MILTON — A tough season-opener greeted Milton on Monday in the form of an 11-5 defeat at the hands of Division I Colchester.
The visiting Lakers led comfortably throughout most of their first contest. Though D-II Milton never looked outclassed, the hosts trailed 5-1 at halftime and couldn’t seriously threaten the Lakers despite an improved second half.
Aidan Connors led the CHS attack with three goals and three assists, contributing to more than half the Laker tallies. Brayden Wilkins scored a team-high four goals and assisted on another. Alex Deigneault and Luke Matthews added two goals each, Patrick Flaherty assisted twice, and Mason Thackara set up one goal.
The loss is far from devastating for Milton.
Early-season lacrosse games in Vermont is often quirky due to weather (game-time temperature Monday was 35) and a lack of outdoor practice time. First-year coach Chris Harinsky said he expects his team to build on the many positives from Monday and quickly focus on today’s game at Mt. Abraham.
“We’ve got work to do, but it’s really our second time being outside, and three days ago we were out here in the snow,” he said. “So we’ve got some work to do. But luckily we’ve got a good game tomorrow at Mt. Abe. We’ll put this behind us and head to Mt. Abe tomorrow.”
Following a fantastic 11-4 2017 season that included the top seed in Division II and a second consecutive semifinal appearance before Trevor Wagar shifted roles from coach to athletic director.
Despite losing significant talent to graduation, the Yellowjackets on Monday looked ready to be a force over the next few years, led by a trio of sophomores. Jackson Ehler opened Milton’s scoring and added assists on all but the final Yellowjacket goal. Owen Perry notched a hat trick, scoring the last three Milton goals. And goalie Chris Lefebvre was sensational in stopping 13 shots.
Junior co-captain Colby Bergeron was the lone upperclassman on Milton’s scoresheet Monday, scoring his team’s second goal.
Colchester will be glad to have gotten off to a strong start to this campaign. The Lakers won the Division II title in 2013 but were moved to Division I the following year and have failed to record a winning season since, with just one playoff win in that time.
The Lakers were close to midseason form Monday against a Yellowjacket team that was by no means giving the game away.
Harinsky praised Colchester’s quality but reiterated that this year’s team has plenty of youth and will grow quickly. He expects focusing on the basics will ignite Milton.
“They’re high quality and as you saw we have work to do,” he said. “Fundamentals, back to the fundamentals. But again, a lot of these kids it’s their first varsity game, so it’s jitters. Hopefully just some first-game jitters.”