Thursday May 9, 2013
BENNINGTON -- Forty seconds remained.
In a matchup of two of the state's top Division I boys lacrosse teams on Wednesday, Mount Anthony Union High School had a one-goal lead against a Woodstock squad playing for the last shot.
And as it's been for most of the season for MAU, the defense came up with a game-saving play when it needed one the most.
Senior Ben Vadakin's timely check and Ben Faller's sprawling save propelled Mount Anthony to a 6-5 victory at the Vets Home Field.
"We were man down at the end, so I told the guys to play tight and show high because [Woodstock] had overloaded down low," said Mount Anthony (7-1) coach Paul Reif. "We did that so our long poles could get back where they were overloading. A defender slipped, but Ben was there for a great save."
The final 90 seconds were filled with drama. Each team committed turnovers, first the Wasps, then MAU. Patriot defender Alex Altland was called for a penalty, giving possession to Woodstock, but Vadakin used a poke check to disrupt Wasps' leading scorer Hunter Schnell, then Faller made one of his dozen saves.
"It just wasn't me, it was my team and defense," Vadakin said. "We kept our head on a swivel and kept looking for the ball and stuck together to the end. Ben is a great goalie, he'll do anything for this team."
Woodstock (5-2) coach Brandon Little said a play was sent in, but was doomed from the start.
"We had a play set up but we didn't execute and MAU pressed us on our hands," Little said. "If it wasn't a perfect pass, it wasn't staying in our sticks. They pressed us, we didn't do the fundamentals to get open and they took the ball from us."
Mount Anthony had 37 ground balls, led by Nick Altland's seven. Woodstock had 34.
Tied, 5-5, as regulation ticked away, Woodstock drew a penalty for an illegal body check on Nick Altland with 2:55 left. The Patriots took over on the man-up opportunity and took immediate advantage when Layne Trafton, usually the main set-up man for MAU, fired a rocket shot past the Wasps' goaltender for the lead.
"Layne is so unselfish, he's had more assists than goals but he's one of the best shots on the team," Reif said. "His shot was excellent, the goalie was screened a little, but it came from the restraining box, the angle was like skipping a rock over a pond."
Scoring was hard to come by as a persistent rain fell, mucking up the field. After a sloppy start, Damon Young scored both first-quarter goals for the Patriots to grab a 2-1 lead. But McCarthy tallied twice in the second quarter to put Woodstock ahead 3-2 at halftime.
In the third, after a MAU goal was disallowed, Avery Peck came back with a score off a Jeremiah Colbath assist to tie with 7:22 left.
"Individually we have a lot of good players, but they've bought into the unit-first drive," Reif said.
Mount Anthony took a two-goal lead with 9:12 left -- Young taking a feed from Briar Wilkinson.
But the Wasps mounted a methodical comeback. McCarthy scored off a Schnell assist from behind the net to make it 5-4, then Schnell tied it with 5:08 remaining by getting out in transition before the Mount Anthony defense could set itself.
"We have to play them again -- this is far from over," Reif said. "[Being] 7-1 is nice, now they have to keep up the momentum through the home stretch."