U-32 Tops Hartford to Continue String of Upsets

Valley News Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 05, 2018

White River Junction — Upstart U-32 kept the upsets coming, leaving Hartford High with a 4-2 win over the No. 3 Hurricanes in Tuesday’s VPA Division II boys lacrosse semifinal at Hartford High School.

Senior attack Hunter Solomon scored twice for the No. 7 Raiders (8-7), who haven’t had a winning season since their last semifinal appearance five years ago. Now the East Montpelier, Vt.-based school is returning to a state final for the first time since 2000 after frustrating normally dynamic scorer Reece Thompson and the Hurricanes (11-6).

Thompson was held to one assist as U-32 knocked off a second top-three seed in as many playoff games. On Saturday, it ousted No. 2 Stowe in the quarterfinals, 11-10.

Hartford had one goal in each half for its lowest offensive output of the season.

“Usually, when you give up four goals in a playoff game, you win,” Hartford co-coach Bill Elberty said. “You don’t see a lot of 4-2 games in the state semifinals. They had a good game plan to take Reece out of it, but when that’s happened at other times this year, we’ve had other guys to step up offensively. For whatever reasons, that didn’t happen today, and you just hope that it’s a learning experience.”

Perhaps still pumped from Saturday’s upset of Stowe, last year’s champ, U-32 was the aggressor from the outset. Hartford’s first shot against Raider goalie Max Kissner (15 saves) didn’t come until nearly halfway through the first period.

The Hurricanes did get on the board first, Thompson lobbing a pass over the middle for fellow junior attack Dawson Nalette, who beat Kissner on the right side 2:42 into the second quarter.

U-32 responded fewer than three minutes later with a similar goal by Solomon on a feed from Luca Montore, and senior midfielder Josh Farber scored again for the Raiders 25 seconds after that to make it 2-1. The latter was the first of two man-up goals for U-32 against Hartford senior goalie Kyle Prior (17 saves).

Hartford went a man down seven times to three times for the Raiders.

“To me, you’re usually going to give up a couple of goals in penalty situations, so we weren’t too worried about that,” Elberty said. “It was more about our lack of execution on offense. We had too many unforced errors.”

U-32 scored a pair of quick-strike goals again late in the third period, Solomon wrapping it around the cage for a stuff-in before Montore found the twine 49 seconds later on a feed from senior Zach Schneider to make it 4-1. Hartford’s Jonas Spaulding was off the field for a push during the latter.

Senior Joey Batchelder scored on an overhand dunk shot for Hartford midway through the fourth quarter, assisted by Hunter Hutchinson, but the Hurricanes misfired numerous times down the stretch on bids from the perimeter.

“At that point, we were just trying to get shots on the cage any way we could, with our season on the line,” said Hartford’s other co-coach, Grant Whiteway.

The win for U-32 avenged a 12-3 Hartford victory on the same field in early May. In the final, the Raiders will take on unbeaten and top-ranked Harwood, a Capital League rival that controlled two-time D-III champ Stratton Mountain in Tuesday’s other semi, 18-3.

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3225.