Simply call the Castleton State lacrosse turf “the place where old pals meet.”
Certainly that is true in the case of Champlain Valley Union High and Essex High boys lacrosse combines.
The two friendly but formidable Division 1 foes last met there in the 2011 championship contest and CVU pulled out a thrilling overtime victory under the lights.
Monday, top-seeded Essex and sixth-seeded CVU tangled again for the crown and coach Dave Trevithick’s Redhawks came away with a 7-6 triumph in the anticipated thriller for their second title in three seasons.
The Hornets took both regular season contests 14-8 and 6-5 to capture “the bucket” for a second straight spring. The Bucket is an old helmet once worn by Trevithick, which was put up last year to go to the winner of each regular season series between the teams.
On Monday, CVU, 14-5, struck early to carry a 4-1 lead into halftime and 5-2 by the end of the third period. But the Hornets, 15-2 coming in, were far from finished, having averaged double digits in offense.
Keenan Weischedel and Bradan Merrill got through the sticky CVU defense to pull Essex to 5-4 with eight minutes left in regulation. The Hornets appeared to have momentum, but CVU had an answer as Nevin DiParlo popped home a score past Essex netminder Pat Abbott (five saves) to restore a two-goal lead.
The tension grew as Essex again got back to within a score, but the Redhawks’ Alex Bulla unleashed a tally with under three minutes remaining and CVU was up again by a deuce.
Essex’ Luc LeBlanc scored at 1:12 to keep the final minute tense.
Bulla finished with two goals and three assists. Diparlo, Steele DuBrul, Matt Palmer, Hoyt McCuin and Eliot Mitchell each scored a goal. DuBrul and Mitchell were also credited with two helpers apiece.
Goalie Owen Hudson, who passed up a seminar at the Air Force Academy to be between the posts in the CVU cage, had eight stops.
The two finalists earned their Castleton trip by giving some lessons to southern Vermont hopefuls. Essex clubbed fourth-seeded Brattleboro Union High 15-4 while the Redhawks easily handled second-seeded 15-2 Mount Anthony Union 12-3 at Williams College.
Mitchell was all over the place in the Williamstown, Mass. setting, uncorking three goals and assisting on five others. Bulla snared a trio of scores and helped on another while DiParlo and Palmer had two goals each.
Hudson made 10 saves. CVU fired 22 shots at the Patriots’ net.
—Mal Boright, Observer correspondent