BRATTLEBORO -- A third-straight Marble Valley League title wasn't in the cards for the Brattleboro boys lacrosse team, which lost a physical battle to Woodstock on Wednesday.
The Wasps downed BUHS, 11-9, at Natowich Field and will take the MVL championship if they win their final game. The throng of vocal supporters, weighed heavily in Brattleboro's favor in the stands, wasn't enough to fend off the Wasps (12-3) and the Colonels (11-4) now head into its final regular-season game against archrival Mount Anthony Union.
[SLIDESHOW:Brattleboro vs. Woodstock, lacrosse.]
"They had an opportunity to play in a big game, to experience a big game and now they know they know what it's like to lose a big game. And the good news is this wasn't the playoffs," said Brattleboro coach Chris Sawyer. "We're going to be here Friday night, playing against Mount Anthony (at 7 p.m.) and then we get to go to the playoffs with some experience behind us."
Friday's game will also be Senior Night for the Colonels.
Woodstock's Haven Lantz gave his team an early 1-0 lead by scoring 44 seconds into the game. Brattleboro's Conner Elliott-Knaggs tried to equalize seconds later but missed his shot, only to find the back of net and tie the score with 10:06 remaining in the first quarter. Oliver Kaija put the Wasps back in the lead 20 seconds later by beating BUHS goalie Ian Cebek. The Colonels tied the score again when Elliott-Knaggs made a skilled catch downfield and fought through Woodstock defenders to score.
A shot from Brattleboro's Evan Perkins, following a tailor-made feed from teammate Tanner Freeman, was snared by Woodstock goalie Ben Orr and the score was 2-2 going into the second quarter.
"(We) played with great effort tonight. I thought both teams played really hard, very well," Sawyer said. "We didn't lose it -- Woodstock won it. And that's always a good thing. You don't want to lose because of (a lack of) effort and we didn't. We just got outplayed by a couple of goals."
Freeman put the Colonels ahead for the first time in the game by scoring about a minute and a half into the second quarter. BUHS took a further lead about three minutes later when Jack Gagnon fed a pass to Sam Siegel before being checked to the ground and Siegel chucked it past Orr in net. Woodstock reduced its deficit by one when Nehemiah Wood tallied a goal, but Freeman (three goals) scored about a minute after that to put his squad up, 5-3.
Kaija (six goals) sneaked a shot past Cebek to pull within one and, following a timeout, the BUHS goalie could get only a piece of Connor McCarthy's shot that tied the score at 5-all. Woodstock's Daniel Robinson tried to put his team on top, but sent a ball over the Brattleboro net, though Kaija gave the Wasps a 6-5 lead shortly after. He then sent a bouncer past Cebek for a 7-5 lead going into halftime.
Cebek and Orr each registered eight saves for their teams. Sawyer said his goalie did well between the pipes.
"He gave us a chance to win," the coach said. "He made some big saves for us."
In an attempt to battle back in the first 45 seconds of the second half, Elliott-Knaggs (three goals) absorbed a massive check from a Woodstock player before scoring a goal to cut into the Wasps' lead. Gagnon tried to even things up, but his shot was saved by Orr moments later. That served as the beginning of some clutch saves by the game's goalies, as a shot by Kaija hit Cebek in the facemask with a mean thud and Orr snagged a shot by Freeman with 8:25 remaining in the quarter.
Siegel (three goals) tied the game with 7:26 left after taking possession of the ball behind the Woodstock net, turning the corner and depositing it. Freeman put BUHS ahead less than a minute later. Kaija notched a goal with 28.1 seconds remaining to tie the score, 8-8, going into the final quarter.
Woodstock's Jackson Wood came out of the intermission like a madman and scored 10 seconds into the frame. Nehemiah Wood then tallied to put the Wasps up, 10-8. With the minutes winding down, Orr retrieved a loose ball from behind the net, only to find himself being chased down by two Colonels. Orr accelerated and passed the ball to a teammate at midfield to get out of the jam. Raija scored his final goal with 3:23 left and Siegel netted one to bring the final score to 11-9.
Domenic Poli can be reached at email@example.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.