Chargers Show Growing Pains in Dropping Opener

by Ken Brown

CRAFTSBURY – The Craftsbury Academy boys’ soccer team will struggle with inexperience and depth this season and it showed up in their home opening loss to Christ Covenant last weekend.

Isaiah Banta scored twice and Nate Mulligan added a second-half tally to lead Christ Covenant to a 3-0 road win over the Chargers on Saturday. Connor Phoenix made two stops for the Saints to preserve the shutout. Dylan Washer had a strong debut in net for Craftsbury, making nine saves on the day.

“I thought we did okay for our first game without any scrimmages, limited preparation, and a lot of these guys making their varsity debut. They were a handful for us up front in the first half, but I thought the guys did a really nice job of adjusting, slowing the game down, and marking much better in the second half. We have a lot of new faces this year, so it will take time to develop some chemistry, and we will have to work on spreading it out offensively a little more and not being so predictable,” said head coach Tyler Blais.

The Chargers were poised for a breakout season this year after showing so much promise in 2019 with an impressive upset win over Twinfield/Cabot in the Division 4 playoffs. The unpredictability of 2020 has been especially hard on Blais and his Chargers, however, losing his top scorer Erik Smyth to early graduation, his top goaltender Jas Zendik to U-32, and one of his best midfielders in Jasper Gilbert to Peoples Academy. Those losses, coupled with the graduation of senior captain Joe Silva has left the Chargers extremely thin and inexperienced, relying on freshman and eighth graders to fill the holes.

“Those were some unexpected losses for sure and definitely changed the dynamic of our team, but it’s going be a strange season for everyone so you kind of have to expect the unexpected. Logan Lanphere and John Smith will provide some really good leadership for us as we develop some nice young talent,” said Blais.

Craftsbury was back in action on Monday as they traveled to Blue Mountain, before hosting Richford on Saturday.