Sports

MAV boys’ lacrosse falls to Montpelier in D-III final, 11-9

EAGLE ATTACKER NOAH Ladeau (22) scores with a backhand shot in the fourth quarter of Thursday’s Division III championship game as the Mount Abe/Vergennes team rallied from 11-4 down after three quarters with five unanswered goals. After sinking this one in the net, Ladeau nearly made it a one-goal game, but his shot hit the post. The Eagles ultimately fell short in losing 11-9 to Montpelier in a game played June 8 at UVM in Burlington. Independent photo/Steve James

BURLINGTON — You can’t say the players on the Mount Abraham/Vergennes boys’ lacrosse team don’t have a lot of heart.

When they fell behind in Thursday’s Division-III title game vs. Montpelier, the Eagles dug deep and fought back.

The Solons led ll-4 after three quarters, but then MAV scored five unanswered goals in the fourth quarter.

Unfortunately it wasn’t enough as Montpelier, the defending champion, won the game, 11-9, and retained the crown.

“In the championship game Henry Anderson and Noah Ladeau did everything they could on the offensive end to keep us in the game and they both lead the fourth quarter comeback,” Eagle Coach Ed Cook said. “The effort of the entire team up to the final buzzer was commendable.”

Eagle midfielder Lorenzo Atocha carries the ball past a Montpelier defender in Thursday’s D-III state championship game at UVM. Atocha had an assist in the game but the combined Mount Abe-Vergennes team lost, 11-9, despite a fourth-quarter rally that saw them score five unanswered goals.
Independent photo/Steve James

Montpelier came out a little hotter than MAV, and led by a score of 8-3 at the half. The Salons continued to lead, scoring three more goals in the third quarter, to one for the Eagles. But MAV stepped it up another notch.

In the fourth quarter onslaught, Ladeau brought the ball out from behind the goal and, rather than passing, made a nifty shot where he bounced the ball into the net for a score.

Shortly thereafter, Ladeau approached the goal and had another fantastic shot, but this time it dinged off the post. It would have brought the Eagles to within one.

Ladeau, a junior, finished with four goals and an assist on the day, giving him 48 goals and 17 assists in the 2023 campaign. Anderson, a senior, tallied three goals on Thursday. Ending a stellar career as an MAV player, Anderson recorded 49 goals and 33 assists this season, and 115 goals over his three years as an Eagle attacker.

Senior attacker Henry Anderson skips past a Montpelier defender in the first quarter of the D-III state championship game at UVM on Thursday. Anderson had three goals in the game.
Independent photo/Steve James

Also scoring on Thursday were middie Sawyer Leonard and faceoff specialist Lorenzo Atocha, who got one goal and one assist apiece.

Walker Forand was strong in goal for MAV, getting credit for 14 saves.

Coach Cook said that from the start of the season, the Eagles’ mission was to get back to Virtue Field, where they played Montpelier last June. He noted that MAV played a tough schedule, facing eight D-II teams. Their only losses this season were to Harwood, Hartford and Colchester — all of them reached the D-II semifinals.

“Most of my team returned from last year’s team,” Cook said. “They were hungry to avenge the loss.”

Eagle attacker Henry Anderson fires home one of his three goals in the second quarter of Thursday’s D-III championship game. He scored 49 goals this season.
Independent photo/Steve James

Cook credited his athletes for their commitment.

“All the significant players in my offense spent the last two years playing box lacrosse for the Bullheads in the Vermont Box Lacrosse League,” he said. “Those last two years allowed us to implement an offense where my players played in a free flowing system that used a two-man game similar to box lacrosse. This offense was the reason that we were able to put up 12 goals a game.

Cook was particularly proud of the way each player trusts the next one.

“My players genuinely love each other and will sacrifice a good shot to make a pass for a better shot,” he said. “Nothing showed this more than our overtime win in Stowe. Senior Sawyer Shepard, who is our fastest player, could have dodged his player and taken a shot, but on his dodge he saw Chase Atkins open on the crease and passed him the ball for the winning goal without a thought.”

He  noted that Atkins is only a second-year player, but he worked hard to improve his skills.

“Sawyer had complete trust in Chase and made the pass instead of him making the game-winning shot,” Cook said. “That is the epitome of my team and the culture that we have built since 2017.

Spencer Gebo, a long-stick midfielder for the Mount Abe-Vergennes Eagles, blocks a Montpelier shot in the first quarter of Thursday’s D-III state final at UVM. The Eagles scored five unanswered goals in the fourth quarter but lost 11-9.
Independent photo/Steve James

Atocha, who was just a ninth-grader last year, watched the title game in 2022 and was devastated with the result, Cook recalled.

“Every day at practice this season he worked, mostly by himself, to improve his skills at the faceoff dot,” Cook said. “He was a leader out there for us on Thursday. He is going to be a force in the next couple of years.”

The coach also credited offensive midfielders Sawyer Leonard, Jonah Howell and Atkins for the “amazing job” they did on Thursday. After star player Andrew Nolan went down with a torn ACL earlier this season, the three middies worked very hard to fill in the hole.

The 10 towns in the Addison Northwest and Mount Abe school districts that feed the MAV lacrosse program have been great backers of the team, Cook noted. He expects a dozen ninth-graders to join MAV boys’ lacrosse next year.

Cook praised assistant coaches Eric Decker and Ben Toussaint.

“All three of us are educators and look at lacrosse the same way,” Cook said. “We are teaching young men to be valuable members of society through the game of lacrosse. Winning is great, but the reason we all coach is to have a connection with our players that lasts a lifetime.”

Eagle midfielder Spencer Gebo consoles teammate Lorenzo Atocha after the combined Mount Abe-Vergennes team fell to defeat against Montpelier in the D-III state championship game at UVM on Thursday.
Independent photo/Steve James

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