Any skeptics of Ultimate’s status as a varsity sport in Vermont can get an up-close perspective this weekend during the Capital City Classic.
Frisbees will be flying across four fields at Montpelier High School, with Saturday’s slate beginning at 9 a.m. and wrapping up around 3:30 p.m. Following 18 boys games, the girls junior varsity squads will have their turn Sunday. The Green Mountain State is the first in the country to elevate Ultimate to the varsity level, and the Solons were instrumental in blazing the path.
“We’ve got a really strong team this year,” MHS boys coach Anne Watson said. “It’s been great to see many of these kids become better players over time, and I’m excited to see how they do in the season. Montpelier has a reputation for being excellent at Ultimate, and I know we’re going to continue that legacy this year. It’s tough to know who will come out of the woodwork as strong teams, but we have a friendly rivalry with Burlington and I know the guys are looking forward to that game.”
The MHS boys will kick off Saturday’s tourney by facing Essex at 10:20 a.m. The Solons will play Hanover (N.H.) at 11:40 a.m. before facing CVU at 2:20 p.m. The other teams will be Essex, Brattleboro, Vermont Commons, South Burlington, St. Johnsbury, Sharon, BFA-St. Albans, Rice and Mount Mansfield.
“We had a long-standing rivalry with Hanover many years ago, back when they participated in the Vermont league,” Watson said. “But they have since switched over to participate in the New Hampshire League. So it’s delightful to have them up to play, and to have an opportunity to play these teams we wouldn’t normally see in the regular season.”
There were originally 16 junior varsity boys games scheduled as well, but two water-logged fields forced organizers to cancel that portion of the tourney. Due to Vermont Principals’ Association rules, no team can play more than three games in a day.
The Montpelier boys (2-0) have been hot at the start of the season, earning 15-9 victories against CVU and St. Johnsbury. Soccer standout Kaleth Torrens-Martin has recorded 10 goals and boasts a plus-minus rating of plus-14 to pace the Solons. He has completed 27 passes with only one throw-away (96 percent). He has 29 catches, 39 touches and two drops.
Fellow soccer star Hayden Ellms has 13 assists and two goals. The senior handler connected for 62 passes with 10 throwaways (86 percent). Ellms has caught all 61 passes that came his way, and both he and Torrens-Martin have led the defense alongside Colin Desch, Gavin Corbett-Valade and Sarvesh Sharma.
Remi Savard and Ian Keene have logged lots of minutes, giving MHS depth along with Liam Casey, Gabe Crane, Davis Hart, Max Hughes, Silvan Padberg, Ethan Rubin, Anders Shenholm and Jason Tomasi.
The MHS boys won the 2014 state championship while competing as a club team before placing runner-up in 2016 and 2017. Montpelier’s girls team is the two-time defending state champion. Sunday’s girls tournament will feature four junior varsity and four varsity teams competing in the same division. Joining the mix will be St. Johnsbury, Burlington, CVU, BFA-St. Albans, South Burlington, defending tourney champ Sharon and a Northeast Kingdom squad that includes Lyndon players.
The Solons have 20 players on the JV roster, creating a perfect environment to cultivate a healthy sense of competition with the varsity squad. And with dozens of underclassmen on board, Montpelier has the numbers to create a solid foundation for years to come.
“We have 18 players on varsity, and any one of them would be a starter for anyone in the state,” MHS girls coach Nolan Benoit said. “We have such a deep team, which is what makes us so strong.”
Powering the Solons’ JV girls squad on Sunday will be Haliegh Doucette, Taylor Austin, Olga Kissner, Kasi McCann, Jalila Nazerali-Ruddy, Lila Markow, Sharon Boateng, Vega Rodriguez-Sancez, Claire Veneziano, Raine Towns, Rowyn Leitch, Eve Taylor, Kassiani Austin, Jill Havliand, Leyla Khesiyeva, Maddie Friend, Susha, Benoit, Violet Tabacco, Maeve Hoffert and Aaliyah Shannon.
Montpelier will host state championships on June 7.