Ashley Ledoux took a pass from Maria Arnot and lofted an arching shot into the air. Everybody on the field and in the stands stopped what they were doing, holding their breath in anticipation. The ball, which was flying in a Matrix-style slow motion, curved and dropped just enough to bang off the corner of the crossbar and the right sidebar. With that, the top-seeded Castleton Spartan women’s soccer team took a 1-0 lead in its semifinal match against the University of Maine-Farmington.
Ledoux’s goal proved to be all the Spartans would need to punch their ticket to the North Atlantic Conference championship game as they won 6-0.
Courtney Chadburn and Sarah Ethier each contributed two goals in the victory. Kelly Gerken contributed one.
“It’s a really satisfying win,” coach Chris Chapdelaine said with a smile that reached from ear to ear.
The Spartans entered the game with an 11-0-1 record in their last 12 games. But with a week off from a bye in the first round of the playoffs, some people wondered if the team would be able to keep up the spectacular play.
Chapdelaine was one of those people.
“Yeah, you always worry about [rust],” Chapdelaine said. “You do get kind of nervous about it. We planned our practices to be intense and tough, though, and I guess it worked.”
Castleton was in fine form in the game, controlling the offensive attacks in the contest, outshooting the Beavers 31-4. The Beavers were lucky they got any shots off at all, as the Spartan midfield and defense was tough to get past. Whenever it looked like Maine-Farmington was about to make a big run, Carisa Chadburn or Katie Hoxsie were there to put a stop to it.
Spartan keeper Cady Kerin played the entire 90 minutes, making one save in another shutout victory.
A shutout at home is not something new to the Spartans this year, as they haven’t let a goal be scored against them at Spartan Stadium in nine games, going 8-0-1 in home games.
“I don’t know if they buried something here under the field or not, but we love playing at home, and we seem to play really well here,” Chapdelaine said.
Home field advantage is certainly going to be a big confidence booster to Castleton as the Spartans look to defeat Husson for a second time this year. The Eagles were picked to be the number one seed in the preseason poll.
Chapdelaine, though, seemed confident that his team will be ready for the challenge come game day.
“In the past we have come into big games and not put teams away,” he said. “We [put Farmington away] today, and if we can do that against Husson, I’m anticipating the same results as what we saw today.”
Castleton will host the championship game on Nov. 7.