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Windsor Toppled by St. Jay in Field Hockey Semifinals

  • Windsor teammates Karen Kapuscinski, left, and Peyton Richardson hug following their 4-3 semifinal loss to St. Johnsbury in Burlington, Vt., on Oct. 29, 2018. The young team had the number one seed in the tournament. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Windsor's Alyssa Slocum sneaks the ball past St. Johnsbury goalkeeper Elizabeth Mastroianni-Douglas in the second half of their game to come within one goal of tieing up the semifinal game in Burlington, Vt., on Oct. 29, 2018. The score held, with St. Johnsbury winning 4-3. At right is St. Johnsbury's Brenda Leaism. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Windsor head coach Jody Wood gives her team instruction before the start of their semifinal game against St. Johnsbury in Burlington, Vt., on Oct. 29, 2018. St. Johnsbury came from behind to win, 4-3. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Windsor's Peyton Richardson, left, pushes the ball upfield against St. Johnsbury's Polly Currier in the first half of their semifinal game in Burlington, Vt., on Oct. 29, 2018. St. Johnsbury won, 4-3, to advance to the championship game. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Monday, October 29, 2018

Burlington — The redemption story for Windsor High’s field hockey team — from canceled program two years ago to, hopefully, trophy celebration — is officially on pause until next fall.

The top-seeded Yellowjackets, whose program went on a two-year hiatus in 2015-16 because of low numbers, ran into a brick wall named Lilly Laufenberg in Monday’s 4-3 loss to No. 4 St. Johnsbury in the VPA Division III semifinals at the University of Vermont’s Moulton-Winder Field.

Laufenberg, a transfer student from Germany, finished the game with a goal and had a hand in three others for the Hilltoppers, sending St. Johnsbury to its first D-III title game.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Windsor head coach Jody Wood said. “I felt like we were a stronger team this year. I thought we had a better chance at getting past this level. I basically think St. Jay went to the ball better. We sat back and played behind them. That’s a deciding factor.

“We couldn’t get anything going until the second half, it seemed like.”

The loss was the second straight for Windsor in the D-III semis since its return to varsity competition.

But here’s the bright side for the Jackets: Their roster has no seniors. Only three of the 18 players listed on Monday’s squad were upperclassmen — juniors Angelina Bigwood, Hayley Fortin and Miranda Todt. Bigwood said her team made big strides since last year’s tournament run, a season that ended with the Jacks 9-4-1 overall. This year, she said, felt like her team’s moment.

Luckily, Windsor gets another shot.

“Everybody will be back, and we have some new freshmen coming in,” Wood said. “Try again next year. That’s all you can do.”

Hannah Wood, Jenna Hood and Alyssa Slocum scored for Windsor, which ended its season 11-4-0.

Hannah Wood started things off with a goal midway through the first half, finding her own rebound off a corner and burying the ball into the net. The Yellowjackets scored all three of their goals off of seven corner opportunities. St. Johnsbury was awarded only three corners.

But Laufenberg, several inches taller than almost everyone else on the field, could not be contained forever. She broke through with 2:10 remaining in the first half, deking through several defenders and beating Windsor goalie Glenna Ricard inside the far post. The teams were tied, 1-1, at half.

St. Johnsbury coach Tara Bailey noted the adjustments required to play on UVM’s turf field after having spent the rest of the season on grass.

“It was really about possessing the ball more, getting stick-to-stick passes and not going back-and-forth with them,” Bailey said. “(On turf), it’s so fast and so easy to push a ball that you don’t realize until it’s too far ahead of you. … This is actually the first time we’ve played on turf all year.”

St. Johnsbury took control with two goals in a 4:59 stretch after halftime to build a 3-1 lead, both coming off of Laufenberg stretch passes that found Hilltopper sticks in front of Windsor’s net. Haleigh Daft finished off a 2-on-1 opportunity to give St. Johnsbury the lead. Madison Duranleau added to it with a one-timer from in front over Ricard’s right shoulder.

But Windsor fought back, cutting into St. Johnsbury’s lead just 1:19 later. Hood, following a scramble in front off St. Johnsbury’s net, watched a rebound as it rolled across the goal line. She poked it in with 19:34 left in the half.

“(Laufenberg) was good. Their goaltender was good,” Bigwood said. “Not to make excuses, but the field was different, too. We had to get used to it for the majority of the game.”

Both teams traded goals before the final horn — St. Johnsbury’s Morgan Belknap off a feed from Laufenberg with 10:38 remaining, Slocum cleaning up a rebound off a corner with 7:17 left.

Windsor had two chances in the final minutes to tie the game — a corner with 3:23 remaining that didn’t produce a shot and a breakaway with 1:09 by Bigwood that was fired into St. Johnsbury goaltender Elizabeth Mastroianni-Douglas.

“They’re fast, and they have great stick skills,” Bailey said of Windsor. “We were trying to pass through; we just weren’t going to get those passes. We had to start to really think about what our passes were going to be like.”

Windsor earned the D-III tourney’s top seed upon its return in last year and repeated the feat this time around as well. The Jacks have been bounced in the semifinal round both times.

Windsor did not face St. Johnsbury or No. 2 Stowe — which has made four finals appearances in the last five years — in the regular season. Stowe faces No. 3 Missisquoi (9-2-2) on Wednesday in the other D-III semifinal. The winners will play Saturday at UVM.

Bailey, in her fourth season, said the victory broke some imaginary barrier that was keeping her program from competing for a trophy. The Yellowjackets can relate; Windsor has not brought home a field hockey trophy since 2009.

“It’s so frustrating,” Bigwood said. “We had such a good season. I really thought we could do it. I think we could have.

“We’ll definitely be coming back next year stronger.”

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