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Turnovers, transition fuel Woodstock boys lacrosse win over Hartford

  • Woodstock's Riley Shepherd shoots and scores on Hartford goalkeeper Tarin Prior late in the first half as Jackson Balch (7) and Connor Tierney also defend during their game in White River Junction, Vt., on April 19, 2021. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hartford's Simon Spaulding (17) loses the ball and his stick in the middle of Woodstock defenders Andrew Gubbins (5) and Charles Greene in the first half of their game in White River Junction, Vt., on April 19, 2021. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Woodstock boys lacrosse coach Brandon Little speaks with his team during a first half timeout during their game against Hartford in White River Junction, Vt., on April 19, 2021. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hartford's Ethan Schaal defends against Woodstock's Field Willis behind the Hurricanes' goal in the first half of their game in White River Junction, Vt., on April 19, 2021. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hartford boys lacrosse coach Grant Whiteway speaks with his team during a first half timeout during their game against Woodstock in White River Junction, Vt., on April 19, 2021. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Sports Editor
Published: 4/19/2021 10:24:57 PM
Modified: 4/20/2021 12:25:40 PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — The challenge of slowing the Woodstock High boys lacrosse team this season may come down to silencing all of the Wasps’ available scoring options. They had at least one too many for Hartford on Monday night.

Converting forced turnovers into unsettled situations, Woodstock rolled past Hartford, 10-2, in an interdivisional VPA game at the Alumni Athletic Complex. After slogging to a 4-2 lead at halftime, the Wasps (1-0) pulled away on the strength of Andrew Gubbins’ hat trick, a big help on a night when the Canes (1-1) did their best to quiet Field Willis and Keaton Piconi, Woodstock’s other primary threats.

“We had to get the rust off from the first couple of quarters there,” Gubbins said. “We did what we had to do. We got the win; that’s what we needed from our first game in two years.”

The Wasps controlled the night despite the acrobatics of Tarin Prior, Hartford’s junior netminder. Prior saved 16 Woodstock shots, denying the lower part of the cage and stepping up to hit visiting attackmen if they ventured too close to his crease.

Prior’s play couldn’t make up for a lack of offense at the other end of the field. Hartford was blanked in the second half and didn’t score an even-strength goal on the night.

“The kids played hard; they competed,” Hartford coach Grant Whiteway said. “They fought for all the ground balls, the biggest part of the game. We were right in the game in the first half, carried that over in the second half and gave up a couple of big ones late, but I’m proud of the kids.”

Woodstock built its halftime advantage on superior marking and transition play but one that was hampered by a preponderance of penalties.

The Wasps drew five flags in the opening 24 minutes, the first of which got the Hurricanes on the board after just 2½ minutes, a 15-yard Christopher Pierce laser on the man up. Gubbins leveled just 25 seconds later, scoring on a solo rush after a Woodstock defender forced a Hartford turnover with a clearance bodycheck.

It set the theme for the visitors’ 3-1 advantage at the quarter horn. Parker Kuhnert (two goals, one assist) scored twice in transition for the Wasps, taking longstick Charles Greene’s fast-break feed at 4:55 and scoring again at 8:00 on Riley Shepherd’s pass after another Hurricane giveaway at midfield.

The second quarter went nearly scoreless as Hartford got back quicker on defense and Woodstock drew more penalties. Shepherd upped the Wasps’ edge to 4-1 on a goalmouth feed with 1:27 left in the half. But the Canes stayed close, turning Woodstock’s fifth flag of the half into their second man-up strike, from Aidan Boonyaharn about 45 seconds later.

Woodstock took over in the third quarter, outshooting Hartford, 13-2. Greene started the decisive four-goal run by converting his own turnover at 6:13. Shepherd (two goals, one assist), Piconi and Willis followed to push the Wasps’ lead to 8-2.

Gubbins popped in his final two goals of the night, on a back-door feed from Corey White and another turnover-fueled fast break, to close the scoring in the fourth.

“Yeah, we were rusty, but when we move the ball around, we’re unstoppable,” Gubbins said. “That’s what we need.”

Ethan Mello made nine saves in the Woodstock goal.

“I’m glad we got to play against good, athletic competition,” Woodstock coach Brandon Little said. “It’s been so long since these kids played lacrosse. It was just awesome to play against another team that’s strong.”

The Canes resume D-II action at Otter Valley on Thursday. The Wasps open D-I competition at home against Mount Anthony on Wednesday.

Lax Facts: The game was the first played at Hartford High since the death of Hurricanes coach Bill Elberty last year. Elberty co-coached the Canes with Whiteway and was the person who preceded Little at Woodstock. “It definitely different not having him around, I’ll say that,” Whiteway said. “You notice the little things each day at practice that he kind of did. We think about that stuff every day.” … The Canes are honoring Elberty by wearing his name on their shooter shirts and his initial on their chin guards, Whiteway noted. … Woodstock owned a 38-28 edge in shots, a 24-12 advantage in shots on frame and won at the faceoff spot, 8-7. … The Wasps drew eight flags for 7½ minutes in penalties. Hartford picked up a pair of one-minute calls, both in the second half.

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.




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