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Games of the year: #10-6

Counting down the best contests of 2021
Published: Dec. 29, 2021 at 11:23 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - After kicking things off Tuesday in our countdown of the best games of the year involving our area teams, we’re keeping it rolling by diving into the Top 10.

At #10, the CVU boys lacrosse dynasty looked to roll on to an eighth straight D1 state title in June of 2021, but Burr and Burton was looking to avenge its 2019 defeat. After falling behind 2-0 early, the Bulldogs caught fire. Nicky Miceli and Matt Grabher would spark a 6-0 BBA run spanning halftime to put their team in front by four. But as they always do, Champlain Valley would rally. Shane Gorman and Alex Leonard keyed a 6-0 run for the Redhawks to seize the lead back. Not content to let this one go, Emmett Edwards’ tally with under 30 ticks to play got BBA back within one, but Karter Noyes’ pass to the crease would be picked off as time expire to allow CVU to hold on for the 8-7 decision.

At #9, we head back to February for a crosstown showdown in the early part of the boys hoops season. In a matchup that would prove to be a preview of the D1 state title game, defending champ Rice would see South Burlington storm out to a second half lead. Tavian Borrino bookending a 10-0 Wolves run with a couple threes, and SB would lead by as many as 15 after this Jonah Cattaneo floater. But eventual state player of the year Michel Ndayishimiye would not let his team falter. 16 straight points for Mich as the Knights would claim the lead. Tyler Gammon would hit a three to tie it with just seconds on the clock...but then immediately get called for a reach-in, allowing Mo Awayle to win it at the line. 70-69 the final, and Rice would take the rematch and another state title at the Aud as well.

We head down Route 7 to Middlebury for #8. The Tigers welcomed then-unbeaten Rutland on the gridiron in October. Midd would seize the initiative with a pair of Nick Austin-Neil touchdowns, but Rutland would claim the lead just before the break on one of the plays of the year. Trey Davine launched one downfield, Slade Postemski kept it alive on the tip drill, and Jack Coughlin hauled it in. Midd would jump back in front in the third, but a pair of fourth down conversions would bring the Ravens back. Davine tossed it back to a wide open Ben Parker who then won the race to the pylon, allowing Rutland to escape with a wild 21-18 victory.

To the ice in October for #7. The wins haven’t been all that common for the UVM men lately, but they got a huge one against a ranked Boston College team a few months ago. The Cats fell behind 3-0 early in the second period, but the response came swiftly. Simon Jellus would open the scoring for the Cats just about a minute later and less than two minutes after that, Phil Lagunov would strike on the power play. UVM would end up tallying four unanswered as Dallas Comeau and Isak Walther found the back of the net as well, but they couldn’t get the regulation win as the Eagles would even it late. No matter though, on the power play in overtime, it’s Lagunov again! UVM with its biggest win in years as they downed BC 5-4.

And at #6, the Essex boys soccer team hadn’t won a state title in more than a decade...until this November. The unbeaten Hornets took on #2 seed South Burlington in the D1 final, but the Wolves would strike first. Sumner Nenninger sent one through for Anthony Grosselfinger who roofed it to put SB in front early second. But back came Essex. Later in the half, Rowan Jensen whipped the corner in and Josh Allaire got on the other end through the scrum to even it up at 1-1! In the final 30 seconds, Elvis Salkic sprinted past the defense and was free on cage, he’d be brought down. Straight red for the goalkeeper and Essex took advantage. Elijah Bostwick lined up the free kick and Joel Marquardt got on the other end to tap it in, delivering Essex a 2-1 win, a perfect season, and the state title.

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