Photo by Gregory J. Lamoureux, County Courier

Local Playoff Roundup: Comet Soccer Upset Highlights Busy Opening Round

Boys’ Soccer

Division I Playdowns

(#14) BFA-St. Albans 0 (#3) Essex 6 – The loss ends a challenging year for the Bobwhites. Hit by the shortened season harder than anyone, BFA (0-9) managed just a single goal in its nine games. Its nonleague schedule gone, BFA played against eight Division I metro teams and against Stowe, winners of eight consecutive championships in Division II and III (before being shockingly eliminated by the (#15) Lake Region in the Division II tournament on Tuesday). There was no chance for the Bobwhites to ease into the season after graduating superstar Kam Dunsmore last year. BFA will be back and better next year, hopefully with a full schedule.

Division II Playdowns

(#11) Missisquoi 0 (#6) Montpelier 3 – MVU drew a tough matchup to conclude a hard season. The Thunderbirds (2-7) played a tough schedule, which included two games apiece against the top seeds in Division II (Milton) and Division III (Vergennes). Struggling with injuries, Missisquoi -like BFA- would have benefited significantly from a standard regular season.

(#1) Milton DNP (BYE) – The Yellow Jackets earned a first-round bye thanks to an unbeaten regular season. The path to a first title-game berth since 2016 and first championship since 1991 is clear for Milton (8-0). If it can take care of a quarterfinal on Friday against (#9) Northfield/Williamstown, a semifinal on Tuesday will either be against a Middlebury team it just beat 5-0 or lower-seeded Woodstock. Beyond the semifinal, Milton should be thrilled at the shocking elimination of (#2) Stowe on Tuesday. The Raiders won seven straight titles in Division III before moving to Division II last year and making it eight in a row (after beating Milton in the semifinals). The Stowe loss isn’t much to celebrate, (#3) Harwood would be an equally challenging championship opponent. But the stars just may be aligning for these Yellow Jackets.

Division III Playdowns

(#2) BFA-Fairfax 8 (#15) Oxbow 1 – The Bullets ended their regular season with a thrashing of Oxbow, so there wasn’t a great deal of concern for the unbeaten Bullets (9-0) on Tuesday. Still, the 2/15 game is never a certainty (sorry, Stowe and 2019 Enosburg) and BFA did well to take care of business. The win sets up an intriguing Friday quarterfinal against rival Enosburg, a team the Bullets narrowly beat in the season opener. The Hornets will be hungry for revenge with a chance to end BFA’s unbeaten run just shy of postseason glory. The two Franklin County schools have only met in the postseason twice before: 2009 when (#5) Enosburg beat (#12) Fairfax in the first round and 1994 when Fairfax beat Enosburg in a quarterfinal en route to its only program title.

(#7) Enosburg 4 (#10) Otter Valley 0 – Certainly favored in this one, Enosburg (6-2) took nothing for granted and handled the Otters efficiently. Last season as a No. 2 seed with title aspirations, the Hornets fell behind No. 15 Mill River early and couldn’t bounce back, exiting the postseason with a stunning 4-3 loss. This year, Enosburg will look to do something akin to the Rice girls in Division II last year, who won the title last year as a No. 9 seed after consecutive years of failing to convert as No. 1 or No. 2. Friday’s quarterfinal against BFA-Fairfax is an appetizing matchup – a short bus ride and a familiar opponent with plenty of motivation. We’re looking forward to an exciting showdown in Fairfax.

Division IV Playdowns

(#11) Richford 1 (#6) Cabot/Twinfield 6 – Like BFA and MVU, the short season was hard on Richford (1-7-1). The Falcons only faced two teams in their own division in the regular season and picked up their only tie and only win in those games. Against teams in higher divisions, Richford was 0-6, leading to a low seeding for the Division IV tournament and a tough game in Twinfield.

Girls’ Soccer

Missisquoi’s Destinee Pigeon tries to keep the ball away from BFA’s Mackenzie Moore on Monday night during BFA’s 2-0 win (Ben Kaufmann, County Courier)

Division I Playdowns

(#11) BFA-St. Albans 3 (#6) North Country 1 – North Country took a 1-0 lead on the visiting Comets and looked poised to extend BFA’s playoff losing streak to six straight games. Then Alexis Kittell equalized before halftime and Jocelyn Chun and Chelsea Raymond scored in the second half to give the Comets (4-6) their first playoff win since 2014. BFA had never won a playdown game as worse than a No. 10 seed but had the right stuff on Wednesday in Newport. Like their male counterparts, the Comets were faced with a daunting schedule thanks to the absence of nonleague games this year. But BFA toughed out wins against St. Johnsbury and Colchester and dispatched MVU in a challenging night game. By the time Wednesday rolled around, BFA was underrated as a No. 11 and proved a brutal matchup for North Country. BFA earns a Saturday trip to (#3) South Burlington, a team which only slipped by the Comets, 2-0, in the season opener. BFA has only played in one semifinal (a 1993 loss to CVU), this South Burlington matchup provides as good a chance as any for the Comets to return to the final four.

