BENNINGTON — After an injury-filled and disappointing season for himself in 2014, Mount Anthony's Carter Bentley had a post-season talk with Patriots boys soccer coach Mike Molloy.
Bentley had missed time and when he was on the field, he tallied only three goals and three assists. But he was determined to flip the script for his senior year.
"He wasn't happy with his season, so he came to me and asked, 'What do I need to do [to improve]?' said Molloy. "I told him he needed to commit and play as much as he could."
Bentley set the goal to be a top player in the state in his senior year and he succeeded in a major way, leading the Patriots with 17 goals and into the Division-I semifinals. For those reasons, we have chosen Bentley as our Banner XI Player of the Year.
"When we had our team banquet, I had a word or phrase to describe each one of our players and for Carter, the word was driven," Molloy said. "He set a goal and put more time into this. He deserves a lot of credit for setting a goal and getting it done."
Also a baseball player, Bentley set aside those cleats for soccer spikes, playing club soccer for the Berkshire Ajax. He play indoor soccer during the winter season and play in the summer league, that were held in New York state.
He worked on his game and stayed in shape — something that had gotten away in the past — giving him an opportunity to stay healthy and on the field when the school season came around.
"He turned heads, sometimes he did too much," Molloy said. "He wanted to take the mantle from guys like Marcus LaFlamme and Brad Anair — in fact, he took [uniform] No. 9 this year, that was Marcus' number his entire varsity career. He wanted to continue the legacy of the Mount Anthony program."
Bentley started the season on a roll, scoring eight goals in the first five games as the Patriots shook off an opening loss to Essex to rattle off seven straight wins. He also had a knack for scoring at important times, including the first goal to get Mount Anthony going in its game against Monument Mountain, after their win streak was snapped vs Rutland.
As the games got bigger and the stage more prominent in the postseason, that's when Bentley was at his best. He scored the tying goal with five minutes remaining in the playdown against Middlebury, a matchup that Mount Anthony trailed 2-0 in the first few minutes.
In the quarterfinal against Burlington, Bentley took a cross from Jack Peterson and played it perfectly, heading it over the keeper in double overtime to advance Mount Anthony to the semifinals, for the second straight season. Against a tough CVU team, he was man-marked by the Redhawks and kept off the board.
"If Carter got the ball and could turn and face goal, get the ball in space, everyone on the bench stands up," Molloy said. "They know it could be coming, he's exciting to watch."
In the end, Bentley's goal of being an all-star and all-state player came to fruition, earning the nod for both accolades.
"To show that to the younger guys, setting a goal and reaching it, that's huge," Molloy said. "He's not really a leader in terms of being vocal or even in terms of doing it, but they see it."