Woodstock girls are trusting the process

  • Woodstock High goaltender Emma Tarleton gazes skyward during halftime of her team’s 17-13 loss to visiting Burr & Burton on Saturday. The freshman, who is in her first season playing the sport, made eight saves. (Valley News -- Tris Wykes)

  • Woodstock High defender Izzy Jones shouts that she has the ball carrier, Burr & Burton’s Julia Filion, during the Wasps’ 17-13 loss Saturday.

  • Woodstock High’s Gina Sorrentino is a step ahead of Burr & Burton’s Charleigh Carthy during Saturday’s 17-13 loss to the visiting Bulldogs. (Valley News — Tris Wykes)

  • Woodstock High’s Addie Gray fires wide of the Burr & Burton net and goaltender Lola Herzog during the Wasps’ 17-13 loss Saturday. The hosts dropped to 2-9. (Valley News -- Tris Wykes)

  • Woodstock High’s Kelly Gebhardt drives against Burr & Burton’s Hannah Callen during the Wasps’ 17-13 loss to the visiting Bulldogs. (Valley News -- Tris Wykes)

Valley News Staff Writer
Monday, May 13, 2019

WOODSTOCK — Amanda Hull is a kindergarten teacher, so she’s accustomed to the learning process’ early stages. Her Woodstock High girls lacrosse team also seems to be setting the foundation for an upswing after what will be its third consecutive losing season.

“I’m thrilled for the future because when we start next year, it’s going to be from where we left off this season,” Hull said Saturday after her team’s 17-13 loss to Burr & Burton dropped it to 2-9. “They’re starting to learn my coaching style and what I expect of them, so next season we don’t have to get to know each other, we can just talk lacrosse.”

Woodstock features a freshman goaltender who began playing the sport three weeks into the season, nine sophomores and seven juniors. Seniors Sidney Pilot, Gina Sorrentino and Addie Gray might be the team’s best players, but at least the Wasps will have to replace only the three of them next spring.

Since 2016, when Woodstock reached the Vermont state title game for a second consecutive year, it’s lost nearly 25 players, mostly to graduation. The Wasps were 25-11 and won the 2015 Division II championship during those two seasons, but are 8-32 since.

“There are just ups and downs with some classes being bigger than others,” said Hull, a fifth-year coach whose program is back to fielding a full junior varsity a year after having only eight players at that level.

“We have lot of spring sports for a small school and sometimes girls get pulled in other directions. I’m just lucky they’re coming back to lacrosse again.”

A setback occurred before the current campaign, when junior and two-year starting goaltender Maggie Parker elected not to return. Woodstock conducted its first few practices without a netminder before German exchange student Kai Albers volunteered. Freshman Emma Tarleton came out several weeks into the season and is now the starter after Albers suffered an ankle injury warming up for the Burr & Burton contest.

“The mental aspect of lacrosse goalie is harder than almost any other sports position,” said Hull, noting that a good performance can still include a dozen goals allowed. “We just haven’t had girls want to step into that position and it’s a hard one to talk them into.”

Woodstock’s seniors, along with juniors Audrey Eggum and Sophie Leggett and sophomore Kelly Gebhardt, provide a fairly strong offense. The defense was decent as long as it was set Saturday, helping the Wasps rally from a 6-2 deficit in the first half. It was in transition that the Bulldogs did their damage, their outlet passes often finding a teammate running wide open through the center of the field.

“Defense is a chain reaction and everybody has to do it in order for it to be seamless,” said Hull, whose team visits Mount Anthony on Thursday. “If we have a few people who aren’t putting in the hustle, it can lead to those open transition passes and it’s hard to make up ground.”

Woodstock’s record is somewhat misleading, for it’s suffered eight losses to Division I foes. Among the Wasps’ victories is one over Division II Green Mountain Valley, which is 7-1 against an all-Division II schedule. Come playoff time, Hull’s troops could make some noise.

“We had a rough start this year, but we’re bonding better as a team,” Sorrentino said. “Sometimes people’s heads get down when we mess up and I try to prevent that.”

Woodstock was 4-10 during Hull’s first season before going 14-4 and winning a title the next. She’d love to see a similar turnaround later this spring or next, but it’s not weighing heavily on her mind.

“Every coach loves to win and that’s what I’d love to be doing all the time, but it’s also fun to work the other side of it and figure out how we can improve and be happy with a game like today,” she said.

“Coaching is teaching and you get to see them improve as people. You want them to be good lacrosse players but it’s more important that they come out with some life lessons.”

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com.