Overtime winner lifts MAU past Stratton

BENNINGTON — Coming into Monday's matchup with Division II Stratton Mountain School, the Mount Anthony boys soccer team might have been looking a little ahead to big games later this week.

Of course, when Stratton scored the first goal of the night, it shook them up. When Stratton scored two more goals midway through the second half to take the lead with 17 minutes left, they knew they were in a battle.

Mount Anthony got through the test, as Franklin Cody scored with 37 seconds left to send the game to overtime and then Jeff Potter scored five minutes into the extra period to score a 4-3 win over the Black Bears at Spinelli Field.

"The game didn't play out like the kids expected. It was easy to start, Stratton was on their heels, then they scored," said MAU coach Mike Molloy.

The Patriots were the aggressors early, but Stratton's defense kept MAU out of the net. Then in the ninth minute, Stratton took advantage of MAU goalie Dylan Woodside coming out to play a loose ball. Lucas Wiacek got to the ball and tapped it in to take a 1-0 lead.

"We had a miscommunication," Molloy said. "We need to have guys playing like leaders. We're nine games into the season now, we've been here before. At some point, someone has to take the bull by the horns, that's the next step for this team."

MAU fought back immediately, tying the score two minutes later. Josua Schmid hit a lefty shot that Black Bears keeper Michael Rose blocked but it bounced out to Cody, who neatly cleaned up the rebound to make it 1-1.

As the sky darkened and night fell, Mount Anthony took the lead. With 5:30 left in the first half, the ball got into the six-yard area where Cody hit it off the side of his foot. The ball ended up to Potter's foot, who hit a shot that spun past the keeper and off the inside of the goal post to take the lead.

MAU nearly added to the lead as time ran out in the half, but Rose made a diving stop to go into halftime down 2-1.

Rose made another save early in the second half on a header off of a Mount Anthony corner and it made the difference as Liam Mooney got over the MAU defense on a Stratton corner and headed it past Woodside to tie the game again. Wiacek added the assist.

"We have a a real resilient group, spirited," said Stratton coach Jim Sullivan. "We had our backs against the wall and came back. We made it real interesting, but give MAU credit, they are a skilled team. We were excited to be in the game and had nothing to lose, so we played that way."

Three minutes later, Stratton stunned the Spinelli Field crowd when they re-took the lead when Wiacek got behind the defense and beat the keeper 1-on-1 with 17:34 to go.

MAU pushed up in the final 10 minutes as Stratton packed nine defenders in the back. The Patriots had a handful of chances go by the wayside — Sam Chaney got through most of the Black Bears defense but hit a shot wide. Moments later, Potter got through for a shot that Rose punched away. The Patriots also had a pair of free kicks, one from 40 yards out and the other from 25 yards away, and the Stratton defense cleared both.

Finally, in the last minute, Cody was in on a scramble in front of the net and got the ball from Chaney and put it in to tie the game at 3-3 with 37 seconds to go.

"We had 20 minutes to sort it out and they started to squeeze everyone back," Molloy said. "I give our guys credit, we stayed disciplined, and the goal came from outside in. There was a lot of hard work from Sam Chaney and Franklin was in the right place. It was a sense of relief, we're back even."

In overtime, Adam Sampsell started the run for the winner, finding Potter, who turned and fired a hard, low shot past Rose to win it for MAU.

"Coach Molloy and Coach [Jeremy] Neill said about taking the defense on, we needed to be more direct," Cody said. "Sam had his best game of the year and Jeff knew what he had to do and he found the back of the net."

Woodside made seven saves for MAU, while Rose had five.

"If we could get it to overtime, if you can get that momentum, can you get over the top when you tie it?" Molloy said. "Jeff found a hole, but it counts."

MAU is 2-1-1 in the Marble Valley League and Cody said he thinks the Patriots can still come out on top of the league.

"I don't think winning the MVL is off the table, we can play with Rutland. We're still in contention, and a decent playoff seed is in play," Cody said.


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