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Tiger boys' lacrosse falls in home opener

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Posted on April 11, 2019 |
By Andy Kirkaldy



muhs lax 0X0A8186.jpg
MIDDLEBURY UNION HIGH School midfielder Thatcher Trudeau forechecks Burr & Burton’s Conor Stauss in the first quarter of this past Saturday’s game played at Middlebury College. First-year coach Matt Rizzo said he was happy to see how athletic the Tigers were and how much effort they put in, but mistakes his players made contributed to the 10-7 loss to the Bulldogs. Independent photo/Steve James

MIDDLEBURY — After two games, new Middlebury Union High School boys’ lacrosse Coach Matt Rizzo said he had learned a lot about his team.

On Saturday Rizzo spoke after watching visiting Burr & Burton — a 3-0 team coming off a 6-5 win over perennial contender South Burlington — rally past the Tigers, 10-7, in a hard-fought, but at times ragged game played at Middlebury College’s Alumni Stadium.

There was a lot to like, he said, and also plenty for the Tigers, who had rallied past Burlington in their opener three days before, to work on.

“We’ve got a really athletic team. And we’ve got a team that puts in a lot of effort. And we’ve had in the first two games of the year a lot of unforced errors. We’re turning the ball over when we shouldn’t,” Rizzo said. “I just said to the boys, I’m really proud of their heart. They had a lot of heart and fought really hard … So if we take care of the ball and keep hustling we’ll be fine.”

TIGER GOALIE JACK Rizzo saves a shot from Burr & Burton attacker John Miceli in the second quarter of Middlebury’s 10-7 loss on Saturday at Middlebury College’s Alumni Stadium.

Independent photo/Steve James

On Saturday the MUHS defense for the most part made the Bulldogs take contested or long-range shots. Senior Derek Felkl, junior Hunter Gale and freshman Matthew Kiernan started at defense, and juniors Trysten Quesnel and Eli Billings spelled them and played long-stick middie, meaning there was one defensive sub. Sophomore goalie Jack Rizzo stopped 14 shots, including nine of the 12 BBA bids on goal in the first half.

But miscues gave the Bulldogs the ball and a territorial advantage, and Rizzo said the defense probably wore down in the second half, when BBA erased a 5-3 Tiger third-period lead.

“It’s hard when you have only two other long sticks to sub in. They played well. I think they got tired at the end just a little bit,” he said.

Jack Rizzo’s six-save first quarter helped the Tigers to a 2-2 tie after one. Bulldog attacker Jake Baker gave his team the lead with a 10-yard right-hand bullet four minutes in, but the Tigers answered with two goals by sophomore attacker Bode Rubright, both set up by senior Kolby Farnsworth.

BURR & BURTON ACADEMY goalie Jack Morrison dives for the ball in the fourth quarter.

Independent photo/Steve James

The first came at 6:29, when Farnsworth found Rubright cutting through the slot from left to right, and Rubright tucked the ball inside the right post. The second came at 1:39 after senior middie Ben Crawford won a ground-ball battle in the defensive end, raced to midfield and fed Farnsworth, who relayed to Rubright out front to complete the transition strike. But Baker knotted the score at 2-2 with seven seconds left in the period.

Goals remained tough to come by in the second. Rubright made it 3-2 at 5:36 by powering in a 10-yard shot. BBA attacker Logan Sands tied the game at 3:20 with the first of his four goals, an underhand shot from the left. Rubright netted the last of his four goals 22 seconds before the half to restore the Tiger lead, curling around from the left and dodging a defender before beating BBA goalie Jack Momson (nine saves).

Rizzo made a kick save on Matt Kleckowski to open the second half. Shortly afterward Rubright stole a BBA clear and drew a penalty. Seconds after the penalty expired, Rubright found Crawford alone out front, and Crawford hit a corner at 9:45 to make it 5-3.

MUHS SENIOR CAPTAIN Kolby Farnsworth fires a shot at the Burr & Burton Academy goal in the second half of Saturday’s game Middlebury College’s Alumni Stadium. This was the Tigers’ final goal in a 10-7 loss to the Bulldogs.

Independent photo/Steve James

But then the Bulldogs went on a four-goal run over the next seven minutes. At 6:17 Sands scored from eight yards out, and with the Tigers shorthanded tied the game with a similar shot at 4:04.

Eleven seconds later BBA had the lead. Tiger junior Ezekiel Hooper helped MUHS win 12 of 19 faceoffs, but BBA defender Steven Schmitt won this one, bolted in and scored at 3:53 to make it 6-5. After a Tiger turnover, Sands converted in transition at 2:47, and it was 7-5. Mason Kaufmann bounced a shot home through the five-hole at 1:39 to make it a one-goal game.

But the officials waved off what Kaufmann thought was a goal to open the fourth, and the Bulldogs went on a three-goal run, with Egan Schmitt, Baker and Teddy Mired doing the damage. Farnsworth added a transition goal at 3:33 after a nice flick pass from senior middie Taylor Moulton; the play came on an empty net after the Tigers forced a Momson turnover after he wandered out of the crease with the ball.

Rubright has scored four times in each game, and Rizzo believes other players will create more offense as the Tigers, who were set to play Woodstock on Wednesday and will visit Rutland at 11 a.m. on Saturday, have more time to practice.

“Kolby is a senior captain and we need him to step up. He needs to be more present with the ball in his stick. He’s very skilled and he can finish, but he can’t finish if he doesn’t have the ball,” he said. “We need to rely a little less on Bode. He’s very big, and also skilled, but he needs help. We need a little more production out of the midfield. Ian Ploof and Mason Kauffman are playing great. We need them to step up a little bit.”

Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected]

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