GRAY—The Patriots – Drew Lacerda led with five goals – picked up their biggest victory of the season on Saturday afternoon, May 12, when they toppled visiting Morse 13-6. G-NG grabbed an early lead, then spent the remainder of the game slowly pulling further and further ahead.
“I feel great,” G-NG head coach Kris Parkin said. “The kids played well; they knew it was an important game…I’m very proud of the boys. They’ve worked hard, and they just keep getting better.”
“Í’m pretty happy,” said Patriots goalie Brannon Gilbert, whose turned in a standout performance. “We got an early lead and that really boosted our confidence a bit.”
The Patriots are in their first year as a varsity program, but they sure don’t look like it. G-NG’s fundamentals are obviously solid – at times, they’re even exceptional – and the team shows more lacrosse smarts than many outfits with much longer histories.
G-NG jumped on top just 15 seconds into the outing, Lacerda launching a successful shot from the top-right of the Morse zone. The Shipbuilders answered with a long attacking stretch, but couldn’t capitalize. The Patriots then scooted ahead 2-0: Lacerda did the honors again, and from roughly the same spot as before.
For the rest of the first quarter, the Shipbuilders hounded the Patriots. Morse responded to Lacerda’s strikes by getting on the board: With a Braden Olsen feed hot on his stick, Mason Savory underhanded the ball past Gilbert from low on the left side.
The Patriots responded: Gabe Gendreau dashed up the middle and dished to Kyle Mercier high on the left side, Mercier shoveled across to Lacerda on the right and Lacerda pulled the trigger for 3-1. Early in the second quarter, Morse pulled back within one when Spencer Knowles scored on a Hudson assist from behind the G-NG cage.
“Defensively, we’re still struggling with our slides,” Parkin said. “Understanding who should be the one-slide and the two-slide; today, [Morse] played two guys on the crease a lot, there was a lot of movement, which just makes it hard. Every time that ball changes position on the field, they have to reassign the slides. We didn’t do a great job of that today, but I thought we matched up well one-on-one. We did try to deny [Hudson] the ball. He’s a big, strong kid. But even trying to deny him, he still managed to score.”
Morse threatened again soon – very soon, straight off the next faceoff. This time, Gilbert logged an impressive save.
Throughout the contest, Gilbert stood stalwart, repelling several shots the Shipbuilders’ offense should’ve scored on. When an attacker penetrates the opposition’s back line and earns an undefended opportunity from eight or ten feet away – well, that’s usually a gimme goal. Not so with Gilbert between the pipes: He must’ve plucked at least a half-dozen of them clean out of the air.
“I feel pretty decent,” Gilbert said of his performance. “A lot of that stuff is just doing what I normally do. I wasn’t necessarily changing anything according to how the other team was playing…When an it’s emotional situation, I like to take lead, and I like to get into it with the team.
“I’m pretty confident in how I did today. Hopefully it goes on.”
“He’s just super-goalie,” Parkin said of Gilbert. “I don’t know how else to say it. He works so hard. His step is good, he’s not afraid of the ball. He’s a leader. He’s a clutch player. He sees the field so well; I think one of the best things he does is moving the ball once he’s made the save, and that opens up so many other things. His instincts are really good, in terms of where he needs to put his stick and his body, and his fundamentals – just his footwork and moving out and cutting angles down – he’s got a knack for it. It’s not my coaching, I can tell you that.”
“I think so,” Gilbert said, asked if his teammates look to him when a game is tight. “A lot of it is emotion. I’m wicked emotional when it comes to games, so when things get tough or close, I’m always screaming. I’m always screaming anyway, so they’re always looking to me for instruction on what to do and how to keep their heads up. It works.”
With 9:40 to play in the second, Patriot Trent Overcash bounced a shot from the top-right of G-NG’s offensive perimeter past Shipbuilders keeper Dylan Maybee for 4-2.
Morse soon cut their deficit to one once more – Wyatt Hudson, battling at the low-right, bulldozed in close to Gilbert and punched a shot home – but after that, the Patriots gradually pulled away. Gendreau hashed a hat trick as the first half wound down, handing his boys a 7-3 advantage at the break.
