pat made a great positional save," Molloy said.
With the win, the Patriots move to 8-3 on the year. Rutland falls to 2-9-1.