December 16, 2018

Three CVU teams preparing for playoffs

By Lauren Read

Observer correspondent

Girls basketball

The Champlain Valley Union girls basketball team kicked off its run for a sixth state title on Tuesday night, as the No. 2 seed topped No. 15 Burr and Burton 55-33 with ease. From here on, the title defense gets much harder.

CVU, who enters the post-season with an 18-2 record, will face No. 7 BFA-St. Albans in the Division I quarterfinals on Friday at 7 p.m. at home in Hinesburg. BFA took down No. 10 Lyndon, 48-32, Tuesday night.

With experience at the forward position — senior captains Shannon Loiseau and Lindsey Albertelli are two of the four CVU players who saw action in last year’s postseason — the Redhawks will likely rely on that strength early in the playoffs, but the emergence of Harper Mead, Maryn Askew, Catherine Gilwee and Mekkena Boyd in the back court gives coach Ute Otley plenty of options as the post-season progresses.

CVU will likely need all of those options if the team plans on repeating. Top-seed St. Johnsbury is one of only two teams — Rice also handed CVU a loss — to beat the Redhawks this season and the Hilltoppers want revenge for last year’s loss in the D-I title game.

St. Johnsbury will counter CVU’s depth with last year’s Player of the Year Sadie Stetson and with the confidence of a win over the defending champs already this season.

But the Redhawks still have two games before they can focus on the Hilltoppers, a semifinal matchup with No. 3 North Country or No. 6 Mount Anthony is also on the horizon if CVU gets past BFA.

Girls hockey

An up-and-down regular season ended on a high note for the Champlain Valley-Mount Mansfield co-op girls hockey team. The CougarHawks won two of their last three games to secure the No. 8 seed in the Division I girls hockey postseason.

Both of those wins came against Spaulding, who has earned the No. 9 seed and will face the CVU-MMU team in the first round of the playoffs.

The CougarHawks will face the Crimson Tide on Wednesday at 6:15 p.m. at Essex.

The wins against Spaulding should give CVU-MMU some confidence heading into the start of the post-season. The CougarHawks won the first matchup 10-3 and the second 8-1.

The wins also signaled the return of the team’s offense, which was strong to start the year, but faltered in the middle of the season. Powered by CVU forwards Lydia Maitland, Lauren Hanley and Jackie Ryan, the CVU-MMU offense will need to keep humming if the team wants to advance to the quarterfinals.

If the CougarHawks get past No. 9 Spaulding, the No. 8 seed will take on top-seed Essex in the quarterfinals on Saturday afternoon.

Boys hockey

The first year of head coach J.P. Benoit has seen its ups and downs. The Redhawks will try and turn that all around when the Division I boys hockey playoffs kick off on Wednesday at 6:15 p.m.

The No. 7 seed CVU will take on No. 10 U-32 in a playdown match-up at Cairns Arena. The puck will drop at 5:20 p.m.

The two teams faced off twice this season, with the Raiders earning the upper hard in an early season win (3-0 on Dec. 16), while CVU wrapped up the regular season with a 4-2 victory over U-32 in the final game of the regular season.

The offense provides a question mark for the Redhawks. Jake Schaefer and Jennings Lobel provide the bulk of the scoring. Will someone else step up to fill their shoes if other team’s attempt to shut them down?

Goaltending is another area where CVU has some questions. With three solid goalies on the roster, will the team rotate or will one goaltender earn himself the starting spot?

These questions will need to be answered if the Redhawks want to advance to the D-I quarterfinals for a match-up with No. 2 Essex on Saturday afternoon.

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