A 6-1 deficit against a solid (15-3) second-seeded South Burlington High boys’ lacrosse team in the championship contest might not be a Mount Everest sized task, but nevertheless presents a whopper of a challenge.
Playing for the Division 1 Vermont Interscholastic Championship at Castleton State College’s Spartan Stadium Saturday, coach Dave Trevithick and his Champlain Valley Union High Redhawks (17-1) were up to the demanding test as they rallied for an 11-8 triumph and a third title in the last four Junes, all here on Spartan Stadium turf.
“We love this place,” said a smiling Trevithick at game’s end while his charges performed the traditional championship pile-on at midfield. CVU’s previous crowning achievements here came at the expense of Essex High last year and in 2011.
The Redhawks’ scoring was produced by underclassmen. Sophomore Matt Palmer deposited a game-high five goals while junior Elliott Mitchell logged four. Sophomore Dylan Schaefer and junior Hoyt McCuin each tallied once.
McCuin and others, however, were quick to praise the leadership of the seniors (seven on the roster) for preventing panic and keeping the team focused as the Rebels grabbed a 6-1 lead while nothing was going right for CVU.
South Burlington took control from the game’s opening seconds, scoring a minute and 24 seconds in on a shot by Willy Champagne. Just 25 seconds later, the Rebels’ Kyle Murakami made it 2-0.
CVU’s attempts at recovery went askew due to costly turnovers. There was a little more than six minutes remaining in the quarter before the Redhawks were able to even get off a shot at—not on—the South Burlington net.
After the Rebels went up 3-0, Mitchell got the Hawks on the board with a blast from the left side with 8.3 seconds left in the reel. McCuin drew the assist.
But not much changed in the ownership of territory in the first minutes of the second period as South Burlington’s Cam Nolting (he beat the Hawks with a late goal early in the season) scored twice and Avery added a marker to extend the Rebels’ lead to a fearsome five goals.
At this point, the CVU backers could legitimately wonder what had happened to the usual CVU lightning strike offense. As it turned out, the Hawks were about to go to Code Red.
The blitz was starting.
With exactly three minutes left in the half, Mitchell cut through the South Burlington defense to the front of the net and let fly with a zapper that made it 6-2.
It was the first shot in flurry of three scores in 26 seconds. Palmer snapped in a goal at 2:50 and followed with another at 2:34. Steele DuBrul assisted on the first and Mitchell the second.
DuBrul was a critical performer in another way. The senior captain won all three face offs after the scores to allow CVU to maintain control of the ball and the vital momentum.
“The last time we played (South Burlington), I had a bad day,” DuBrul said. “So I did what I had to do.”
“There was a momentum shift in that second quarter,” Palmer told WCAX-TV. And how.
With DuBrul continuing to win face offs and with help from senior co-captain Alex Bulla and others on loose balls and scrums resulting from the action, the Redhawks still watched South Burlington get the first score in the second half for a 7-4 advantage.
But the hungry Hawks were in serious wing flapping mode and eyeing prey.
Palmer and Mitchell scored before the third period was over, with sophomore Griffin DiParlo assisting on both goals.
Just 44 seconds into the final stanza, Palmer potted a rebound to tie the score for the first time, 7-7. Less than two minutes later, at 9:35, Jackson Hall put the Rebels back in front with a long blast.
But CVU was rolling in all facets of the game. DuBrul and the Hawks won the following face off and Palmer tied it 8-8 at 9:03, assist to McCuin. McCuin then gave the Redhawks the lead for the first time with 8:15 to go on a long bomb and Schaefer popped in a goal some three minutes later to put CVU ahead, 10-8.
By now, if the fat lady wasn’t singing, she was at least starting to hum.
The tightened Redhawks’ defense was giving up nothing in the way of scoring opportunities and after a Trevithick-requested time out with 4:12 remaining, CVU controlled the remainder of the game with Mitchell adding the final goal at 2:52.
Trevithick said South Burlington came out in a zone to start the game and that plus turnovers caused some difficulties for the Redhawks before they finally got things smoothed out.
“South Burlington is always a tough opponent,” said Mitchell, noting that a difficult game was expected.
Owen Hudson had 14 saves in the CVU net while his Rebel counterpart Mike Blauvelt made nine stops.
Hudson spent the halftime break in his net working on stops while an assistant coach peppered him with shots. Hudson had six goals get by him in the first half, but only two found the inside of the cage after intermission.
The lacrosse fight in the Spartan corral was set when CVU rapped Middlebury Union 16-6 in a home semifinal while South Burlington took out Woodstock Union, 10-5 in its home semi.
Palmer’s five goals in the title tilt give him 40 for the season and the team lead. Mitchell finished with 38 after adding his quartet of pointers…. Nolting’s two scores lifted his Rebels-leading total to 55.
The victory was CVU’s 14th in a row. The only loss was a 9-8 squeaker at South Burlington in the campaign’s early days. The Redhawks got even in Hinesburg, 11-6.
The game was played under idyllic weather