CVU lax squad advances to championship

By Mal Boright
Observer correspondent

Observer photo by Greg Duggan Champlain Valley Union High co-captain Cully Milikin (left) defends a Spaulding High player during the Redhawks’ 14-4 win on Friday. With another playoff victory on Tuesday, CVU earned a trip to the Division 1 title game.

“We try to get better with every game.”

Those were the words of Champlain Valley Union High boys lacrosse head coach Dave Trevithick after his Redhawks rolled past fourth-seeded Rutland High 13-1 Tuesday afternoon in a Division 1 semifinal contest in Hinesburg.

Trevithick’s focus on each game rather than the journey’s end is working.

After taking out eighth-seeded Spaulding High of Barre 14-4 last Friday, the Redhawks have outscored two playoff foes by a 27-5 margin in storming their way to the 2010 championship on Burlington High’s artificial turf either Friday or Saturday.

(The Vermont Principals Association was to determine title game time on Wednesday, after press deadline.)

The foe would be either third-seeded Essex High (15-2) or seventh-seeded South Burlington High (11-6). The two met in a semifinal Wednesday at Essex.

Essex handed the 17-1 Redhawks their lone loss of the season two weeks ago in the Junction Town; CVU scored an early season overtime win over the Hornets in Hinesburg. Both games were decided by a single goal.

Rutland left town with a 14-4 mark and perhaps wondering what was that red and white lacrosse tornado that came across its path.

It took little time for CVU to lay down its first marker. Jake Marston won the opening face off and just 43 seconds later Lawrence Dee scampered from behind the Raider net and fired the initial score.

A little more than two minutes later, with 9:01 left in the period, Robbie Dobrowski took a pass from Nick Hart and made it 2-0.

Hart (from Dee) hiked the lead to 3-0 before the end of the period and the Redhawks went on for a 6-0 edge at halftime, getting a slick score with six seconds to go in the half after defenseman Ben Teasdale intercepted a Rutland pass in the CVU zone.

After a timeout to organize a late offensive effort, Nick Spencer blitzed his way into the offensive zone and connected with a well-positioned Nathan Gingras in front of the Rutland net. Gingras flicked the ball into the cage for the score.

Gingras led CVU scorers with four goals and three assists. Nathaniel Wells pocketed three scores while Dee and Marston each notched a pair of tallies, Dee adding an assist.

Rutland’s lone goal came with 5:07 left in the third quarter and CVU up 8-0. Raider midfielder David Krauss unloaded a bouncer from 25 feet out on the right side that slipped into the net past Redhawks goalie Eric Palmer, who was solid with 11 saves. Sean Keenan took over midway through the fourth reel and had one stop.

“The team has really come together and is playing well now,” said Palmer, who also praised the defense and the work of the offense, which kept Rutland defending at its end of the field most of the afternoon.

Deep defenders Teasdale and Cully Milikin made life difficult for Rutland attackers, who had difficulty negotiating into position for open shots at Palmer.

“We talk to each other a lot,” said Teasdale, who along with Milikin and sophomore Christian Williford had several takeaways and conversions to offense from around the CVU cage.

Once again, a sizeable crowd was looking on from Happy Hawk Hill alongside the road that runs past the CVU lacrosse foundry.

Offense and defense click in quarterfinal victory

Spaulding had proven to be a problem for the Redhawks in their two regular season meetings; a 12-8 win at the Hinesburg field and a 10-9 squeaker in mid-May in Barre.

But CVU had its game together at both ends of the field Friday and laid that 14-4 licking on the Crimson Tide.

On the offense, seven players scored, led by midfielder Hart with four goals and two assists and Gingras with four scores and a helper. Wells chipped in with two goals plus an assist, while Dobrowski, Justin Beaudry, Spencer and Quinn Kropf also potted tallies.

Dee was his usual pass master self with four assists.

Hart and Gingras made sure the Redhawks were not wanting for early scores. Each got four goals in the first half as CVU bolted to a 9-1 advantage by halftime.

Gingras, with Dee assisting, scored with just over 1:30 gone in the first quarter. Hart made it 2-0 less than a minute later and the Hawks were winging.

Spaulding has firepower of its own, but on this day the CVU defense was a steady presence in front of goalies Palmer (13 stops) and Keenan (3).

“Everybody on defense played well today,” said co-captain Milikin, who was outstanding along the back line along with Teasdale.

CVU’s foxy coaching staff also put in a wrinkle that blunted Spaulding from mounting the kind of late game comeback that had caused some anxious moments in previous meetings.

The Tide’s primary offensive threat, speedy Tory Chouinard, found himself sharing space with the Redhawks’ Konnor Fleming for much of the afternoon. Chouinard popped five goals in Spaulding’s previous appearance here and Trevithick wanted to keep the swiftie under control.

Fleming, with occasional relief from Dobrowski, was up to the task. Chouinard got just one goal, a long shot off a loose ball in the second period and perhaps no more than two half-decent shots on the CVU cage.

“I think I got into his head a little,” Fleming said after shadowing the Spaulding star.

The visitors’ only rally came in the third quarter. With CVU up 10-1, junior Torrey Kelty scored at 8:43 on a long sidewinder shot and again at 3:47 to get Spaulding within seven points.

With 46 second left in the period, however, Dobrowski scored on an assist from Dee.

Beaudry then added his goal with less than two minutes gone in the final reel to put the Redhawks up 12-3 and pretty much chill Crimson Tide comeback hopes.