Windsor 6, WRV 3: Yellowjackets take advantage of Wildcats’ still-learning goalkeepers

White River Valley High's Anna Stratton, left, and Windsor's Brianna Barton move towards the ball during their Vermont Division III teams' game on Sept. 1, 2023, in South Royalton, Vt; Windsor won, 6-3. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

White River Valley High's Anna Stratton, left, and Windsor's Brianna Barton move towards the ball during their Vermont Division III teams' game on Sept. 1, 2023, in South Royalton, Vt; Windsor won, 6-3. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news photographs — Tris Wykes

White River Valley High's Anna Stratton (15) is flanked by Windsor defenders Brianna Barton (6) and Sophie Dufouer during the Vermont Division III teams' game on Sept. 1, 2023, in South Royalton, Vt. Windsor won, 6-3. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

White River Valley High's Anna Stratton (15) is flanked by Windsor defenders Brianna Barton (6) and Sophie Dufouer during the Vermont Division III teams' game on Sept. 1, 2023, in South Royalton, Vt. Windsor won, 6-3. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. —Tris Wykes

White River Valley High goalkeeper Imari Taylor plays a Windsor corner kick along with teammates Cassie Armstrong (12) and Tanner Drury (3) and Yellowjacket Olivia MacLeay (14) during the Vermont Division III teams' Sept. 1, 2023, game in South Royralton, Vt. Windsor won, 6-3. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

White River Valley High goalkeeper Imari Taylor plays a Windsor corner kick along with teammates Cassie Armstrong (12) and Tanner Drury (3) and Yellowjacket Olivia MacLeay (14) during the Vermont Division III teams' Sept. 1, 2023, game in South Royralton, Vt. Windsor won, 6-3. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. —Tris Wykes

Windsor High's Kenzie Wescott, left, and Amara Calhum-Flowers pursue the ball during their Vermont Division III teams' Sept. 1, 2023, game in South Royalton, Vt. Windsor won, 6-3. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Windsor High's Kenzie Wescott, left, and Amara Calhum-Flowers pursue the ball during their Vermont Division III teams' Sept. 1, 2023, game in South Royalton, Vt. Windsor won, 6-3. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — Tris Wykes

Windsor High goalkeeper Sophia Rockwood kicks over the ball while pressured by White River Valley's Norah Harwood (9) and Makenzie Vesper on Sept. 1, 2023, in South Royalton, Vt. Windsor won the Vermont Division III contest, 6-3. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Windsor High goalkeeper Sophia Rockwood kicks over the ball while pressured by White River Valley's Norah Harwood (9) and Makenzie Vesper on Sept. 1, 2023, in South Royalton, Vt. Windsor won the Vermont Division III contest, 6-3. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. —Tris Wykes

Windsor High's Cassie Clark (10) and White River Valley's Imari Taylor go shoulder-to-shoulder during their Vermont Division III teams' Sept. 1, 2023, game in South Royalton, Vt. Windsor won, 6-3. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Windsor High's Cassie Clark (10) and White River Valley's Imari Taylor go shoulder-to-shoulder during their Vermont Division III teams' Sept. 1, 2023, game in South Royalton, Vt. Windsor won, 6-3. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. —Tris Wykes

By TRIS WYKES

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 09-04-2023 9:09 PM

SOUTH ROYALTON — Soccer goalkeeping is deceptively difficult. The White River Valley High girls had that point reinforced for them Friday during a 6-3 loss to visiting Windsor, which feasted on the Wildcats’ inexperienced netminders.

WRV lost only four players from last season’s team, which won 11 games and reached the VPA Division III quarterfinals during the program’s best season since seven towns combined to form its school in 2018.

Notably, however, one of those exiting was senior goalkeeper Ellie Prestridge.

Eleven minutes into the season opener, Yellowjackets forward Audrey Rupp scored the first of her four goals by lofting a soft shot from the right wing, over Wildcats goalie Imari Taylor and inside the far post.

The visitors went up, 2-0, five minutes later when Taylor stopped a Rupp shot from the top of the penalty area but allowed the ball to bounce off her palms. Windsor’s Brianna Barton cashed the gift from 10 yards.

The score moved to 3-0 with fewer than two minutes remaining in the half on Olivia MacLeay’s long shot from the left wing. There were just five seconds on the clock when a Rupp corner kick caromed off Taylor’s hands and inside the near post.

“Goalkeeping is where our big learning curve is, and that was evident today,” said fifth-year WRV coach Kim Prestridge.

Windsor clearly relaxed after intermission, and the hosts pounced. Sarah Rule scored twice in four minutes, and the Wildcats’ deficit was halved just seven minutes after the break.

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The next goal was obviously going to be crucial, and when the Yellowjackets snagged it with 11 minutes to play, the air escaped WRV’s comeback hopes.

Rupp completed a hat trick on the play, which began when Wildcat netminder Rhianna Young booted a goal kick up the middle and directly to her. Rupp, who had difficulty hitting the net with some of her shots during the afternoon, didn’t miss this one, putting her team up, 5-2.

WRV’s Amara Callum-Flowers tallied seven minutes later, and Rupp banked a shot in off the crossbar to close the scoring with three minutes remaining.

“Last year, a comeback would happen and we’d hang our heads, so we’re super proud we had more in us and put some goals in the net even when we were challenged,” said Windsor co-coach Jen Rupp, mother of her team’s standout and in her first year helping to guide the program with Wendy Moody after six as an assistant.

“We’ve been attacking with more numbers in the box than in past years, and it paid off.”

Prestridge said she thinks some of her goalkeepers’ struggles were related to opening day nerves. With more focus and practice on fundamental skills, positioning and distribution on kicks and throws, she’s confident her backstops will rally.

“They’re sponges and learning everything they can possibly learn to get up to speed,” the coach said. “A lot of what you can’t teach is the confidence and energy and desire to be out there, the attitude where you feel you own the field. It’s tough when you’re a new goalie.”

The Wildcats visit Rivendell on Friday. Windsor hosts Springfield on Saturday.

Notes: WRV’s roster includes five seniors, one junior and 11 sophomores. … Former Windsor standout Eliot Rupp is now a sophomore forward at Moravian (Pa.) University, an NCAA Division III school that plays in the Landmark Conference. Rupp appeared in every game last season. Her mother, Jen Rupp, is a Springfield, Vt., native who played at SUNY-Utica. … The Wildcats’ boys team practiced on an adjacent field Friday, and 10th-year coach Alex Montano said he once coached University of Michigan football placekicker and graduate student James Turner during the player’s youth league days.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com.