By Tommy Gardner
The Division 1 girls high school lacrosse title game featured a lot of running and infrequent whistle-blowing and Middlebury used both to its advantage, outlasting Champlain Valley Union to win a second straight championship last week.
For a while, it looked like CVU was going to run away with the game scoring four straight goals from four different players — Becca Provost, Mia Brumsted, Natalie Durieux and Lydia Maitland — in the opening 10 minutes of the game.
That full-throttle approach was suddenly gummed up as Middlebury scored six straight.
After the game, Middlebury senior Andi Boe told the Burlington Free Press, “Once we got to 4-4 it was a 0-0 game.”
Some of that same CVU aggressiveness that put the team up early was evident when it was suddenly put back on its heels, and that aggression cost them, as half of Middlebury’s six straight goals came from free position shots, the lacrosse equivalent of basketball free throws.
Scoring two of those free shots was Isabel Rosenberg, who led all scorers with six goals on the day.
“The calls were what they were, but I felt like we weren’t being able to play our aggressive game, and it was frustrating. Our players were ‘can we still continue our type of game?’” CVU coach Tucker Pierson said. “Still, you just can’t foul Isabel Rosenberg within 8 feet.”
The Redhawks fought back to send the teams to the locker room deadlocked at 7-7, thanks to a six-minute hat trick from Cate Noel. The junior netted her first goal with 6:47 left in the first half and her third one with 26 seconds left.
“She was just so fiery, and she played great,” Pierson said, noting a similar situation had ensued during the last meeting of the two teams, only that time is senior captain Lydia Maitland bailing the Redhawks out.
The first seven minutes of the second half was a different game. No scoring from the athletes, practically no whistles from the refs, but plenty of poetic, fluid arcs and dekes.
Knotted at seven apiece, memories of the high octane first-half faded quickly.
Rosenberg broke the offensive standstill, scoring twice in less than half a minute.
But almost as quickly CVU tied it up again, 9-9, off a free shot by Noel and a second goal from Provost. The trend continued a couple of minutes later as, once again, the Tigers and Redhawks exchanged goals, first by Middlebury’s Ella Nagy-Benson and right after by CVU’s Maitland.
That was it for the back-and-forth ties, though. Perhaps all the running left CVU without enough gas in the tank for the final minutes, as the Tigers scored three unanswered to secure their ninth title.
In retrospect Pierson said she thinks maybe she could have had the girls running more in the last couple of weeks, or maybe she could have subbed-in more bench players to give the starters a breath.
“We rely so much from those girls on the field, and we have a great bench, but I just couldn’t get them out there,” she said. “Still, I’m glad it was such a good game.”