Wasps Taste Victory Again
Woodstock Rolls Past Hartford to Stay Undefeated
Woodstock’s James Durand pushes through the defense of Hartford’s Donovan Kelly yesterday at Kilowatt Park in Wilder. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »
Hartford coach Bill Elberty instructs his players during a timeout yesterday. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »
Hartford’s John Lewis tries to maintain his balance while pursued by Woodstock’s Nick Davis yesterday in Wilder. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »
Wilder — Between shouts of “French toast!” and “Toaster!” from the coaching staff, the Woodstock High boys lacrosse team does enough to encourage hunger.
That’s exactly what coach Brandon Little wants.
After a quarterfinal ouster upset plans for a Vermont Division I championship game return last spring, Little desires for Woodstock to fill its plate in 2013. With a 17-2 win over D-II Hartford yesterday at Kilowatt Field, the Wasps improved to 4-0 to remain one of two undefeated teams in its league.
Senior attackman Hunter Schmell ate up the Hurricanes (2-2) for seven goals and three assists as Woodstock — as might be expected for a squad with ambitious goals — rolled.
“I’ve been the coach for this team for four years now, so we’re into the systems now,” Little said. “They know what I expect every day, so we’re not wasting time learning the rules. We start off from day one; everybody knows what we want.”
A senior-laden roster has Woodstock thinking big, yet still messing with the recipe. The schedule has been partly responsible; the Wasps’ first three scheduled contests fell to the vagaries of spring weather, while the next three came in a span of six days last week.
Wins over Burr & Burton, Otter Valley and BFA-St. Albans got the ball rolling. Things get tougher in the wake of yesterday’s win, however, with Rutland due in tomorrow night and archrival Middlebury — D-I’s other 4-0 unit — arriving on Monday. The Wasps will then play just three of their final nine matches at home.
“That’s one thing I’ve concentrated on with the team this year, that we’re not going to lose momentum because of the (spring) break,” Little said. “We had the majority of the team stay for break and practiced every day. It happens to a lot of teams; they have two weeks in, three weeks in, and then they take a backwards slide because of vacation. We can’t afford that with spring sports being such a short season.”
Little is still doing a little cooking in the kitchen. Yesterday, he continued to mix ingredients in a four-player attack rotation that will be a key to the Wasps’ success.
Woodstock’s Oliver Vicar played well in Saturday’s 6-2 win over BFA, the Wasps’ first D-I foe, but Little quickly went to Haven Lantz yesterday when Vicar got off to a slow start. Lantz’s presence, as well as that of James Durand (two assists), ignited a three-goals-in 16-seconds run late in the first quarter, a charge that stretched to eight straight goals and an eventual 10-2 halftime lead.
Up 2-1 following an unassisted goal from Hartford’s Joe Wood, Schmell started the run on a solo spin move past Hurricane goalie Jason Young at 7:40. Lantz scored in transition off the next two draws, at 7:50 and 7:56, and the rout was on.
Both had their hat tricks by early in the second period. Lantz finished with four goals, two assists and the confidence of his head coach.
“You watch it in practice and you watch it develop in games, and how they work together and balance each other is what we’re trying to find,” Little said.
Hartford coach Bill Elberty is seeking the same, only from a different palette. Where Woodstock is experienced, the Canes are young. Where the Wasps have depth, Hartford doesn’t.
Wood’s goal — the senior also assisted on Hartford’s other tally, from John Lewis in the second quarter — showed a moment of resilience. That will come in handy for a team that still has tough tests ahead.
“We don’t have the sticks; we don’t have the consistency in passing and moving the ball,” Elberty said. “They’re not sure what to do with the kind of cuts that come from knowing how to move with the ball, so they’re unfamiliar with the cuts because they’ve never made them. It’s all a new thing for many of them. …
“(Woodstock’s) jayvee team, I honestly believe, would give our varsity a run,” added Elberty, who has just three seniors on his roster. “It’s just experience. It’s experience, and they’ve got a lot of athletes.”
It can just sound a little odd when Little moves them around.
The Woodstock coach’s vocal signals have been themed before, but he changes them each season so as not to become predictable. Little’s calls now sound like a hoarse waitress’ orders to the kitchen staff at Denny’s.
“I remember what other coaches run from year to year,” he said. “I’m assuming other coaches have the same memory, so I do it as a point to change up our calls. Past years have been cheeses, birds of prey, colleges. This year, it’s breakfast for our offensive sets.”
Including what no one heard yesterday: “Our man-up offenses are actually ‘Waffle’ and ‘Pancake,’ ” he grinned.
Them’s good eatin’.
Lax Facts: The lopsided nature of the game didn’t result in excess physical play. Woodstock drew four 30-second calls, while Hartford’s only penalty came in the final seconds when Wood clunked the Wasps’ Marc Findeison on the head with his stick. … Young finished with four saves for Hartford, which visits D-I Mount Anthony tomorrow. … Ben Orr stopped five shots over three quarters for the Wasps, while understudy Evan Sawyer made four denials working the final period. … Woodstock owned an unofficial 28-17 edge in shots.
Greg Fennell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3226.