By Lauren Read
Lost in the drama of last year’s Division I boys lacrosse state championship game was a foreshadowing for this season’s Champlain Valley Union team.
In between CVU’s Matt Palmer forcing a turnover and then scoring the game-winning goal, the ball came to Charlie Bernicke. The attackman worked the ball behind the net, eventually moving it to Palmer, who hit the back of the net for the fourth straight D-I title for the Redhawks.
“Charlie (Bernicke) is just a naturally good feeder,” said CVU coach Dave Trevithick. “Last year, you saw some of that in the championship game.”
Less than a year later, Bernicke will have to take center stage for the Redhawks.
“He sees that he has got shoes to fill and he is more than happy to do it,” Trevithick said.
Champlain Valley said good-bye to their top four scorers from last year’s title winners — Palmer, Owen McCuin, Dylan Schaefer and Griffin DiParlo — and will look to Bernicke to lead an inexperienced offense.
“He is more than happy to have the pressure on his shoulders,” Trevithick said. “A lot of guys on our offense need to step it up … this year.”
Bernicke will have to wear many hats this season for the Redhawks, from scorer to passer to team captain. Trevithick is relying on that versatility.
“He has got a lot of assets,” the coach said. “He’s been playing different roles throughout his career at CVU. He is sending that message — once you know your role, do the best you can do.”
The senior captain will serve as quarterback for at least part of the offense and a vocal leader on the field.
“He has the ability to score three or four goals a game, but I don’t know if that is what we need him to do,” Trevithick said. “He’s got the ear of a lot of guys. A lot of guys listen to whatever he says in terms of what it is going to take this year.”
As Champlain Valley prepares to fight for its fifth state championship, Bernicke will help to fill one of the big question marks for the defending champs. The Redhawks will look to build a balanced offense, with Bernicke responsible for sending the message to the young players.
“I think Charlie can convey that every guy is going to get an opportunity as long as you are patient,” Trevithick said. “He is relishing the opportunity.”