BRATTLEBORO -- Right after the Colonels scored their first goal against Rutland in a boys varsity soccer match Wednesday at Tenney Field, even Brattleboro's Jackson Batchelder was surprised the shot he took two minutes into play rolled right past Rutland's goalie.
"I went through the middle and took over," said Batchelder, who would later cap his evening off with a hat trick and led the Colonels to a 4-2 victory over the Raiders. "I don't think the goalie saw it. When I cut sideways, I could see him shift, so I went in."
The shot stunned everyone in view as Rutland's muddied goalie shook his head.
"I think the goalie looked down thinking it was going wide," said Colonel coach Paul Sather. "He probably thought it was going out of bounds."
On the Colonels' next push, teammates Conner Elliot-Knaggs and Jordan Renouf met at the center, and for a moment, looked like they were fighting for possession. But Knaggs backed off to let Renouf run with it and put away Brattleboro's second goal on a low bouncer placed in the bottom left corner with 23 minutes remaining in the first to make it 2-0.
"It was a lucky bounce and they just happened to be in the same place at the same time," said Sather.
Dribbling down the open lane, shooting from low and inside, Batchelder nailed his second goal, the ball rolling along the bottom of the net from left to right before resting in the corner.
"Let's go!" yelled an enthusiastic Batchelder,
Cameron Pierce and Dylan Conboy kept Brattleboro out of the center for the Rutland defense for most of the second half as the Raiders stepped up their game.
Nicolas Roy gave Rutland their first goal at the 14:00 mark with a far shot taken just inside the box that sailed high to the back of the Colonel net.
Three minutes later on the rally, Samuel Brochu got a pass from Roy and scored their team's second goal, which left the Raiders trailing 3-2.
It was time for Batchelder to swoop back in to save the day.
Coach Sather had sent his star midfielder back to defense as Rutland turned up the heat in the second half, but had to put him back on the front line to challenge the revived Raiders.
"After the half, they started to come back," said Batchelder. "We didn't want to blow a 3-0 lead, so I went in and ran it through."
Batchelder completed his hat trick with three minutes left on the clock.
"One of my first coaches told me that soccer is 90 percent mental; you've got to prepare for the game in your mind, and when you're out there, you've got to know what to do," said Batchelder. "The other part of that is the will to keep running."
In goal, Galen Finnerty had seven saves for Brattleboro, including a grab at the first half's 21:00 mark that sent him flipping over the approaching forward, and a few other important blocks toward the end of the second that helped prevent Rutland from coming back.
In front of Finnerty for most of the second half were Colonel defenders Michael Cioffi and Sam Kochinskas.
The Raiders did take some threatening shots in the final minutes of the game, including a few close tries from Richard Baccei and Jospeh Trevino.
"We gave up a couple soft balls toward the end and you can't do that," said Sather. "But we hung on. We needed the win. Batchelder really stepped up. The nice thing about him is he can play anywhere."
The Colonels improved to 7-6 and are currently ranked No. 10 in their division, as the team prepares for their last regular season game today at home versus Burr and Burton at 6 p.m.
David Aquino can be reached at email@example.com, or by calling 802-254-2311, ext. 164.