BRATTLEBORO -- During the final hours of the fiscal year, Brandon Westburg was money.
The Rutland junior buried a shot with 22:31 remaining to break a tie and give the Raiders a thrilling 3-2 victory over the host Brattleboro boys soccer team on Tenney Field.
"This was a dangerous game for us. They came here very hungry," said Colonels coach Paul Sather, referring to his opponent that got off the bus with a 1-6-1 record.
Both goalies were standouts in this one. Rutland keeper Danny Kurchena made a diving save, caught a laser, and also stopped a penalty kick. Brattleboro’s Ben Janis timed his jump perfectly to prevent a lob from going in, laid out to rob that same striker, and showed off his quick reflexes to deny a point-blank attempt.
"Ben did a great job," commented Sather. "Their goalie (Kurchena) made a couple of nice saves."
After Janis rose up to stop Steve Rink’s rainbow and then dove to turn back Rink again, the Raiders stole a 1-0 lead midway through the opening half when Julian Marcell drove one home from long range.
When asked about that burial after the game, Sather simply said, "we gave him too much time."
The Colonels put on a passing clinic in the first 30 minutes. Brennen Zolnoski set up John Curtis on a corner. The trio of Antonio Acevedo, Ali Hallal and Harrison Dews worked the ball up the left sideline. And Conner Elliott-Knaggs led Zolnoski, who sprinted to it along the right side and beat Kurchena to make it 1-1 at the 17:07 mark.
Thanks to Kurchena’s stop on a penalty kick, the score would stay that way until the intermission.
The Rutland coaching staff continually delivered the same message to the players during the second half: "one, two or three touches tops."
And the Raiders were listening, as they did less dribbling and more passing or shooting. Colin Clark was denied twice by Janis, with the second of those showcasing the goalie’s quick reflexes.
Rutland’s Peter Lynn would give the visitors the lead with an accurate shot from way out with 28:24 left. But the Colonels answered immediately -- Elliott-Knaggs took the ball up the left side with defender Eric Gokee shadowing him, slammed on the breaks to create a lane for himself, and drove the ball past the netminder.
The score would remain knotted at 2-2 until Westburg settled a loose ball on the right wing and ripped it into the back of the net to give Rutland the lead and eventually their second victory of the season.
"It was a good game," noted Sather. "We are a very young team and we are still learning."
The 3-3-1 Colonels will play at Hartford today.
Shane Covey can be reached at email@example.com or by calling 802-254-2311, ext. 163.