Division II Playdowns

(#8) Missisquoi 0 (#9) Hartford 3 – A game which was much closer than the final score indicated, MVU (6-5) fell victim to an iffy penalty call midway through the second half and an insurance goal with Missisquoi then forced to press. Regardless of the outcome, the season was a success for MVU. Just over a year ago, the Thunderbirds won their first game in 42 attempts. This year, they hosted a playoff game for the first time since 2006. MVU loses some key seniors but has an incredible core of sophomores and juniors, look for them to improve on this year’s success in 2021.

(#6) Milton 4 (#11) Otter Valley 1 – This wasn’t exactly a pretty performance for Milton, but the name of the game is to win at this time of year and the Yellow Jackets did just that. Winners of four straight titles from 2015-2018, this program knows how much the margin for error shrinks after the playdown round and they’ll be ready for Saturday’s trip to (#3) U-32.

Division III Playdowns

(#1) Enosburg 4 (#17) Randolph 1 – There was a bit of a slow start, but the Hornets (8-0) soon looked like the top team in Division III. Cognizant of what happened to their male counterparts as a No. 2 seed last year, the Hornet girls weren’t about to risk an early elimination. The seeds for this were planted last year when Enosburg made it to the semifinal round and lost a tough game at Thetford. This year’s group will expect to reach championship Saturday. Up next is a Saturday visit from (No. 9) Lake Region, a team which will be eager to match their boys’ squad with a giant upset.

(#6) BFA-Fairfax 4 (#11) White River Valley 0 – The Bullets bounced back from a season-finale loss to Missisquoi in fine style. These 6/11 games between teams who never see each other otherwise can be tricky and the seeds misleading. Fortunately for Fairfax (6-3), that wasn’t the case on Wednesday. The Bullets have a variety of players who can put the ball in the back of the net and will need to utilize those options for Saturday’s trip to (#3) Windsor.

Division IV Playdowns

(#13) Richford 2 (#4) Mt. St. Joseph 5 – Richford put up a valiant fight against a tough MSJ team. The Rockets (1-8) had only scored more than one goal in a game once since September 29th, to do so against the No. 4 team is a show of great heart. Highlighted by a 2-1 win over Winooski early in the season, the year was a tough one for Richford. The girls showed a lot of spirit and avoided blowout losses with the exception of losses to Division II MVU and undefeated Enosburg. There is plenty of foundation for this program to build on in 2021.

Field Hockey

Division III Semifinals

(#4) Missisquoi 0 (#1) Windsor 7 – Fresh off a strong quarterfinal win over Montpelier, Missisquoi (5-3) was tasked with a brutal draw and a road game at perennial powerhouse Windsor. An impressive season came to an end there for a Thunderbird team which has the pieces in place to contend for a title in the years to come.


(#10) BFA-Fairfax/Lamoille 28 (#7) Rice 26

(#8) BFA-St. Albans 22 (#9) Mt. Mansfield 32

Milton @ Burlington/South Burlington (Friday, 7:00) – It should be noted that seeds were chosen by random draw and there is no traditional state championship for this 7-on-7 touch football year. For the two BFA teams which have reputations for never straying from the running game, this all-passing format has been an adjustment. Fairfax has looked in its element from the start, contending throughout the year and avenging a last-second loss to Rice in the regular season with Wednesday’s thriller (the Bullets led 28-7 before Rice stormed back). The Bullets earn a Friday trip to Colchester for a quarterfinal against a Laker team it beat in the regular season. St. Albans looked a little disjointed early in the season adapting to the new format but came around in the second half and looked to be getting into gear just as the regional tournament arrived. There are certainly a number of loud voices angry that we didn’t get “real” football this year, but the alternative was no football whatsoever and this season has been a great success compared to that. It may not be traditional football, but it’s been unique and very exciting, kudos to all who made it happen!