Hayden Luneau of Missisquoi battles with BFA St. Albans’ Matt Merrill on Wednesday night during a fierce head to head matchup between the rivals. Ben Kaufmann, County Courier

By Ben Kaufmann
County Courier

SWANTON – The always heated rivalry between BFA-St. Albans and Missisquoi went a step too far on Wednesday, with a second-half fight between the two teams overshadowing an excellent 2-0 Bobwhite win.

Each team had a man ejected due to the skirmish midway through the second half in front of the BFA bench. The Bobwhite coaching staff and players from both teams put a quick stop to the melee and play resumed without further incident. 

Outside of that distraction, the two schools picked up where they’d left off with a 1-1 draw earlier this month, knotted at 0-0 at halftime with BFA (4-1-1) pulling away in the second half.

BFA’s Clark Kennedy runs upfield with MVU’s Mason Lemnah in the background during BFA’s 2-0 win in Swanton on Wednesday. Ben Kaufmann, County Courier

“It always happens,” BFA Coach Luke Laroche said of the tight contests with Missisquoi. “We were in for it, zero-zero at half again. So to get one a little bit into the second half was nice and to get that one with five and some change left just takes a big relief off us.”

Matt Merrill knocked in the rebound of a Kam Dunsmore shot nine minutes into the second half and Dunsmore tapped in a cross from Derek Nadeau with just over five minutes left to push the visitors over MVU (1-5-1).

Dunsmore spent most of Wednesday’s 80 minutes causing trouble for the MVU back line, though with the Thunderbirds focused so much on him it was the rest of the Bobwhite attack that pushed BFA ahead.

“He’s tough to guard, he’s great one on one attacking guys,” Laroche said of Dunsmore. “I thought tonight we did a really nice job moving off of him. I thought Matt (Merrill) and Derek (Nadeau) and guys that came up through the middle, I thought we moved off of him well. That was the best I’ve seen us do that this year.”

Matt Merrill celebrates with teammates Jeremiah Hathaway (14) and Clark Kennedy (15) after scoring BFA’s first goal in a 2-0 win at Missisquoi on Wednesday. Ben Kaufmann, County Courier

Sunk in against a slightly superior Bobwhite squad, MVU looked well on its way to forcing another tie with BFA for much of Wednesday. Goalkeeper Kyle Gilbert’s seven saves and strong defensive play helped Missisquoi keep BFA off the board for nearly 50 minutes.

“Kyle’s keeping us in games,” said MVU Coach Jim Hubbard. “He’s a four-year starter, he stays calm and cool. He didn’t really have a chance on the two goals. He played well.”

“I’m pretty pleased with my defense and the overall team effort. We played hard. The best team won tonight, but if we had knocked the first one in then maybe we’d have had the adrenaline and gone the other way.”

Hubbard expressed displeasure with a lack of practice time thanks to MVU’s uneven schedule. The Thunderbirds faced a potent Milton team on Monday, BFA’s powerful Division I lineup on Wednesday, and finish the week with a Saturday trip to face a quality Middlebury (3-2) team.

Kam Dunsmore celebrates with Derek Nadeau (7) after the two linked up for a Dunsmore goal to give BFA a 2-0 lead over MVU on Wednesday. Ben Kaufmann, County Courier

“It’s unfortunate that the VPA has put us into eight games in the first three weeks,” Hubbard said. “We haven’t had time to work on things. It’s just not a fair season for us when you play day after day after day. We turn right around and play Middlebury then we play three games in three weeks.”

Overall, the MVU coach was pleased with how his team played and the direction it’s headed in. For Laroche and BFA, Wednesday was a good bounce-back following its first loss of the season to South Burlington on Friday.

“It’s good just to get ourselves back in the win column,” Laroche said. “Not a showing we want against a good team, but it’s good to come back and get a win every time we can.”

Caden Hart made two saves for BFA on Wednesday. His Bobwhites will look to stay on track with a night game at home against Mt. Mansfield on Tuesday.