April 21, 2013

HIGH SCHOOL LACROSSE NOTEBOOK: Raiders donating to victims

By Matt DiFilippo mdifilippo@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

Each year, the Oak Hill High School boys lacrosse team designates one home game to be played for a cause. This year's cause is The One Fund, the organization formed to help the people affected by the Boston Marathon bombings last Monday.

The game is 4 p.m., Wednesday against Lincoln Academy. The colors of The One Fund are blue and yellow, so Oak Hill coach Dan Brannigan said his players will put blue and yellow tape on their lacrosse sticks. The team is also encouraging all fans to wear something with the logo of one of the Boston sports teams.

Brannigan said he came up with the idea after the bombings, when so many of his players were talking about what was going on in Boston. There will be a donation bucket at the entrance as well as a 50/50 raffle and other activities.

"The players and parents I've talked to, I've gotten a great response," Brannigan said.

* * *

The first day teams could practice this spring was March 25. If that seems like a long time ago to you, it's probably even more so to the Messalonskee girls lacrosse team.

The Eagles had a playday and three other preseason scrimmages. But they haven't played a regular-season game yet.

"We definitely tried to space out our preseason competition as much as possible," Messalonskee coach Ashley Pullen said. "We also have spent a lot of time in the weight room, so that's helped."

Pullen said she came up with some out-of-the-box team-building ideas, which she described as playground games with lacrosse principles. She said those got a lot of "Can we do more of this?"

The kicker is that the Eagles start out the schedule with their toughest week of the regular season: Tuesday at Mt. Ararat, Thursday at home against Cony and Saturday at Brunswick. As Pullen pointed out, this week could determine whether Messalonskee hosts a playoff game or even makes the postseason.

"Is it ideal? No. But it is what it is and we'll take it," she said. "We're going to have to show what we're made of from the get-go."

* * *

The Gardiner boys are 3-0 and are averaging 15 goals per game. The attack line of Alex Nadeau, Dalton Sargent and Keegan Smith is naturally a key, but the Tigers are successful for a lot of reasons.

"The kids are excited to play," Gardiner coach K.C. Johnson said. "Kids are committed to it. They enjoy the sport and they enjoy each other. This is a special group."

The Tigers have a lot of experienced players and even assistant coach Ray Jean played for Johnson's first team at Gardiner. Just as importantly, everyone is contributing.

"In Class B lacrosse, especially in KVAC B, you tend to have weak spots here and there," Johnson said. "From top to bottom, we're all pretty good lacrosse players right now. It might be their third sport, but they're committed to it."

* * *

The Maranacook/Winthrop boys co-operative team gets four players back this week from travel, but the Hawks would love to add one more player to their list of returnees.

Junior attacker Toby Smith is still out with a broken arm suffered in one of the first practices of the season and could be out for the year. Smith was on the U-19 207 Lacrosse travel team.

"He's been at every practice (since)," Maranacook/Winthrop coach Zach Stewart said.

While short-handed, the Hawks lost to Gardiner and posted a 7-2 win over Camden Hills. Even though they allowed 13 goals to Gardiner, Stewart likes how the defense has played, especially junior goalkeeper Zach Bessette.

"I think we figured it out the other day -- his save percentage is upwards of 70 percent," Stewart said.

Matt DiFilippo -- 861-9243


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