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Tigers girls’ lax wins three in a row

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury Union High School girls’ lacrosse team emerged from three games in four days last week with three wins and a 7-1 record, good for a first-place tie in Division I.
In each game, the Tigers outscored their opponents in the second half. And, after allowing nine goals in the first half vs. high-scoring Burlington on Wednesday, the Tiger defense allowed only 13 goals over the next two-and-a-half games, including a one-goal win at Mount Anthony on Tuesday and a three-goal decision over visiting Mount Mansfield on Saturday.
Senior midfielder and co-captain Julia Rosenberg said the week would give the Tigers a lift.
“It’s really awesome,” Rosenberg said. “Each win just gives us more confidence.”
Rosenberg agreed the defense took a step forward. The defense is comprised of junior Annina Hare, sophomore Riley Fenster and freshman Jesslyn Hounchell, while Rosenberg, senior middie Katie Holmes, junior middies Claire Armstrong and Emma Best and freshman middie Satchel McLaughlin most often help them out.
“We’ve just been working on moving our feet, keeping our sticks up, just like basic components of defense. Just putting all those things together is definitely helping, being ready to slide when there’s pressure. We’ve been growing,” she said.
Coach Kelley Higgins was most impressed that the Tigers still had gas in the tank late on Saturday afternoon after returning from Bennington at 10 p.m. the night before.
 “(I liked) they could come in today tired and play strong and finish strong,” Higgins said. “We definitely play stronger in the second half, for whatever reason. They don’t seem to get tired, and they gel better.”
On Wednesday, the Tigers edged visiting Burlington, 12-11. Senior attacker Alexis Ouellette led MUHS with five goals; Rosenberg scored three times; senior attacker Emily Kiernan scored twice, including the game-winner; and Best added a pair of goals. Senior goalie Ryan stopped nine shots, while BHS goalie Ajla Medic made 10 saves. Madison Feeney scored six times for the 8-2 Seahorses, including four straight goals to wipe out a 9-6 Tiger lead.
On Friday, the Tigers rallied from a 5-3 halftime deficit in a 7-6 win at Mount Anthony (8-3). Best scored three times, junior attacker Emma Donahue scored twice, Rosenberg and McLaughlin added a goal apiece, and Ryan recorded nine saves.
On Saturday, the Tigers broke away from a 4-4 second-half tie from visiting Mount Mansfield to prevail, 8-5, overcoming an 18-save effort from Cougar goalie Colby Knight.
Cougar Elena Newbrough gave her team the lead in the second minute, and then Knight imitated a brick wall for 11 minutes, stuffing shots from Rosenberg, freshman middie Isabel Rosenberg twice, Kiernan twice and Best twice.
Finally, senior attacker Eva Hirsch found the upper left corner at 12:37 after taking a behind-the-net feed from Donahue. But at 12:18, MMU’s Karin Rand scooped a loose ball and scored from close range.
The Tigers’ constant pressure then paid off with a three-goal run, but not until after Ryan (four saves) made an outstanding stick stop on MMU’s Kristin Gandini, who broke in alone.
The run began at 5:49, when Best netted a feed from freshman middie Andi Boe. At 5:00, Kiernan (three goals) beat Knight with a 15-foot shot from the right side set up by Hirsch, and at 3:04 Holmes buried a Kiernan feed. But MMU stayed close: At 1:10, Alana Scott broke free and made it 4-3 at the half.
Knight kept racking up saves in the second half, and MMU tied the game at 4-4 at 17:50, when Newbrough whipped home a free-position shot.
Until then, Cougars had controlled almost every dray, but Higgins put Kiernan in to take them because Scott was popping them into the air and using her height — a plan that didn’t work against the six-foot Kiernan. Kiernan won the draw, and 30 seconds later she scored to give the Tigers the lead for good, with help from one of Donahue’s game-high three assists
At 9:01, Boe converted a free position and it was 6-4. MMU’s Katie Macone scored 21 seconds later, but by then the Cougars were struggling to move the ball against the Tigers’ relentless pressure — MUHS kept forcing turnovers and scooping groundballs, 42 in all. MUHS added two more goals down the stretch, Kiernan from Hirsch and Ouellette from Donahue.
The Tigers’ dance card gets no less busy: They visit Burr & Burton (a 6-2 team against which they have struggled in recent seasons) on Monday, BFA-St. Albans on Thursday and Champlain Valley on Friday — and a make-up home game vs. Essex might be added on Tuesday.
Higgins said she is looking forward to watching the Tigers answer the challenge.
“I’m excited. I really am. I can’t wait to keep going,” Higgins said. “I can’t wait to watch them play again.”
And Rosenberg acknowledged D-I’s strength, but said the Tigers believe they can hold their own.
“We can still grow from here,” she said, “but I think we’re on the right track.” 

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