Clutch plays vs. BFA put Redhawks in semis
June 11, 2009
By Mal Boright
The drama of the Champlain Valley Union High boys lacrosse postseason continued unabated Tuesday in Essex Junction until the defending state champion Essex High Hornets prevailed 7-5 with two fourth period goals in an engrossing Division 1 semifinal contest.
Observer photo by Greg Duggan
A swarm of Redhawk defenders converge on Nohea King of BFA St. Albans during the first quarter of Friday’s semifinal match-up in Hinesburg. Champlain Valley Union High scored a last minute goal to tie the game, then won 4-3 in overtime.
Observer photo by Greg Duggan
Tim Reichert (right) of CVU wins the opening face-off in the semifinal game against BFA St. Albans.
Essex, 13-5 after its third victory in three 2009 games against CVU, will advance to the championship contest this weekend against top-seeded South Burlington High. The Rebels defeated Middlebury Union High 11-5 Monday to make it to the title game for the first time in 16 years.
Coach Dave Trevithick’s Redhawks, who lost early in the season by a pair of scores in Essex and got flattened by the Hornets two weeks ago in Hinesburg, were at the top of their game in this all-the-marbles contest.
The two teams were tied 5-5 going into the final stanza. Essex got what proved to be the winning tally at 9:38 on Bill Hennessy’s first of two goals. Hennessy then added an empty net score at the one-minute mark when desperate CVU defenders were converging on the ball.
“They (Essex) are a strong and disciplined team,” said Trevithick. “We had chances but could not put the ball into the net.”
The loss left CVU with a 12-6 record for the season. It was the final game for 11 seniors, including tri-captains Ben Soll, Owen Smith and Tim Reichert.
Reichert, who won seven face-offs, his trademark, said the team’s game plan was to step things up at the defensive end; the Redhawks did so, holding down the Hornets after they had put 13 goals on the board in that recent win at the CVU field.
But the Hawks had their own problems putting the ball in the cage until after intermission. Trailing 4-2 at the half, CVU got on the board at 8:28 of the third period when Alex Hennessey advanced to the front of the Essex net and deposited the ball with a quick shot.
Essex then went back up 5-3, but CVU potted the next two scores, John Marston registering a pointer at 3:44 off a Nick Spencer assist, and at 0:31 on a Nate Wells shot after a pass from Sam Spencer.
Reichert then won the face-off and Owen Smith’s attempt to give CVU the lead was stopped by Essex goalie Sam Mattson.
Essex drew three penalties in the final reel, but CVU could not break through the Hornets’ defense while Essex got two scores.
Trevithick praised the Hornets play while a man down, noting, “They do that very well.”
Early goals for CVU came from Wes O’Brien on a first period side-to-side sortie in front of the Essex goal, and Sam Spencer. Nick Spencer had a pair of assists.
Soll, Cullen Millikin and Nate LaCroix were among those with some glittering moments on defense. The goalies for both teams had many difficult saves, Mattson coming up with 13 stops for the Hornets while CVU’s Eric Palmer had 11 rejections.
Also among seniors for whom this was their finale with the CVU lacrosse sticks were Max Valentine, O’Brien, Hennessey, Brady DeHayes, Timothy Davis, Sam Spencer, Dean Priest and Jake Thibault.
Priest, a leading scorer and passer, was sidelined after suffering a concussion in the quarterfinal win over Bellows Free Academy of St. Albans.
Comeback win over BFA
Game story: 26 seconds plus a split second.
Those were the narrow margins that meant the difference for the Redhawks between packing up the equipment for the year or advancing to the semifinals against Essex.
Sixth-seeded Bellows Free Academy of St. Albans had the Redhawks in serious trouble Friday in Hinesburg before CVU, on a Wells tally, tied the contest 3-3 with 26 seconds remaining in regulation.
Sam Spencer then potted the game winner 3:19 into overtime to boost the Red and White to the next round.
The split second came at the end of regulation, when a hard shot by a fast charging Kris Sabourin of BFA snapped into the CVU net just after the period-ending horn sounded.
“Had them all the way, right coach?” someone chuckled to Trevithick after the game. The much relieved coach simply looked skyward and rolled his eyes.
For three quarters, BFA used a tough and physical defense to put CVU on the ropes, shutting out the Redhawks and leading 2-0 into the final reel.
The Hawks’ troubles were often self-inflicted due to imprecise passing and turnovers that prevented sustained offensive thrusts.
The string of zeros ended at 10:43 from regulation time’s end, when O’Brien scored off a pass from Reichert, the first of three assists for the senior.
CVU, which had been mounting a serious assault on the BFA goal in the second half (Bobwhites net minder Frank Tirado had 16 game saves in a brilliant effort), had a potential game tying goal nullified at 7:20 due to a goal crease violation.
That play appeared huge minutes later when BFA went up 3-1 at 3:25 on Ryan Gaudette’s shot from the right side of the cage.
But suddenly Reichert, CVU’s midfield weapon, and his unique ability to win face-offs came into play and brought the Redhawks back to life.
Following the BFA score, Reichert took the face-off deep into BFA territory and passed off to a well-position Nick Hart, who slammed home the goal with 3:10 left.
Time was running out when Reichert later advanced the ball into Bobwhites territory. Hart got the sphere and passed to an open Wells, who tied the score with just 26 seconds to go.
But in the final clicks of the clock, BFA took advantage of a turnover. Sabourin rushed the CVU cage from the left side, but his blazing shot connected just after the horn sounded.
Reichert won the overtime face-off and a little more than three minutes later Sam Spencer found rare space at the BFA net and ended the game.
“It opened up in front of the goal and I was able to score,” said the CVU senior, who has been a leading points man all season.
Spencer admitted that the team was getting frustrated prior to the fourth quarter.
Limited to three shots at the BFA goal in the first half, the Redhawks got things going in the third period, only be held off the scoreboard by Tirado, who had seven saves in the stanza.
Spencer and Trevithick praised the face-off work of Reichert.
“I love getting those face-offs,” said the veteran senior Reichert, one of the state’s leaders at this particular skill. He won eight of nine in the game.
Soll and junior Cody Lee were among several CVU defensive standouts that held down BFA’s offense.