MIDDLEBURY — Round Two went to the Rebels.
In a Division I clash on Friday on Fucile Field, the South Burlington High School girls’ lacrosse team avenged its only loss of the season and dealt Middlebury its only setback, 13-10.
The 8-1 Rebels took over first place from the 7-1 Tigers after outscoring MUHS in the second half, 5-2, to snap a halftime tie.
Coach Kelley Higgins, whose team had defeated the Rebels in overtime in South Burlington, 8-7, was disappointed, but philosophical, afterward.
“It’s not like we lost to a bad team,” Higgins said, adding she expected the Tigers would play better against the Rebels if they meet in the playoffs — something that seems possible given that both teams have already defeated most other contenders.
“I look forward to playing them again. We’ll make some adjustments, and present differently next time we see them. I think we all look forward to playing them again. I don’t think we played our best game,” Higgins said. “We made some costly turnovers in the offensive end, and we got beat defensively in the midfield.”
Higgins did not discuss the disparity in yellow cards assessed, although the teams played with the same intensity. MUHS had four players sent off and played an athlete down for 15 minutes, while the Rebels were not carded even though one Tiger — high-scoring Chrissy Ritter — was injured by a blow to the head. Her status is uncertain for now.
In the first half both teams earned two-goal leads — MUHS at 2-0 and SB at 5-3 — before they settled for an 8-8 tie. Shooters picked corners, giving goalies — the Tigers’ Maria Ploof and the Rebels’ Ashley McDonald, each of whom finished with seven saves — little chance.
The Tigers were scoring with ball movement, picking up four assists, two from Katie Ritter and one each from Chrissy Ritter and Liz Kelley. Kelley scored four times, Chrissy Ritter tallied twice, and Katie Ritter and Brandi Whittemore added a goal apiece.
At the other end, the Rebels drew fouls from the Tigers and converted three free position shots, and also used their quickness to score with solo efforts. Middies Molly Higgins (three goals) and Allie Flaherty (two) did most of the damage, and Lizzy Saward, Alyssa Guyette and Anne-Marie Farmer added one each.
In the second half, the Rebel defense shut off passing lanes better, and the Tigers at times missed the net — they finished with more shot attempts than the Rebels, 28-24. Goals by Flaherty, Farmer and Guyette made it 11-8, SB, with 14:16 to go.
A free position at 11:58 by Chrissy Ritter made it 11-9, but she was hurt on that play. Another free position conversion by the Tiger’s Hannah Quinn made it 11-10 at 11:08, but Farmer scored on a free position at 8:51 to make it 12-10.
At 6:26, the Tigers’ third yellow card meant they had to spend the rest of the game a player down, and Flaherty added her fourth goal at 5:14 to finish the scoring.
On Wednesday, the Tigers defeated host Burlington, 17-6, as Chrissy Ritter scored six times, Katie Ritter and Whittemore tallied four apiece, Quinn scored twice, and Lily Rosenberg added a goal. Ploof stopped eight shots in that game.
Overall, Higgins remains encouraged by the performance and chemistry of her team, which has many young players in key roles and a rebuilt defense and attack.
“I think we’ve made a lot of progress, and there’s still more to be made. Sometimes a loss is not all negative,” Higgins said. “It’s going to make us work harder, and we’re going to be able to move forward now and we’re going to continue to get better.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.