POULTNEY >> As Essex celebrated its first softball state championship since 2012, the Mount Anthony players were in various degrees of shock and disappointment.
The Patriots had won the previous two Division I titles, and finishing second this year, after a 4-2 loss to the Hornets, felt foreign, different.
But as someone who has watched a lot of Mount Anthony softball over the past four seasons, obviously a championship game loss hurts, but these Patriots should be extremely proud of what they've done.
Since this year's seniors were freshman, Mount Anthony has won more than 90 percent of their games, a win percentage that only the wrestlers can claim.
"It's an amazing feeling to make it this far, even just to the finals, that's an accomplishment in itself," said senior Kori Bow, who has been there for the team's 70-8 mark over the past four years. "No one thought we could [get back to the final] and the feeling that we did is good. To go against that feels really good."
The Patriots have played the best that Division I has to offer and come out victorious in many different ways — blowouts and close games alike. Both the 2014 and 2015 championships were nail-biters, no different than Monday's game, down to the wire with a chance to tie it or go-ahead in the seventh inning.
Essex coach Ashley Stebbins had nothing but the highest praise for the Patriots.
"These last couple of playoff games, I have to tip my cap to Mount Anthony and Colchester," Stebbins said. "We were down in both games. We had to beat the best."
And don't think the Mount Anthony softball team is going anywhere anytime soon. The five seniors — Bow, Jordyn Upright, Lauren Woodcock, Cheyenne Guetti and Mariah Sauer-Yerke — are leaving the team in good hands, just like the ones that came through in the past four years did to them.
The core is strong, with the sophomore group leading the way and freshman Cat Worthington continuing to be a star.
"It's such a great group of girls, I'm sad the season is over, we had so much fun coming out everyday," said MAU coach Katie Contrada. "Ultimately, it was a great success, I'm proud of our kids coming out and having a great year."