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March 4th, 2015
BURLINGTON — The sense came early in the Division I final Tuesday that it could be a long night for the No. 2 Middlebury Union High School girls’ hockey team.
Top-seeded Essex won the opening faceoff at the University of Vermont’s Gutterson Arena and attacked immediately. Senior Hornet forward Melanie Theriault broke in almost unhindered on Tiger sophomore goalie Rowan Hendy. Hendy held her ground, and Theriault’s forehand whistled wide left.
MIDDLEBURY — Sixteen Vergennes, Middlebury, Otter Valley and Mount Abraham union high school wrestlers earned top-six finishes at this weekend’s state championship meet, which was hosted by MUHS and apparently smoothly operated by school officials.
RIPTON — Highlighted by a dramatic second-place finish in Tuesday’s classic relay race at the Rikert Nordic Center, the Middlebury Union High School boys’ Nordic ski team took third in the two-day Division II state championship meet.
The Tiger girls finished fourth in D-II in racing staged over two days in two venues: Freestyle skiing races were held on Feb. 26 at the Craftsbury Nordic Center, and Rikert in Ripton hosted Tuesday’s classic events.
School budgets around the state, for the most part, fared better this year than last when 34 budgets were defeated in town meeting balloting. Why the difference? Largely because the average school budget increase was held to just under 3 percent, compared to much higher increases in 2014.
But there is also the perception that the Legislature is responding to the changing landscape caused by the steep decline in the number of students in Vermont (it’s down 21,000 in the past two decades), the low teacher-pupil ratios and the consequent high per-pupil cost.
In the past 20 years, there are three times teams in what the Vermont Principals’ Association calls its core sports have won Division I titles despite a distinct disadvantage — they were neither among the 13 largest schools in D-I, nor were they private schools who, whether they will admit it or not, recruit athletes.
Those sports are boys’ and girls’ soccer and basketball, baseball and softball. Among those six sports during those 20 years, there were 120 titles up for grabs, one in each sport per year.
MIDDLEBURY — The top-seeded Middlebury College women’s hockey team reached the NESCAC final four and gave Coach Bill Mandigo his 500th career win, the most of any college women’s hockey program head, in epic fashion on Saturday, defeating No. 8 Hamilton in quadruple overtime, 3-2.
AMHERST — Second-seeded host Amherst ousted the No. 7 Middlebury College men’s hockey team from the NESCAC playoffs of Saturday, 3-0, in a quarterfinal. Amherst improved to 19-4-2 for the season and will host No. 8 Tufts, which knocked off top-seeded Trinity, in this weekend’s final four. The Panthers concluded their season at 10-12-3.
In the opening period, Middlebury applied early pressure, and Amherst goalie Danny Vitale made three early saves on Evan Neugold. The Panthers outshot the Jeffs, 11-2, in the scoreless period.
HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
D-I Final at UVM
3/3 #1 Essex vs. #2 MUHS...................... 5-1
Division II Playoffs at Barre
3/2 #1 Woodstock vs. #4 OV............... 75-55