SOUTH BURLINGTON — Milton took down the Rice Green Knights 4-0 last Saturday with help from Tatum Shappy’s hat trick.
In sweltering heat that prompted a break midway through the second half, Shappy and the Yellowjackets (3-1) stayed cool and built an impressive lead while holding the hosts to just a handful of scoring chances.
“We actually do a lot of conditioning during the week, we do a lot of running, so I prepare the girls especially for these conditions,” Milton coach Shawntel Burke said. “We just tried to stay positive. I did a lot of subbing with our outside backs and midfield to keep the fresh legs there.”
After the bulk of the first half was battled in the midfield, action picked up in the final 11 minutes. Rice saw a few good chances off crosses from the right side, MHS keeper Madison North made a couple strong saves and the pressure ended with a shot just wide of the post. The ensuing goal kick eventually made its way to Shappy, who tried her luck with a shot the Rice keeper couldn’t hang on to, conceding a corner.
Haley Raftery’s corner soared to the far side of the 6-yard box, where Katerina Desranleau nudged it back to the middle for Shappy to knock home and give Milton a 1-0 lead with 9:33 to go in the first.
With the score still 1-0 just 12 minutes into the second half, North made the most impressive of her seven saves on the day, stretching to get her fingertips on a shot coming back across the face of goal to preserve Milton’s slim lead.
“She came across that net, and I’m really thankful for her back there,” Burke said. “She’s able to adjust really easily, and she’s able to transition when she makes that save. She’s really confident, and that’s what we want. Our confidence starts with the keeper and it goes all the way up.”
Just a few minutes later, Kayleigh Goulette led Shappy ahead on a breakaway that was thwarted by sliding goalkeeper Hannah Miller. Desranleau wisely tried to tuck the rebound under the crossbar, but the keeper recovered in time.
Shortly after the ensuing punt, Shappy did well to intercept a Rice pass near midfield and took off toward goal. This time, she finished the one-on-one to make it 2-0. The junior nearly scored again off the corner kick that opened play after the second-half rest break, but her volley ended up in Miller’s hands.
“Tatum is a playmaker, she’s all about team,” Burke said.
With just under 17 minutes to go, Shappy notched her hat trick. Goulette again sent the striker ahead with a long ball, and Shappy again calmly finished the one-on-one for a 3-0 lead.
Milton erased any doubt about the outcome just 50 seconds later.
Shappy sent the ball to freshman Beth Poirier near the right corner of the 18. Poirier made a move around her defender and sent a beautiful shot across the box into the upper corner of the goal to give Milton a 4-0 advantage.
“She’s generally a defensive player … But I saw her speed and her ability to take shots and move around in the front,” Burke said of Poirier. “She and Tatum work really well together, and I want to capitalize on that.”
Milton’s defense was equally impressive, limiting Rice to just a few quality chances. Sweeper Brooke Caragher anchored the Yellowjacket defense, which left the Green Knights feeling the heat in more ways than one.
Burke, the former Rice coach, is in her first season guiding the Yellowjacket. She said a full team effort such as last Saturday’s is a good reminder that one of the state’s most accomplished programs is still at the top.
“We were coming off a bad loss to Mount Abe, but I think today just proved that Milton soccer is Milton soccer,” she said.