For the first 10 minutes of the Division I state championship, the Champlain Valley Union field hockey team had the momentum.
Oh, how quickly the tide can turn.
Top-seed South Burlington struck for a goal with a little over 10 minutes remaining in the first half, then scored two quick goals with under five minutes to go in the frame to pull away for 3-0 win over the Redhawks on Saturday at Moulton Winder Field at the University of Vermont.
“We had a lot of positive things this year,” said CVU coach Tucker Pierson despite the disappointing loss. “It’s a heartbreaking loss, I am not going to pretend it’s not but it was a fantastic season.”
It is the third D-I state championship in a row for the Wolves and the second time they have beat CVU in the last three finals.
“I expect that we will be able to come back to this venue next year,” Pierson said. “I know that they have learned a lot from each other and from this experience.”
The two teams traded chances early in the first half, with CVU getting the edge on penalty corners and scoring looks, but that all changed when South Burlington broke through.
“We just didn’t seem to get in our groove offensively,” Pierson said. “South Burlington possessed the ball well and we seemed to play off our normal rhythm and our normal game.”
The Wolves worked the ball into the circle in front of CVU goalie Kristy Carlson (12 saves) and the loose ball ended up on the stick of Emma Liebegott, who tucked into the goal for a 1-0 lead.
“They have such a strong offense and they have good shooters,” Pierson said. “They capitalized on our mistakes and finished the ball well.”
South Burlington extended the lead with just under six minutes remaining, with Grace Hoehl tapping in another loose ball in front, and wrapped up the scoring with a little over three minutes remaining in the first half.
Liebegott scored her second of the game, tipping in a long hit from Hoehl to give the Wolves the 3-0 lead.
“I am impressed with our heart,” Pierson said. “Even being down 3-0, we played an impressive second half and we did not stop playing and we did not give up. It shows a lot of grit.”
In the second half, both teams picked up the defensive effort and South Burlington kept the Redhawks off the board to seal the win.
“Coming into this game, we thought it was quite the opportunity,” Pierson said. “We just wanted to value the experience.”