MUHS boys’ lax stings Wasps, 13-5; will host Essex

MIDDLEBURY — The No. 1 Middlebury Union High School boys’ lacrosse team cruised past No. 8 Woodstock, 13-5, on Friday and now must get down to business.
MUHS, No. 2 South Burlington (13-3), No. 4 Essex (11-5, including two out-of-state losses) and defending champ No. 6 Champlain Valley (11-6, including two out-of-state losses) are the final four.
The Rebels and Redhawks will meet in one semi, and the Tigers and Hornets in the other, a game that officials hope to move from Monday to Tuesday at 4 p.m., at MUHS. MUHS activities director Sean Farrell also said the final could be played at Castleton State College on Thursday to avoid conflicts with schools’ graduation ceremonies.
The game is a rematch of two one-goal regular-season contests, both won by the Tigers. Both games ended with the Hornets threatening to score the tying goal.
“Hopefully we can have the ball and run out the clock this time,” said Tiger tri-captain Connor Quinn on Friday.
Quinn said defeating Essex would come down to, “Playing good off-ball defense, moving the ball on offense, and winning the groundball battle, out-hearting them on the field. And just trying to have fun out there.”
Coach Dennis Smith wants to see fewer miscues.
“If we can curtail the mistakes and know what we’re doing wrong and correct those things, we’ll be OK,” Smith said.
On Friday vs. the 8-9 Wasps, MUHS turned the ball over on its first three possessions, and Woodstock took the lead on a Haven Lantz transition strike at 9:18. But that was all the Wasps could muster in the first half. Goalie Nathan Lalonde stopped their other two first-half shots, all that defenders Austin Robinson, Justin Stone, Sam Killorin and Fyn Fernandez allowed.
Smith particularly credited Robinson, who caused turnovers and scooped a game-high eight groundballs. Smith also cited Stone and Lalonde, both seniors as is Robinson, for helping the defense to gel.
“We’ve got two of the top D-poles in the state,” Smith said. “And we’ve got a great goalie.”
The Tigers then scored six unanswered goals in the first quarter. Quinn (four goals, three assists) broke the ice with a solo move at 8:54. The Tigers soon after scored three times in 58 seconds as they dominated the faceoffs: Jack Hounchell (three goals, two assists) took a feed from Bobby Ritter, spun off a defender and converted; Quinn set up Jack Donahue; and Hounchell finished in transition from Cullen Hathaway at 5:05.
Later in the quarter Ritter scored from Ali Abdul Sater, and Sater scored from Quinn. Ritter, Quinn, and Donahue from Quinn, scored in the second quarter to make it 9-1 at the half.
Wasp Justin Forgione scored at 3:20 of the third to snap 29:58 of scoreless lax for his team and also snap the Tigers out of an offensive funk: They answered with goals by Hounchell, Andrew Gleason (from Donahue) and Abdul Sater, and it was 12-2 after three.
In the fourth, Hounchell scored from Quinn before the Wasps tacked on three goals in the final minutes. Lucas Plouffe and Eli Miller (one save) saw action in goal after Lalonde left with four saves and one goal against. Wasp goalie Wynn Falvey stopped eight shots.
Quinn said he hopes Friday’s game will tune-up the Tigers for Essex.
“It was a good step,” Quinn said. “Woodstock’s a good team. It’s definitely good to play a good team in the first round that will give us a good battle.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at andyk@
TIGER SENIOR CULLEN Hathaway charges the Woodstock goal during Friday’s Division I quarterfinal. Middlebury won the game, 13-5
Independent photo/Trent Campbell

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