Dominant Bement girls’ lacrosse team has ridden tidal wave of success

  • Bement School star Allie Kandel motors past defenders during action earlier this spring. Kandel scored 151 goals this season, helping the Phoenix to an impressive 13-1-1 overall record. She will play lacrosse at Groton School next year. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/BEMENT ATHLETICS

Recorder Staff
Monday, June 04, 2018

For the third straight spring, the Bement School girls’ lacrosse team dominated its competition.

After a 13-1-1 campaign, the Phoenix is now 34-1-1 in its past three seasons. Simply put, the program is now firmly on the map in Deerfield.

“I knew we had a number of players who had improved significantly, and we were bringing back a lot of good players already,” began Bement head coach Anthony Kandel. “Because of the improvement of some of our younger players, we were beyond strong this season. We lost a game but we were definitely a better team than we have been the past couple of years.”

Bement, comprised of players from sixth through ninth grade, not only dominated competition from teams its own age, it showed well against older squads. The Phoenix beat six high school varsity programs, and earned a tie against the Deerfield Academy JV program.

“Most of the teams we played, they have a couple good players, but we’re really strong throughout our lineup,” offered eighth-grader Riley Carroll, a defender who is headed to Northfield-Mount Hermon School in the fall. Carroll notched five assists to go with 74 ground balls this season.

Leading the offensive charge for Bement was eighth-grader Allie Kandel. The team’s MVP, Kandel scored a whopping 151 goals this year to go with 41 assists, 76 draw controls and 92 ground balls. Kandel is headed to Groton School in the fall, closing her stellar career at Bement with 306 goals and just about every school record in the books.

“A lot of us have played together for three years, so this year, everything really clicked,” explained Allie Kandel. “We passed the ball better, I thought. That was a big thing. And everyone gelled.”

The lone Phoenix blemish came to Deerfield Academy’s JV when the teams first met on April 27 (11-9 loss). In the rematch two weeks later, however, Bement managed an 11-11 tie in what was perhaps the team’s most exciting game of the spring.

“It was a higher-level game,” recalled Carroll. “In most of our games, offensively we have the ball for most of the time. Because we were much more balanced with (DA), it was back-and-forth. Those experiences really strengthened our defense.”

Bement picked up wins over the likes of MacDuffie School, Stoneleigh Burnham School, Williston Northampton School and The Putney School. The 14-5 win over MacDuffie was especially satisfying, as it closed out the season. The team was down to just 13 players, with all of its ninth-graders unavailable to play.

“That game was really vindication of our depth,” admitted Kandel of the MacDuffie victory.

Ninth-grader Clarese Gardiner scored 12 goals and assisted on seven others this season. She’ll take her 31 career goals to NMH in the fall.

“I’ve been on the team for four years so I’ve seen the transition (of the program),” Gardiner explained. “When I was in sixth grade, it was mostly all ninth-graders doing everything. But this year, there was a mix where people were making plays from every grade. It became a mixed team.”

Bement, which outscored its opponents by a 276-89 margin, also repeated as the Pine Cobble Tournament champions. The prestigious club tournament featured a buzzer-beater win over Equinox Lacrosse Association en route to the finals, where the Phoenix overcame a three-goal deficit to beat Brattleboro.

After a dominant run, Bement will be forced to turn to a plethora of new faces next season. Twelve players from grades 8 and 9 are leaving the school in the fall, and all 12 are slated to play lacrosse in high school at the likes of Groton, NMH, Deerfield, Taft School, Williston and Blair Academy.

Eighth-grader Paige Bernier won the Coaches Award this season, and she’s one of the few players who will return to the fold next spring. Bernier picked up 45 ground balls and recorded five interceptions.

“It’s going to be a bit of a rebuilding year where we get some more new players experience,” Bernier offered. “We’re losing a lot of really good players but I think we have some good ones coming in.”