October 25, 2014

CVU gains second seed in hockey playoffs

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A 9-3-1 regular season record was good enough for the Champlain Valley Union High’s field hockey team to pick off second seed in the Division 1 postseason playoffs, which began this week.

Coach Kate McDonald’s Redhawks will swing into action Friday.

Due to wet field conditions at CVU, the Redhawks will move their home quarterfinal playoff game to Middlebury College Friday with a 5 p.m. start time. Middlebury has a turf playing surface.

The team will meet seventh-seeded Mount Mansfield Union (5-6-2) after Mount Mansfield defeated Colchester High 1-0 in a Tuesday playoff. Mount Mansfield is seventh seed with 6-6-1 record.

During the season, CVU divided two contests with Mount Mansfield.

The Redhawks’ final game of the regular season last Thursday at Middlebury Union was canceled due to weather.

—Mal Boright, Observer correspondent

State meet next for CVU harriers

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The Champlain Valley Union High girls cross country team will be out to defend its Vermont state crown Saturday and the boys will be out to move into contention during the ups and downs of the familiar five-kilometer course at Thetford.

Last Saturday, in the northern districts at Missisquoi Valley Union High in Swanton, CVU runners earned victories in both the girls and boys divisions. The girls team took a solid triumph, and the boys grabbed third behind winner South Burlington High and runner-up Essex High.

The girls finished with 31 points, compared to 61 for second place Essex. The third place boys came in with 52 points with South Burlington taking first with 29 to Essex’s 43.

Sophia Gorman won the girls’ event in 18 minutes and 47.7 seconds over second place Caroline O’Shea of St. Johnsbury Academy. Her time was 19:07.8.

The Redhawks’ Tyler Marshall’s winning time of 16:20.1 was four seconds better than that of runner-up Sean MacDonald of South Burlington.

CVU’s runners in the top 10 behind Gorman included Carly Neeld (third), Meara Heininger (seventh) and Emma Putre (ninth).

Calvin McClellan took seventh behind Marshall in the boys’ race.

—Mal Boright, Observer correspondent

CVU boys in soccer playoffs as fifth seed

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To gain another shot at the Division 1 Championship game, the 10-3-1 Champlain Valley Union High boys soccer team will have to come roaring out of the fifth seed in the Vermont Principals’ Association playoff rankings.

The Redhawks opened the title quest Wednesday (Observer press time) on the home pitch against visiting 12th-seeded Burlington High. The Redhawks nipped the Seahorses at home early in the campaign and then played to a scoreless deadlock on the BHS turf later.

A victory over Burlington would send CVU against either fourth-seeded Burr and Burton Academy (11-3-0) or 13th-seeded Hartford High (4-9-1) Saturday. The game would be at 2 p.m. in Manchester if Burr and Burton was the winner.

Top seed went to 12-0-1 South Burlington High. Mount Anthony Union High of Bennington (11-2-1) grabbed second seed and Essex High (11-2-1) was third.

Following a 1-0 defeat at Essex High a week ago last Saturday, CVU coach Katie Mack vowed to make some moves to generate additional scoring power for the Redhawks.

Whatever the changes were, the Hawks found their boom.

The goals came in bunches with a 6-0 home triumph over visiting Bellows Free Academy of St. Albans last Wednesday and a 4-1 victory at Mount Mansfield Union Saturday.

In the BFA game, senior forward Richard Baccei went all offensive zone dynamo, scoring three times and assisting on two others. Speedy Max Brown knocked in a pair of tallies and chalked up an assist, while Zach Akey also pounded home a pointer.

At Mount Mansfield, the Redhawks trailed 1-0 at the half, but unleashed their rocket launcher, senior Patrick McCue, with a direct kick to tie the contest early in the second 40 minutes.

Baccei then got loose for two goals and Cooper O’Connell got the final net finder as the Hawks rolled away with the thumbs-upper with an 11-4 edge in shots on goal.

—Mal Boright, Observer correspondent

Grid playoff round takes CVU to Tigertown

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By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

Its foes have not lost a football game since the 2012 season, but the Champlain Valley Union High football team hopes to end that string Friday night when it travels to Middlebury to meet the top-seeded, 8-0 Middlebury Union High Tigers in an opening round playoff.

The eighth-seeded Redhawks, edged 41-34 by Bellows Free Academy in St. Albans last Friday night, finished the regular season with a 3-5 mark.

The defending Division 1 Tigers, playing at home, ripped Burlington High 51-0 Friday night.

“We are going to Middlebury to win,” said CVU head coach Jim Provost. “I am thinking that if we can fix some things defensively, we can play with anybody.”

The problem Friday night was the same as when the Redhawks met the Tigers at CVU’s homecoming a few weeks ago: giving up too many big plays.

