Tigers lacrosse season starts with two wins

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury Union High School girls’ lacrosse team got off to a strong start last week, as the Tigers picked up a big win at Burr & Burton on Wednesday, 12-5, before coming home and outlasting Woodstock on Friday, 8-6.
Coach Kelley Higgins said she was pleased with the Tigers’ play, particularly the defensive effort that allowed 11 goals in two games and one goal after halftime vs. the Bulldogs. Senior Annina Hare and sophomores Keagan Dunbar and Jessie Hounchell are starting in the back, with junior Rowan Hendy filling in.
“The Burr & Burton game, with them scoring one goal in the second half, was great,” Higgins said.
At the other end, she said it might take a little time for the offense to realize its potential. After a quick start on Friday, two goals in the first 3:32, the Tigers at times found it hard to develop strong scoring chances vs. the Wasps — although, to be fair, soggy conditions on Fucile Field might have negated their quickness.
Higgins expects steady improvement on the attack.
“We just need to move the ball a little quicker and get some plays under our belt a little bit, and get used to each other’s offensive movement with new personnel down there,” she said.
On Wednesday, the Tigers outscored Burr and Burton by 9-1 in the second half in their 12-5 victory. Sophomore midfielder Satchel McLaughlin scored four times, and sophomore goalie Raven Payne stopped 15 shots. 
Junior attacker Mikayla Robinson and senior attacker and co-captain Emma Donahue added two goals apiece for the Tigers. Sophomore attacker/midfielders Tulley Hescock and Andi Boe, senior attacker Molly Campbell and junior midfielder Riley Fenster chipped in a goal each.
The Tigers played that game without three players who were out with ailments, senior midfielder and co-captain Emma Best, sophomore midfielder Isabel Rosenberg and sophomore attacker Ella Nagy-Benson. Best and Rosenberg returned on Friday, although Higgins said they were not at full speed, while Nagy-Benson remained sidelined and Dunbar was away on a trip.
Best made her presence felt by winning the opening draw and scoring 26 seconds later on a feed from Donahue, who led the Tigers with three goals.
McLaughlin (two goals, two assists) made it 2-0 at 21:28, but then the Tiger attack went silent for about nine minutes. In the meantime, Wasp Lauren Kaija twice curled around from the right side of the Tiger net and scored to make it 2-2; she scored all her game-high four goals with that move.
At 12:09, a Best goal made it 3-2, but 28 seconds later Kaija equalized. Donahue restored the lead with an assist from McLaughlin, and at 2:00 Donahue netted a transition feed from Boe to make it 5-3 at the half.
With 59 seconds gone in the second half, Woodstock’s Miranda Johnson tossed in a Kallan Piconi feed to make it 5-4. A minute later Payne (five saves) preserved the lead with a big stop on Grace Vosburgh. With nine minutes gone, Higgins called for time, and the Tigers then broke through to make it 6-4 at 15:23 with another transition goal from Donahue, who cut in from the right past the last defender and finished high past Wasp goalie Megan Dalton (eight saves).
At 12:07 McLaughlin converted a free position shot shortly after she picked off a Wasp pass, and it was 7-4. The Tigers then possessed for several minutes, but could not add to the lead.
The Wasps answered with two goals in 20 seconds when they got the ball back. First Kaija made her move at 6:49. Then the Wasps won a battle for the draw, lost the ball in the fan, won that ground ball battle, and scored again, this time with Piconi doing the honors. Suddenly the lead was just 7-6.
But the Tigers controlled possession most of the rest of the way and forced Wasp turnovers when Woodstock did get the ball. With 2:40 to go, Tiger freshman middie Ada Anderson won a contested ground ball in the Wasp fan and netted a shot from close range to make it 8-4. The Tigers won the draw and controlled possession to seal the win.
In all, Higgins said there will be plenty for the Tigers to work on, but likes their attitude and upside.
“They are a highly motivated and competitive group,” she said.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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