LEWISTON — A young and hungry Lawrence Bulldogs squad coming off a heartbreaking loss wasn’t the kind of opponent a Lewiston High School team still searching for its identity would have selected for its home-opener Saturday at the Franklin Athletic Complex.
The visitors proved why, dominating in time of possession, shots and field position from start to finish in a 4-0 Bulldogs victory over the Blue Devils on Saturday.
“It’s emotionally so disappointing,” Lewiston coach Randy Richardson said. “There’s not a single Lewiston girl who doesn’t want to play well or represent the team well, and they do love the game and each other. We need to apply what we know to actually doing it.”
Lawrence (1-1) is typically in the conversation when discussing the top four teams in Eastern Class A, a division dominated by powerhouse Skowhegan High School. But with 20 players in their first or second year of high school, the Bulldogs are also working on their own growth, mentally and physically.
“We have to score early and that lets us play our game then,” Lawrence coach Lisa Larrabee said. “When we’re in a game that’s tied or it’s a one-goal game, because we’re so young, we still have nerves that we deal with.”
Scoring early proved tough for Lawrence, which had to fight off a few early Lewiston rushes and a pair of shots.
But once the Bulldogs netted one, they were on their way.
“Hunter (Chesley) had the first goal to get us going, and she was a sub from the bench,” Larrabee said.
Chesley converted a turnover in the Lewiston end into that goal for a 1-0 Lawrence advantage with 15:47 remaining in the first half.
But the backbreaker for Lewiston (0-2) came in the waning seconds of the opening half. Dominique Lewis flew up the left side and smacked the ball toward the cage. The ball deflected off a Lewiston defender’s stick and into the net behind keeper Kaylyn Labonte with 15 seconds to play for a 2-0 Lawrence lead.
“I think once you feel as if the hill you’re climbing has just become a cliff, then you begin worrying about survival and safety, in a metaphorical sense,” Richardson said. “If you don’t understand a steep hill, even a cliff, is climbable, and there are ways to do it, then it’s awfully hard to have that faith and keep going.”
For Lewiston, the 2-0 deficit was that cliff. The Blue Devils didn’t sniff another offensive opportunity the rest of the match as the Bulldogs’ defense bore down, holding Lewiston to no shots and no penalty corners in the final 30 minutes.
“We did have that conversation,” Larrabee said. “I didn’t want them in our circle, and I didn’t want to give up a penalty corner. I didn’t think we had to. We worked on positioning and discipline.
“Especially for this team, we have a very young team,” Larrabee added. “We really need to get that 2-0 lead, and we need to have that conversation. And I do appreciate the defense today, talking and moving well. We showed discipline there today.”
Typically a linchpin on offense, Lauren Watson got into the action in the second half, netting a pair of goals to push the Lawrence advantage to 4-0.
Labonte was busy in the second half, kicking or blocking away 13 shots in the frame, and 19 overall. She figures to be busy as the Devils continue to find their way.
“I think in the back of their minds they know we don’t have the numbers that some of our opponents will have this year, but we have to somehow overcome that,” Richardson said. “It’s got to be with honesty about what we need to do.”
Lewiston travels to Brunswick for its next contest Monday, while Lawrence visits Cony on Tuesday.