Patriots off to hot start despite difficult schedule

For MAU boys lacrosse coach Paul Reif, starting his team’s season with tough opponents has become a tradition that he wants to keep. The tests — often coming from larger New York schools — gives Reif the chance to see his team in action against a quality of opponent that is tough, if not impossible, to schedule in Vermont.

Last year, that start left the Patriots in a bind with the win-loss record. This year, that start has the Patriots at 4-2 and coach Reif excited about the rest of the year.

Coming off yesterday’s 11-9 win over BBA, Reif touched on the team’s start, which includes wins over BBA, the defending D-II Vermont champions, and South Glens Falls,  and how it has set his Patriots up with the heart of the MVL schedule upcoming.

“It meant a lot,” Reif said. “It meant a lot because this is a great, competitive team. BBA might have a Division II next to their name, but they are easily a Division I caliber team, one of the best in the state. Forget about the size of the school, that team is phenomenal.”

And while the win was great for the feel-good factor of beating a rival, the win also has the Patriots at a rosy 4-2, good for a three-way tie at the top of the VPA D-I rankings with Middlebury and South Burlington.

“We had a really tough schedule, we did it for the second year in a row [starting tough] early,” Reif said. “We come out of it 4-2 this far, and we are just excited because we are doing the proper things. We were by no means stellar to begin the year, a lot of unforced errors, and we fixed that today.”

Those errors were apparent in the loss to CBA, which I attended. The most apparent takeaway from the loss was a lack of control on ground balls. That changed drastically for the better against BBA.

While the Bulldogs were able to hit some goals pretty quickly — BBA moves so fast at times — when it came down to good, old-fashioned man-to-man defense, the Patriots answered the bell. Full credit goes to Nick Altland, Ben Prandini and Devin Briggs (who started) and Jackson Thibodeau (the goalie) for stepping up against BBA. While the end got sketchy (Reif audibly yelled “penalties are killing us!” in the fourth quarter), the Patriots never allowed BBA to tie the game up, let alone get a lead.

“I think our defense is improving every day,” Reif said. “At the beginning of the season, that’s what we knew we had to work on. Facing the CBA’s and Queensbury’s, it’s tough sledding at first. I’m proud of the guys.”

As the team goes forward, that defensive effort will be needed on a game-in, game-out basis. Luckily for the Patriots, Thibodeau is establishing himself as the cream of the crop for goaltenders in the state, and the senior leadership of Altland and Prandini give the Patriots an experienced, skilled core to work with.

The Patriots will know quickly if the start will mean something to the season. The next four games for MAU are against two Massachusetts schools (Monument Mountain, Mt. Greylock), the home match against BBA next Tuesday, and an away game at Rutland on May 12.

Digging up some history

In the Banner on Friday, I wrote a feature on Southern Vermont College men’s basketball player DeShawn Hamlet. With the Mountaineers set to host the New England Collegiate Conference tournament starting tonight, I wanted to dig up a bit of the past for the blog.

When coach Dan Engelstad took the job at SVC, he called me itching to talk about the team. I laughed at first, but accepted his offer for lunch. Nearly two basketball seasons later, I’m glad I did. Engelstad has been an incredible coach to work with, always willing to talk about the team and, most importantly, dishing out answers that have something to them. He is a Division I coach down at the Division III level, and SVC caught an extremely lucky break when they snagged him for his first head coaching gig.

Here’s what I wrote about him after that first meeting.

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One of those nights


Has everyone caught their breath yet from Hoosick’s Wasaren League-winning game yet?

The flurry of games like those mean some quotes and thoughts get left on the cutting-room floor. The basics have been covered: Andrew Hoag’s performance, Greenwich’s incredible effort from 3-point range, that rather dumbfounding final 33 seconds

Goodness, I forgot to mention that Austin Pitt made the last field goal for Hoosick Falls, making it 50-44, and Andrew Hoag ended up with the game-winning free throws for the Panthers.

Check after the jump for some more thoughts, and a few more quotes, from Wednesday.

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Thoughts and notes from a Saturday in Manchester

Well now, that was an eventful Saturday, wasn’t it?

All across Bannerland coverage, basketball teams picked up critical wins that showed a lot about what we can expect as the playoffs roll around. But while the MAU girls and Hoosick Falls boys were busy sending notice in Hoosick, I spent my afternoon in Manchester looking at a much different kind of statement.

The statement that hard work pays off.

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Records are meant to be broken…

Passing along some news from Twin Valley today. Yesterday, coach Buddy Hayford became the all-time winningest coach in the state when his Twin Valley side dispatched Bellows Falls 8-0.

He is now 346-108-31 as a coach.

Why is this record important?

It was a local coach who previously held the record.

Legendary Arlington coach John Werner is the man Hayford passed to take the record.

Check the story from our sister paper in Brattleboro. Shane Covey asked Hayford about Werner.

Five questions with Pat Cody

Back for another installment of the “Five Questions” series, this week we talked with Mount Anthony Union High School senior goalkeeper Pat Cody, who had just wrapped up winning his second Lee Goldsmith Memorial Soccer Tournament championship.

MAU goalie Pat Cody plays the ball out of the back during Saturday's Lee Goldsmith Memorial Soccer Tournament.

MAU goalie Pat Cody plays the ball out of the back during Saturday’s Lee Goldsmith Memorial Soccer Tournament.

See the interview after the jump

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Thoughts from the Goldsmith Tourney

The official start to soccer season isn’t until Thursday, but over the weekend the unofficial start of the high school season happened at the Lee Goldsmith Memorial Soccer Tournament at Willow Park.

Hosted by Mount Anthony, the event is in honor of Lee Goldsmith, a MAU soccer alum who passed away in 2009 after a battle with cancer.

The Lee Goldsmith trophy.

The Lee Goldsmith trophy.

This year’s edition, the sixth, featured teams from MAU, Burr and Burton, Hoosick Falls, Rutland and Long Trail, with MAU and Rutland each having two sides.

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Going back to 2005

A little later than last week, but here are two more photos I dug out of the archive for #tbt. Both photos come from the 2005-2006 school year.

The first photo is of legendary Mount Anthony Union High School wrestling coach Scott Legacy. When I first saw this photo, I had to do a double-take to make sure I was seeing the same Scott Legacy I knew from this year.

Second is a Hoosick Falls bowler, Mr. Jake Colliano.

Enjoy the photos? Got some you want to share? Send them my way!

Mount Anthony wrestling coach Scott Legacy watches a match during the 2005-2006 season.

Mount Anthony wrestling coach Scott Legacy watches a match during the 2005-2006 season.

Hoosick Falls bowler Jake Colliano right before he bowls (I think) a strike.

Hoosick Falls bowler Jake Colliano right before he bowls (I think) a strike.

Five questions with SVC men’s basketball coach Dan Engelstad

Welcome to another first in a series of weekly ideas that Adam and myself will be rolling out as fall sports start inching closer: Five questions with…

The idea is simple: We ask people five questions. The who depends on the week and what is going on in the sports world.

For the first post, we sat down with Southern Vermont College men’s basketball coach Dan Engelstad. While Engelstad has been busy trying to pull in new players for his program next winter, he has also been leading a basketball camp for area kids.

Southern Vermont College men's basketball coach Dan Engelstad (right) demonstrates a drill during a basketball camp last week.

Southern Vermont College men’s basketball coach Dan Engelstad (right) demonstrates a drill during a basketball camp last week.

Catching him between drills, I picked his brain on a couple of burning topics.

Check more after the jump

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