SOUTH BURLINGTON — A half-field heave by Mae Browning to Eliana Moorhead on the final play of Thursday’s Division I championship was the cherry on top of another perfect season for Montpelier girls Ultimate.
The Solons were already guaranteed a victory when Browning collected a pass near midfield, paused and spotted Moorehead sprinting toward the end zone. A Burlington defender tipped the disc at the final second, but Moorhead readjusted her footing and crouched down to make an improbable catch for a 15-7 victory over Burlington.
“We definitely wanted to score that last point and it was really nice to do that,” MHS coach Nolan Benoit said. “We played such good offense throughout the whole game. And it was nice to show that we can continue to do that, even after 90 minutes of playing really hard.”
Top-seeded Montpelier closes out the season at 14-0 and extended its winning streak to 25 games following an 11-0 championship campaign in 2019. The Solons followed up Wednesday’s state championship victories by the school’s girls tennis and boys lacrosse teams. Second-seeded Burlington finishes at 12-3.
“I’m just feeling really, really proud of this team,” Benoit said. “I’ve never coached a more committed team than this one. And it has really showed on the field. They improved so unbelievably much throughout the season. If you had told me that this could potentially be our best ever team at MHS at the beginning of the year, I would have been surprised. And now I don’t have doubt that it is because they’ve worked so hard.”
Moorhead (eight goals, one assist) scored four times on passes from Browning, who recorded eight assists. Lucia McCallum (two goals, three assists) was another huge threat for the Solons.
“Mae is always consistent and she’s the backbone of our team,” McCallum said. “And Eliana is so inspirational. She’s such a great cutter, she’s really fast and she’s creative too.”
Finley Torrens-Martin, Sophie Flora, Maple Perchlik and Celia Teachout added single points in the victory. Saskia Cousins-Joyce dished out two assists and Althea Torrens-Martin and Susha Benoit had one assist apiece for Montpelier, which led 7-4 at halftime.
“Today our team was at its finest,” Moorhead said. “We had a lot of deep looks to Lucia. At the beginning we weren’t necessarily utilizing all of those deep throws. But toward the end we started locking in on them. And our handler reset was looking really good. We were adapting to the other team’s defense. They threw some zone at us too, but it didn’t hold us back.”
Browning follows in the footsteps of her older brothers Reed and Ian, who were also Ultimate standouts for MHS. Solons boys coach Anne Watson was another one of Browning’s early mentors.
“I started playing the year that the boys Ultimate team was created at the high school, because that’s when my brothers were joining,” Browning said. “So they started me young there. And my first time actually playing was in Anne Watson’s summer camps in fifth grade.”
A nice D by Flora set the stage for the Solons’ opening point. McCallum snagged the disc in the end zone a few moments later for a 1-0 advantage. Flora knocked down a scoring attempt at the other end and the Solons nearly pulled ahead on the their next possession, but tough defense by the Seahorses led to a dropped pass near the goal line.
Following a quick BHS turnover, Montpelier used a series of short passes to set up another high-percentage scoring chance. Moorhead, McCallum and Althea Torrens-Martin linked up before Cousins-Joyce and Browning connected for a give-and-go. Browning threw a long pass that McCallum grabbed in the end zone, making it 2-0.
A leaping D a few minutes later by Browning robbed Burlington on a quality opportunity near the end zone. The Solons were inches away from scoring on their next possession, but a throw toward Moorhead and Perchlik was broken up.
Emma Seller got Burlington on the scoreboard with 78:30 remaining. Following a restart, Burlington’s Maya Sandard heaved a pass over the top of Montpelier’s defense to find teammate Elizabeth Crawford. After regaining her balance, Crawford assisted Anna Huener to close the gap to 3-2 with 72:30 remaining.
Montpelier was all business on the next possession, with Moorhead scoring on a pass from Browning to spark a string of four unanswered points. Flora forced a BHS turnover and then Perchlik fired up the crowd with a successful bid near the center line on a pass from McCallum.
“It was a bad throw, but Maple handled it so well,” McCallum said.
A few moments later, McCallum set up Moorehead for a 5-2 lead. Moorhead scored again five minutes later, with Benoit assisting Flora for a 7-2 cushion. A flick from Moorehead to Benoit gave the Solons a 7-2 advantage. Love-Li Wretman and Elizabeth Crawford scored for BHS at the end of the first half, closing the gap to 7-4.
The Solons were quick to pounce again after the break. Perchlik and Cousins-Joyce displayed patience and precision on the right side and Moorhead extended the lead to 8-4 with a running grab.
Cousin-Joyce made a 20-yard throw to Flora to bypass the Seahorse defense. Browning capped the possession with a short toss to Perchlik, making it 9-4
A flick from Althea Torrens-Martin to Moorhead near the right sideline extended the lead to 10-4 with 25:10 left to play. McCallum connected to Teachout for an 11-4 advantage.
The Solons showed off their transition offense to race ahead 12-4, thanks to another Browning-to-Moorhead scoring play. McCallum threw a 10-yard pass to a wide-open Moorhead with 17:10 left to play, pushing the lead to 13-4.
“We’re all really good friends and I think that helps us on the field, because we know each other really well,” McCallum said. “And we never take anything personal or anything like that.”
Burlington’s Maya Standard assisted Anna Huener, trimming the deficit to 13-5. The BHS offense added two more late points, but Browning assisted Moorhead at the other end for a 14-7 cushion. The Solons received the disc as time expired and set up one final drive toward the end zone.
Without warning, Moorhead bolted past her mark and raced up the middle of the field. Browning spotted her teammate through the crowd of players and attempted to end things with a bang. Burlington’s last defender temporarily spoiled the ambitious throw, but quick reflexes helped Moorhead get in a position to snag the wobbly disc with a diving effort.
“Playing on turf can definitely be more painful when you lay out,” Moorhead said. “And it doesn’t have a lot of give, and I actually tore my ACL on turf two years ago playing BHS. But this turf is better than the BHS turf and it’s a lot softer.”
The Solons beat the Seahorses for the third time this spring. Montpelier held off BHS, 9-5 and 12-9, during the regular season.
“It feels awesome,” McCallum said. “We worked really hard for this. Last year we didn’t have a season, but we picked up right where we left off. It’s just been really great to work with all my teammates.”
Benoit will go out on top along with his six seniors. The nine-year coach went 25-0 at the varsity level and recently announced he will retire after this season.
“He’s an amazing coach,” McCallum said. “He’s the best.”