On Monday, May 14, Connor Woolley of the Harwood boys’ lacrosse team reached an impressive milestone – 200 goals. However, if you pay attention to what Woolley does outside of his unique scoring ability, it’s far more significant.
His 200th was a classic goal from the leader of the undefeated Highlanders. Woolley split to the right and as soon as he opened enough space between himself and the defender he rifled a bounce shot in which Hartford’s goalie had little chance of stopping. Woolley rarely misses his mark.
Woolley’s presence on the field extends beyond scoring. If you watch closely, he will usually stand at the top of the box and watch the entire field for open teammates, generating more levels of offense, and he will direct younger players while the play is going on, essentially passing down his knowledge of the game and setting up Harwood for success. After all, he will have to graduate in June.
To put a pin in his character, after the Highlanders shellacked Stowe last week, head coach Russ Beilke asked the varsity team for two volunteers to collect balls at either end line of the JV game. Woolley was the first and only player to raise his hand.
Woolley’s leadership qualities are a marvel at the high school level.
Last year, the Highlanders made it to the state championship against Stowe; it was the second of three state championships that the boys at Harwood have reached, and lost, in the past year, an impressive feat in and of itself.
The Raiders locked down Woolley at the end of the game and Harwood was unable to keep the momentum they built up in the first half. There is not a single team in the Vermont’s Division II field that will be able to handle the Highlanders this year.
Along with Woolley is a set of strong and fast midfielders that he can rely on to pull pressure away from him, and when the pressure is on he can rely on them to get the job done. Furthermore, the Highlanders replaced an all-star goalie that they lost last year with a new one that has proved he’s up to the task. Especially with a defense that often doesn’t let opposing offenses get a shot off.
If the Highlanders keep up the work, they will win the Division II championship.