“Coach is always telling us to slow it down, slow it down,” Gendreau said. “Try to keep our composure. We’ve been working in practice, working on our dodges – really on everything.”
“I was feeling pretty good,” Gendreau said, as about his performance. “There’s still things to work on – everything. Just get it all perfect, you know?”
Hudson struck first in the third, though G-NG answered soon – and on arguably the most spectacular play of the day. Patriot Scott Lynch, cutting through the midfield, leapt and raised his stick one-handed into the air, somehow (!) reeling in a sky-high pass from his defense. Still carrying with just one hand and his stick extended, Lynch stumbled but somehow (!) recovered, turned and fed across to Mercier at the top of the Morse zone.
Mercier fired quick, beating Maybee for 8-4.
Two minutes later, at 6:29, Gendreau tallied his fourth, and Jeremy Mazur scored at 3:46. Up 10-5 to start the fourth, the Patriots added three more to the Shipbuilders’ one before the ending buzzer tolled. 13-6 the final.
“Offensively, we did a great job,” Parkin said. “We came out pretty aggressive. Drew had a quick goal to start, and they adjusted to him a little late – I think he had four or five goals before they switched defenders on him. He’s got a great left-handed shot. Kyle Mercier did a fantastic job. He’s a pretty dynamic player; he can make people miss and drop. We’re really trying to make the good read. Beat somebody, but hit the high-percentage player on the crease.”
In addition to his five goals, Lacerda also added one assist. Gendreau had his hat trick and a pair of assists; Mercier two goals and two assists; and Overcash, Mazur and Jayden Metivier a goal apiece. Zach Durapu added three assists, Lynch two and Shayne Splint one.
“We’ve got a lot of balance on our team,” Gendreau said, asked about the Patriots diverse attack.
Gendreau lauded his teammates, taking a moment to nod specifically at first-year defenseman Jake Kackmeister: “I think everyone played pretty well. Kack, he played a pretty exceptional game.”
The win bumped No. 4 G-NG to 3-3 on the season. The Patriots dropped their first two games of the spring – 13-10 to No. 8 Wells (3-2) and 16-5 to No. 2 Fryeburg (8-0) – before notching their first-ever triumph as a varsity squad, 20-3 over St. Dom. St. Dom is struggling through a lackluster season – they’re ranked 15th at present, and are winless at 0-6 – but G-NG’s W marked a milestone nevertheless.
The Patriots then dropped their third, 11-6 to No. 3 Lincoln (5-0), before winning their second, 7-6 over Lake Region, another program on the rise. G-NG rematches St. Dom on Wednesday the 16th, then travels to a tournament at Colby College on Friday the 18th. They host Oak Hill the following day.
“It was almost a learning curve going from JV to varsity,” Parkin said. “We had to get up to game speed, and we’re doing it…Where we were against Waynflete at the beginning of the season to where we are now is a big difference, and it’s a tribute to the kids.”
Morse slips to 5-4. The Shipbuilders sit in seventh place (in Class B) at the moment. They next host Oak Hill; that bout is slated for Thursday the 17th. The following Tuesday, they travel to Mt. Blue.
Adam Birt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME.
G-NG’s Hunter Brown (5) celebrates alongside teammate Brannon Gilbert (1) just after the Patriots’ win over Morse.
Patriot Trent Overcash crashes into Shipbuilder Alden Harkin in pursuit of a ground ball.
Drew Lacerda tallied five goals for G-NG on Saturday.
Brannon Gilbert stands guard at the G-NG net.
Wyatt Edwards faces off with a Shipbuilder attacker.
Patriot Gabe Gendreau drives forward on the attack, while Shipbuilder Ethan Pascuzzo does what he can to thwart Gendreau’s advance.
Oliver Grant defends for G-NG.
Shipbuilder Braden Olsen scurries forward on the attack, harangued by Patrtio Felipe Alvarez.
Kyle Mercier flips the ball cross-field for the Patriots vs. visiting Morse.
Hunter Brown unwinds into a shot for the Patriots.
G-NG’s Zach Durapu clashes with Shipbuilder Alden Harkins.
Kyle Mercier wheels away from a Shipbuilders opponent.