May 26, 2011By Mal Boright Observer correspondent
With its hopes of an undefeated season dashed last Saturday by a defensive-minded Essex unit, the Champlain Valley Union boys lacrosse team took a still gaudy 13-1 record into Wednesday’s (Observer press time) home finale with Mount Mansfield Union.
The Redhawks close out the regular campaign on Saturday with an 11 a.m. fixture at Burlington High School.
The defending Division I champion Essex Hornets buzzed into the Redhawks’ nest last Saturday morning having bowed, 10-8, to CVU in a game staged at Burlington High School’s synthetic turf last month. That was, and remains, the 11-2 Hornets lone in-state loss.
CVU came into the fray with 13 straight wins, having racked up 56 goals in its previous three outings.
But Essex quickly slowed down the hard-running CVU offense to grind out a 7-6 victory, the first time this season the Hawks failed to notch 10 or more scores.
Nevertheless, The Redhawks scored first. Reliable attacker Nate Wells popped the first of his three pointers, with an assist from Taylor Gingras, after midfielder Jeff Palmer recovered a loose ball to set up the offensive thrust. There was 6:43 left in the reel.
The Hornets then sent a message, knotting the game just 38 seconds later on an Owen Walsh long, bouncing shot from 30 feet.
The patient, ball-moving Hornets controlled the second period and grabbed a 3-1 advantage midway through the session, which became 4-2 at intermission. CVU’s Lawrence Dee notched the first of his two goals to get the Hawks to within 3-2 before Hornets sophomore James Olson scored the second of his two tallies out of a pile up in front of busy CVU netminder Eric Palmer with 1:36 remaining in the half.
Outshot and outplayed in the first half – Essex controlled loose balls and had the crisper passing – CVU rallied after the break and forged a 5-5 deadlock 52 seconds into the final segment when Wells converted another sharp pass from Gingras.
But after the tie, Essex again responded in less than two minutes when Thomas Vonzo punched a loose ball into the CVU cage. Just over a minute later, senior Ben Adams scored his second goal and Essex was back up by two, 7-5.
CVU came back to within a goal with 3:42 left on Wells’ third net finder after a solid rush and pass from Robbie Dobrowski.
The ball-hawking Hornets controlled the next two minutes. CVU had some opportunities over the final minute and a half but could not find the range.
Eric Palmer, who had 12 stops in the first half, wound up with 16. Pat Abbott had 14 in the Hornets’ cage.
“Every time we play CVU it is a close contest,” said Essex coach Dean Corkum, who added that his youthful team coming into the season has shown steady progress.
Last Wednesday, Gingras got loose for six goals and a pair of assists while Dee popped three scores and helped out on five others as the Hawks whacked Middlebury on the road, 16-1. Dobrowski, Wells and Nick Spencer each had two goals apiece.