A capsule look at the first round of U-32’s high school playoffs (all times EDT):
BASEBALL: No. 15 Vergennes at No. 2 U-32
Monday at U-32, 4:30 p.m.
REGULAR SEASON: U-32 went 12-4 and finished an index point shy of top-seeded Lamoille. Vergennes, two years removed from not having a varsity program, struggled with a Metro schedule and won just one game, going 1-15.
SEASON SERIES: They didn’t play each other, but U-32 won against common opponent Spaulding while Vergennes lost. The Commodores did beat Randolph, a team the Raiders split with.
STORYLINE: U-32’s baseball program finally pushed past years of struggles, winning a program-best 12 wins en route to the second seed. They showed strides last season, coming close to upsetting Harwood in the first round of the playoffs, but this year was a major step. They swept the season series with Lyndon, then split with the Highlanders and Randolph. Lamoille has been the one team with their number, eking out a come-from-behind 8-7 win and then a 7-4 victory in extras. In the other corner, Vergennes has returned after missing a year without a varsity program. The Commodores have a proven track record, winning championships in 2007 and 2012, but have gone just 4-28 over the last two seasons. A convincing win over Randolph earlier this year was their lone win, but going winless in 12 D-I games was a rough patch.
BOYS LACROSSE: No. 10 U-32 at No. 7 St. Johnsbury
Tuesday at St. Johnsbury, 4 p.m.
REGULAR SEASON: The Raiders won their final game of the season to fight off a winless campaign, going 1-12 and ending up in the 10th and final spot. St. Johnsbury, meanwhile, went 7-7, closing the season on a disappointing five-game losing streak.
SEASON SERIES: The Hilltoppers doubled up U-32 in their second game of the season, rolling to a 15-7 win at home.
STORYLINE: It was a shaky season for U-32, who entered as a very young team. A rough campaign ensued, and it took them 13 games to find their first win, as they scored a last-second goal to beat No. 8 Lamoille. They only lost by three goals to rival Montpelier and Hartford. Randolph, who one their first game in five years earlier in the season, beat the Raiders by two. On the other side of things, St. Johnsbury’s season and bid for a top seed crumbled. The Hilltoppers opened 3-0 against a weak schedule, then strung together another three-game winning streak to push their record to 7-2. Facing a tougher schedule later in the year, they dropped five straight games to end at .500 and falling out of an automatic bye.
GIRLS LACROSSE: No. 10 Hartford/No. 7 Colchester at No. 2 U-32
Friday at U-32, 4 p.m.
REGULAR SEASON: U-32 finished off their fourth straight winning season, going 12-4 and coming just shy of their third No.1 seed in four years. The second-seeded Raiders earned a bye, awaiting the winner of Hartford and Colchester. Hartford finished just 2-12, while Colchester was a couple games under .500 at 6-9.
SEASON SERIES: Colchester and Hartford didn’t meet in the regular season, and neither team played U-32.
STORYLINE: Cilla Wanzer continued to destroy D-II competition this season, surpassing the 200-goal milestone midway through the year. With a strong supporting cast, U-32’s offense was strong, averaging 14 goals a game. The defense was equally impressive over the four-game winning streak to close the game, allowing under six goals a game, while tripling their opponents. The first-round bye is well deserved for the U-32 program, who have gone 50-8 over the last four years in the regular season. They’ve only come away with one championship during that span (2014), and Chelsea will be in the way. The top seed, Chelsea knocked U-32 out in the quarterfinals last season and will be the team to beat this year. U-32 won the first matchup, 12-10, but Chelsea came right back five days later and won 15-11. All eyes will be on that matchup if both teams make it through to the finals.
SOFTBALL: No. 10 U-32 at No. 7 Missisquoi
Tuesday at Missisquoi, 4:30 p.m.
REGULAR SEASON: After withstanding a tough blow to graduation and moves, U-32 still extended their above-.500 stretch to six seasons with an 8-6 record. Missisquoi, meanwhile, last had a losing season in the 1970s. The Thunderbirds went 9-7, and are two years removed from a finals appearance.
SEASON SERIES: They didn’t play each other.
STORYLINE: U-32 softball, unlike their winter counterpart basketball, were stuck in D-I for the third straight season. The Raiders took a hit in graduation, but still pieced together a solid campaign, winning five of their last 7. The 10-seed is their lowest since 2007, but they’ve advanced past the first round of the playoffs each of the past three years. Missisquoi, meanwhile, has been strong for quite some time. The Thunderbirds didn’t win 10 games for the first time in eight years but are still a tough out. Five of their seven losses came against the top five teams in D-II, and they won four of six to close out the year.
All pictures from the Times Argus.