MUHS boys’ lax settles for split

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury Union High School boys’ lacrosse team split two home games earlier this week, falling short of its goal of nailing down a winning regular season.
The results also dampened the Tigers’ chances of moving up from the No. 8 seed in Division I and dodging a quarterfinal matchup with No. 1 defending champion Champlain Valley.
The Tigers are 7-7 heading into their final game — at CVU on Friday afternoon — after defeating Mount Mansfield, 12-10, on Monday and coming up short vs. BFA-St. Albans on Tuesday, 8-5.
“Now we’re down to beating CVU on Friday,” said Coach Brian Carpenter.
Carpenter was not pleased with the Tigers’ early-game effort on Tuesday, as the Bobwhites took a 6-0 lead midway through the second period, and his team could not quite dig out of that hole.
“We didn’t show with the intensity we needed, especially for our senior day,” Carpenter said. “It’s kind of disappointing.”
The Tigers did fight back to within 7-4 after three periods on a terrific end-to-end transition play finished by senior Jack Donahue — who scored his 100th career goal on Monday. And they threatened in the third, when they had two good looks on goal during a 30-second BFA penalty with the score 8-5.
“The guys kept their heads up and kept battling and got back in the game in the second half,” Carpenter said.
Monday’s game had flowed in the opposite direction. The Tigers took a 12-6 lead in the fourth on two Kolby Farnsworth goals, one assisted by Donahue. MMU then went on a 4-0 run to make it 10-12 with 3:48 to go. At that point Tiger middie Lane Sheldrick won a key faceoff, and the Tigers retained possession most of the rest of the way to hold on.
Donahue scored twice to go with two assists, and Ben Crawford joined Farnsworth with a pair of goals, with Crawford chipping in an assist. Kam Bartlett added a goal and an assist, and Fyn Fernandez, Bode Rubright, Mason Kaufman and Sheldrick also scored. Goalie Cam Devlin stopped 14 shots.
For MMU (5-9), Jaden Elsinger (four goals, two assists) and Will Hauf (three goals, assist) led the attack, and goalie Ben Mutolo made nine saves.
On Tuesday the Tigers struggled with turnovers, particularly early on when they failed to generate a shot at goal in the first quarter. Despite some fine saves by Devlin (15 in all) and decent defensive work by low defenders Fernandez, Derek Felkl and Quinn Berry and long-stick middie Tyler Giorgio, the Bobwhites began to find the range, scoring three times in the period’s final 5:18.
At 5:18, a cutting Cooper Cioffi buried a Noah Vincellette feed, and at 2:28 Vincellette rolled across the middle and whipped a shot home. At 1:40 Mike Adams netted the first of his two goals. Two goals by Keegan Streeter and another by Adams made it 6-0 halfway through the second period.
The Tigers finally answered at 1:59, when Farnsworth circled the net counter-clockwise and buried an overhand shot. At 1:59 Sheldrick bounced home a lefthanded shot from long-range, and it was 6-2 at the half.
The Tigers got unlucky in the second half’s second minute, when they accidentally tapped a loose ball into their own goal. Two Donahue goals made it 7-4 after three periods. The first was a bouncer on a solo effort. The second came at 0:24, after Giorgio picked off a pass on defense and fed Crawford for a long run. Crawford passed to Farnsworth as he approached the goal, and Farnsworth quickly relayed to Donahue for the conversion.
BFA made it 8-4 early in the fourth on a Griffin Knapp doorstep conversion of a Streeter feed from the right side. Devlin then made big saves on Vincelette and Mac Kennedy to keep the Tigers close, and at 8:09 Ian Ploof smoothly spun and tossed in a Farnsworth pass from the left side to make it 8-5.
The Tigers had chances down the stretch. Sheldrick stole the ball from BFA goalie Foster Horton during a clearing attempt, but shot just wide from 30 yards. During BFA’s 30-second penalty Horton (three saves) made one point-blank stop and saw another Tiger shot whistle just wide right.
Carpenter noted the Tigers were playing earlier this week without injured starting senior middie Sam Hodges, who could return on Friday, and on Tuesday without Bartlett, who was ill.
But the larger issues, he said, were a wet field that negated the Tigers’ speed advantage, and the turnovers.
“We just didn’t execute. We had drawn out how to the clear against this particular ride. We had seen it before over at Hanover on Saturday,” Carpenter said. “We got pressured and made some bad passes.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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