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Strong Vermont offense gets best of Terriers

The University of Vermont’s 13-9 win over the Boston University men’s lacrosse team on Saturday came largely due to UVM’s efficient attack.

The Catamounts’ offense (2-2) was guided by the play of freshman Ian MacKay. The Terriers (0-5, 0-1 Patriot League) were unable to handle the midfielder, who gathered seven total points with four goals and three assists.

In the opening period, his partnership with junior Andrew Buckanavage was key to opening up BU’s defense.

A minute-and-a-half into the game, MacKay lobbed a pass into Buckanavage, who fired in his fourth goal of the season. Then, at the 11:27 mark, Buckanavage returned the favor, finding MacKay, who scored for his sixth goal of the season.

MacKay stayed hot for the rest of the first quarter, as the Port Elgin, Ontario native scored twice more before the period came to an end.

He completed his first-quarter hat trick with three minutes left after receiving the ball in the center of the field with BU’s defenders retreating. MacKay, though, was too quick, and was able to aim a low shot past freshman goalkeeper Christian Carson-Banister.

MacKay asserted himself again in the second quarter, as after looping around the back of the goal, the midfielder placed a pass perfectly into the stride of attack Michael Clark, who gave the Catamounts a four-goal lead with 11 minutes left in the half.

MacKay then found himself in the middle of the action again in the third quarter, as he assisted a goal to Bartlett, whose score put Vermont up 10-4.

With 2:49 to go in the third quarter, he crept behind the BU goal again, speeding past his defender, got a shot off that made it into the lower bottom corner of the net, good for his fourth and final goal of the day.

Throughout the game, MacKay was able to truck through the Terriers’ midfield, taking several checks to the body but still managing to hold onto the ball.

“He’s big and strong,” said BU coach Ryan Polley about MacKay. “He’s a great dodger, he’s got great vision. He plays really hard.”

MacKay is now eighth in the America East Conference in goals per game with 2.25. He is also tied for ninth in the conference with 1.25 assists per game and is the Catamounts’ leader in both of those categories.

But most impressively, the 5-foot-10 freshman is fourth in his league in points per game with 3.50, a figure that he doubled against the Terriers.

MacKay came to Vermont after attending the Hill Academy, where he was a team captain as a well as the team’s Most Valuable Player.

In addition to his performance against the Terriers, his most impressive feats this season include an outing against Dartmouth College on Feb. 25, where he scored five goals on just six shot attempts.

Polley had only praise for MacKay after Saturday, admitting that BU had anticipated him having a strong impact on the game.

“He’s great, he might be the best player we’ve played against so far,” Polley said. “He’s a freshman as well, so like a lot of our players out there.

“We were concerned about him coming in, and we didn’t do a good enough job on him to win the game. He was certainly a major focus of our defensive game plan. For him to get seven points, and a lot of credit to him and Vermont’s coaches, but we have to do a better job on him.”

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