MANCHESTER — The Vermont Fusion came into Saturday night’s game flying high after clinching the WPSL’s Northern Division in the Metropolitian Conference. The tilt against Fox Soccer Academy would be the team’s last home game and the Fusion wanted to make an impact.
They did that in spades, scoring five minutes in and keeping up the pressure in a 7-0 win over Fox Academy at Applejack Stadium in the team’s regular season home finale.
“It was a huge win, a team win,” said Burr and Burton Academy alum and current U-Mass Minutewoman Grace Pinkus. “All of my goals were from beautiful crosses, so it’s definitely a complete team victory.”
Pinkus had a hat trick, while Castleton’s Rylee Nichols added two more tallies in the victory.
Barely before the home crowd had gotten into their seats, the Fusion were ahead. Pinkus took a great pass from Brooke Jenkins and fired a shot past the goalie for the quick 1-0 lead.
“I didn’t think we started that quickly, I thought we were almost too direct,” said Fusion coach John O’Connor. “Once we settled in, that’s when it started to roll a little bit.”
The Pinkus connection continued in the 32nd minute. Hannah Pinkus got behind the last defender with her sister, Grace, to her side, and faced with the choice, Hannah sent the extra pass to her sister to double the lead.
Four minutes later, the Fusion were on the board again. Nichols, playing well in the middle, took a pass from Jenkins and scored to go up 3-0. Then midfielder Madelyn Kiely scored herself only a couple minutes before halftime.
In the second half, Fox Academy had its best chance in the opening minutes, but coming in was goalie Alex Benfatti, who made a diving, one-handed save to keep Fox off the board.
In the 63rd minute, Pinkus finished her hat trick off a beautiful feed from UVM’s Ella Bankert to make it 5-0. Nichols’ second made it 6-0 of an assist from Burlington grad Ilana Albert and Paige Karl scored her first goal of the year with five minutes remaining.
“It’s been exciting for a first-year team to make a dent in the division and come out with a win and go into the final game with a lot of energy,” Pinkus said. “The energy is so high and we get out there and play a strong 90 minutes every time out.”
The Fusion are 4-1-2 on the year and travel to Rhode Island to face the Rogues next Saturday.