MIDDLEBURY — Despite playing its most competitive game of the season, the young Middlebury Union High School boys’ lacrosse team lost to visiting Mount Mansfield on Monday, 12-6, on its first effort on a still-soggy Fucile Field.
The 0-3 Tigers scored the game’s first goal and also struck first in the second half to make it 6-3, but the 1-2 Cougars scored three goals in 58 seconds midway through the third quarter to regain control.
MUHS coach Jono Chapin said the Tigers did not completely click after a number of athletes returned from spring break after not practicing with the team for a week, but that he remained hopeful that with full-team practices they can move forward.
“We’re still rough. We tried to integrate some guys coming back from the break after the first quarter,” Chapin said. “It’s going to take a while, I think, to get our guys playing together and making some better decisions with game recognition. There was some hustle there, but again, I think we’re just little out of synch.”
The Tigers, who have just 10 seniors and juniors on their roster of 27, won the opening draw and took the first two shots of the game. MMU goalie Patrick Doherty stopped the first, by sophomore attacker Andrew Myhre, but junior middie Bryan Ashley-Selleck beat a defender and went top shelf to make it 1-0 at 11:06.
Cougar defender Colby Main made a goal-saving play with Doherty out of his net shortly afterward, and the Tigers were also unable to capitalize on an early MMU penalty.
Then the Cougars had a scoring surge, tallying three times between 7:00 and 6:09. Ian Barton scored twice on the break, and then Shawn Haskins swept into the slot and picked a corner.
Tiger sophomore attacker Nick Bruch beat a defender from the left side of the box and answered at 5:29 to make it 3-2. Thanks to good defensive plays by sophomore Dillon Robinson and a good save on Ian Shaw by freshman goalie Garth Buck (eight first-half stops), that score stood after the first period.
MMU stretched its lead to 6-2 during the second quarter on an early goal by Tucker White, who bulled through the slot, and two late scores by Haskins. The first of those came after Buck made two good stops on Shaw, but the second rebound bounced to Haskins for a scoop shot, and the second came on another roll through the slot.
The Tigers had a couple chances, but Bruch missed just wide twice from close range, and Doherty (eight saves) cleanly picked a point-blank bid by sophomore attacker Max Hare.
“We were knocking on the door in the first half, and we could have had two or three more goals,” Chapin said.
Second-half freshman goalie Cody Mannigan (eight saves) and the Tiger defense, notably sophomores Steel White and Wren Hobbs as well as Robinson, held the Cougars at bay for five minutes, and the Tigers cut the lead to three. Senior middie Ben Doria picked up a ground ball and ran most of the length of the field before dishing to Myhre for a goalmouth score at 7:33.
But MMU answered with another three-goal spurt in less than a minute. Greg Daniel dodged in at 6:45, and after consecutive faceoff wins Shaw did the same at 5:57 and 5:47, and it was suddenly 9-3.
Late in the period the teams exchanged goals. Myhre set up cutting sophomore middie Jesse Otis, and Dan Bowie struck from long range for MMU.
Each team scored twice in the fourth. Dan Richedei made it 11-4 early on, and at 3:14 Doria again made a long run and a successful dish, this time to Bruch. At 2:31, junior middie Andrew Schumer took a feed from Myhre and found the lower left corner, and then Shaw capped the scoring for MMU.
Afterward, Chapin said he would have liked to see his re-united team operate more smoothly, but said he expects a little work will smooth out the rough edges.
“With a couple of practices with guys all back and playing as a team, we can pull it together,” he said.