It cost Champlain Valley goalie Owen Hudson a bundle of money to participate in the Division I high school boys lacrosse state championship game at Castleton State College’s Spartan Stadium on Monday.
And it was worth every penny to the Redhawks since the CVU junior played a key role in a 7-6 victory over No. 1 Essex.
Hudson was scheduled to participate in a summer seminar at the Air Force Academy in Colorado but elected to stay with his team. “I blew a lot of money to stay here and I can’t go back. It’s totally worth it though,” he said, grinning.
“I felt nervous once they closed the gap on us but the defense stayed true to the end,” Hudson said, adding, “The defense was cutting down the angles and pushing guys out, making my job so much easier.”
Hudson wound up with eight saves but several were sensational, particularly in the first half when CVU built a lead. Through three quarters, he and his defense were primarily responsible for holding the Hornets’ potent offense to two goals.
That’s when the fun began. Keenan Weischedel and Bradan Merrill netted goals to slash the Redhawks advantage to 5-4 with eight minutes remaining. After that, the teams exchanged goals as CVU desperately tried to hang on while the Hornets just as desperately scrapped for a tying goal.
Nevin DiParlo put CVU back in front by two and the Hornets’ James Olsen (2 goals, 2 assists) cut the lead to one. Alex Bulla (2 goals, 3 assists) struck at 9:39, CVU leading 7-5, and Luc LeBlanc netted the game’s final goal for Essex with 1:12 remaining.
“At that point, you’re in the moment and you’ve just got to shoot the ball. It’s called being in the right place at the right time,” said Bulla said of his late goal, adding, “We knew they were going to come in hotter than ever (in the final period) and that’s what they did.
“They’re a phenomenal team,” Bulla said. “Give them credit. They’ve got a lot of seniors and a lot of great kids on that team. They know how to battle. They’ve been here before and it shows in tight games, it can go back and forth and that’s what it was.”
“They’ve been in these games with Essex before so they knew the deal. They kept pushing and they were tired,” CVU coach Dave Trevitick said of the Redhawks, who lost 14-8 and 6-5 to Essex in the regular season. “It worked out.”
The loss was the first of the season to a Vermont team for the top-seeded Hornets (16-3).
“They always play hard and we pretty well know each other pretty well at this point,” said Essex coach Dean Corkum. “It was a tough first half for us. We started putting things together in the second half and we just came up short but a lot of credit to them.
“We just needed one more to get over the hump and we just couldn’t quite do it.”
Steele DuBrul (2 assists), Matt Palmer (1 assist), Elliot Mitchell (2 assists), Hoyt McCuin added a goal each for the sixth-seeded Redhawks (14-5), who had 29 shots at goal to 21 for Essex.
Trevithick said a key move late in the game involved DuBrul and Bulla. “They did a great job long pole on Steele and on Alex when they were on separate lines and coming out of those two timeouts, we put them together to see what happens and that’s how we got those (final) two goals,” he said.
Thomas Vanzo and Jack Donahue added goals for Essex while goalie Pat Abbott posted five saves.