MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury Union High School boys’ lacrosse team opened its season on Saturday by thumping rival Woodstock, 17-5, in a game played on the turf surface of Middlebury College’s Kohn Field.
The Tigers, who return almost all of the key players from last spring’s 11-win squad, got a combined 14 goals from the starting attack of Sam Usilton, Connor Quinn and Keenan Bartlett; strong defense from Austin Robinson, Justin Stone and Sam Smith; and a combined five saves from goalies Nathan Lalonde and Lucas Plouffe.
Coach Dennis Smith said he and assistant Grover Usilton were pleased with the Tigers’ quality of play for an opening contest.
“We felt very good for the first game,” Smith said. “We moved the ball well. We obviously have a few things to work on, but we’ll get better for the next games.”
Smith said what has to improve is communication and “working together offensively and defensively,” issues that he expects will improve as the Tigers spend more time competing in games.
“For a first game we were very happy,” he said.
On the day Usilton scored six times, Quinn scored four times and set up four goals, and Bartlett found the net four times. Robinson stepped into the attack and scored once, and middies Ryan Biette and Jack Hounchell added a goal apiece. Lalonde stopped four shots in three-plus quarters in goal, and Plouffe, making his debut in the sport, denied the only shot he faced in half of the fourth period.
Woodstock’s Oliver Kaija and Nehemiah Wood each scored twice, and Wasp goalie Benn Orr stopped seven shots.
After earning a 1-0 first period edge, the Tigers blew the game open by outscoring the Wasps in the second period, 7-2. Usilton and Quinn scored three goals apiece in that decisive quarter.
Looking ahead, Smith wouldn’t mind seeing more production from his starting midfield, but given how well his attackmen were playing on Saturday he had no complaint.
“The attack did a great job, and it’s not like the middies didn’t play well. They were getting the ball to them,” Smith said.
The Tigers, who have high hopes this year after graduating just a couple starters from last spring’s 11-win squad, will next play at Rutland on Saturday at 11 a.m.; that game was moved from Middlebury due to field conditions. Their Wednesday game at Essex was postponed.