VERGENNES — For three quarters, the Vergennes Union High School boys’ lacrosse team used a suffocating defense to cling close with Mount Abraham, but the a four-goal fourth quarter propelled the Eagles to a 7-3 victory on the road. The Eagles improved to 7-6 on the season, with one game left on the schedule, while the Commodores dropped to 4-11.
The Eagles kept Commodore goalie Broc Clark busy; he turned aside 22 of the 29 shots Mount Abe threw his way. Will White Pifer, Whit Lower, and Travis Bachand each netted a pair of goals for Mount Abe while
“Once we started to realize we could create more of a scoring effort by just keeping the ball moving closer and closer, otherwise closing the noose on them, we would have better opportunities,” said Eagle head coach Paul Low, who’s team trailed for much of the first half. “We discovered that their long poles are formidable and great players, but we found a weakness in their midfield line and we were able to penetrate it.”
Vergennes jumped out to a first quarter lead when Tyler Kepes went top shelf midway through the frame. Bachand knotted it at 1-1 late in the quarter, spinning around a defender before switching hands and bouncing one past Clark.
The Commodores regained the lead when Kepes hit a cutting Erik Eisenhower in front of the net, and Eisenhower zipped one past Eagle goaltender Tucker Paradee, who finished the game with eight saves.
The lead would be short lived however, as Lower brought the Eagles even again by scoring off a ground ball in front of the net. With the ball loose, Lower scooped it up inside a pack of Commodores, sprinted around the edge and sent one by Clark to tie it at two all.
White Pifer put the Eagles ahead early in the second half, receiving a pass from Charlie Meyer and rattling it home, marking the beginning of 5-1 run for the Eagles. Gus Caitlin and Pifer extended the Eagle lead to 5-2.
The Commodores looked to spark a rally when Kepes hit Max Bicknell cutting to the net for a score, but a pair of goals from Lower and Bachand put the game away for the Eagles.
“We played them hard all the first half,” said Vergennes head coach Ed Cook. We spent most of the second half on defense so our defensemen were tired, our midfielders were tired. We had a couple good looks in the second half but just couldn’t put them on cage.”
The Commodores’ smothering defense kept them in the game, but on the offensive end, the VUHS chances were few and far between.
“We need to move more at the middie position,” Cook said regarding the lack of offense. “We need to cut and screen, and we stand around and wait for Tyler Crowningshield to do something. He draws two and three defenders every time he touches the ball but we need to get open for him because he is a very willing passer and a very good passer.”
For the Eagles, who played Randolph on Saturday for the final game of the regular season, the offense needs to be running at full steam if they plan on making a run in the postseason.
“We were stale,” Low said. “We just couldn’t get it going. We weren’t being creative, we weren’t moving the ball into a position that would cause their defense to shift more, and consequently their defense didn’t have to do much and what they did do they did a pretty good job.”
For both teams, a close game gives them momentum for the playoffs. The Eagles, who landed in eighth place in the Vermont Principals’ Association Division II rankings after Thursday’s win over VUHS, are contending for a high seed, while the Commodores, who were in 14th in D-II, are looking to pull an upset in the first round. The VPA plans to release playoff pairs on Monday.
“I told my guys at the end, we played hard from start to finish, and going into the playoffs that’s what I need from them,” Cook said. We are going to go in as a bottom seed, so we’re going to play a pretty decent team but if we play hard, lacrosse is a funny game. It’s a game of runs, and if you get a couple goals early, get a little confidence, I think we’ll be OK.”