PARIS – Oak Hill’s Kevin LaPlante looks nothing like the Energizer bunny: He’s not short, his ears are of normal length and he’s certainly not pink.
But that trait of incessancy? Dead on.
LaPlante scored eight goals – five coming directly from faceoff wins – to lead the Raiders’ lacrosse team to a convincing 17-7 season-opening win over the Oxford Hills Vikings at the Gouin Athletic Complex on Monday morning.
“I just try to get pumped up right away,” said LaPlante, “try to get the ball and then to the net as fast as I can. Winning the faceoff, it helps give the team momentum back.”
The victory begins a tough schedule for the Class B Raiders, who have a large number of Class A schools, including Oxford Hills, on their schedule.
“We’re one of the smallest teams in our league,” said Oak Hill coach Phil Prideaux. “We play a lot of Class A schools. It’s going to be a tough season. We beat Oxford Hills, but … they’re an excellent team.”
The Vikings, meanwhile, showed a bit of rust in their first game of the season, due possibly to the lack of an exhibition schedule.
“We looked like we were in preseason form still,” said Oxford Hills coach Cimeron Colby. “This was only our second time on a lined field this year, so it was tough at first.”
The Oak Hill offense, primed by three exhibition games last week, was connecting well, and LaPlante, Casey Behne (three goals), Zac Eaton (two goals) and Joey Gilbert (two goals) blended well up front.
“The nice thing is, they can all score,” said Prideaux.
Despite the high number of goals scored, the game actually started slowly, with both offenses trying to get a feel for each other. In fact, Oak Hill’s first goal came on an own-goal by Billy Austin of Oxford Hills (0-1), who tried to scoop a ground ball at the top of the crease, but instead sent it backwards into his own net.
With an extra attacker, the Raiders (1-0) opened the floodgates at the 1:45 mark of the first quarter when Behne scored his first goal
He followed it up with another 11 seconds later, and LaPlante finished the early barrage with his first goal 21 seconds later to put Oak Hill ahead 4-0.
“We controlled the ball most of the time,” said Behne. “It was a matter of beating our man to the ball and then finding an open guy.”
Dave LaRoach scored the first of his five goals with seconds left in the first quarter for the Vikings’ lone score of the half, during which Oak Hill outshot Oxford Hills 25-9. The score at the half was 11-1.
In the second half, the combination of an Oak Hill letdown and an Oxford Hills rally gave the Vikings a third-quarter win. LaRoach and Elliott Munn scored a pair of goals each, pulling the Vikings within shouting distance at 13-5.
“Instead of coming out and just packing it in, we showed some heart,” said Colby. “It was something to build on for sure.”
LaRoach tallied two more in the fourth, but the Raiders put it away with four more down the stretch.