MUHS ultimate team falls to Vermont Commons

MIDDLEBURY — Visiting Vermont Commons School scored the first three and final three goals to deal the Middlebury Union High School Ultimate Disc team a 12-8 setback on Thursday.
The competitive and spirited match was played in almost perfect conditions for the newest official varsity sport both in Vermont and at MUHS — 60-degree weather, cloudy skies and virtually no wind.
And, said Tiger Coach Michelle Steele, it was an enjoyable game for both teams, with only one foul called in the self-officiated game and good sportsmanship — spirit, in Ultimate lingo — shown by both sides.
“It was a good matchup. Ability-wise, they were pretty close to us. It was a fun game,” Steele said.
Early on, it looked like Vermont Commons (VCS), a South Burlington private school, was going to enjoy itself much more than MUHS.
VCS handler (the passer) Caleb Morehouse threw three assists into the end zone in the first 12 minutes, to Seth Fisher-Oliveira, Simon Rosenbaum and Austin Mital-Skiff, and the visitors had a 3-0 lead.
Then came a pivotal possession for the Tigers. VCS played a zone defense that Steele said posed a challenge to her team.
“The thing about beating a zone like that is just a lot of patience. And we do have a lot of newer players who don’t have the patience just to slow down and make more thoughtful decisions. And part of a zone in ultimate is it makes people look open when they’re actually not, and you end up throwing into a defensive wall,” Steele said. “So we struggled a little with that.”
But not on the next possession after VCS took the 3-0 lead. The Tigers completed a dozen passes in a row, worked the disc from side to side, and in the 76th minute got on the board when Timothy Hunsdorfer found Xavier Wyncoop in the end zone from about 10 yards out.
The Tigers appeared to gain confidence from that score, and find a way to begin to move up and down the field. Over the next 45 minutes of play they outscored VCS, and began to defend the visitors better. Notable in breaking up multiple passes were Wyncoop, Silas Conlon, Peter Orzech, Wes Hirdler, Michael Huber and Hunsdorfer. Ultimate games are played until one team scores 15 goals or a 90-minute limit is reached, and VCS proved unable to score 15 times despite its fast start.
“I think we played super good pressure D,” Steele said. “We were especially in the second half trying to shut down their up line’s cuts and doing a much better job of that. It took them a long time to score. It felt like we were pressuring them enough they were taking multiple chances. We played a pretty good game.”    MIDDLEBURY SENIOR PETER Orzech makes a leaping defensive play to intercept the disc thrown to a Vermont Commons player during a game played at MUHS Thursday afternoon. The Tigers lost, 12-8.
Independent photo/Steve James
Finally, the Tigers knotted the score at 7-7 with 33 minutes to go when Orzech hit Conlon with a long, high throw. But VCS answered quickly when Morehouse, who finished with five assists and two scores, found Zach Hines from equally long range.
After a late halftime break, with 13 minutes remaining VCS’s Fisher-Oliveira completed a short toss to Kent Vaccaro to make it 9-7. Another 50-yard Orzech-to-Conlon hookup cut the lead to 9-8 two minutes later, apparently by following Steele’s instructions.
“We did the play,” Conlon said.   MIDDLEBURY’S EVAN GREGORY congratulates fellow MUHS Ultimate team member Xavier Wyncoop after Wyncoop scored for the Tigers vs. Vermont Commons on Thursday. Coach Michelle Steele said Wyncoop had a “great game.”
Independent photo/Steve James
But VCS tightened its defense, and a couple of hurried throws and Tiger miscues allowed the visitors to pull away in the final minutes.
“Coaching Ultimate is 10 percent coaching Ultimate and 90 percent coaching decision-making. Because when you string together making those decisions and making those throws is when you win,” Steele said. “Second half I don’t know if we got tired, or if we just had some inexperienced players close to the disc making some rushed decisions. There were some more turnovers, and a couple dropped discs.”
Orzech led MUHS with four assists, with Huber, Conlon, Hunsdorder and Wyncoop picking up one apiece. Wyncoop (four), Conlon (three) and Hirdler (one) scored the goals.  
Steele will hope her team can work out a few of kinks offensively, and build on the strong defensive effort.
“We played really good defense,” she said. “I was really proud of how we played D today.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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