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Tiger boys’ lax rallies, but can’t overcome slow start

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury Union High School boys’ lacrosse team did not put its best foot forward in Monday’s first half against visiting BFA-St. Albans, and the Bobwhites made them pay for it.
St. Albans took a 7-1 halftime lead as MUHS struggled to get going on offense and get organized in transition and on defense, and the Bobwhites held off a stronger Tiger effort in the second half to prevail, 10-7.
The Bobwhites improved to 4-1, while the Tigers dropped to 2-3 with their first loss by more than two goals — they were coming off a tough loss on Friday, 8-7, to four-time defending champion Champlain Valley.
And things won’t get easier: Burr & Burton (5-1) was scheduled to visit Fucile Field on Wednesday afternoon, and the Tigers are scheduled to visit undefeated South Burlington on Friday. The Rebels have edged MUHS, 12-10, already this spring.
Coach Brian Carpenter was at a loss to explain the Tigers’ first-half performance.
“St. Albans had to go to school this morning, so it’s not like you can blame vacation,” Carpenter said. “So I don’t know what the reason was they couldn’t get up. I know it was a big emotional loss against CVU on Friday, and they really hung it all out there. But they had the weekend to compose. I talked to them before they went out on the field they needed to redeem themselves and bring a good game and start some momentum going into this week because it’s going to be a tough week.”
He was pleased the Tigers responded and cut the lead to two twice in the second quarter, including to 8-6 with 7:25 to go on an Andrew Gleason goal. After that play, BFA goalie Killian Shea-Smith made big saves on Trey Kaufmann and Jackson Donahue, and Jakob Boeckermann hit the post before Bobwhite James Konrad scored a key transition goal at 4:38.
“They played a good second half,” Carpenter said. “They outplayed St. Albans in the second half. They decided they needed to hustle. It was all the same players. There really was no difference other than they got their act together.”
But the first half was not fun to watch for the Tiger coaches and fans. BFA took the lead four minutes in on the first of Mac Kennedy’s four goals, set up by a cross-crease pass from Konrad.
The Tigers’ outshot the Bobwhites in the first period, but Shea-Smith made five of his seven saves to keep MUHS at bay. Carpenter noted that the Tigers were making the BFA goalie’s life a little too easy by shooting from long range and not being in position behind the goal to get the ball back when shots went wide.
“They were making mental mistakes, lapses, taking shots of 15 yards or greater,” Carpenter said. “We get one shot and we were back on defense. We were either playing catch with the goalie or not backing, and that’s not a way to win. We have the good sticks to get in for better shots.”
Several of those shots came when the Bobwhites had a player locked in for two minutes for hitting a defenseless player. After Cooper Cioffi converted a Griffin Knapp feed to make it 2-0 with 1:22 left in the period, the Tigers were assessed a similar penalty.
Konrad scored late in the period to make it 3-0, and the Bobwhites won their fourth straight draw to get the ball back to open the second quarter. Kennedy tossed in a bomb to make it 4-0. BFA won the draw again, and just after the penalty expired Kennedy picked the lower left corner, and it was 5-0 at 10:47.   TIGER JUNIOR JAKOB Boeckermann fends off BFA-St. Albans senior Jordan Deso during Monday’s game in Middlebury.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell
Scoring slowed, but before halftime only a Gleason bouncer that eluded Shea-Smith answered another Kennedy strike and a tip-in of a Kennedy assist by Griffin Knapp. Tiger goalie Doug DeLorenzo (five saves) made two strong stops late in the period to keep the score from getting further out of control.
The Tigers’ talk at intermission focused on some tactical details, but there was a larger theme.
“I told them it was beyond Xs and Os at halftime. It was all about heart,” Carpenter said.
They responded. For example, in the first half, BFA won seven out of 10 faceoffs. In the second, thanks largely to Spencer Carpenter, MUHS won eight of 11. Defenders Fyn Fernandez and Brett Viens also did good work in the second half.
But goals were still slow to come. Finally, at 5:37 of the third, MUHS broke through: Boeckermann fed Kaufmann out front for a bounce shot. Twenty-five seconds later it was 7-3: BFA took a penalty, and the Tigers worked the ball to Jake Peluso to the left of goal. After one quick move he tucked a low shot home.
The Bobwhites held that four-goal lead into the fourth, and the teams traded early goals. Boeckermann ran down the left side and fed Kaufmann out front for MUHS, but Kennedy won a ground ball at the other end and fed Knapp to make it 8-4 at 10:47.
The Tigers kept coming. Kaufman set up Peluso at the left post with the Tigers a man up at 8:52, and Gleason went solo from the left side at 7:25. But then Shea-Smith came up big on Donahue and Kaufman, and the right post denied Boeckermann.
Konrad scored in transition at 4:38, and even with a Kaufmann goal at 2:29 the Tigers were up against it. After a Tiger turnover, Kennedy iced the win at 1:37.
Ultimately, Carpenter said he hopes the Tigers learn from Monday.
“The message was they’re not good enough to play just half the game,” Carpenter said. “They have to play four quarters.”

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