Commodore girls’ lax showing well

VERGENNES — In the spring of 2017 the first-year Vergennes-Mount Abraham cooperative girls’ lacrosse team lost games by scores such as 16-4 (twice), 18-8 and 20-10, and then saw its best player head to St. Michael’s College, another key scorer graduate, and an exchange-student starter return to her homeland.
This season the Commodores have equaled the 2017 win total of one, and have good chances coming up to win more. And the scores look different. Their toughest loss came by 13-6 to the team that put the 18-8 hurting on them last year, and the rematch on the road was closer, 11-7.
Another loss came in overtime, and three more by four goals, including Saturday’s 13-9 home setback vs. 7-2 Hartford, Division II’s third-place team.
Coach Marikate Kelley said there’s more work to be done, but she is pleased with the progress the returning athletes have made, the impact the team’s 14 freshmen have had, and the improved team concept and communication that has created more competitive play.
“This year we’ve been kind of in every game,” Kelley said. “The kids are playing really hard. We’re playing much better fundamentals than we did last year, and much better together as a team.”
The 1-7 Commodores’ win came on Thursday at Harwood, 9-8, and was sparked by the team’s veterans. Senior midfielder and co-captain Norah Deming scored three times, junior co-captain and middie Jalen Cook scored twice and set up two goals, and senior attacker Erin Lawrence added two goals. Two freshmen also helped: Attacker Sophie Davis chipped in a goal and an assist, and goalie Ashley Tierney made 10 saves vs. the 2-6 Highlanders.
Hartford posed a tougher challenge on Saturday. The teams traded goals early on and were tied at 2-2 before the Hurricanes went on a 4-1 run sparked by attacker Alice Dwyer, who had five of her six goals in the first half, making it 6-3.
The Commodores answered by scoring two of the next three goals, and a Cook strike in the final seconds — her second in the half, both scored by controlling the draw and racing in from midfield — made it 7-5 at the break. Also scoring in the half for VUHS was Deming, with an assist from Lawrence; Davis; and freshman middie Sydney Weber.
Cook struck again off the opening draw of the second half, and the Commodores were within 7-6. Kelley said her team has responded this spring when teams have gone on runs.
“We haven’t had any games where they get down by a couple goals and they take their heads out of the game. They keep going at it,” Kelley said.
COMMODORE SENIOR CO-CAPTAIN Norah Deming makes a move on the Hartford defense as junior co-captain Jalen Cook (rear) looks on. Deming scored a goal in the Commodores’ 13-9 loss on Saturday and scored three times in their 9-8 win on Thursday. Cook scored three goals on Saturday.
Independent photo/Andy Kirkaldy
But Hartford did go on a decisive run, using a post-up player and cutters to confuse the Commodore zone defense and score three times over the next eight minutes to take a 10-6 lead.
Overall the Commodore defense, notably senior Ally Atkins, sophomore Emma Beauchemin and freshman Hannah Kelly, played well, especially considering the advantage in time of possession, which the Hurricanes earned in part, Kelley said, by their edge in scooping ground balls.
“The defense is starting to work better together. We did a great job double-teaming,” Kelley said. “Once we adjusted our defense we started to pick up that post player, and we did a better job on the cutters.”
The Commodores cut the lead to 10-7 on sophomore attacker Siobhan Eagan’s finish set up by Kelly’s long run at 16:08, but they came no closer. The final Commodore goals came on strong solo efforts by Weber and Kelly, while Tierney finished with 11 saves.
Three Hurricanes added two goals apiece — Morgan Pero, Michaela Ricker and Taylor Simmons — and goalie Emi Harlow stopped five shots. 
Kelley is overall happy about the status quo, and is also looking forward to an influx of what she said is a talented group of middle school athletes.
“We’re excited about the future of the program,” Kelley said. “This group this year is more competitive than I would have anticipated with the people who we lost last year. And I know we have lots of young players coming in as well. So the future’s looking bright.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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