BY GENE DELORENZO
FAIRFAX — The Bullets of BFA Fairfax came storming back after trailing 6-3 at halftime to edge Otter Valley, 12-11, in boys lacrosse at BFA Fairfax on Monday, May 9. BFA would score the game-winner with only 1:15 remaining on a crafty short side shot by Bryce Fontaine.
Otter Valley would have a chance to tie the game with seconds remaining, but a long shot went awry and BFA was able to capture the rebound and run the field to run out the clock. It was the Bullets first win of the season after facing a daunting schedule that is very similar to OV’s equally challenging schedule.
For Otter Valley, it was a game that they seemed to have well in hand throughout the contest. They only trailed for the final 1:15 after leading or being tied for the first 58:45. It was a disappointing loss for the team and their followers.
The game started in a very quiet fashion as one might expect on a warm, sultry afternoon with but a few people in attendance for the first face-off.
OV’s Hayden Bernhardt scored the first goal 3:46 into the contest and Otter Valley would establish dominance of the game in virtually every aspect. Otter Valley would outshoot Fairfax 9-6 in the first quarter and 18-15 at halftime. The one pre-cursor to the final score was the turnover column: Despite dictating the pace of the game en route to a 6-3 lead at the half, OV had committed 17 turnovers to BFA Fairfax’s 10.
This statistic would come back to haunt the Otters as they continued to turn the ball over at an alarming rate. Eventually, they would lose the turnover battle 31-21.
Bernhardt would add three more first half tallies to go into halftime with 4 goals. Evan Thomas would add a first half goal along with a marker by Dom Davis. OV’s Danny O’Brien was solid in goal with 8 saves and seemingly had the game well under control.
With 5:45 remaining in the third, Bernhardt threaded the needle with a terrific give and go pass to Evan Thomas and the two basketball teammates had a beautiful combo play that gave the Otters a comfortable 7-4 lead.
The Bullets, however, would not go away. With a larger crowd having filled the sidelines, the energy level had really picked up for the home team and they were able to add 5 goals in the final five minutes of play. Teddy Munson scored all three of his goals in this stretch, including two within the final :27 seconds of the quarter. But the leaders were Fontaine and a strong midfield player, Reese Decker.
With Bernhardt adding two more tallies 52 seconds apart late in the third quarter, the two teams would go into the final quarter tied at 9-9.
All the final quarter stats would indicate the Otters would win this game easily. Ben Marks had taken over face-off duties for the second half and he put on a clinic on how to take the face-off in lacrosse. He was 6 for 6 in the period. Otter Valley would unleash a barrage of shots, also. They would outshoot the Bullets, 14-6. Danny O’Brien would add 2 more saves to take his total to 14 for the game. Yet another incredible performance from the senior netminder. OV would win the ground ball battle in the quarter, 11-7.
But 7 turnovers would keep the Bullets in the game and the final shots-on-goal would be very telling: OV managed 20 of 42 shot attempts to be “on goal,” while BFA Fairfax had 25 of 32 shots on goal.
The hosts were able to maximize their shot attempts while it appeared OV was content on simply send the ball toward the goal almost indiscriminately. Bernhardt had some excellent shots early – shots with great pace and tremendous direction. Along with several of his teammates, the final 4 or 5 shot attempts were from long range and not overly threatening to the Bullets.
In the end, Fairfax took advantage of Otter Valley’s poor shot selection and shot location. But there were many fine points from the game and this OV team can make some noise in the playoffs. Their improvement has been remarkable.
Next game for the Otters will be at home on Wednesday, May 11 versus Mt. Abraham.