WHITE RIVER JUNCTION, Vt. — The Green Mountain boys soccer team has been an offensive powerhouse throughout the season, but in Saturday’s Division III state championship game against Peoples Academy, the goal never came.
The Wolves netted the game’s lone goal in the second half, besting the Chieftains 1-0 at Maxfield Sports Complex for their fourth state title in program history.
Peoples coach Angie Faraci set a goal for her current seniors when they lost the D-III title game against Stowe in 2017. The message was clear, if they worked hard, they could get back to this stage.
They did just that and came through when the lights were brightest.
“I said to them that we’re going to earn it,” Faraci said. “And we did. I think it means a great deal to them. I promised them something and they worked for it. It’s four years of hard work.”
Junior Oliver Nigro scored the game-winner with 7:20 left in the game. A nice corner kick put the ball in a congested area and Nigro found himself straight on with the net after a bobble in the box. He found his opening and took a crisp strike on the ball. Green Mountain keeper Skyler Klezos dove to his right to no avail.
“We’ve been working on those corner kick plays for a while now,” Nigro said. “I realized our team was starting to drop off, in terms of intensity, so I told my teammates to drop back for me. I was going to go ham in the box and try to get there somehow. Luckily, it came to me.”
“Oliver with the half volley is just textbook for him,” Faraci said.
While Klezos is marked down as the losing keeper in Saturday’s contest, he more than showed why he’s one of the best in the division.
Tested much more than he normally is, he came up with 11 saves to keep the Wolves at bay for most of the contest.
“Skyler stood on his head today. He really kept us in the game,” said Green Mountain coach Jake Walker. “We ask him to make three or four big stops a game and he did.”
The scoreboard might have just had one goal on it by game’s end, but there were plenty of chances to go around. It was the effort of both keepers and the defenses in front of them that kept the sheet clean for most of the day.
Midway through the half, a perfectly placed free kick found a Peoples head in the box, but Klezos was there to make the save.
Early in the second half, the Wolves had another prime opportunity to score, but that shot sailed left of the post.
Green Mountain’s Austin Kubisek had a shot go off the post in the second half, before the Chieftains’ best shot of the day got turned away.
After a foul, Green Mountain top scorer Everett Mosher took a free kick that was perfectly on frame to the right side. Wolves keeper Dylan Haskins laid out in the air to punch away what could have been a game-winning shot.
“We asked for them to create chances and we got them,” Walker said. “Sometimes, they go your way. That goalkeeper’s save was one of the best high school saves I’ve ever seen.”
The Chieftains got hit by the injury bug on their back line twice in Saturday’s game. A first half leg injury to Kagan Hance was followed by a second half injury to Eben Mosher.
It’s a tough pill to swallow for Green Mountain that hoped to defend its D-III title on Saturday. The Chieftains finish the season at 13-3 and lose seniors Klezos, Jack Boyle, Sawyer Pippin, Ty Merrill and Ty Veysey.
“We played really good and fought to the end. Somebody has got to lose and somebody has got to win,” Walker said.