MAU boys lacrosse falls to CVU in D-I quarterfinals

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BENNINGTON — The game started like a daydream, but it ended in a nightmare.

The Mount Anthony Union High School boys lacrosse team got off to a near-perfect start in Friday's Division I quarterfinal contest against No. 6 Champlain Valley, but the Redhawks rallied in the second quarter and never looked back en route to a 13-8 decision over the No. 3 Patriots.

"CVU just started pressuring us a little bit more," said MAU coach Paul Reif. "I feel like they — they didn't get in our heads but they started to just play harder. We had a little lapse there, the ball started getting off the ground, we didn't win the face-offs or the ground balls, and that's where it changed."

MAU's hot start came after giving up the opening goal. With CVU scoring under a minute into the game, MAU pulled even with 9:26 in the first when Matt Surdam picked out Damon Young for one of his four goals on the day. Young then followed it up with another after Nick Altland won the draw and fed his senior classmate, then goals from Briar Wilkinson and Matt Pellon made it 4-1 with four minutes to play in the first.

CVU, though, got a goal from Elliott Mitchell before the end of the first, then after a scoreless first five minutes of the second the Redhawks poured in four goals to re-take the lead, starting with a nice finish by Dylan Schaefer.

"I think getting off the bus is always hard, so once you start moving the ball around and feeling the game, the adrenaline gets you," said CVU coach Dave Trevithick. "When you get down like that, you know you have to do something to get up, all it takes is one person to do something nice and everyone jumps on board. That was Schaefer's goal, and as soon as he hit that in everyone was like 'here we go.'"

CVU also made a key change defensively. After Chris Gronlund shipped the four goals to start, Trevithick went to Matt Murakami for the rest of the game.

"It's easy to hang your head after you give up four, but then we put in Matt in the second and did such a great job of stopping balls," said Trevithick. "That made a difference."

Young stopped the bleeding for MAU when he picked up his own saved shot and tucked in the rebound, but then CVU answered 30 seconds later when Mitchell hit Charlie Bernicke, then with 12 seconds to go in the half Griffin DiParlo hit to make it 8-5.

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"We started off hot, but we knew they were going to come back," said Young. "We didn't know they were going to come on that hard. Yeah, we expected it, but we just didn't play our game."

In the second half, CVU scored the first two goals of the period — one each from DiParlo and Bernicke — to make it 10-5. MAU pulled the two back through Young and Wilkinson, but the Redhawks again scored with under a minute to go in a period, this time from Schaefer.

"We are a great team, I knew we'd rebound and wouldn't quit, and we didn't," said Reif. "It just turned out that they were getting the bounces, and that's the game. I truly believe that first quarter is who we were and we were the better team today, but things started bouncing the other way. They took advantage of it, you have to give them credit."

In the fourth, CVU smothered the ball on offense and put up two more goals to make it 13-7 with 2:22 to go. Hunter Davis scored his lone goal for MAU with 1:39 left, but by then it was too little, too late for the comeback.

"It was very frustrating," Young said about the second half. "We had no time of possession, we couldn't get anything going. Nothing was falling our way."

Mitchell had four goals and an assist for CVU in the win. Murakami stopped 12 shots in this three quarters of work, while Jackson Thibodeau stopped nine for MAU. The loss ends MAU's season at 12-5, while CVU advances to the D-I semifinals on Monday.

The loss marked the end of eight MAU player careers — Young, Wilkinson, Surdam, Altland, Will Buckley, Ben Prandini, Jordan Griffin and Vince Pagan — and the conclusion of Reif's tenure at MAU. With the MAU group full of emotions after the game, Reif opened up about the somber ending.

"I think the program is really getting up there, teams have to fear us now," said Reif. "In lacrosse, there is always that north-south bias, but that's bull. Did they win today? Yes they did. A few things went their way that didn't go ours, but I feel that we as a team, as a program, proved something today. I'm proud of these guys. This is what makes it so hard that I won't be back. It's hard. They are great kids, I'm more upset for them that it's not continuing for them because they deserve it."

Contact Geoff Smith at 802-447-7567, ext. 120.


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