Hurricane boys will play for lacrosse title, but Woodstock girls upset top-seeded Hartford to advance to D-II state championship game

By BENJAMIN ROSENBERG

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 06-07-2023 1:01 PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — Isabel Konijnenberg admitted she didn’t think anybody on the Woodstock High girls lacrosse team expected to win Tuesday.

The Wasps were up against their biggest rivals — undefeated and top-seeded Hartford — and the Hurricanes were the defending Vermont Division II state champions and had won 33 straight games.

But No. 5-seed Woodstock never seemed rattled, not even after Hartford scored five straight goals in the first half to go ahead by three.

The Wasps dominated the second half with airtight defense and stellar goalkeeping from senior Audrey Emery to pull the upset with a 12-9 road victory.

“We were coming into this game and we had nothing to lose,” said Konijnenberg, a senior midfielder who had three goals and two assists, and also won the majority of her draw controls and used her game-changing speed to chase down the Hurricanes’ attackers. “All we can do is work our butts off, and we truly did that. It’s such a great feeling. We’ve had some bumps in the season, but in the postseason we’ve come out strong and really united as a team.”

Konijnenberg, also a soccer and ice hockey star, scored her team’s first goal, then assisted junior midfielder Claudia Shoemaker to give Woodstock (9-7) its first lead 14 seconds later. Shoemaker found the back of the net again to make it a 3-1 game before Hartford (17-1) began to find a rhythm.

Sophomore attacker Audrey Rupp scored three early goals and fellow sophomore Madison Barwood tallied twice in the first half as the Hurricanes quickly turned the deficit into a 6-3 lead. Junior Addison Cadwell had three assists, one going to senior attacker Alice Piper for her lone goal.

But the Wasps took back some momentum before halftime. Konijnenberg’s second unassisted goal of the game was followed up by a free position goal from sophomore attacker Kassidy Haley, and then freshman midfielder Maeve Roylance cut Hartford’s lead to 7-6 with just 10.5 seconds remaining in the half.

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“They were playing beautiful lacrosse,” Woodstock coach Amanda Hull said. “We talked about a couple things to tweak (at halftime), making sure we were covering their cutters and winning the draws, a couple things that could give us that next edge to get us through the (second) half. They were playing strong.”

Konijnenberg set the tone for that second half immediately, winning the draw control and scoring the game-tying goal on a feed from senior midfielder Lily Gubbins 13 seconds in. She then set up junior midfielder Hannah Gubbins to put the Wasps back in front.

Rupp had the answer for the Hurricanes on the free position, but when freshman attacker Fiona Piconi scored an unassisted goal 22 seconds later, it gave Woodstock the lead it would not relinquish. Shoemaker added two more goals in the final 10 minutes to give her a game-high four, and Emery made seven of her 11 saves in the second half to help seal the upset.

“Audrey had amazing saves today, and she stood really out,” Hull said. “Our defense was so strong today. They worked so well together. Our transitions, our attack really communicated well. Our middies were working so hard ... . It was just a real team effort today.”

Hartford, which won last year’s title with 16 seniors on the roster, had just five this year — Jillian Bushee, Bella Boeri, Ella Perreault, Piper and Shannon Hadlock.

The Wasps will take on No. 2 seed U-32, a team they did not face in the regular season, for the championship on Saturday at Norwich University.

Woodstock last appeared in the title game in 2016, losing to Chelsea, and is seeking its first title since 2015. The school is also hoping to complete a trifecta of championships in girls’ stick sports, having won Division II titles in field hockey in the fall and ice hockey in the winter.

“It’s going to take (playing in) unison as a team,” Konijnenberg said. “The second we start playing true team lacrosse, that’s when we’re successful. Playing together as a team, moving the ball, catching passes, as long as we do that, we’ll be all set.”

Hartford boys top Colchester to return to championship game

Senior attacker Joseph Barwood scored four goals and added two assists to lead the Hurricanes past the Lakers, 11-5, in the VPA Division II semifinals.

Barwood’s performance helped Hartford (17-0) remain perfect. The top-seeded Canes conceded the game’s opening goal, but led 3-1 by the end of the first quarter and 7-2 at halftime. Hartford had beaten the No. 4 seed Lakers twice during the regular season, a 10-3 win at home on May 6 and a 10-6 road victory four days later.

“Teams say it’s hard to beat a team three times; that’s not the case. That’s a loser mentality,” Barwood said. “We knew what they had; they knew what we had. Our midfielders played unbelievable today. We knew if our middies could get down in the alley and stay in corners, which we did, we’d win the game. We played lock-down defense. It was a great team win. They didn’t throw anything at us that we weren’t ready for.”

Sophomore midfielder Austin St. Peter also had four goals, and junior midfielder Brayden Trombly, sophomore attacker Logan Caffrey and junior attacker Ryan Spaulding each scored once. Junior midfielder Ezra Mock led the Hurricanes with three assists, Trombly had two, and Caffrey, Spaulding, Evan Lynds, Cavan Benjamin and Nicolas Daniels had one apiece.

Barwood’s fourth goal, in the final minute of the third quarter, came on a no-look sweeping shot as he was falling to the ground with his momentum carrying him away from the net.

“Some of my other athletic backgrounds help out there,” Barwood said. “Playing hockey, playing golf, some of that stuff takes over in situations like that. You never practice those shots; it just kind of happens.”

Hartford had a 19-11 edge in shots on goal, and freshman Graham Thompson made six saves.

The Canes will take on No. 3 seed Mount Anthony for the title Saturday at Norwich University. Hartford defeated the Patriots 11-4 on the road in the season opener on April 11, a game in which Mock broke his shoulder. Last spring, Hartford fell to Rice in the championship game. Since the program’s inception in 1999, the Hurricanes have played for the title five times but are still seeking their first trophy.

“Both teams are so much different now,” Hartford coach Grant Whiteway said. “(Mount Anthony) has a lot of good players. They’ve got three really good attackers, they’ve got a great goalie and they play good defense. It’ll take a team effort on Saturday. We’ll just have to play hard on both ends.”

Benjamin Rosenberg can be reached at brosenberg@vnews.com or 603-727-3302.