Essex, South Burlington capture D1 soccer crowns

Hornet boys win first since 2010, Wolf girls repeat
Published: Nov. 8, 2021 at 11:52 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The Essex boys and South Burlington girls are D1 soccer champions following dramatic victories Saturday at Burlington High School.

Top-seeded Essex entered the final against the South Burlington boys unbeaten on the campaign, but the Wolves would seize the initiative on a Anthony Grosselfinger tally in the second half.

Unphased, the Hornets equalized a few minutes later via Josh Allaire. Then as Elvis Salkic was free one on one with the keeper in the final minute, Andrew Chandler saw red after taking Salkic down. Elijah Bostwick lined up the free kick and Joel Marquardt tapped in the winner.

The 2-1 decision gave Essex its first ever perfect season and handed the Hornets a first state title since 2010.

“It’s the chemistry we had,” Marquardt said after the game. “I feel like we were a brotherhood. We were more of a team than anyone else here and we clearly showed that.”

“Words can’t even describe it really,” Allaire added. “We just came out as hard as we could, capitalized on everything. Obviously going down 1-0, that kinda set the tone that we need to step it into high gear and luckily we were able to do that as a team.”

On the girls side, the Cinderella run had a happy ending for South Burlington as the Wolves won their fourth straight game in dramatic fashion, downing CVU 2-1 on PKs after a scoreless draw.

In a rematch of last year’s championship, it was the defending champs who had the better of the limited chances: Rachel Kelley nearly handed South Burlington the win late in regulation as she rattled one off the far post.

But with the game eventually going to penalties, it was senior goalkeeper Mercedes Rozzi who proved the hero in SBHS’s repeat bid. After Greta Heldman and Ava Hamme converted their kicks, Rozzi denied the Redhawks on four of their five attempts to seal the victory.

“It’s just so heartwarming and awesome to feel so successful,” Rozzi said of the 6th seeded Wolves’ second straight state title. “Especially with an effort like that going down to PKs when my team never stopped fighting. We never gave up, we just kept pushing.”

“I feel like it was such a close race this year,” Hamme said of the tournament, which saw her team edge Essex, best Burlington with the help of a fortunate bar-down bounce, and clip Colchester with two penalties awarded in the final six minutes of regulation and overtime before Saturday’s nailbiter. “In the end we won, and I think it’s because of our hard work, dedication, and just our grit in this last game.”

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