When Middlebury came to Hinesburg, the Tigers scored a 48-21 victory with four first-half touchdowns coming on runs of 25 and 55 yards, a 61-yard scoring pass and a 95-yard interception return, which blended into a 41-7 halftime lead.

While Middlebury owned the end zones, the game statistics showed CVU with a 17-9 advantage in first downs and a 74-44 edge in plays from scrimmage. But, it is times in the end zone that decide games.

Running and passing quarterback Austin Robinson and diminutive but swift halfback Bobby Ritter led the Tigers on both sides of the ball.

At St. Albans, the Redhawks struck early for 14-0 and 21-6 leads. However, BFA’s ability to rip off long gains on wide sorties around the ends put the Bobwhites in eventual command. The demon dude was Robert Simon, who scampered for 183 yards in six carries. A trio of those came on lengthy, practically untouched jaunts, twice around left end and once down the right sideline.

BFA’s Robert Kelly rumbled for 96 yards overland, including a 53-yard burst with just over six minutes to go in the game to put BFA ahead for good. He had a previous scoring dash of 17 yards.

But the turf-thumping pacesetter of the night was CVU’s hardworking, line-shattering halfback Rich Lowrey, who set a Redhawk single-game record by barging through BFA would-be tacklers for 283 yards of real estate and four touchdowns. The six-pointers came on runs of 11, 38, 9 and 7 yards.

Provost praised the work of Lowrey and the offensive line that pushed some Bobwhites around to give him running room. The coach believes that the big night puts Lowrey in the exclusive club of 1,000 yards for the season, a probable CVU program first.

Sophomore Jake Evans was at the quarterback controls and had an early game nine-yard touchdown pass to end Trevor Kingston.

The winner in Middlebury would then meet either fifth-seeded Colchester High (6-2) or fourth-seeded Rutland High (5-3), who tangle Friday in Rutland.

Provost said that going into the week’s practice sessions the Redhawks appeared to be healthy and set to go for the Friday test.

Unbeaten CVU soccer girls have quarterfinal Friday on Middlebury turf

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Sierra Morton outplays a Mount Mansfield opponent during an Oct. 17 game, which the Redhawks won 3-0. (Observer photos by Al Frey(

Sierra Morton outplays a Mount Mansfield opponent during an Oct. 17 game, which the Redhawks won 3-0. (Observer photos by Al Frey(

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

High school soccer playoffs can be very tricky for the higher seeded teams.

But then, at times the higher seeded teams will dominate, as the second-seeded, three-time defending Division 1 champion Champlain Valley Union High girls soccer team did Tuesday, bopping 15th seeded Rutland High 11-0 on a wet and cool afternoon in the hills of Hinesburg.

And if the most challenging test of the day was the condition of the clay-based fields under the sprinkle from the skies, the challenge could be even greater come Friday with showers forecast through the start of the weekend.

The Redhawks next postseason foe will be seventh-seeded 9-5-1 Bellows Free Academy of St. Albans, a 3-1 opening round winner over 10th seeded North Country Union Tuesday. The game is set for 3 p.m. Friday at CVU with the winner moving on to the semifinals Tuesday.

For the Redhawks, the opening round victory moved their two-plus year winning string to 41 contests.

Many coaches believe when a high seeded team takes on an underdog in tournament play, the favored unit needs to score early and often to keep the foe from “getting uppity.”

CVU did exactly that, controlling play from the opening boot of the sphere and then posting the initial score in the third minute. Audrey Allegretta chalked up the marker with a 10-foot drive from a slick set-up pass from midfielder Paige DuBrul (two helpers total).

Less than a minute later, an Allegretta shot bounced off the cross bar and moments after that another CVU shot caromed off a post.

But with 27 minutes and 18 seconds left in the half, Megan Gannon took a pass from Lia Gagliuso (first of three assists) and put the Hawks up 2-0 to get the rout into gear.

Gannon scored again, Sierra Morton unleashed two tallies and Catherine Cazayoux nailed a goal as the Redhawks piled up a 6-0 lead by intermission.

After a Rutland own goal opened second half scoring, Cazayoux found the net for her second tally, Gagliuso scored and Sydnee Lyman found the range twice to finish it.

For the afternoon, CVU laid down a ringing 35-shot barrage on the Red Raiders’ net.

CVU goalies, at the quiet other end, had two saves. Starter Maddie Turneau had one and Michaela Flore in the closing 20 minutes made a stop.

Rutland left town with a 2-11-2 record.

CVU coach Stan Williams noted the wide victory margin allowed him to spread around a lot of players’ game minutes, even to the two members up from the unbeaten junior varsity.