BENNINGTON -- In a battle of two of the top attacking trios in the state, the Brattleboro group of Sam Siegel, Brennen Zolnoski and Tanner Freeman outdueled Mount Anthony Union High School's Avery Peck, Layne Trafton and Damon Young to give the Colonels a key 19-15 Marble Valley League win in lacrosse at the Veteran's Home Field on Friday afternoon.
"I think [our teams] are kind of mirror images of each other, we both have strong attacks," Brattleboro coach Chris Sawyer said. "Like Paul talks about his team, we need our attack to set the tone for us."
And Siegel and Zolnoski, in particular, made sure that tone was set as Siegel registered 10 points (4 goals, 6 assists) and Zolnoski added eight goals, four in either half, to seal the win.
"They out-hustled us the entire game and won the ground balls, that's what did it," said MAU coach Paul Reif. "I thought we had a good gameplan, but we weren't communicating on defense and we weren't hustling to get the ground balls, we were beat by a team that wanted it more than us."
But, MAU nearly pulled a comeback out of its hat in the fourth quarter.
After goals by Conner Elliott-Knaggs and Kyle Patno put Brattleboro up 18-10 with 10 minutes to play, the Patriots found sings of life when Nick Altland found Trafton for a goal that started five-straight tallies for MAU, with Young, Altland, Peck and Matt Pellon all finding the back of the cage to trim the lead to 18-15 with 3:04 to play.
It was too little, too late, though.
Brattleboro came back down the field and MAU goalie Jackson Thibodeau (11 saves) somehow stopped a point-blank effort from Siegel to keep the score the same, but Brattleboro kept the pressure up and after trying to run the clock out, Siegel struck one more time with seven seconds left to seal the win.
"We just needed to win a faceoff and finish the game," Sawyer said. "We have a lot of respect for MAU and they are never out of it. We needed the faceoff, not another goal. We just had to keep our composure."
"It was the character of our team, the heart of our team," Reif said of the attempted rally. "It's our senior leaders, our experienced guys. They don't want to accept a loss. In lacrosse, you can come back from anything. Being down eight was tough. We got our five goals back, but they put one in late."
And in a game that was filled with goals, the teams exchanged leads early before Brattleboro took the lead for good in the second quarter.
MAU opened the scoring in the first through Damon Young, but Brattleboro answered with two straight, one by Siegel and the other by Zolnoski, to go back up. Going into the second, the score was tied 3-3.
Altland opened the scoring in the second on an unassisted effort to put MAU up 4-3, but again Brattleboro answered, this time through Zolnoski. His goal sparked a run of four-straight to give Brattleboro a 7-4 lead.
"Their attack is always good," Reif said of the Colonels. "Sam Siegel is one of the best attackers in the state. [Zolnoski], we didn't see him last year but he is good, very good."
Each team would add a pair of goals to send the teams into halftime with Brattleboro up 9-6.
In the third, Brattleboro opened the lead up to 14-7 on a goal from Jack Gagnon. The teams went into the fourth with Brattleboro up 16-10, setting up the final frame that saw six goals scored in the last eight minutes.
Thibodeau registered a valiant day in goal. Although the Patriots let 18 in, Thibodeau was able to stop shots when he got clean looks at them.
"He has been clutch all season and he was clutch today," Reif said of his freshman goalie. "Defensive breakdowns happen with a defense this young. These are kinks we have to work out before playoff time."
Thibodeau's opposite, Ian Cebek, stopped seven shots in the win.
Briar Wilkinson ended with three goals and an assist for MAU, while Peck had two goals and an assist. Altland had three goals and two assists and Young added three goals for MAU. For Brattleboro, Gagnon and Freeman each had three goals while Freeman added two assists.
MAU falls to 3-5 while Brattleboro moves to 5-1. MAU returns to action on Tuesday at home against Burr and Burton Academy.