Assistant Sports Editor
BENNINGTON -- Bellows Falls Academy-St. Albans junior Gordon Kayfus had one shot on an open net saved.
He wasn't going to miss a second time.
After picking up the ball on a miscommunication by the Mount Anthony Union High School defense with just over 15 minutes left in the first half of the Division I playdown match between the two sides, Kayfus lashed the ball home to give the Bobwhites a 1-0 lead that they would hold onto until the final whistle.
"I felt relieved," Kayfus said of getting the second opportunity. "It wasn't the same as the first goal, but I got it back and got us the goal. That really helped us in the game."
Kayfus and his Bobwhites team had to take the long trek from St. Albans down to Bennington for the game on Tuesday, but the opening 25 minutes made the Patriots look like the away side.
"That was not the start we wanted," MAU coach Mike Molloy said. "I think we were as flat, as tentative, as I have seen all year."
BFA pinned the Patriots back from the start, with goalie Patrick Cody forced to make a save in the opening minute of the game off a shot from Connor Hartnett
"I thought we played a really good first half," coach Luke Laroche said. "I would have liked to have had a couple of chances in the first half go in to make it easier in the second half."
For the Patriots, it was the exact opposite of what they had hoped.
"In the playoffs, you have to play for 80 minutes," Molloy said. "You can't just play for 55 or 40."
For Kayfus' first open-net chance, only a skillful bit of defense from senior Luke Keenan would keep him from scoring.
The play started as a 2-on-1 against Keenan, with Logan Cain to his right and Kayfus to his left. Cain tried to shoot first, tucking his shot around Keenan but off of the left post and back into play. The ball fell to Kayfus, who let go of a soft shot towards the net.
Keenan, recovering after a slip trying to defend Cain's shot, was able to slide across the pitch and kick the ball clear moments before it crossed the line.
"He leaves it all on the field, he is the epitome of a hard-working defender," Molloy said of Keenan.
The Patriots would get two shots at cracking the deadlock shortly after.
Junior Nathan Blue found himself in the St. Albans box to the left of goal. Trying to sneak a shot past goalkeeper Jacob Zemianek, Blue tried chipping the ball over the top, but Zemianek was able to tip the ball over the crossbar.
"We've been relying on [Zemianek] all year," Laroche said. "He comes up with some big saves."
With just under 16 to play, Kayfus would make up for his missed chance.
The ball looked to be harmless at first, but MAU keeper Patrick Cody was blocked off of the ball as he tried to pick it up to clear. In the resulting chaos, the ball squirted out to Kayfus in the middle of the box. With the left side of the net open, Kayfus slammed this shot into the net.
"I think on the first one, he was so nervous [that] he didn't want to knock it over. He got another chance and buried it," Laroche said. "He hit that one well."
Coming out of halftime, the Patriots started to dominate the run of play.
Junior Brad Anair saw three free kicks saved throughout the half by Zemianek, including a dipping shot that Zemianek had to push around the post in the final minutes.
The best chance of the half came through junior Martin Ftacek.
After Marcus LaFlamme had a shot bounced back into play, the ball fell to Ftacek, who was able to get a shot off. But the shot went high, ending the threat for the Patriots.
"We had some opportunities. The goalie made some big saves on some set pieces, we had a couple chances on corners that we just couldn't make," Molloy said.
The Patriots end the year with a 10-5-0 record. BFA-St. Albans moves to 6-7-2, and will face the winner of Hartford versus Spaulding.