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Tiger girls’ lacrosse schools Burlington, 15-1

MIDDLEBURY — Friday’s high school girls’ lacrosse game pitted host Middlebury, a 6-0 team that reached the Division I final a year ago and has championship hopes this spring, against 0-4 Burlington, which won the title in 2015 but is now in full rebuilding mode.
It showed.
The Tigers scored twice in the first 1:08 and three times in the first 4:41, controlled 14 of 18 draws, and used their speed and hustle to earn a 56-15 edge in ground balls as they coasted to a 15-1 victory.
Yes, said senior captain Riley Fenster — part of a defense that held the Seahorses to four shots on junior goalie Raven Payne, who stopped three of them — things are going well.
“We’re having a great season so far,” Fenster said. “Everyone’s working really well together and connecting on passes and scooping ground balls.”
That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement, said Coach Kelley Higgins. At times the offense stagnated, particularly when the Tigers settled the ball: After taking a 6-1 lead in the first 14 minutes, they went scoreless in the next 10.
Credit goes to a strong game from BHS goalie Kaleigh Vachereau, who excelled at blocking low shots with her feet and made 15 saves, but Higgins said the Tigers could have made sharper passes and taken better care of the ball.
“What do we need to do to get better? We need to move the ball on offense,” she said.
But Higgins said the Tigers also have shown the willingness to focus on their weaknesses, and she is confident they will do what is necessary to play crisper offense.
“After every game we have made a comment or two about what we can work on, what do we still need to get better at doing,” she said. “And so each week, each practice between these seven games there’s been something that we’ve been focusing on. For this particular game it was our transition and cutting when we don’t have the ball. And I saw them do that today.”
Sophomore attacker Ada Anderson helped the Tigers start quickly, assisting the first of junior middie Satchel McLaughlin’s three goals 33 seconds into the game. After junior middie Isabel Rosenberg made it 2-0 with a free position, Anderson fed freshman attacker Kate Donahue to make it 3-0 at 20:17.
Seahorse senior middie Reeve Flynn powered in to make it 3-1 at 17:08, but McLaughlin sandwiched two unassisted goals around one by sophomore midfielder Emily Laframboise, and it was 6-1 at 11:02.
Vachereau held the fort for the next 10 minutes even though the ball rarely left the BHS end. Payne stopped BHS attacker Makayla Lessor’s free position to stop the only threat allowed by Tiger defenders Fenster, juniors Keagan Dunbar, Olivia Beauchamp, Ciara Eagan and Abby Gleason, and sophomore Lacey Greenamyre, all of whom saw time. Finally, senior attacker Mikayla Foster broke the goal drought at 2:02 with a Laframboise feed, and it was 7-1 at the half.
Payne stopped the only shot she saw after the break, and the goals flowed. Fenster and Dunbar each went coast-to-coast as the defenders got in on the action, and when the dust settled Robinson joined McLaughlin (two assists) with three goals, Donahue and Laframboise each finished with two goals, and junior attacker Ella Nagy-Benson tacked on a score. Rosenberg and McLaughlin each scooped 10 ground balls, and Fenster, Donahue and Robinson nabbed five apiece.
Payne and the Tigers have allowed 33 goals in seven games, and only Burr & Burton, in their road opener, has scored more than six. Higgins said the defense has played well. 
“They are communicating, and they have quick feet, and that’s helping,” she said.
Higgins also cited speed and attitude as pluses.
“We have a really athletic bunch,” Higgins said. “And they are starting to have chemistry on the field.”
Fenster said she was excited to see how the season plays out, in part because of that chemistry.
“We’ve been playing together a long time, a lot of us have. Everybody on the team loves everybody on the team. We’re just a really tight team,” she said. “We like each other as people, which helps us play well on the field together.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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