The entire stadium was silent with anticipation; the only noise was coming from the rustling branches from the nearby woods. Fans who were not already on their feet rose slowly as Kelly Tetreault’s ball, courtesy of a direct kick, sliced through the cool crisp November air. After what seemed like years of waiting, the ball found its target, connecting with Hilary Cooke’s head. Cooke redirected the ball towards the net, sitting just 10 yards away, and it flew in untouched.
Just like that the game that had drawn so much attention across two campuses for an entire week was over before it had barely even started as the Castleton women’s soccer team took a 1-0 lead in the North Atlantic Conference championship game only three minutes in.
And if that wasn’t a big enough blow to archrival Husson University, Castleton wasted no time in kicking the team while it was down as Brandy White scored the game’s second goal off another header. This time, the assist was given to Spartan co-captain Courtney Chadburn.
The team erupted into celebration by the net, and it was clear at that moment that this Spartan team, which has proven to be so tough defensively, had no intention of letting Husson climb back into the game.
Castleton didn’t let up and won the game by a score of 3-0.
“I’m ecstatic right now,” said coach Chris Chapdelaine.” I don’t even know what to say right now.”
While none of the players could contain their excitement, Chadburn, who couldn’t stop smiling, might have been the most excited player there.
“I’m on cloud nine,” Chadburn said. “It’s really just such an amazing feeling.”
The Spartans did what they needed to do to win this type of a game. They came out focused on a certain goal, and they showed that they were hungry for the victory. That early hunger set the tempo for the game, letting everybody, especially Chapdelaine, know that Castleton was the official NAC champion even before the game was over.
“I really started to feel [that we had the NAC wrapped up] once we got that second early goal,” said Chapdelaine. “That’s something that is really hard to come back from, especially in a big game.”
Nov. 6 proved to be an unlucky day for the Eagles, and nothing demonstrated this more than Castleton’s third goal.
The goal came 64 minutes into play when Megan Blongy made an attempt to cross the ball after penetrating the box.
The ball found the stomach of Husson defender Katelyn Cloutier and bounced into the bottom corner of Husson’s goal, sending the crowd into a frenzy of cheers.
Spartan keeper Erika Davis made four saves and earned her seventh shutout of the season as she anchored a defense that had been even more impressive than the offense all season.
Even once the game was over, the Spartans weren’t done dominating as they took up five of the 12 available positions on the NAC All-Tournament Team. Cooke, Chadburn, Blongy, and Maria Arnot were selected from Castleton with Tetreault winning Most Valuable Player.
With the win, Castleton improves to 16-2-1, tying the program’s 2004 record for most wins in a season.
Castleton advances to the NCAA National Tournament for the second time in the program’s history.
Despite the outcome of this upcoming tournament, Chapdelaine says that he is impressed with the team and that its future looks even brighter than ever with the majority of the starters set to return next season.
“I’ll tell you this; this is by far the best team I’ve ever had here,” said Chapdelaine. “And with [most of the starters coming back next season] the future of this program is very exciting.