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Mount Anthony locks down Tigers in girls’ lacrosse final

BURLINGTON — Things looked promising on Saturday at Burlington High School for the Middlebury Union High School girls’ lacrosse team at 8:45 of the opening half of the Division I final. That’s when sophomore attacker Andi Boe broke through the Mount Anthony defense and finished high into the net.
Boe’s goal gave the Tigers a 5-4 lead, they were moving the ball well and not turning it over, and despite losing almost all of the draws were forcing Patriot miscues.
But that proved to the Tigers’ high-water mark: They would not score again for 32:31, with just 1:14 to go in the game, when Boe netted her second goal of the game.
By then the No. 2 Patriots were getting ready to celebrate what turned out to be an 11-6 final, a 17-2 record and the program’s second title, Mount Anthony’s first since 2010.
And the No. 4 Tigers finished at 15-4 and with the lingering sense they had not brought the same level of play they had when defeating No. 1 Mount Mansfield in a road semifinal.
MUHS Coach Kelley Higgins said the Tigers simply did not play their best.
“They (Mount Anthony) definitely played better than we did today, for sure. I felt bad for them (the Tigers) because I know they can play better, and we were hoping that we would,” Higgins said. “We had too much running and not enough passing. Sometimes when we get rattled, we fall back on our bad habits and turn the ball over unnecessarily.”
Higgins theorized the schools’ graduation schedules might have been a factor. The Tiger players came to the field immediately after the MUHS ceremony, while MAU held its graduation the night before.
“I would love the game not to be on the day of graduation. It’s a emotional day. There’s just too much going on for these guys,” she said. “I wish we could end the season last week and let them enjoy the graduation and not have all this stuff crammed in like this.”
For whatever reason, the Tigers could not stop Patriot standout midfielders Bridget Ahearn (four goals and two assists) and Emily Atland (two goals, one assist) from controlling the draw and thus earning their team an edge in possession that might have been pivotal. The Patriots won 10 of 13 draws in the first half, when they took an 8-5 lead with four late goals, and three of five after the break.
The teams exchanged early goals early after MAU goalie Carly Plaisance (eight saves) made two stops in the first minute. Ahearn scored twice, with senior attacker Emma Donahue answering once for the Tigers. At 15:12, sophomore middie Isabel Rosenberg won a ground ball and bolted in to score to make it 2-2, but Atland won the draw and put MAU back on top 13 seconds later.
Sophomore defender Keagan Dunbar guarded Atland, MAU’s leading scorer, and shut her out in the run of play. Atland’s second goal came on a free position on a foul on another Tiger.
Donahue knotted the score at 3-3 at 13:44 after senior Claire Armstrong caused a turnover and made a long clearing run, but Ahearn controlled the draw and made it 4-3 22 seconds later. At 9:31 senior Tiger middie Emma Best dodged in to tie the score again, and Boe’s goal 46 seconds later gave MUHS the lead.
But after Tiger goalie Raven Payne (four saves) denied an Atland free position, the Patriots took charge. At 5:14, Ahearn cut to goal and netted a feed from Brianna Zipprich. At 3:29, Anne Peck scored. Plaisance stopped Boe at the other end, and at 0:39, Ahearn set up Zipprich to make it 7-5. Again, MAU won the draw, and 13 seconds later it was 8-5, with Atland setting up Aleandria Cross in transition.
   TIGER SOPHOMORE SATCHEL McLaughlin charges the Mount Anthony goal during Saturday’s state title game. Middlebury lost the game, 11-6.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell
Higgins agreed draw control was an issue, but also said a Tiger defense that had allowed just 10 goals in three previous playoff games did not meet its usual standards.
“Defensively we weren’t playing like we could. We usually communicate better, and they had some one-on-one with Raven shots, over and over again,” Higgins said.
The Tigers just couldn’t muster consistent threats in the second half, and Zipprich, Atland and Riley Mintrone tacked on goals. The Patriots stalled over much of the final eight minutes.
Best, Donahue, senior attacker Molly Campbell, and Armstrong and Annina Hare, both multi-year starters on the defensive end, will all graduate.
They were part of a team this spring that propelled the program to its first final since 2013, an excellent season by any measure.
“That’s what I just told them,” Higgins said. “They obviously should be very proud of getting to this point.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at andyk@addisonindependent.com.

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