Upon defeating Montpelier, 2-0, in the D-2 Boys Soccer State Championship Title, the Milton Yellow Jackets and their fans pause to enjoy the moment as a group, . Rachel N. Lamoureux, County Courier


By Landon Potvin
County Courier

South Burlington – Top-seeded, unbeaten, and facing Montpelier in the Division II Championship game for the second year in a row, things finally went Milton’s way on Saturday as the Yellow Jackets shut out the Solons to capture the Division II crown, its first title since 1991.

“18-0,” said Milton head coach Glen Button, who captained that 1991 Milton team. “You can’t ask for better; it wasn’t easy. I think we played a tough schedule, we challenged ourselves every time out there, and the guys just wanted it.”

In a game filled with joy, it started with a lot of nerves. Milton began with possession and proved why it was the No. 1 seed with above-average passing. Milton’s throw-in machine Ryan Cannon, who stated he could throw a ball 45 yards, had his work cut out for him. In the first ten minutes of the game, he had five throw-ins right near the Montpelier goal. The No. 3 Solons’ (16-2) top-notch defense deflected them all out before Milton could connect for a shot.

With nine minutes gone in the first half, Montpelier’s Ronnie Riby-Williams took a shot towards the net on a breakaway. Milton goalie Braeden Caragher had a good angle to deflect it but the ball hit a defender and ricocheted in a different direction. Somehow, Caragher changed course and made the impossible save to keep the game scoreless.

The high-powered offense of Milton, which ended the year with an astonishing 96 goals, scored 18 minutes into the match. Of course, it came from Zack Logan, the Milton senior who shattered the school record of 21 goals in a season by scoring 32 prior to the championship. The Solons’ keeper made the mistake of clearing a ball low and right up the middle where Logan stole the ball. He spun, made another move, and kept it down and outside the reach of the goalie’s glove to the far post to gain a 1-0 lead with his 33rd goal of the season

With time dwindling in the first half, Milton had its defense up to mid-field. Montpelier’s Brooks Duprey took on Cannon and Brandon Monahan and slipped through them both. With the ball 20 yards from the goal, Caragher met Duprey halfway, leaving the net wide open, and made a diving save to have the crowd roar with joy as Milton preserved its 1-0 lead at halftime.

“We talk about covering each other; we wanted to have each other’s back,” said Button. “We wanted to have that second defender there; I just didn’t think that second defender was going to be our goalkeeper at midfield. But the kid is a smart player and great kid who made the right play.”

“Having only one person back and it being a fifty-fifty ball, I was off my line ready to go,” said Carragher. “As soon as I saw that ball go, I took off and went for it.”

The headline coming into this championship rematch was Milton’s potent offense (5.53 goals per game) vs. Montpelier’s defense (0.29 goals allowed per game. The Solons’ keeper made it clear why that goals allowed average is so impressive, totaling 10 saves and making two huge ones to open the second half. Milton’s Ethan Jones came down with the ball right by the net, kept it high, and forced an athletic save. Logan’s attempt to punch in the rebound was too strong.

In a ten-minute span, Milton created four great chances to score. Cannon had a throw-in that sailed over the defense with a bit of help from the wind. Milton senior Caden Button was on the far post and tried to use his chest to score but it fell short. Logan, Jack Houghton, Jones, and Cooper Goodrich had a four-on-three break. Logan saw Houghton was hustling down his sideline, beating his defender and looking for the pass. Logan chipped it over the defense but the Solon goalie came out and shut it down before Houghton could get to it. After Cam Fougere stole the ball and passed to Houghton at midfield, he beat two defenders but a goal didn’t materialize. With another counterattack, Houghton had Logan and Goodrich on the far post making their runs. He passed a high slicing ball and Logan knocked the ball out of the goalie’s hands in mid-air. The ball was on the ground but the defense made it back in time to capture possession before Logan could knock one in. It wasn’t long before Logan found himself with the ball once again. Off the goal kick, he came from behind and made a steal. Houghton, working the outside, chipped it over the defense again but was whistled for offside before a shot could be taken.

With 12 minutes remaining, Milton was pushing aggressively for an insurance goal and had been in the penalty area for what seemed like the whole second half. The Montpelier goalie had two more fantastic saves in him before letting in one more from Brendan Besaw. Two saves led to rebounds and a third save never happened as Besaw got the second goal on the board for the Yellow Jackets and ensured a sixth program title.

“You could tell with the few trainings leading up to today they were dialed in,” said coach Button. “These guys set the tone right from the start.” 

For all the well-deserved attention on Logan, Goodrich, Fougere, Houghton, Jones, Riley Zeno, and the rest of Milton’s high-powered offense/midfield, the Yellow Jacket defense was just as impressive this season. Only two teams scored more than one goal against Milton all season and Saturday was the 11th shutout of the year for the 2021 Division II champions. In front of Caragher, Monahan, Button, Nathaniel St. Amour and Cannon were especially impressive. 

“I’ve been coaching these guys since they were eight years old,” said coach Button of the 14 seniors on his team. “We have been through a lot of battles together, and for them to get this in their final game is brilliant.” 

When Milton won its last title 30 years ago, coach Button was a senior captain. Saturday, he coached son Caden, a senior co-captain, to Milton’s first title since then.

“It is unbelievable,” said coach Button. “Milton is such a great soccer community, and I love the fact that I played for Milton High School and won a state championship and to now lead them to the next one after I played, and my son on the team and his close buddies is priceless.”

“Him winning as a senior too, and him being the coach is a special feeling, absolutely,” said Caden Button.

Saturday’s win gives coach Button a well-earned championship after suffering title-game defeats in 2006, 2016, and 2020. Button, in his 20th season at the helm of his alma mater, won his 200th career against MVU on October 15th and now sits at 207 career wins. 

The 14 seniors graduating this spring after bringing Milton its long-awaited boy’s soccer title are Logan, Goodrich, Caragher, Monahan, St. Amour, Button, Fougere, Zeno, Jones, Cannon, Nathan Roy, Brandon Mitchell, Josh Grazier, and Ethan van Harreveld.