BENNINGTON -- Mount Anthony Union High School girls lacrosse coach Tom Otero didn't care much that Champlain Valley only had one win entering Wednesday's Division I playdown game.
He knew that looks can be deceiving.
"One thing we told the girls was is that yeah, they have one win, but it only takes one win to move on," Otero said.
His players heeded the message, and behind a combined nine goals from senior Emily Cross (5) and freshman Emily Altland (4), the No. 4 Patriots cruised to a comfortable 18-9 decision over the No. 13 Redhawks.
MAU hit for two goals inside the first three minutes, with Erica Hale (3 goals) and Altland getting in the books, then after a goal from CVU's Anne Keen cut the deficit in half with 17:14 left in the first half, MAU went on a 6-1 run over the rest of the period to take an 8-2 lead to halftime.
"I thought we came out strong," said Cross, who also had two assists in the win. "I thought we passed the ball around really well and we did well on the draw. I don't think our intensity died down at all, and our goalies had a really good game so that helped, too."
Junior Sam Mayer, who played the first 25 minutes in the cage for MAU, stopped eight shots in the first half to keep CVU at bay.
Altland scored three of her four goals in the first half, and afterwards Otero was full of praise for his freshman.
"[Altland] is one of those girls that has a good handle on her stick skills, and as a result it rolls over on the offensive side," Otero said. "She has a lot of assists. She is the highest-scoring freshman I have ever had in my program.
In the second half, CVU came out and scored first with goals by Megan Gannon and Keen to trim the lead to 8-5 with 23:45 left, but MAU responded in fashion by stringing together six-straight goals over a 10 minute period, including two by Cross, to take a lead that was never threatened.
"I think [those goals] fired us up," Cross said. "When they scored that goal, to me, I'm like ‘OK, I'm going to go score five now.' They scored one and we wanted to score five. I think it made us dig deeper.
Up 14-5, the Patriots suffered from a few mental lapses that allowed CVU to score two-straight to cut the deficit to seven, but the overall resolve of MAU made sure the lead never dipped below that as they rolled through to the finish.
"Our defense stepped up a lot today and helped us, which is good," Cross said.
"That core group of lower defenders, they work hard at stopping the ball and doing good things," Otero added. "We work on pressure defense and stick location, [Catherine Lyons] had a number of knockdowns, Sam Cross is one of my top ground ball leaders, as is Carly Rogers, who is a first-year senior. Rosie [West] is very good with her stick and she knocked down a number of balls on passes."
Otero also noted the contributions of Claire Taub, who has been asked to slide between the midfield and defense, and freshman Munroe Ports, one of four freshman that saw significant playing time on Wednesday.
Leah Olansky stopped four shots in the second half for MAU, while Bailee Pudvar stopped nine shots for CVU in the game. Keen, Gannon and Molly Dunphy each had two goals for CVU in the loss and Alexis Wright added two goals in the second half for MAU.
The Patriots now advance to play No. 12 Essex on Friday at home. The Hornets upset No. 5 Middlebury on Wednesday. Friday's game will start at 4:30 p.m.