June 11, 2009
By Mal Boright
There were few bowed heads Thursday when the Champlain Valley Union High girls lacrosse team shook hands with their Essex High counterparts in the wake of the Hornets’ 17-7 playdown victory over the Redhawks at the Essex nest.
CVU wound up 0-17 on the season, but first year head coach Julie Sloan was not totally unhappy.
“I think we were the most improved team in the state,” the coach said, looking back on the entire season.
With some 19 players back next spring, the outlook is onward and definitely upward. The Redhawks carried five seniors and at least two of those, Michaela Cornbrooks and Elizabeth Beckett, missed considerable playing time due to injury.
Thus it was an athletic group of sophomores and juniors who helped make the unit very competitive by season’s end.
Returning to Essex, where they lost by just three scores to the 11-6 Hornets the previous week, the Redhawks opened an early 2-1 edge on goals from sophomore Amanda Kinneston and Beckett.
After Beckett’s score gave CVU the lead with 15:29 left in the first half, Essex took total control for the next 10 minutes, exploding to a 10-2 advantage.
Leading the Hornets splurge was sophomore Jamie Panton, who scored two of Essex’s eight straight goals and assisted on another. But Panton’s most vital chores were in midfield draws, which she and the Hornets won without fail, keeping the ball away from the CVU offense.
At 5:36, the Redhawks finally broke through, Kinneston scoring the second of her three goals after getting a sharp pass from sophomore Gillian Shelley.
Shelley followed with a score from a penalty situation, but Essex’s Tina Whalen fired in the third of her four goals to give the Hornets a comfortable 11-4 edge at the half.
“We started strong,” said Sloan, “but they started stronger.”
Essex opened up a 10-point lead by the 18-minute mark of the final segment, and there it stayed, CVU getting two scores from Devan Wilkins and Kinneston’s third.
Freshman Micheala Gobeille had a busy afternoon in the CVU cage with 18 stops. Becky Anderson had six saves for Essex.