BRISTOL — The Mount Abraham Union High School boys’ lacrosse team took control of Saturday’s game against visiting Vergennes with defense, allowing the Commodores only two shots on goal and taking a 7-1 halftime lead on the way to a 13-5 win.
Eagle Coach Tim McGowan’s second-year varsity program evened its record at 3-3, while the Commodores — who have been plagued by postponements and rain-soaked home turf — fell to 0-2.
With the first-string defense on the field — Alex Blodgett, Quinn McElwain and Nat Marsters — through three quarters, the Eagles allowed just two goals on three shots on goalie Mark Flowers (five saves).
“I think the defense ... did the job as asked,” McGowan said.
At the other end, two goals from attacker Gus Yost, one assisted by attacker Connor McDonough, and one goal by middie Myles McGowan gave the Eagles a 3-1 lead after one period. J.T. O’Brien scored on a strong curl from behind the net to briefly tie the game for VUHS.
The Eagles really took charge in the second period, with three of Yost’s six goals, with assists from McDonough and McGowan, and a 25-foot bouncing score from middie Andy Dubenetsky with the Eagles a man-up.
Some outstanding work by VUHS goalie Eric Averill kept the score down in that stretch; Averill made eight of his 21 saves in the quarter.
Although Yost did most of the finishing, Coach McGowan said all the Eagles were doing well to create his chances.
“He had a really great game, but Gus can’t create the play unless the ball gets to him, so I have to write a thank-you note to the guys ... who bring the ball up from defense, clear the ball to the middies, pass the ball and create those opportunities. So it’s a team effort,” McGowan said.
VUHS coach Rory Cartwright was not unhappy with his team’s effort. The Commodores have just three seniors and are coming off a one-win season in which Cartwright was not always thrilled with their work rate.
He has no such qualms so far this season, even though he said, “the spring has conspired against us.” The VUHS fields do not drain well, and practices have often been limited to the gym or one dry patch of grass. Cartwright said it was no coincidence the Commodores improved by the fourth period.
“To this day, we have not had a practice on a fully lined field. We’ve had two experiences on a full field, and both have been games,” Cartwright said. “Our last game was April 10th, three weeks ago. And I think Mount Abe, this was their third game in a week. And so it just showed. I thought we played a much better fourth quarter. It just took us three quarters to get there.”
Considering the Commodore defenders were often under siege because VUHS struggled to possess the ball, they also held up well: Aaron Desabrais, Steven Sickles and Nate Fleming all had good moments.
But in the third period the Eagle pressure paid off with more offense, although the Commodores struck first. Attacker Joe Krayewsky took middie Justin Strona’s feed from the left side, spun and fired a 20-footer home at 7:13 to make it 7-2.
Parker Thompson responded for Mount Abe with two long-range bombs 45 seconds apart, the second coming with a Commodore kneeling in the penalty box. That made it 9-2 at 5:00. Late in the period, Travis Bachand scooped a ground ball outside the crease and made it 10-2.
In the fourth, Krayewsky netted his own rebound at 10:08 to make it 10-3. Goals by Thompson, Parker and Yost (from Alex Putnam) made it 13-3, but VUHS kept battling, with middie Geoffrey Grant in the thick of things. Hunter Casey converted a turnover at 2:35, and in the final minute Flowers made two good saves, but Krayewsky flicked the second rebound home.
That willingness to keep plugging should pay off in the long run, Cartwright said.
“I think we have a different attitude,” Cartwright said. “As we move into the season, we’ve just got to maintain that attitude and realize that this is a young team, they’ve got to grow, they’ve got to get game time. And hopefully when we see Mount Abe next time we’ll have a different outcome.”
Coach McGowan knows his team’s wins have come against other programs that are in the developmental stage. But he believes with more poise and a continuing focus on fundamentals of ground balls, ball control and passing the Eagles can become competitive with established teams.
“We have a chance in every single game,” he said. “We’ll get one of those games at some point. We’ll surprise somebody.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.