FARMINGTON – Oh, the perils of coaching a spring sport in Maine, where the third week in April is still considered a fine time to follow the school system’s lead and take a family vacation to a warmer climate.
Thanks to travel and other non-athletic commitments, Mt. Ararat High School didn’t wield anything close to a full complement of weapons to start the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A boys’ lacrosse campaign.
Having everybody back in the fold wasn’t a cure-all during the first half Monday. The Eagles appeared to get reacquainted at halftime, however, hammering out an 11-5 victory over Mt. Blue.
Ben Lacharite and Ryan Vermette each chalked up three goals, with Lacharite dishing out three assists for Mt. Ararat (1-2). Brad Sturgeon and Josh Libby both found the net twice for the Eagles, who held the Cougars (0-3) to one goal after the opening two minutes of the second period.
“We played our first two games minus a few folks,” said Mt. Ararat coach Matt Haskell. “We’re still understanding how to work together. (Mt. Blue) did a really good job defensively against us in the second quarter, and I think they held us in check for most of the third quarter before we were able to get it going.”
Lacharite and Libby landed Mt. Ararat an early 2-0 advantage before Tom Robinson answered with his first varsity goal. Lacharite set up Vermette and Sturgeon’s first strikes to put the Eagles in front, 4-1, at the end of the opening period.
Anthony Barker and Andrew Hardy responded for Mt. Blue in a 13-second span, clawing the Cougars within a single goal again at 4-3. Hardy’s connection came off an assist from Kevin Averill with 10:28 remaining in the second stanza.
Both offenses went into a funk until after intermission. To start the third quarter, the Cougars came up empty on two point-blank bids to score the equalizer with the man advantage.
Another opportunity was wasted with even steeper repercussions when Averill retaliated against a would-be dead ball infraction with a slash, sending the Mt. Blue midfielder to the penalty square and hastening the end of the Eagles’ lengthy scoring drought.
Averill did not return to the game for Mt. Blue, which already had lost Robinson to an apparent right knee injury.
“That was my decision to take him out. We allowed ourselves to get frustrated, and it hurt us,” said Mt. Blue coach Mark Cyr, whose team showed its first offensive spark of the spring after combining for only three goals in its first two starts. “That call was going against them and we would’ve had the ball in that corner in our end, and instead we took a penalty.”
Vermette wasted no time taking advantage of the numbers game, sneaking the ball past Justin Davis for a 5-3 lead with 8:04 remaining in the third.
Barker’s second goal of the game was essentially Mt. Blue’s final hurrah, whittling the gap to 6-4. Lacharite promptly scored, then set the table for Vermette to give Mt. Ararat a four-goal edge.
Libby made it 9-4 just over two minutes into the fourth quarter, ushering in a welcome retreat to the bench for a few freshly vacationed starters on an occasionally wet afternoon. Due in part to a stiff breeze, the temperature dropped a dozen degrees from start to finish.
“I was surprised the rain held off. Those clouds rolled in during warm-ups, and I had kids asking me if I knew what the lightning policy was,” Haskell said with a laugh.
Hardy (two goals) and Davis (23 saves) joined Barker in providing a little electricity for the growing Cougars. Reuben Fischer-Baum denied 13 shots in the Mt. Ararat cage.