ORLEANSâIt took a long time, but it was well worth the wait as Shaquille Urie scored with just over four minutes to play in regulation to give Lake Region a 1-0 win over Mill River and send them into the second round of the play-offs.
"I thought we played relatively well given the field conditions," said Coach Evans.
For the bulk of game on Tuesday it was the Rangers who were dictating the pace of play on a beaten up and muddy LRUHS field. The team came out early and was aggressive on the ball, winning 50/50 battles and keeping the play in the Mill River end.
However it was Mill River who had the best scoring chance of the first half. In the final ten minutes of the half, the boys in red seemed to finally shake off their bus legs and started to put pressure on the Lake Region defense.
With 2:24 left to play, a hard collision between Byron Burdick and a member of the Mill River squad left both players on the ground inside the 18. As the players started to get to their feet, the officials signaled for a penalty kick.
Josh Bankert got the nod from Mill River coach Ian Ankin to take the kick, and with the ball on the line and LR Keeper Alex Beauregard's feet planted firmly on the goal line, Josh was ready to go.
Bankert stepped up to the line, reared back, and with Ranger fans holding their collective breath, fired a low shot to the left of Beauregard who hit the ground with his body and made the save to the delight of the crowd.
The half would end without further incident, and after the Rangers marched 2 by 2 off the field Coach Evans had a few key points he stressed to his players.
"We were trying to go up the middle, and I told them at half time that we got to try to get some two on ones on their flanks and try to get some crosses, and in the second half I thought we did a little better at that."
The Rangers would heed Evans' words as they shook off the pressure Mill River brought late in the first half and took the play to their opposition.
After numerous chances that got into the crease but failed to get by goalie Zach Fuller, Urie finally struck, with the help of two of his teammates.
Kyle Perry started the play when he was able to find Tony Stuart with a cross. Stuart in turn sent the ball back across the net to Urie who was on the right side of the goal where he beat Fuller cleanly for the games only tally.
"I know I missed an early opportunity, and then I knew the ball was coming back across from Tony, so if I got good contact on it it was going in the back of the net," said Urie.
Then it was just a matter of keeping the ball away from their own goal for the last four minutes. For the most they did, but there some concern over a delay of game call that set Mill River up deep in the Ranger end, but nothing came of the play.
LR gained control of the ball, and went the other way as time ran out on Mill River's season.
While Evans was happy with the win, there are a few things that his team will be working on in the next few days before round two.
"We are going to have to play a lot tighter defensively, and we are going to have to change the point of attack much better," said the coach, "In this game we kept the ball on the same side of the pitch and we did not have a transition to the weak side. That is how you break down a team's defense, so we just have to change the point of attack."
Now the team waits to see who will win today's game between U32 and Fair Haven to see who they will play on Saturday. Given that U32 is ranked number two and Fair Haven is 15th, it is likely that Eat Montpelier will be their destination. Game time is 1:00.