EAST MONTPELIER — After playing in four one-goal games this season, the U-32 girls lacrosse team avoided any drama during Saturday’s 14-7 quarterfinal victory over Stowe.
The defending Division II champs beat Stowe for the third time in two weeks and are one victory away from making their third straight title appearance. Second-seeded U-32 (11-3) will host No. 6 St. Johnsbury (7-7) in Tuesday’s 4:30 p.m. semifinal.
Rescheduled games forced U-32 to close out the regular season with four games in five days. That stretch included a 19-2 victory over Stowe and an 11-8 loss to Spaulding two days later. The midfield presence that was lacking against the Crimson Tide was back in full effect a week later.
U-32 started the quarterfinal with confidence following its regular-season sweep over No. 7 Stowe. But late in the first half Stowe began to string some goals together to stay in contention. U-32 entered the break with an 8-4 advantage and then the action was back and forth in the opening minutes of the second half.
U-32 found its stride again midway through the second half to lock up a comfortable victory.
“We had a pretty good flurry in the middle of the second half,” U-32 coach Emilie Connor said. “We slowed it down toward the end, and I thought we executed a pretty good possession game. We played hard the whole game and I’m really proud of our consistency.”
Cypress Levitt scored six goals and won 12 draw controls in the winning effort. Teammate Emily Ehret scored three goals.
Levitt and Ehret both returned to action after traveling to Baltimore last week for a national lacrosse tournament as members of a combined Vermont-New Hampshire select team.
“I think they came back stronger because they had a great experience there and played with really good players,” Connor said.
Brooke George and Charlotte Harris also recorded hat tricks for U-32, while Kathryn Jones made eight saves in net. Teammate Jenna Mekkelsen recorded three caused turnovers.
“Bella Hayes and Jenna Mekkelsen had strong games on the defensive side,” Connor said. “We were missing Bella last Saturday too, so it was good to have her back as a leader on D today.”
Sierra Anderson (four goals, one assist) led Stowe’s offense and goalie Annika Wagner made 14 saves in the loss. U-32 held a 14-8 edge on draw controls.
Connor’s squad was one of four teams to earn a first-round bye, and there were few signs of rust after a six-day break.
“We went from playing four games a week to then a week off,” the U-32 coach said. “So I just tried to spin it as a quick preseason for your second season, to keep everyone motivated. And I think everyone did a really good job.”
Stowe ends the season at 7-8. U-32 will attempt to beat the Hilltoppers for the second times this season, and favorable conditions could allow the Raiders to host a game on their main field for the second time this spring. U-32 held on for an 11-10 victory at St. Johnsbury on April 30, and at that point the Raiders hadn’t even held an outside practice due to late snow.
“I’m excited to build on today and hopefully have a really good practice Monday,” Connor said. “I think we know we can beat them. But we need to make sure we play a complete game.”