By Tris Wykes

WOODSTOCK – Visiting Middlebury High won the overtime faceoff and drove into Woodstock territory before calling time out Saturday afternoon. Shortly thereafter, the Tigers enjoyed a fortuitous bounce on the restart and Owen Lawton cranked in a shot from the left side for an 7-6 victory in Vermont Division I boys lacrosse. 

Woodstock High’s Riley Shepherd passes against Middlebury’s Penn Renney. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

The sudden ending, just 22 second into extra time, capped a back-and-forth affair between two of the better teams in the state. Woodstock held a 4-2 lead three minutes into the second half but surrendered the next four goals and trailed, 6-4, midway through the fourth quarter. 

“There was a little bit of a pick initially,” said Woodstock coach Brandon Little of the final play. “We knocked the ball away and it bounced right back to (Lawton) and he swept across the top. I think if there hadn’t been a ground ball, my defenseman would have been on him the whole way.”

Keaton Piconi’s hockey-style goal with 7 minutes, 57 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and Riley Shepherd’s bounce shot from a sharp angle with 5:36 to go in that stanza to pull Woodstock even at 6-6.

Andrew Gubbins had two point-blank shot chances in the final minutes but one caromed off the crossbar and the other was saved by goaltender Jack Rizzo, who staggered backwards from the force of the ball hitting his stick’s netting.

Woodstock High’s Andrew Gubbins (5) maintains possession despite the attention of Middlebury’s Finn Whitlock (5) and Cam Stone. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

“It was very good, high-level Division I lacrosse,” Wood said. “Rizzo’s top notch, but we hit at least five pipes and shot wide a bunch. Imagine if those had gone in?

“I thought we had good looks late in the game, but our usual fast-break goals didn’t land today. We shot wide or they tipped them a few times. It wasn’t as smooth as usual.”

Woodstock’s Shepherd had a goal and two assists. David Field Willis had a goal and an assist. Parker Kuhnert had two goals and Andrew Gubbins also scored. 

Notes: The Tigers are 4-1… Wood said Gubbins, voted Division I’s top ice hockey player last winter, is likely off to play in that sport’s junior ranks this coming autumn… Woodstock next plays Thursday at Burr & Burton (6-2). Annual power Champlain Valley Union (5-0) also looms on the Wasps’ slate.

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Woodstock High’s Parker Kuhnert chases Middlebury goaltender Jack Rizzo past his cage. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.