Edward Little High School’s Ganan Mancini, left, turns the corner on Mt. Ararat’s Sean Roberts during their game in Auburn on Tuesday.
AUBURN — Edward Little started Tuesday’s boys’ lacrosse game with Mt. Ararat with the requisite opening day jitters. If anything could snap the Red Eddies out of the stomach butterflies effect, it was being a man up for the first three minutes of the second quarter.
EL only got one shot off with the advantage, but perhaps it was the wasted opportunity that finally got the Eddies to settle in. They scored five of the next six goals put their stamp on a 12-6 victory at Walton Field.
Ganan Mancini tallied four goals and four assists and Brandon Asselin made 24 saves in net for the Red Eddies. Eli McBride added three goals and two assists.
“Coming into our first game with a new coach, we definitely had the jitters up,” Mancini said. “I don’t usually get jitters before games. I’m a senior. I’ve been doing it for a while, but I did have a lot of jitters for this one. It was definitely a big win for us.”
Sawyer Watson had three goals for Mt. Ararat, which had beaten Oxford Hills, 15-0, in its season-opener last Thursday. Connor Brown added two more for the Eagles.
“I thought that we had set ourselves up for some great scoring opportunities and we just couldn’t hit the net, and their goalie made some great saves,” Mt. Ararat coach Matt Haskell said. “This is our second time outside and we’ve got some young people who are filling some spots.”
Asselin bought EL’s offense the time it needed to get its footing with five first-quarter saves, allowing only a Watson goal off of an Eddies turnover 7:04 into the game.
“He was just standing on his head, making some big saves and keeping us in the game early,” first-year Edward Little coach Jim Dock said. “Down the road, that made a huge difference for us.”
“They came out really intense,” Asselin said. “I had to come out just thinking like our defense wasn’t even there. It was just a lot of one-on-none shots, so I just got in the right mindset.”
“We’ve been in the gym. We’ve been in the Ingersoll Arena. It was just so much different being on a field,” he added.
McBride got the Eddies on the board 50 seconds later, and Mancini gave them the lead with 0.3 of a second left in the first quarter.
They had a golden chance to add on to that lead when Mt. Ararat’s Marc Abreu was penalized for using an illegal stick. It put them a man up for three minutes, but the Eddies continued their tentative offensive play from the first quarter and managed just one shot on Eagles’ goalie Parker Lacey (18 saves) during that stretch.
McBride appeared to erase any lingering disappointment from that missed opportunity 16 seconds after Abreu was released with his second goal to make it 3-1. But EL seemed to relax again at the offensive end for the next four minutes before Dock called a time out to help his team regroup.
“We called a timeout and got the guys to re-focus on what was going on,” Dock said. “Any time you get a three-minute, non-releasable penalty, it’s kind of a gift and we just didn’t get enough shots off of it. That’s kind of that early-season feeling things out. Once you start putting them in the net, that gets things going in the right direction.”
The Eddies responded as Mancini found a cutting Ben Feldman for a 4-1 lead with 3:53 to go in the first half.
Brown scored the Eagles’ only goal of the period to pull them back within 4-2 with 3:22 left in the half. But McBride answered off a cross from Mancini to give the Eddies a 5-2 lead heading into halftime.
Mancini kept momentum on his side for the start of the second half by going five-hole from 10 feet out 3:19 into the third quarter. Just seven seconds later, freshman Storm Jipson scored his first varsity goal to make it 7-2.
Watson got Mt. Ararat back in it with back-to-back goals to pull within 7-4 with 5:05 left in the period. Tyler Morin and Mancini negated that with tallies in the final 1:46 to regain the five-goal lead heading into the fourth.
“We just couldn’t get into a good steady rhythm,” Haskell said. “Any time we got something going, they picked (a goal) up and stopped the rally.”
Brown scored his third goal 57 seconds into the fourth to make it 9-5, but that would be the last time the Eagles would find the back of the net for nearly 11 minutes. Spencer Frahn, Mancini and Morin added to the cushion for EL.
With a game at rival Lewiston up next on Thursday, the Red Eddies hope the win was just the start of revitalizing the program.
“For one, we’re playing at Walton. We were playing on a practice football field last year,” Mancini said. “So, I think coming out and playing in a stadium and having this field, having warm-up music, having this whole environment, really pushed us to our first win of the season.”
“We’ve really worked on creating the overall lacrosse experience, and that’s the warm-up music and having a good set warm-up routine,” Dock said. “It’s just part of trying to build a culture of lacrosse at Edward Little, which is my personal goal for the season, and I think we’re moving in that direction now.”
Edward Little High School’s Ganan Mancini, left, and Tyler Morin celebrate after Morin’s third-quarter goal against Mt. Ararat in Auburn on Tuesday.Edward Little High School’s Tyler Morin, left, snags a high pass in front of Mt. Ararat’s Jack O’Neall during their game in Auburn on Tuesday.Mt. Ararat High School’s Hank Gillson, left, looks for a shooting lane around Edward Little’s Noah Sterling during their game in Auburn on Tuesday.Mt. Ararat High School’s Zach Caouette (17) looks for a shooting lane past Edward Little’s Leighton Girardin during their game in Auburn on Tuesday.Mt. Ararat High School’s Nick Canter (4) wins a faceoff from Edward Little’s Leighton Girardin during their game in Auburn on Tuesday.