PORTLAND—The Lakers surged in the second half of the third quarter when they dropped in to battle Waynflete on Tuesday, May 21: Paul and Peter Vigna scored back-to-back and Cam Lepage tallied two as Lake Region finally began playing to their potential.
But the first quarter had cost them dearly: The team came out slow on the Flyers’ home turf, and simply fell too far behind to make up the ground later on.
19-12 the final.
“I think the moment was a little bit too big for us,” Lake Region head coach Josh Plowman said. “They’re the defending Class C State Champs, and I think we walked in just a little bit nervous. And we started slow.”
Lepage led the Lakers’ scoring, kicking in four goals; Nate Bragdon-Clement, though, had a great day as well, with two goals and a trio of assists. Paul Vigna also added a pair of goals, while Caleb Emery had a goal and two assists, Raider Nutley and Peter Vigna one and one each, and Jason Harlow a goal.
Waynflete opened the game with a quick pair, but Bragdon-Clement responded with 6:52 on the clock, curling around left-to-right behind the Flyers’ net for a successful shot. 2-1.
After that, however, Waynflete surged, The Flyers did a superb job pressuring their guests on both ends of the field, refusing to let LRHS settle in on the attack and finding ways to compromise their defensive perimeter. Waynflete scored bam!-bam!-bam!-bam!-bam! as the first quarter wound towards its end, with Mitch Adams, Miles Lipton and Zane Moorhead all contributing. 7-1 after one.
“We got away from doing what our gameplan was,” Plowman said. “That really was the difference; the first quarter was the difference…We had to find a way to shut down Lipton. It’s no secret he’s the best player in the State.”
Lipton scored again to begin the second; 8-2. The Lakers then picked up another, this one on a man-up situation. The team’s third goal also came man-up, but by then Waynflete had already broken double-digits: 11-3. LRHS scored the last goal of the half, too – Nutley did it, receiving a pass at the right side of the Flyers’ net and redirecting it home; still, the Lakers trailed distantly at the break. 12-4.
The first six minutes of the third quarter looked almost as ugly for Lake Region as the entire first quarter had: Waynflete took possession early and essentially never relented in their attack. On the upside, the Lakers doubled-down on defense during the stretch, more effectively thwarting their opponents’ chief offenders. Yes, the Flyers scored three more in that time – but they could’ve, should’ve probably scored even more.
“At halftime, we made an adjustment to our defense,” Plowman said. “That was really key for us for the entire second half – because we actually played really good team d for the second half.”
“And I reminded the kids, although they’re the defending State Champions, we’re probably the more experienced team,” Plowman continued. “Because our seniors have been starting since they were freshmen, our juniors have been starting since they were freshmen. Not many teams have four-year starters, three-year starters.
“I kind of tried to change the mindset to ‘Yeah they’re a very good program, but we’ve been grinding for four years. If anyone should be feared, it’s us, because not only do we have nothing to lose, but we are very experienced and very talented.”
Finally, midway through the third, Lake Region found their mojo. They shattered Waynflete’s hold on the offense and moved play to the other end of the field, settling into an attacking pattern of their own for several long minutes. The Lakers started to look, then, like the No. 5 team that they are: focused, driven, skilled.
“We made an adjustment to take Lipton out of the game,” Plowman said. “You can’t really fully take him out, but you can take him out a little bit. We tried to mess up their offense, so they had to get out of their comfort zone.”
In fact, LRHS started to look determined to stage a most epic comeback. The team rattled off four unanswered goals in rapid succession: Paul Vigna juked in at the left side for 15-5, Peter Vigna fired from near the top of the box for 15-6 and Lepage underhanded one at the right side for 15-7. Waynflete broke out briefly after that, but Lakers netminder Ethan McMurray turned in a spectacular leaping deflection to fend off the foray, and Sargent snuck in after him to log a blocked shot as well.
LRHS then reversed the flow of traffic once more, zooming back to the Flyers’ zone. There, Lepage earned the 15-8 strike.
“Offensively, we settled in,” Plowman said, “and kind of ran our systems. We had some kids step up a little bit.”
Seven down is as close as Lake Region would get, though. The teams matched each other point-for-point across the rest of the outing for the 19-12 result. LRHS did score the last two goals of the game, both of them inside the final 30 seconds, but (clearly) that wasn’t enough.
Plowman applauded a pair of his boys: “Jon Grant did a great job at the faceoff X,” he said. “We’ve kind of struggled at the faceoff X, but he did a good job creating 50-50 situations off the faceoff. Brandon Sargent is the heart and soul of defense, with the exception of our goalie. He puts the defense on his shoulders, and tries to organize things.”
Lake Region, now 5-4 on the spring – it’s the program’s first five-win season ever – has three games remaining on their docket: Bonny Eagle, Gray-New Gloucester and Wells. All three are worth good Heal Points as playoffs approach, especially Bonny Eagle, the No. 3 team in A South.
Adam Birt can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME.
Laker Paul Vigna clashes with a Flyers opponent.
Caleb Emery maintains his position inside as the ball bounces away.
Nate Bragdon-Clement skirts behind the Flyers net, in control of the ball and looking to score.
Lake Region’s Jon Grant goes shoulder-to-shoulder with a Flyer following a faceoff.
Cam Lepage receives a pass from a teammate, on the attack for the Lakers at Waynflete.
Brandon Sargent defends for the Lakers.