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Vergennes upends Hartford girls



Valley News Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 04, 2019

VERGENNES, Vt. — Hartford High’s girls lacrosse team will have to wait another season to reach the final stage of its rebuilding project.

The Hurricanes, the No. 4 seed in this season’s VPA Division II tournament, fell to top-seeded, undefeated Vergennes, 9-6, in their semifinal match on Tuesday afternoon from Vergennes High. The loss was their third to the Commodores this season, marking the second consecutive spring Hartford has been eliminated in the semifinals — the furthest the Canes have gone in the D-II tournament since the school adopted the program in 2002.

Next on the agenda: a first-ever appearance in the state final. Coach Hartford, who has led the Canes to a 24-10 record in her two seasons at the helm, is taking a patient approach to her team’s progress.

“We had opportunities, they just weren’t getting in there,” said Hartford, whose team entered the game 6-1 over its last seven contests. “It was a great game. I thought it was a well-played match by these guys. We just couldn’t quite get it there.”

Vergennes takes its 16-0 record to the D-II final at the University of Vermont, where it will face the winner of No. 6 St. Johnsbury, a 10-8 winner over No. 2 U-32 on Tuesday. A date and time for the championship was still to be decided as of Tuesday night.

Hartford’s chance at a state title on Tuesday was derailed from the beginning. Sophomore Jasmine Jenkins, a midfield presence for the Canes, left within the game’s first two minutes with an apparent head injury. She underwent concussion protocol on the sideline and was ruled out for the rest of the contest.

Coach Hartford said losing Jenkins changed her team’s chances. The Canes had lost twice to Vergennes in the regular season — a 10-3 loss on April 13 and a 10-5 loss on April 17 — and needed all the help it could get against D-II’s top seed.

“That was a pretty big impact in the first half,” Hartford said. “It happened very early and she is an impact player for us in the midfield. That was costly.

“I knew this was going to be a game where they saw a different team than they saw in the beginning of the year to now,” she added. “Our team has grown so much. And there is a lot of depth on the team. We were able to capitalize.”

The Commodores scored back-to-back goals in the first 3 minutes and 45 seconds of the first half before Hartford could apply some offensive pressure. The Canes eventually found the back of the net off of senior Alice Dwyer’s stick. Vergennes scored two more goals before Dwyer was able to answer again.

Hartford junior Caroline North scored two more goals, with an assist from Dwyer, before halftime, with the Hurricanes trailing, 7-4.

Caroline Hamilton cut the deficit to two goals, 7-5, 1:56 into the second half before Hartford’s offense went silent, sending six unsuccessful shots on Vergennes goaltender Ashley Tierney before the Commodores pulled away. Grace Harvey, a bulldozing freshman presence for Vergennes, scored her fourth goal of the game with 11:13 remaining and Leah Croke added an insurance goal 1:57 later to increase the lead to 9-5.

North, who finished the game with six shots on goal, scored her third of the game and the last goal of the afternoon with an assist from Zoey Pfeiffer with 1:12 remaining. Canes goaltender Emi Harlow made nine saves in the loss.

The Hurricanes, who finished the season 11-6, lose five seniors — Dwyer, Isabella Lukowitz, Emily Ricker, Caitlin Gaudet and Lynzie Nichols — to graduation. They also return 12 athletes for their senior seasons in 2020.

“We’ll get there,” Hartford said of her team’s final hurdle, a championship. “Hard work and perseverance and they’ll overcome it.”

Josh Weinreb can be reached at jweinreb@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.