By Tris Wykes
WHITE RIVER JUNCTION – Senior Night for the Hartford High boys lacrosse team didn’t turn out quite as hoped by the hosts.
Rice showed up with 13 seniors of its own. One of them, attackman Jackson Harris, scored his third goal of the evening with 2 minutes, 7 seconds remaining to give the visitors a 7-6 victory Friday in a clash between two of Vermont Division II’s top teams.
Lurking behind the Hurricanes’ net, Harris cut around the back of the crease, emerging on the right side of Hartford goaltender Tarin Prior. The senior took a pass from his younger brother, junior midfielder Graham Harris, whirled 180 degrees and scored with a righthanded shot.
The play gave Graham Harris his third assist, to go with one goal. Jackson Harris had three goals and an assist and the Knights prevailed despite committing seven of the hard-hitting contest’s eight penalties. Rice (8-0) was called for two illegal-stick fouls and a pair of delay-of-game penalties.
Rice, which played only its second game decided by two or fewer goals, opened the scoring during the fourth minute and on a play where it appeared Prior suffered a lower body injury. The junior limped and seemed bothered for the rest of the first half before looking more agile after the break and finishing with 10 saves, several of them outstanding.
Hartford (8-4) produced a 1-1 tie less than a minute after the opening tally. The Hurricanes then surrendered three consecutive goals before scoring three in a row and entering intermission at 4-4.
Rice struck for two of the third period’s three goals and held a 6-5 lead at the end of the frame. Hartford’s Joseph Barwood pulled his team into a 6-6 deadlock with 8:37 remaining, firing into an open net with Knights freshman goaltender Logan Lambrecht out of his crease.
Barwood, a sophomore, posted a hat trick and junior midfielder Aidan Boonyaharn had two goals in his return from a concussion that sidelined him for multiple games. Freshman midfielder Ezra Mock had three assists.
Carter Nalette also scored for the hosts, who received seven take-aways and four ground balls from sophomore defenseman Connor Tierney and five take-aways and seven ground balls from senior rearguard Ethan School.
Rice last won a state title when it captured the 2011 Division II crown. The Knights defeated Hartford in the quarterfinals that season.
The Hurricanes have never won a state title and are 0-4 in championship games, losing back-to-back Division III title matches in 2016 and 2017. Hartford has fallen in the Division II semifinals each of the last two seasons.
Hartford visits Division III Montpelier (4-1) on Tuesday and travels to Stowe the day after. The Hurricanes conclude their regular season at Milton on Friday.
Vermont Division II boys lacrosse standings (per VPA index points)
Mt. Anthony 4-5
St. Johnsbury 2-5
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