Playoff positioning was at stake Saturday afternoon when the Rutland and Mount Mansfield boys lacrosse teams did battle on Alumni Field.
Both teams came in with a 4-9 record and the winner effectively locked up the No. 7 seed in the upcoming Division I tournament.
The Cougars used a strong second half to pull out an 11-6 win against the Ravens.
Mount Mansfield was held to just one first-half goal, so it looked like it could be Rutland’s day for most of the opening 24 minutes.
The Cougars changed that narrative on a dime when play resumed in the second half.
A great cut into the middle of the defense resulted in a goal for Alex Brown 31 seconds into the half senior Seth Westover scored less than a minute later. Westover added another goal 32 seconds later to give Mount Mansfield its first lead.
Joe Anderson and Dillon Moore had goals to put Rutland ahead again with 7:38 left in the third, but the Ravens struggled to break the Cougar defense from there.
Mount Mansfield scored three unanswered to end the third quarter and put the game out reach in the fourth.
Westover had three of the Cougars’ fourth-quarter goals and finished with a game-high six goals.
“(Mount Mansfield) came prepared for a battle,” said Rutland coach Sean Miller. “They stuck in the game with us.”
Rutland controlled a low-scoring first half. Patrick Cooley scored midway though the first quarter and Dillon Moore had a buzzer-beating goal from about 25 yards out to put the Ravens ahead 2-0 after one.
The fact that Rutland only led 2-0 after one and 3-1 at the half was because of the outstanding play by Mount Mansfield sophomore goalie Ray Chamberland.
Especially in the first half, Chamberland made save after save on strong scoring opportunities. He had 14 saves for the day, keeping his team afloat even when the offense wasn’t humming.
“We knew we had to go out there and keep hammering him and keep shooting,” Miller said. “We had to change up our strategy when it came to shooting on the goaltender. He came up with some good saves when they needed it.”
The second half left something to be desired, but Miller was happy with his squad’s effort as a whole.
“The first half was good. We stayed out of the penalty box. We played as a cohesive team,” Miller said. “We took control of the face-off and took control from there. Our defense and goaltending was phenomenal today.”
Jarrett Kelley had 12 saves for Rutland, matching Chamberland’s prowess for most of the contest.
Moore had two goals for Rutland, while Cooley, Anderson, Matt Magro and Bradley Burton all had one.
The Ravens (4-10) are looking at the No. 8 seed in the Division I tournament.