Locked in a scoreless tie with Mount Mansfield in the Division I quarterfinals on Saturday, the CVU girls soccer was looking for a spark.
Avery Sleeper entered the game and set the whole thing on fire.
“With the start of playoffs, nerves pick up,” Sleeper said after the game. “I think everybody just knew it was our time to go.”
Sleeper scored her first goal just seconds after entering the game to give CVU a 1-0 lead and then added her second just 32 seconds later. Olivia Zubarik added a late score and the Redhawks beat Mount Mansfield 3-0 to book a spot in the D-I semifinals.
Top-seeded CVU faced off against No. 4 Burlington on Wednesday at 3 p.m. Results were not available by press time.
“It feels amazing,” Sleeper said. “We stepped it up a lot in the second half. On to the next, we’ll see what comes.”
After a tight first half that saw CVU and MMU trade chances, the Redhawks turned up the pressure in the second half to try and break the tie.
But the Redhawks couldn’t find a way past MMU goalkeeper Anna Betz (12 saves).
“I think our goal the whole game was to wear them down,” said CVU coach Stan Williams. “Midway through the second half, we thought we would be able to have fresher bodies out there.”
Enter Sleeper. The senior came into the game with just under 20 minutes to play, entering as a forward to give CVU another option up front.
Just seconds later, the coaching move paid off.
Josie Pecor fired a shot from the wing that Betz got a hand on but the rebound squirted through her hands and right to Sleeper, who was running hard to the net.
“I know with those crossing balls we always need someone crashing into the box,” Sleeper said. “In that moment, I saw it right there, I knew it was my time.”
Just 32 seconds later, it was almost dejá vu as a Pecor cross again hit the goalkeepers hands and the rebounds bounced right to a waiting Sleeper, who deposited it into the net for the 2-0 lead.
“It was one of those games where we just needed to run through a ball and Avery is tremendous at that, she just goes, goes, goes,” Williams said. “It was awesome to see her rise to that. She works so hard … it was great to see that.”
With under five minutes remaining, Zubarik hit a hard shot from 25-yards out to put the Redhawks up 3-0.
Mayn Askew made five saves in goal for CVU to earn the shutout.
CVU 4, Essex 1: The Redhawks struck for three goals in the second half to pull away from Essex and earn the win in the Division I quarterfinals on Friday, Oct. 25.
Hailey Chase had a goal and two assists for CVU, while Flynn Hall dished out three assists. Clara McFaden and Lena Ashooh each added a goal for the Redhawks.
Ellie Reed scored for No. 7 Essex to break up the shutout and Adowyn Byrne made 25 saves.
The No. 2-seed Redhawks faced No. 6 Bellows Falls in the semifinals on Wednesday, Oct. 30 at Middlebury College. Results were unavailable at press time.
CVU 3, Lyndon 0: No. 1 CVU escaped a tough first set but ultimately prevailed against Lyndon to book a spot in the Division I finals.
The Redhawks will face No. 2 Essex in the D-I state championship match on Saturday, Nov. 2, at Saint Michael’s College. Tip-off is 7 p.m.
CVU held on to beat the Vikings 25-21 in the first set, then powered through with a 25-15 win in the second and a 25-14 win in the third to earn the win.
Jacob Boliba had eight kills and six aces to lead the Redhawks, while Noah Allen, Devin Rogers and Ethan Harvey each had a block.
CVU 3, Lyndon 0: The No. 2 CVU girls volleyball team booked a spot in the Division I final game on Tuesday, Oct. 29, three days after an easy victory over Lyndon in the quarterfinal.
No. 2 Redhawks defeated No. 3 South Burlington in three sets, 25-17, 28-26, and 25-17 in the semifinal game.
Against Lyndon, CVU won the first set 25-11, the second 25-19 and the third set 25-7 to earn the straight set win.
They will face No. 1 seeded Essex in the Div. 1 championship game on Nov. 2, 5 p.m., at St. Michael’s College.
South Burlington-Burlington 35, CVU 7: The Redhawks scored first but the South Burlington-Burlington co-op football team scored 35 unanswered points to wrap up the season with a victory.
The two Chittenden County teams squared off on Friday, Oct. 25, in the Division I consolation game, with the SeaWolves emerging with the win and a 3-6 record to end the season.
Seth Boffa had the lone touchdown for the Redhawks, scoring on a 45-yard TD run. Boffa finished with 65 yards on 13 carries.
CVU finishes with a 2-7 record on the season.