Tiger girls’ lacrosse eyes strong finish

MIDDLEBURY — The young Middlebury Union High School lacrosse picked up two big Division I wins late last week  and could be a position to finish its season with a winning record after its 0-4 start.
On Wednesday the  6-7 Tigers rolled to a 14-3 home victory over Essex, and on Saturday they outclassed D-I’s last-place team, Burlington, 17-4, on the road.
The Tigers wrap up this week with three games, all of which they could win if they play well: At St. Albans (8-3) on Monday, at Mount Mansfield (3-11) on Wednesday, and at home vs. Champlain Valley (5-5) on Saturday at 11 a.m.
TIGER JUNIOR GRACE TUCKER scores the home team’s fifth goal in the first half of Middlebury’s big win on Wednesday over Essex.
Independent photo/Steve James
St. Albans has a good record, but also has lost to Essex and D-II St. Johnsbury. MMU has played good teams tough, but has also lost twice to Essex and once to D-II U-32. Champlain Valley defeated the Tigers in Hinesburg earlier this season, but MUHS has gone 6-3 since then.
The Tigers believe they are a different team than the one that started 0-4, according to senior midfielder Ada Anderson, who led MUHS vs. Essex with five goals. After all, she said, after graduating a dozen players from a two-time championship team, it was always going to take time to adjust. 
Anderson pointed not only to the two wins last week as evidence of the team’s growth, but also the Tigers’ 14-13 overtime loss at second-place Burr & Burton on Monday the 20th.
“We definitely started off rough, but we had a really young team. We lost 12 seniors, which was a really hard hit, but it’s been really great becoming a team starting out new. I think we really have come to a place where we’re competitive in games. On Monday we played the No. 2 seed and went into overtime,” Anderson said. “We’re definitely becoming more together. We definitely could go somewhere.”
CONGRATULATIONS ALL AROUND for Grace Tucker after tallying the Tigers’ fifth goal on the way to a big win on Wednesday over Essex.
Independent photo/Steve James
Coach Brandi Whittemore sees a team that is beginning to string passes together, compete hard for ground balls, and trust one another.
“The last couple of games we’ve started to play our game. Overall there have been improvements from D to the midfield all the way to the attack,” Whittemore said. “The unit I was talking about at the beginning of the season, it’s just all been falling together.”
She said the defense, a zone with sophomore Kaitlyn McNamara roaming the middle as the backer and juniors Phoebe Smith, Katie Berthiaume and Taylor Moulton and freshman Ivy Doran working the perimeter along with the midfielders, has also gelled in front of sophomore goalie Lydia Deppman.
“I’m very confident in our D. Our D is what’s held us in the games a lot of the time,” Whittemore said.
Anderson said because the defense relies so much on communication it has helped foster team chemistry.
MIDDLEBURY UNION HIGH School midfielder Ada Anderson makes it 10, leaping to score in the second half of the Tigers’ big win over Essex on Wednesday.
Independent photo/Steve James
“It’s basically all communication. We’ve had to work on it a lot, but it’s been really, really great working as a team, and I think it’s brought us together and helped us unite,” she said.
On Wednesday the Tigers allowed only five shots vs. Essex, two of which Deppman stopped. Deppman also intercepted or deflected several passes.
After Anderson and Hornet Sarah Coulter exchanged early scores, the Tigers scored the final four goals of the first half despite good work by Essex goalie Madisyn Larson, who had most of her five saves before the break.
But Larson couldn’t stop Anderson’s second goal, on a feed from senior attacker Emily Laframboise; a Laframboise free position 10 minutes in; or two goals in the final minute, one a solo move from senior Lacey Greenamyre, and the other a transition goal by junior attacker Grace Tucker set up by Laframboise.
The Tigers then dominated the second half. Greenamyre helped them win eight of 10 draws, Greenamyre and Anderson each tacked on three more goals, Doran went coast-to-coast to score, and freshman middie Carlisle Brush found the net. Brush also led the Tigers with four ground balls. Olivia Miller-Johnson and Elizabeth Goodrich scored for Essex.
On Saturday the Tigers bolted to a 9-2 halftime lead on the way to the 17-4 win at BHS. Laframboise (seven goals, assist) Greenamyre (three goals, assist), Brush (three goals), Anderson (two goals), and Doran and Clara Wolff (goal apiece) scored for MUHS. Kendall Muzzy scored twice for Burlington, and Deppman and BHS goalie Zoey Cudney each made five saves.
CARLISLE BRUSH, a Tiger freshman, sees her shot saved by the Essex goalie in the second half of Middlebury Union High School’s big win at home on Wednesday.
Independent photo/Steve James
Now comes this week’s test before next week’s playoffs, Whittemore said.
“Hopefully we finish the season strong. We know we need to focus and continue to work hard,” she said. “The focus needs to be practice by practice.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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