Patriots power past Rebels for semifinal berth
BENNINGTON >> They might have been the No. 2 seed coming in, but the Mount Anthony girls lacrosse team was still looked at as the underdog in their Division I quarterfinals matchup against South Burlington.
Embracing that role to its fullest potential, the Patriots showed on Thursday why they were near the top of the division in the regular season with a dominating performance, beating the No. 7 seed Rebels 16-5 to advance to the semifinals.
Right off the bat, the Patriots seized control, when Bridget Ahearn and Avery Galle scored back-to-back goals in the first two minutes of the game to give MAU the early lead.
That start segued to juniors Emily Altland and Brianna Zipprich taking over the game for MAU.
First it was Altland, coming off a six-goal game against rival Burr and Burton, powered her way into the Rebels' zone and fired in a shot into the net that extended the Patriots lead to three.
Then after Altland dished out a pretty pass to Zipprich who banked one in to make it 4-0. The two juniors traded goals again soon after and the Patriots were up a half-dozen with less than 10 minutes gone.
"Coming into this game we knew that the rankings didn't matter and that people were [going to] give teams from the north like South Burlington an advantage over us, so we knew we had to come out and play hard from the start to advance," said MAU coach Whitney Brooks. "We got off to a hot start and I think that gave the girls confidence that, hey, we can play with this team and from there, it was just playing our game and showing how good of a team we are."
South Burlington finally got on the board at the 14:33 mark of the first half, but that just upped the ante for the Patriots, as Ahearn scored her second goal of the half, followed up by Zipprich and Altland score both their third goals of the half to make it 9-1.
Freshman Natalie Jelley later scored her only goal to send the game to the break at 10-3.
In the second half, Altland continued the onslaught by scoring the first goal of the half and then after Ahearn joined the hat trick party to make it 12-3, Altland powered through the Rebels' defense and scored a fifth goal, giving the Patriots a 13-3 lead.
"I was able to find the open lanes in their defense and took advantage of the scoring opportunities I got from there," Altland said. "Also as a team we got a lot of free position opportunities off their penalties, so having some free position shots on net were big for me and the team too."
Three of Altland's goals came from free position shots.
The Patriots extended their lead up to 13 at one point as Ahearn goals four and five after Zipprich scored her fourth of the day.
"Our offense knows how to move well through the zones and knows how to attack a defense and put it on its heels," Ahearn said. "With the amount of good shooters we have on this offense, we can score goals from anywhere and that's why have been so successful this year."
The Rebels scored two goals for the final margin, but as the seconds ticked down, the story was MAU and their dominant win to advance to their second semifinal in three seasons.
"I am so proud of this team and how hard they have worked all season to get into this position of being now one game away from making it to the finals," Brooks said. "We are a very talented team and the best part is that the whole team is focused on always getting better and working together to get better. They have been a joy to coach and I'm looking forward to seeing how we do in the semifinals."
Goaltender Carly Plaisance had a fairly easy day in net, making five saves for the victory.
With the win, MAU improves to 14-2 on the season.
The Patriots will now host the winner of No. 3 CVU and No. 6 BBA in the semifinals on Tuesday at 4 p.m.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.