Girls’ lax loses tussle for the top

MIDDLEBURY — Monday’s 11-10 overtime loss to visiting Mount Anthony probably means the Middlebury Union High School girls’ lacrosse team must settle for the No. 2 seed in the Division I tournament behind the No. 1 Patriots.
If the 9-2 Tigers hold serve the rest of the way, as they did by defeating Champlain Valley at home on Tuesday, 14-13, they will earn home field for the playoffs through the postseason until a potential title-game rematch with MAU (10-1).
They play each of their four remaining games against teams they have already defeated this season, and four wins will clinch the No. 2 seed.
Monday’s setback does mean a potential semifinal rematch with defending champion Rutland, the probable No. 3 seed, which dealt the Tigers their other loss, 10-7 on May 10.
But the Tigers weren’t at full strength against either MAU or Rutland. Vs. the Raiders, junior midfielder Liz Kelley sat out. On Monday, ailing senior midfielder Shelby Laframboise couldn’t continue after the Tigers took a 6-4 halftime lead. She is expected back either this weekend or early next week.
The Tigers were already shorthanded — injured sophomore attacker/midfielder Brandi Whittemore is out until next week and senior midfielder Eliza Carver has been lost with a knee injury — and they were stretched thin in the second half.
In the first half, their strong work — notably by the Tiger low defense of seniors Kayla Whittemore and Kaitlyn Kirkaldy and junior Rachel Scholten — held MAU to just seven shots on goal, three of which senior goalie Alex Sears stopped.
In the second half and seven minutes of overtime, the Tigers had virtually no experienced subs, and the deeper Patriots pelted sophomore goalie Maria Ploof with 19 shots, 12 of which she saved.
The Tigers also made key turnovers against the Patriots before they lost one-goal leads late in regulation and in overtime.
“We should have won,” said MUHS coach Harriette Brainard, who accepted blame herself. “We made some crucial mistakes.”
Early on, MAU scored the first two goals. Courtney Saheim got the first of her four with an assist from Alyssa Porter, and Paige Levesque went solo at 20:56.
Katie Ritter (three goals, two assists) cut the lead with a free-position goal, and Hannah Quinn converted one of Chrissy Ritter’s three assists to tie the score. Melissa Schramm scored on the break to put MAU back on top, but Sears denied Alyssa Amos from close range, and the Tigers surged.
A defensive stand ended up with Katie Ritter going coast-to-coast and setting up a Saige Twombly goal, and then Ritter fed Kelley, who put the Tigers up, 5-3. Saheim scored to make it a one-goal game, but Chrissy Ritter’s free-position shot made it 6-4 at the half.
Ploof and MAU goalie Kayla Morse (10 saves) each stopped shots early in the second, but MAU earned more territory and went on a 3-1 run between 17:29 and 12:32 to tie the game at 7-7. Schramm, Porter and Saheim scored unassisted goals for MAU, while only Twombly answered for MUHS.
Kelley put MUHS back on top with a free position at 7:20, but Porter converted a crease roll at 4:01. Katie Ritter tossed in a feed from Chrissy Ritter at 2:42, but Porter ran in and scored on the break at 2:14.
MAU had chances in the final going, but Ploof kicked away a Saheim shot at 0:20, and middie Molly Clark helped the defense break up the final bid.
In the first of the regulation three-minute OT periods, the Tigers dominated, but converted on only one of three free positions: Kelley picked a corner at 1:29.
Saheim equalized at 1:22 of the second session, and MAU forced Ploof to make two point-blank saves in the final seconds. With a minute to go in the first three-minute sudden-death OT, MAU’s Kristen Parra tossed in a long, hard shot, and MAU had outlasted the shorthanded Tigers.
Brainard called the loss of Laframboise “a huge difference,” and said she likes the Tigers’ chances in rematches with MAU and Rutland.
“We got out there, and we were a great team,” Brainard said. “They know they can beat them.”
On Tuesday, a clearly tired MUHS team needed late goals from both Ritters to outlast the 1-7 Redhawks. The Tigers led early, 4-0, on three goals by Kelley and one from Twombly, but the Redhawks made it 8-6 at the half despite nine saves from Sears, two goals from Chrissy Ritter, another from Kelley, and one from Emma McDowell. Two goals by Sarah Riordon sparked CVU in the first half.
In the second half, CVU’s Amanda Kinneston scored four of her five goals as the Redhawks twice took the lead: Kinneston goals put the Redhawks on top, 12-11 at 7:23 and 13-12 at 6:09.
Each time, Chrissy Ritter (five goals) tied the score, 12-12 at 7:00 and 13-13 at 3:29. Finally, Katie Ritter’s solo run at 1:36 proved to be the game-winner.
Katie Ritter, McDowell and Chrissy Ritter scored the Tiger goals earlier in the half, and Ploof stopped six shots. 
Reporter Andy Kirkaldy is at [email protected].

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