CVU counters Wasps’ lacrosse upset attempt

Woodstock High lacrosse player Reid Allegretti, right, hugs teammate Owen Kross after the Wasps' 8-7, overtime loss to Champlain Valley Union on June 11, 2024, in Hinesburg, Vt. The result denied Woodstock a berth in the Vermont Division I championship game. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Woodstock High lacrosse player Reid Allegretti, right, hugs teammate Owen Kross after the Wasps' 8-7, overtime loss to Champlain Valley Union on June 11, 2024, in Hinesburg, Vt. The result denied Woodstock a berth in the Vermont Division I championship game. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news — Tris Wykes

Champlain Valley Union High's Matias Williams, left, drives past Woodstock's Sam Hambsch during the Vermont Division I teams' playoff semifinal game on June 11, 2024, in Hinesburg, Vt. CVU won, 8-7, in overtime. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Champlain Valley Union High's Matias Williams, left, drives past Woodstock's Sam Hambsch during the Vermont Division I teams' playoff semifinal game on June 11, 2024, in Hinesburg, Vt. CVU won, 8-7, in overtime. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. —Tris Wykes

Woodstock High's Camden Perrault (10) turns the corner on Champlain Valley Union's Jacob Bose (4) during the Vermont Division I teams' playoff semifinal on June 11, 2024, in Hinesburg, Vt. CVU won, 8-7, in overtime. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Woodstock High's Camden Perrault (10) turns the corner on Champlain Valley Union's Jacob Bose (4) during the Vermont Division I teams' playoff semifinal on June 11, 2024, in Hinesburg, Vt. CVU won, 8-7, in overtime. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. —Tris Wykes

Woodstock High's Griffin Piconi (15) runs the ball out of a pack of players during his team's 8-7, overtime loss to Champlain Valley Union in a Vermont Division I playoff semifinal on June 11, 2024, in Hinesburg, Vt. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Woodstock High's Griffin Piconi (15) runs the ball out of a pack of players during his team's 8-7, overtime loss to Champlain Valley Union in a Vermont Division I playoff semifinal on June 11, 2024, in Hinesburg, Vt. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. —Tris Wykes

Woodstock High's Kyler Eaton, right, runs with Champlain Valley Union's Darragh Curley during the Vermont Division I teams' playoff semifinal on June 11, 2024. CVU won, 8-7, in overtime. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Woodstock High's Kyler Eaton, right, runs with Champlain Valley Union's Darragh Curley during the Vermont Division I teams' playoff semifinal on June 11, 2024. CVU won, 8-7, in overtime. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news photographs — Tris Wykes

Woodstock High lacrosse defenseman Sam Hamsbsch listens to assistant coach Patrick Crane during a Vermont Division I playoff semifinal against Champlain Valley Union on June 11, 2024, in Hinesburg, Vt. CVU won, 8-7, in overtime. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Woodstock High lacrosse defenseman Sam Hamsbsch listens to assistant coach Patrick Crane during a Vermont Division I playoff semifinal against Champlain Valley Union on June 11, 2024, in Hinesburg, Vt. CVU won, 8-7, in overtime. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. —Tris Wykes

By TRIS WYKES

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 06-12-2024 5:02 PM

HINESBURG, Vt. — Woodstock High, with the smallest enrollment among VPA Division I boys lacrosse programs, hasn’t won a state title since 1999. Champlain Valley Union has captured 12 crowns during that stretch, its success fed in part by an enrollment nearly 1,000 students larger than that of Woodstock.

You could have told none of that by the teams’ Tuesday playoff semifinal, however.

The top-seeded RedHawks won, 8-7, in overtime, but so equal were the opponents that you might have thought the fifth-seeded visitors were the ones with a cache of championship rings. Woodstock won at fourth-seeded South Burlington in overtime during the quarterfinals.

“We fought tooth and nail against two of the biggest schools in the state,” said 15th-year coach Brandon Little, whose program annually petitions to play up in Division I. “To be the best, you have to play the best, and these last two games speak volumes about how hard these guys fight.”

Woodstock (11-6) used a goal with eight seconds remaining to force overtime against South Burlington. Against CVU, it scored five of the second half’s six goals and won overtime’s opening faceoff. The Wasps got a good crack at the net before an ill-advised pass sailed over its intended target’s head, handing the RedHawks (15-2) the ball just inside the center line.

CVU ran a series of “sweeps,” plays in which various players curve out from the side alleys with the ball, looking to cut in once they reach the field’s center. Twice the RedHawks were repulsed.

The third time, Jacob Bose, a powerful senior who doesn’t appear a day under 25 years of age, powered past his defender on the right side and beat goaltender Rowan Larmie with a bounce shot.

“The field was wet and we had a real tough time in the first quarter, which was part of the reason they got up on us,” said Little, whose team trailed, 2-1, after one period. “We were slipping a lot on defense, and it was just another slip at the end.”

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Woodstock, which received 10 saves and inspirational poise from sophomore goaltender Larmie, didn’t look much better than a .500 team on paper at season’s start, Little said. But a program long known for starting slow and finishing strong won 10 of its last 12 games with players embracing position switches and tactical adjustments.

“We moved people around, and the team was willing to do it to be good,” said Little, whose group wasn’t the more athletic team Tuesday but countered with relentless defense and savvy offensive passing. Almost all the visitors’ goals were assisted and from close range.

“We told them it wasn’t going to be an individual effort, that we couldn’t score more than one goal at a time,” Little said of his staff’s message on how Woodstock could overcome its deficit. “It’s different up here, a hard-fought, fast game, and our guys reacted well to that.”

Caeden Perrault, a short-stick defensive midfielder for the Wasps, said they adopt a chest-out philosophy every season. Woodstock could likely emulate CVU’s success playing in Division II, but each year its players vote to keep tilting at the Division I windmill.

“We know we’re a small school but that we can play with the big dogs,” said the junior, whose program most recently reached the semifinals in 2021 and 2018. “We have grit and we put our heads down and grind. We preach a lot of fundamentals.

“CVU is, like, the 20-time champions, but we’re used to being the underdog, so today wasn’t as scary as you might think.”

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