Lacrosse teams playing in the chill of mid-April are not the same as when June rolls around. A BFA-St. Albans team that lost 8-1 to Rutland in the season opener, gave Rutland much more than it wanted in the opening round of the Division I boys lacrosse playoff game on Tuesday before the Ravens won 13-12 to advance to the quarterfinal round.
Rutland had to battle uphill most of the day. The Ravens did not take their first lead until Joe Anderson put them ahead 11-10 with 8:25 remaining.
Rutland coach Sean Miller had to love his team’s resiliency. The Bobwhites were often on the verge of getting away from Rutland but the Ravens always were able to get off the mat.
It was early in the second quarter when the Bobwhites looked to be on the threshold of taking control of the game. Ezra Lanfear scored to push BFA’s lead to 5-2.
Enter, Matt Magro. The junior scored two goals in just over a minute. John Cotter followed Magro’s goals with another to draw Rutand even, 5-5.
Yet, it was the Bobwhites who went into halftime with the momentum and a 7-5 lead after goals by Andrew Koval and Ehan Audy.
Miller delivered the terse message at halftime,
“The talk at halftime was that we have 24 minutes left in our season if we don’t turn this around,” Miller said. “We had to play our game, keep our heads and want the ground balls more.”
The new half started well enough for the Ravens. Bradley Burton scored off Magro’s assist to pull them within one goal.
Burton, a freshman, scored again with Joe Anderson assisting to pull Rutland into a tie.
Then, Noah Earl asserted himself for the Bobwhites. He scored two goals within 15 seconds of one another to give BFA a two-goal cushion.
Then, it was Carter Stearns’ turn to come to the fore for the Ravens. He scored to make it 9-8, and Dillon Moore scored with 30 seconds left in the third quarter tie it at 9-9.
BFA’s Tanner Poquette scored but Stearns got the Ravens even again with a goal, bringing the score to 10-10 with 10:40 left in the game.
Pat Cooley made a great play to gain possession to make the goal possible.
Stearns came to lacrosse late, growing up in Bethel and not getting into the Rutland school system until he was a freshman.
“I caught on to it pretty quick,” Stearns said. “The freshman year was a big struggle because I was new to the game.”
Anderson’s goal gave Rutland its first lead but Sam Beauregard answered for BFA, making it 11-11 with 6:14 to go.
It was Anderson putting Rutland in front for good with 5:48 to play.
Dillon Moore tacked on an insurance goal and it was needed because Audy found the net for the Bobwhites with 2:23 remaining.
The Bobwhites were called for an illegal screen with 1:13 to play and the Ravens did a nice job of icing it until the end.
Miller said that 8-1 decision with BFA back on April 17 was the last thing on his mind.
“We knew this wasn’t going to be a walk in the park,” Miller said.
Anderson led the Ravens in scoring with three goals. Magro, Burton, Stearns and Moore had two goals apiece.
Moore was a catalyst for the attack all day, ringing up three assists to go with his two goals.
Cooley had a goal and an assist and Cotter added a goal.
But games aren’t only won at the attacking end of the field. Rutland goalie Jarrett Kelley and his defense came up big time and again to keep the Bobwhites from building onto their lead.
Miller felt Matt Flanagan keyed that defense much of the time.
“Matt Flanagan has gotten tougher and tougher. He has been coming up with ground balls more and more. He has done a great job of playing short stick defense for us,” Miller said.
BFA, the No. 9 seed, closes out its season at 3-11.
No. 8 Rutland takes a 5-10 record to No. 1 CVU for the quarterfinal game on Friday. The 14-1 Redhawks and Rutland met during the season with CVU winning 17-2.
But as the Bobwhites and Ravens found out, things can be different in June.