Sports

Commodore girls’ lax starting like it’s 2019

JUNIOR ELENA BRONSON sees her shot saved by Lamoille goalie Kayla Turner in the second half of Tuesday’s game in Vergennes.

VERGENNES — The coaches and players of the Vergennes-Mount Abraham girls’ high school lacrosse team say the group has a lot to work on, and they’re probably right.
For example, Coach Marikate Kelley and senior center mid Hannah Kelly said after Tuesday’s home win vs. Lamoille that the Commodores’ transition game could be cleaner, communication on defense could be more effective, and offensive execution could be crisper.
But tell that to Lamoille, who came up on the short end of a 14-1 score even though because of spring break the Commodores were missing starting goalie Ashley Tierney; defenders Savannah Scrodin, Carly Rougier and lllia Dennison; and attackers Sophia Davis and Harriet Anderson, most of them veterans of the 2019 undefeated Division II championship team.
Or tell it to defending D-I champion South Burlington. The Commodores defeated SB on Saturday in the opener for both teams, 10-8, on the Wolves’ own turf.
Kelley and Kelly acknowledged the Commodores can be good again this year. But the key, said the center mid, will be staying hungry and working to get better.
“If we put in as much work as we can in our practices and keep trying in our games, we could be pretty good,” Kelly said. “We have to push ourselves the hardest.”
Still, Kelly said, the early wins also restore their belief.
“It’s giving us some good team confidence that after a year’s break we can still play together well. We can see what we need to work on, but we can see that we have a good start,” Kelly said.
Coach Kelley said it’s too early to talk about titles, in particular noting another D-II team, Hartford, had defeated another D-I team, Mount Mansfield, 18-4.
But she said the Commodores have potential if they continue to put in the work. 
“I think we have a good team and we can contend,” Coach Kelley said. “Coming out of the box vs. South Burlington, I was really happy with the way we played.”
In that game, Kelley noted the Commodores shrugged off both an early 3-0 SB lead with a 7-0 run, and then when the Wolves rallied to tie the game late, the Commodores made the winning plays in the 10-8 victory.
“That’s the part you can’t really teach, when you go down by a goal or it’s tied, how do kids react?” she said. “These kids are just making really good decisions out there.”
Then it was back to the mantra: “Of course, after that first game I had a really long list of things they had to work on.”
In that game, senior attacker Sydney Weber led the way with four goals, while junior middie Txuxa Konczal’s three scores included the game-winner with 2:38 to go.
Kelly, junior attacker Ryley Olsen and senior attacker Marley Keith added a goal apiece, and Tierney backstopped the victory with six saves.
Sophomore middie Cassandra Guilmette and Konczal led VUHS with five ground balls each, and junior defender Molly Laurent and Olsen each scooped four. SB goalie Greta Heldman kept her team close with 14 saves.
There was nothing close about Tuesday’s game. Besieged Lancer goalie Kayla Turner made several of her 16 saves early, but Konczal scooped a ground ball and finished high in the third minute, and junior Carly Rougier made it 2-0 with a sweet spin move in the slot at 18:40.
Weber made it 3-0 on a strong feed from Annika Funke two minutes later, and two quick goals by Rougier and Keith followed to signify the rout was on.
Kelley started subbing in players out of position and asking them to work on their weaker hands, but the score kept mounting.
When junior defender Elena Bronson converted after a coast-to-coast sprint with 13:30 left in the second half, the game reached 10-goal running-time status.
Rougier, Weber, Kelly and Bronson each scored twice, and Rebekah Duprey and Olsen also found the net. Lancer Renny Cota tossed in a free-position shot past Commodore goalie Carley Cook, who stopped the other two shots she faced.
Kelly won almost all the draws for the Commodores, who controlled 13 of 16. Kelly also led the way with five ground balls, Konczal and Duprey scooped four apiece, and Weber won three.
Overall, Kelley believes the Commodores will continue to gel.
“They’ve got lacrosse skills. And I’ve got some grit out there,” she said. “We’ve still got a lot to do in playing together on defense, on our ride, but I’ve got a ton of kids back. They haven’t been playing together recently, but they have been playing together for a long time. It’s a lot of the same kids we won the states with.”

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