By Mal Boright
Coach Dave Trevithick and his Champlain Valley Union High boys lacrosse team are returning to Castleton State College and the turf field on which they have captured two Vermont Division 1 championships in the past three Junes.
The Redhawks, after title wins over Essex High last year and in 2011, this year will tangle with South Burlington High. While top-seeded CVU was popping Middlebury Union 16-6 Tuesday in the semifinals, the Rebels, second-seeded, rapped third seed Woodstock Union High, 10-5.
The 16-1 defending champs suffered their lone loss 9-8 at South Burlington on April 16. The Redhawks evened matters with an 11-6 victory May 9 on the Hinesburg grass.
As of Wednesday press time, the date and time of the foes’ third and ultimate match of the season was to be determined by the Vermont Principals Association.
As the game at CVU opened Tuesday afternoon, the question was: could the Redhawks fend off a Middlebury team that took big leads and came within a very late goal of CVU just a few days ago in the regular season finale at the Hinesburg lax pad?
In that game, the Tigers were up 5-1 before the shock set in. Tuesday, it was the Redhawks with a 6-1 first quarter lead, which became 9-5 by halftime.
CVU midfielder and co-captain Steele DuBrul said the Redhawks needed to, and did, open strong after not doing so in the earlier contest against the fifth-seeded visitors.
Any lingering Middlebury ambitions for a late rally were squelched at the opening of the final period. With CVU in front 12-6, DuBrul won the opening face off, hot-footed down field deep into Tiger territory and flipped a quick pass to a waiting Matt Palmer, who deposited it cleanly into the cage. Palmer cashed in four goals for the day.
That pretty much dood it, as Middlebury had no response.
The DiParlo brothers were among CVU scoring leaders with senior co-captain Nevin accounting for four scores and sophomore Griffin adding two.
Hoyt McCuin was a big offensive presence with four assists and a tally. Elliott Mitchell bagged two scores and two assists. Dylan Schaefer and Alex Bulla also found the scoring range, each with a goal.
CVU cage protector Owen Hudson made seven saves to eight for the Tigers’ Nathan Lalonde.
Getting past Essex was, well, a piece of work.
The final piece came with just 15 seconds remaining in regulation when Schaeffer put the kibosh to the Hornets’ upset hopes and assured the Redhawks’ presence in the semifinal with a well-timed thrust into and shot from center area in front of the Essex goal.
It was the sophomore scrambler’s fourth score of the tense afternoon. He also had a pair of assists.
It was a trap game for the usually rampaging Redhawks, who tagged the Hornets with a 16-2 bashing in the season-opener at the University of Vermont. The second meeting in mid-May at Essex was a different matter, as CVU rolled to a 5-1 edge at halftime but then had to hang on for a 6-4 victory as the improving Blue and Gold got its usually stubborn defense geared up.
The Hornets’ final 7-10 record is deceptive when one considers the quarterfinal down-to-the-wire effort seen here Friday.
“They are tough,” said CVU midfielder and co-captain Bulla, noting that this game was like most against the traditional foe the Redhawks always must go through to advance to the top rung of the postseason.
The Hornets led 5-3 at halftime, but CVU came on strong in the third period with the pesky Schaeffer getting CVU within 5-4 with a sidewinder missile-type shot some three minutes into the second half. Schaeffer tied it at 5 about two minutes later after getting a set-up pass from Mitchell.
With 1:34 left in the quarter, CVU got a 6-5 lead when sophomore Griffin DiParlo, standing just in front of the Essex goal but with his back to it, took a Schaeffer pass, spread his legs and executed a blind, rear shot that zipped into the net to the surprise of all.
Essex tied the contest at 6-all early in the final reel. The desperation of both teams resulted in defiant defenses, allowing rare scoring opportunities until CVU got the ball and called a time out with 1:20 left. The Redhawks then controlled the sphere until Schaeffer popped it into the Hornets’ cage.
CVU boys lax win semifinals, shoot for crown
By Mal Boright
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