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Tiger boys’ lax uses grit to defeat Rutland

RUTLAND — When Rutland’s Ben Davine scored back-to-back goals late in Friday’s third period against the visiting Middlebury Union High School boys’ lacrosse team, the Raiders had taken the lead for the first time, 8-7.
The Tigers led by as many as three, 6-3, at 4:44 of the second period, but Rutland seized the momentum with a 5-1 run over the next 13 minutes, thanks in part to Tiger turnovers.
But Tigers responded with their own run. The defense continued to make life tough for the Raiders, and senior attacker Andrew Gleason and junior attacker Jackson Donahue each scored and assisted each other in the final minute of the third period to restore the Tiger lead at 9-8.
Then at 10:13 of the fourth period, Gleason found sophomore attacker Jake Peluso curling around the crease, as Peluso deposited what proved to be the game-winning goal as the Tigers went on to win, 11-9. 
Gleason, a tri-captain, said the Tigers told themselves to focus on fundamentals when they lost the lead.
“It just starts from the back. We’ve got to work up from our defense, get the ball on offense, possess, can’t make any stupid turnovers,” Gleason said. “Then we just worked it around on offense, got the looks we wanted and were able to put it away.”
Gleason also cited the work of freshman goalie Cam Devlin (11 saves) and the defense of senior Brett Viens, juniors Fyn Fernandez and Brian Kiernan, and the long-stick middie rotation of freshman Quinn Berry and senior Doug DeLorenzo.
In the last few minutes that group forced rushed shots by Raiders Jared Migliore and Aiden Reilly that Devlin either stopped or went wide, senior midfielder Eli Miller forced one turnover, and in the final minute Viens stole the ball from a Raider attacker to end the final threat.
“That was something else,” Gleason said. “They handled themselves really well, and Brett had a nice takeaway right there at the end. That kind of sealed the deal. We played some nice team D today, and Cam had some pretty timely saves.”
Coach Brian Carpenter praised the Tigers for answering the Raiders’ challenge.
“They showed grit. They didn’t cave. They didn’t panic. They just played the game and made their own breaks,” Carpenter said. “We played solid D. We were doubling the ball at times and putting it back on the ground and coming back on offense and moving the ball around and getting effective shots.”
The Tigers took a 6-4 lead in the first half. They led after one, 3-1. Raider Cam Slenker scored first, but Gleason (three goals, two assists) answered with two goals, one set up by Donahue (three goals, three assists), and Donahue added a score.
Devlin made a couple stops, one on quick Raider goalie Cam Wilk (eight saves), who at one point raced the length of the field to shoot on net and then darted back to made a stop. The Raiders also hit a post or the crossbar four times, three by Migliore.
Rutland’s Reilly made it 3-2 to open the second period. Kolby Farnsworth, from Kaufmann, answered, but Migliore scored with MUHS a man down to make it 4-3 at 6:05.
The Tigers then scored twice in 1:04 to take their biggest lead. Kaufmann tossed in a man-up goal, and Peluso curled out front and buried a Donahue feed at 4:44 to make it 6-3. At 2:40, Davine buried a cross-crease pass from Joe Torres and it was 6-4.
The Tigers for a long stretch struggled offensively, mainly due to turnovers. Carpenter said they will be fine when they remember to translate practice onto the field.
“We’ve looked better in practice banging the ball around, and we allowed it to sit in one man’s stick where they could play him and we weren’t moving to get open,” Carpenter said. “Maybe they’ll learn a lesson from this game.”
Migliore scored to open the second half and set up a Dawson Cole goal, and it was tied. The Tigers dug back in on defense, and at 5:11 Berry stepped into the attack and converted a doorstep feed from Farnsworth, and MUHS led, 7-6. But Davine’s goals appeared to shift things the Raiders’ way.
But the Tigers answered, as they did again when Torres scored at 6:52 of the fourth to make it 10-9. At 4:27 Tiger junior middie Jakob Boeckermann found Donahue cutting for an insurance goal, and the Tigers held the fort down the stretch.
Carpenter acknowledged Friday’s lapses, but said the Tigers played well when they had to — something he attributed to their attitudes.
“I feel really good about this team,” he said. “They support each other on the sideline. They’re not heckling when somebody does something wrong. They’re just encouraging them to pick it up and go. I think the chemistry is good, and we’ll continue to improve as we work on some of those mistakes we made today.”
   MIDDLEBURY UNION HIGH School junior Jakob Boeckermann fires a shot on goal during Friday’s game against Rutland.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell

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