SPRINGFIELD – Trying to make boys soccer grow in a football town like Bellows Falls has been a challenge for more than 20 years. One of the more stable times was during the 14 years that Larry Slason, a BF attorney, ran the program. But Slason left six years ago and the program floundered and even shut down for a while. Three years ago Charlene Rodriguez took over and things began to improve.
It even got better this season when Slason returned after his hiatus during which he said, “I became a grandfather four times.”
The BF team has a lot of family theme to it as Rodriguez not only had a young child she sometimes held during the game along the sidelines, but her mother sitting in the stands.
While this all may seem a little awkward, it would be hard to find fault with what happened in Springfield Tuesday. It was a summer like day, perhaps a lot like Sept. 7 when Springfield came to Bellows Falls and thumped the Terriers, 6-0. Only on this day, Bellows Falls won 2-1.
All of which both caused Slason and Rodriguez to make similar comments.
“All we want to do is get better when we play a team a second time,” said Slason.
“There's not a coach who wouldn't want her team to improve as the season progresses,” said Rodriguez. “I think we're doing that.”
Even Springfield's gracious coach Devan McCarty found good things to say about BF after a tough one-goal defeat.
“My hat's off to BF for getting better,” he said.
While a great goal was made by BF freshman Jack Cravinho to win the game, it was the BF defense that bent, but didn't break. Time and time again Springfield was able to get into the attacking zone, but not deep enough, and often enough, they came up short.
“That's kind of been the story of our season,” said McCarty. “Oh well, back to the drawing board. You can't win if you can't finish.”
Or maybe it was what BF has been doing to get better. “We have been emphasizing defense,” said Rodriguez.
All coaches also worry about a letdown after a score and this could have been what happened to Springfield as the game-winning goal came less than a minute after Springfield had tied the game 1-1. While others were involved in getting the ball up the field it was Cravinho who took the ball into the corner to the left of Springfield keeper Conner Starr and from a very tough angle was able to get a ground-hugging roller between a diving Starr and the near post.
“Did you see that?” said Slason.
Springfield's goal that tied the game was also a dandy as senior Adam Stokarski fed a back pass to freshman Brady Roy whose long shot slipped under the crossbar and just over the fingers of BF sophomore keeper Tyler Stanley.
The only goal of the first half involved two BF freshmen as Cravinho was able to direct a pass fellow ninth grader Mackinnon Ross who had a little work to do as Starr came out to meet the challenge, forcing Ross to deke and shoot with the side of his foot, but it trickled into the goal.
Bellows Falls ended with a 10-7 edge in shots on goal while the corners were three apiece.
The win was the second in 10 games for BF while Springfield fell to 3-6.