Milton lax off to strong start

Milton’s Dylan Forkey carries the ball up the field as Colchester’s Luke Matthews attempts to knock the ball away from him. (Photo by Anthony Labor)

MILTON — Playing its first two games of the lacrosse season on consecutive days, Milton is off to a solid start.

After breezing past U-32 by a 10-2 score in last Wednesday’s Division II matchup, the Yellowjackets used a big fourth quarter to pull away from D-I Colchester last Thursday and come away with a 9-3 win.

“We knew in the first game against U-32 things were going to be pretty sloppy,” Milton coach Trevor Wagar said last Thursday. “That’s how things played out on Wednesday. Ground balls, passing, catching; everything was sloppy being out on the field finally. We got the win we thought we could get on Wednesday, cleaned things up and knew today Colchester was going to be more of a test.”

Despite the game being played in Milton, it was considered a home game for the Lakers since their field isn’t ready for competition.

The Yellowjackets’ defense came up big throughout the game, as they were down a man 10 times but only let up two goals on Laker advantages.

“Our defense played well for the most part and took advantage of some of Colchester’s mistakes,” Wagar said. “We invest a lot of time in man-down strategy and thinking about what we do in different situations depending what the other team does. We are really prepared for the man-down situations, which is great early on. That’s a benefit of getting over half our team back this year.”

Eight players scored for Milton with Devon Jackson leading the way with two goals. Ethan Howell, Will Scarpinato, Colby Bergeron, Tyler McRae, Sam Patterson, Tim Dockham and Dylan Forkey each had a goal.

“We are going to have a balanced scoring attack,” Wagar said. “We aren’t going to be a team that relies on one player to score seven goals every game. We do have some weapons, and if those guys start rolling, we are going to see these scores start to get higher and higher. That’s huge to have multiple scorers out there, and you need guys to score in transition, and we have plenty of weapons out there, because if you rely on one guy, you can be defended very easily.”

Milton started getting pressure on Colchester goalie Cam LeClair (13 saves), but the Lakers got on the board first.

Curtis Lehouiller took a pass in the middle of the field and ripped a shot to the top of the net past Milton goalie Dustin Rock (nine saves).

From there it was all Yellowjackets, as Dockham, Howell, Jackson and Patterson scored four unanswered goals for a 4-1 lead at halftime. After each team scored a goal in the third quarter, Milton opened up things with four quick goals in the fourth.

“This game was tight after three quarters,” Wagar said. “We kind of found our groove in that fourth quarter with four goals to kind of put it away and get that comfortable lead.”

It was a tough first game for the Lakers, who couldn’t get much going on the offensive side against Milton’s suffocating defense.

Despite not being able to capitalize on the man advantage throughout the game, Colchester coach Dan Shepherd knows it’s early and everything from last Thursday’s game is correctible.

“It’s a long year, and today showed us what we need to improve on, and we need to work out some kinks,” he said. “This is one of the first times on the field, and we are young. There were some opportunities that we missed, but that’s how things fall sometime. But hats off to Milton, they are playing really well early on.”

Despite the early success, one area Wagar is hoping to see improve is shot accuracy.

“I have been impressed with the fact we lost nine seniors and had to fill those spots this year,” he said. “We have sophomores and juniors that have stepped up, and that’s been a pleasant surprise so far.

“But we just have to do a better job of getting shots on the cage. We had so many shots throughout the game, but only 11 on the cage. We just have to do a better job with our accuracy and get more of these shots on cage moving forward.”

Jackson also led Milton’s scoring last Wednesday with four goals, while Howell scored three and Cole Heisler, Dockham and Scarpinato added one. Dockham and Howell also picked up an assist each, with Rock making four saves.

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On Saturday, Ethan Howell scored seven goals and Devon Jackson added four, leading Milton to a third straight lacrosse win with a 14-6 decision over visiting St. Johnsbury Academy.

Peyton Ceppetelli gave the Hilltoppers an early lead when he ended more than eight minutes of scoreless action with the first of his three unassisted goals, with 3:35 left in the first period.

By the time Ceppetelli netted St. J’s second of the game 5:51 before halftime, though, the Yellowjackets had taken command with seven unanswered tallies.

Jackson converted an assist from goalie Dustin Rock with 2:29 left in the first to tie it, and Milton ended the frame up 3-1 when Tim Dockham and Howell each scored in the final minute.

Less than half a minute into the second quarter, Jackson made it 4-1. Howell scored under a minute later, and the teammates alternated scores to complete their first-half hat tricks and make it 7-1.

After Ceppetelli ended the Milton run, Jackson netted his fourth for an 8-2 halftime lead.

Howell picked up three more goals in the second half, with Milton also getting one apiece by Tim Boucher, Tyler McRae and Jackson.

Dockham also contributed two assists, with one each from Sawyer McNaney, Casey Langlois, Sam Patterson, John Larose, Colby Bergeron, Rock and Howell.

Milton (3-0) was traveling north to visit Division I BFA-St. Albans in a non-league game Tuesday after the Independent’s press deadline.

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