Hanover Hits Numbers Crunch: Shorthanded Squad Slowed in Opener
Hanover High attackman Ben Carson-Turner is defended by Champlain Valley Union's Matt Goldsborough, left, and Dylan Schaefer. The host Marauders lost their season opener, 10-6, competing with only 15 of 28 players because of spring vacation. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Purchase photo reprints »
Hanover High defenseman Ethan Winter is knocked out of bounds Monday by Champlain Valley Union's Dylan Schaefer. The Redhawks' Matt Palmer trails the play. The Marauders lost their season opener, 10-6, at Merriman-Branch Field. Purchase photo reprints »
Hanover — Backs bent, shoulders drooped and expressions were grim Monday as the Hanover High boys lacrosse team gathered at halftime of its season opener. A squad expected to possibly contend for a state title found itself trailing by six goals to Champlain Valley Union, and Marauders coach Jeff Reed wasn’t pleased with his club’s execution and attitude.
“Let’s lose the hangdog looks,” Reed snapped. “We just need to play better lacrosse.”
Hanover also needed more players during what finished as a 10-6 loss. Only 15 of the 28 boys on the roster were available, and the hosts competed without five starters. That wasn’t going to cut it against the Redhawks, a bunch from Hinesburg, Vt., south of Burlington, who won last season’s Division I title in the Green Mountain State. The Redhawks began that campaign with a 5-4 overtime loss at Hanover.
This year’s game, however, fell during Hanover’s spring vacation week. Some players are visiting college campuses. Others are on language-study trips abroad. Still others are enjoying family getaways. It all added up to an exceedingly short bench for the Marauders and an irritated standout in senior Worthy Gardner.
“It’s disappointing and it shows some people’s commitment level,” said Gardner, adding that he passed on going to Italy with fellow Latin students. “Other schools have rules that if you play on the varsity, you can’t miss games for vacation. I think that’s a good idea.”
Reed sees both sides of the coin. On one hand, he wishes he and those who remain weren’t left in the lurch. On the other, he knows family time is precious and that once his players reach college age, their parents will see much less of them than they’d like.
What miffed Reed more than the absences was that his remaining players couldn’t get past the mental and physical challenges of playing shorthanded. Had Hanover provided better defense for beleaguered goaltender Chris Washington and not committed a bushel basket’s worth of unforced turnovers, the game could have been more competitive.
“You could tell that, mentally, the situation was a crutch,” said Reed, whose team was down 4-0 after a quarter and 7-1 at the half. “I tried to tell them they should be happy with all the playing time, but it’s harder to execute when you’re tired.”
Said Gardner: “You were just constantly out of breath. You’d go until you were completely exhausted, and then you’d go back in without being fully rested, but when you had gotten back just a little bit of energy.”
Judging by Gardner’s performance, opposing teams may be in trouble once he gets his wind. The midfielder took 11 shots and scored three times. Brendan Forauer, Conor Austin and George Geraghty also tallied, and Washington finished with 10 saves after allowing the first four Redhawks shots to go in.
“We made stupid mistakes throwing and catching the ball, and we’ve got to clean it up if we’re going to be a championship team,” Reed said. “We’re not an attack that’s built to score off the dodge, but with off-ball movement. But when you’re tired, you can’t move as well, and it’s hard to yell at them for that.”
Missing starters included defenseman Noah Huizenga, midfielder Jin Kim and attackman Jude Arbogast, who Reed said has been Hanover’s best finisher during the preseason. Gardner said the patchwork lineup affected the team’s chemistry and took away some of the players’ self-confidence. CVU dressed 26 players.
“It’s kind of intimidating when you have five guys on your bench, and you look down the sideline and they’ve got another whole team,’’ he said. “At least it was good practice for the guys who don’t have much experience.”
Gardner said he knew some of his teammates would be missing, but that he didn’t expect nearly half the roster to be absent.
“I felt like I needed to be here this week, but different people have different priorities,” he said. “Some of the guys who were here seemed off and not really into it, but once we get everyone here and synced up, I think we’ll be a powerhouse.”
Notes: Chris Carroll, Hanover’s longtime assistant coach, said he will be the coach of Hanover’s new varsity bass fishing team next fall. The squad will be one of more than 25 to be sanctioned by the NHIAA. … A Gardner shot broke the facemask of CVU netminder Owen Hudson during the fourth quarter. Referees blew the whistle a few seconds later, just before Gardner fired the rebound into the net. The goal was disallowed and Hudson departed the game, not to return. … Former Marauder player Ryan Brigham, now a sophomore at St. Lawrence (7-3), is the Saints’ primary faceoff man and has won an impressive 56 percent of his draws so far this spring. … CVU, which has several seniors heading off to play in college, has reached a state title game 10 times since 1992 and won four championships. The school’s enrollment is roughly 1,300, one of the largest in Vermont. Its mascot name was previously the Crusaders, but was changed in 2005 after complaints that the logo of a knight carrying a crucifix was inappropriate for a public school.
Tris Wykes can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3227.