Games created memories in 2017 sports seasons

Editor’s note: In this past Thursday’s edition sports writer Andy Kirkaldy cataloged, month-by-month, news in the local sports world in 2017. Here he takes a closer look at some of the year’s top athletes and most enjoyable games (from a spectator’s point of view).
ADDISON COUNTY — A few high school games in 2017 stood out. In some cases the stakes were high; in others the twists and turns or late drama made these rise above the crowd:
These were the most memorable:
•  In January the Middlebury Union boys’ hockey team scored three times in the final 6:27 to erase a 2-0 deficit and defeat previously unbeaten U-32, 3-2. Tiger senior Brett Viens netted a rebound to start the rally. After junior Ziven McCarty knotted the score with 2:41 to go, Viens knocked home another rebound, this one of a Kolby Farnsworth bid in the slot at 1:17, and the Tigers held on.
•  Early May offered a tense showdown between two of the state’s top softball teams when Mount Abe visited Middlebury — and ace pitchers squared off, the Tigers’ Payton Buxton and the Eagles’ Rachael McCormick. The game saw two double plays, Eagle center fielder Jenna McCardle throw out the game-tying run at the plate in the sixth, and the Eagles escape two bases-loaded jams.
Hits by Buxton helped the Tigers take a 2-0 lead. McCardle singled in McCormick in the fourth and later scored to tie the game, and McCormick doubled home the go-ahead run with two out in the fifth to give Mount Abe the win.
•  On a June afternoon at the University of Vermont two girls’ lacrosse teams met for the Division I title with identical 17-0 records: No. 1 MUHS and No. 2 Mount Anthony.
It was a matchup of defense vs. offense: The Tigers had allowed only 5.4 goals per game, and the Patriots averaged 17.0 goals.
Defense — senior Riley Fenster, juniors Keagan Dunbar and Abby Gleason, and sophomore Lacey Greenamyre — and goaltending — junior Raven Payne (six saves) — prevailed as the Tigers won, 10-8. Junior Andi Boe (three goals) gave MUHS the lead for good in the second half, and the final two of junior Satchel McLaughlin’s four goals clinched the win. Junior Isabel Rosenberg added a pair for MUHS.
•  Later that same day at UVM’s Centennial Field the Otter Valley baseball team won the D-II final when sophomore Nate Hudson lined a two-out, bases-loaded single in the bottom of the seventh inning to score senior Colby McKay, who had doubled to lead off the inning, and deliver the No. 3 Otters a 3-2 walk-off victory. OV senior ace Derek Aines tossed a complete-game five-hitter, fanning seven, vs. No. 4 U-32, which tied the game in the top of the seventh.
•  In late October the No. 4 Mount Abe girls’ soccer team went double overtime to subdue No. 5 Harwood, 3-2, in a D-II quarterfinal. Senior Casey Ober banged in the game-winner from near the penalty stripe after taking a feed from senior Abby Mansfield. Eagle striker Lydia Pitts pounded home the game-tying goal with 9:29 to go, also with an assist from Mansfield, who notched Mount Abe’s opening goal.
•  And last, but not necessarily least, in January two boys’ hoop teams that would ultimately combine for eight wins, Mount Abe and VUHS, met in the Commodome. The Eagles led early as senior Chris Wood rained three-pointers — he hit seven in all.
VUHS fought back to lead by three with seconds left and looked to have things locked up. Until, that is, Eagle senior Jack Willis nailed a buzzer-beating three-pointer from the somewhere near the Shaw’s parking lot. In overtime Wood drilled back-to-back threes and the Eagles led, 66-63.
Commodore senior Adam Gill then scored 11 points over the next 1:40 to lead VUHS to a 76-69 win. In all, Gill scored 15 of his 23 points in overtime.
Sometimes the saying, “expect the unexpected,” applies to high school games.

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