Tiger girls lax topples the Bulldogs, reaches 3-0 mark
MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury Union High School girls’ lacrosse team on Monday shook off cobwebs from spring break, a 17-day layoff from their last game, and a rally by visiting Burr & Burton to improve to 3-0 with a 13-8 victory.
The Tigers bolted to a 5-1 lead in the first 12 minutes, but early in the second half the Bulldogs cut the lead to 7-6 and had a free-position shot lined up.
But instead of tying the game, Bulldog Jessica Forstmann was sent off the field at 22:39 for a dangerous shot that struck a Tiger defender, and the Tigers went on a 3-0 run over the next 3:22 that proved decisive.
First, sophomore middie Isabel Rosenberg (three goals), awarded the ball after the foul, converted after a 90-yard sprint to make it 8-6 at 22:26. Then sophomore middie Satchel McLaughlin (four goals) snatched the following draw out of midair, bolted in and whipped a shot home.
Tiger sophomore goalie Raven Payne next made one of her 17 saves, denying Bulldog Ana Garay. Soon afterward, the aggressive Bulldogs drew another card. Senior middie Emma Best (a goal and three assists) moved down the right side after the restart. Best found Rosenberg cutting down the middle, and Rosenberg made it 10-6 at 19:47, officially restoring order for the Tigers.
Best, a co-captain, noted that six Tigers scored, with sophomore Andi Boe chipping in three goals and junior attacker Mikayla Robinson and sophomore attacker Ella Nagy-Benson adding one apiece.
“We have a few plays that we run that we scored off of,” Best said. “And we have a lot of good shooters.”
The Tiger defense — anchored on Monday by senior Annina Hare, junior Riley Fenster and sophomore Jessie Hounchell at low defense, with help from senior middie Claire Armstrong, Best, McLaughlin, Boe and at times sophomore middie Tulley Hescock and freshman Lacey Greenamyre — also tightened up in the second half.
After the Bulldogs tallied five first-half goals, both in transition and in their settled offense, they found it more difficult to get easy shots on Payne in the second half. Best said the Tigers talked more in the back and started learning the Bulldogs’ tendencies.
“Our communication and our picking up on their plays helped us out a lot,” Best said. “If we don’t communicate, that’s where we start breaking down, but we did, and it worked out great.”
Coach Kelley Higgins said she was pleased with the Tigers’ second-half defensive effort.
“The defense kept us in the game at opportune times,” Higgins said.
She also said the Tigers’ ability to learn on the fly, as they did on Monday, is a team plus this spring.
“That’s the thing I get excited about with this particular group,” Higgins said. “They are really quick about making adjustments, wherever it is on the field.”
Early on against a Bulldog team that is 1-3 — including two losses vs. MUHS and a 15-6 home win vs. 4-2 South Burlington — it didn’t look like the Tigers would be challenged.
Best scored with a minute gone, and by 18:07 it was 5-1, with two goals from Boe, another coast-to-coast special from Rosenberg and McLaughlin’s first strike added in. Only Catharine Greenberg answered for Burr & Burton.
But the Bulldogs started to win the draws after the Tigers dominated early on, and Aggie Bisselle and Forstmann, who finished with three goals and an assist apiece, began to do some damage. At 12:07 Bisselle finished after a long run, and at 11:10 Forstmann netted a free position to make it 5-3.
Payne then made a couple saves, allowing a Nagy-Benson transition goal assisted by Best to give the Tigers a three-goal lead at 9:15. Bisselle, with a nice feed from Forstmann on a designed play, made it 6-4 at 5:24. Boe hit a free position at 1:12, but Bisselle controlled the draw and zipped past the defense to score 10 seconds later, and it was 7-5 at the half.
After Bisselle set up Shayna Heakin to make it 7-6 to open the second half, seven minutes later the Tigers took charge with their 3-0 surge.
Forstmann made it 10-7 at 17:12, but Robinson answered two minutes later. She made a short-hop scoop of an errant pass at midfield and converted after a 40-yard sprint. McLaughlin found the net from the top of the fan at 10:35, with Best assisting, and it was 12-7.
Forstmann hit a free position at 9:20, but a minute later McLaughlin restored the five-goal lead. Best shot a free position that ricocheted off the goalie to McLaughlin, who scooped the ball and fired it home from close range. Payne cemented the win with a couple more saves, and the Tigers possessed most of the rest of the way. Two Bulldog goalies combined for eight saves.
The Tigers were hoping to play well again on Wednesday (after the deadline for the Independent sports section) at another contender, Champlain Valley, and will host defending champion Burlington at 11 a.m. on Saturday. Best said the team would simply focus on continuing to improve.
“I think we’re going to keep getting better and keep developing, and see what happens throughout the season,” Best said. “I think we have a lot of good potential.”
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