BENNINGTON — Immediately following Elyse Altland’s goal late in the first half of Wednesday’s girls lacrosse game between Mount Anthony and Brattleboro, Patriots coach Alyssa Trudel called a timeout.
Altland’s score – the senior’s first of the day – made it 5-1 MAU with just over four minutes remaining. Trudel sensed an opportunity to capitalize on the momentum, and urged her athletes to build on their lead before halftime.
“We need to get a few more here,” the second year MAU coach told her girls in the huddle.
The Patriots listened. MAU rattled off three scores in the closing four minutes, extending its lead to 8-1 by the break on its way to an 18-3 victory.
MAU fired 18 first half shots, many of those coming in the opening 20 minutes. The opportunities were there, but the Patriots were not converting at the clip they’ve been accustomed to during their undefeated start to the season. Trudel’s timeout was to remind her players what they are capable of.
“My time out was really to give them some (encouragement),” she said. “I challenged them to put the ball in the back of the net a couple more times before we closed and they were able to do that, which I was really happy about.”
Abby Sekora found the net two minutes later, followed by a pair of scores in the closing two minutes from the birthday girl, Lexi Allard.
Allard gave herself a birthday present, a hat trick, scoring again in the final minute of action for her third of the afternoon.
Brattleboro had a settled approach offensively, opting to move the ball around and wait for the opportunity to present itself to attack. That did not happen often, as the Patriots’ slides were on point and they communicated well, limiting Brattleboro’s chances. The visitors were held to just 10 shots all game.
“When (Brattleboro) was able to set up plays, we were able to shut them down pretty well,” Trudel said. “I was really proud of the defense today.”
Sophie Albright was responsible for Brattleboro’s lone score of the first half, which came at the midway point. The midfielder fought through traffic and beat MAU’s Taylor Lampron, who finished with four saves, to put a crooked number on the scoreboard for the visitors. Albright added another in the final five minutes of play.
Brattleboro’s other score was the product of some nice field vision from attack Emma Gragen, who charged the MAU cage from the right side of the field and fired a cross-field pass into the netting of Gretchen Stromberg’s stick hugging the left post. Stromberg finished the play with the score, but MAU was already well on its way to victory, leading 17-3 at that point.
Altland came out of halftime looking to score, and the MAU senior did just that. She scored five times in the first 15 minutes of the second half to break the game open. Ava Elmer set Altland up nicely with a beautiful shovel pass near the Brattleboro cage in the opening minutes of the second half that Altland was able to convert. Altland scored another within the same minute, expanding MAU’s lead to 10 and bringing the game to a running clock for the final 22-plus minutes.
Roey Rella-Neill, who also assisted one of Altland’s second half scores, had the pass of the game to Elmer at the eight minute mark. Rella-Neill scooped a ground ball near midfield and sailed a dart of a pass to Elmer just feet from the Brattleboro cage. The pass hit her in stride as she beat Brattleboro’s Maren Sawyer (eight saves) for the highlight-reel score.
Things are going well for the Patriots to start the season. Wednesday’s win marks their fourth in as many tries, and their third straight by double digits. Trudel attributes that success to her three captains: Altland, Skye Colvin and Teagan Currier.
Colvin added two goals and an assist, while Currier anchored the MAU defense. Furthermore, the contributions from fellow seniors Ava and Emily Elmer and McKenna Brighton to start the season have gone a long way in MAU’s winning streak.
“All six of my seniors are really playing well and when they keep their energy up, our team responds,” Trudel said. “That’s what we’re seeing in their team play, they’re making me proud.”
Alicia Harrington (two goals, one assist) also got in the scoring column for MAU.
The Patriots return to action Saturday, hosting St. Johnsbury Academy (3-3) for a 1 p.m. start. Brattleboro (1-2) will look to regroup at home May 4 at 7 p.m. against another undefeated team, Burr and Burton (4-0).