LEWISTON —Defending South Portland’s transition game is a tough task for any squad. Trying to do it with an undermanned squad on a day when the yellow cards were flying is next to impossible.
South Portland used its transition game to frustrate and ultimately wear out Lewiston for a 16-9 victory in Saturday’s Class A girls’ lacrosse tilt at Don Roux Field.
Nikki LaPlante led all scorers with seven goals, while Anh Nguyen chipped in with four goals and two assists and Felicia Farnham a goal and six assists for the Red Riots, who have won six straight to improve to 6-1.
Lauren Lessard and Kirstin McCombs tallied three goals apiece to pace the Blue Devils (2-5). Saba Naji (two goals) and Kayla Hamel (one goal) rounded out the scoring for Lewiston.
South Portland broke open a 5-5 game late in the first half with goals by LaPlante, Nguyen and Becca Lessard in the final 2:27. LaPlante and Lani Edwards added to the cushion with the first two goals of the second half.
“I’ve got a great team as far as transition goes,” Red Riots coach Bill Fenton said. “I think in the beginning of the game we were trying to run it up the field rather than using the transition that we use so well. Lewiston put up one heck of a fight for this game.”
“You saw how quickly we can go down and score. That’s our game,” he added. “And then we’ve got Felicia Farnham, who’s phenomenal behind the net. She sees the field so well and when the girls cut, she puts it right on their sticks.”
“(Transition) is one of the things that we practice a lot,” LaPlante said. “It’s so much more efficient getting the ball down the field passing it instead of running it down, so we really focus on our passes.”
The teams traded goals through the first 10 minutes of the contest. South Portland opened up the first two-goal lead thanks to a pair of LaPlante tallies, but Lewiston rallied to take the lead on three straight goals by Lessard.
“Our passing was a lot better,” Lewiston coach Christy Gardner said. “We did start to force it a little bit in the second half. The kids got a little anxious but, in general, I think the passing was fantastic. Offensively, we started to run some plays and that worked for us. We’re struggling in that department. I’d love to see the kids run more plays, but the ones we did run were very effective.”
The lead didn’t last long. Nguyen took control of the subsequent faceoff and found Maraka Soule for the tying goal just 10 seconds later.
Moments after both teams were issued yellow cards for swinging sticks after the whistle at South Portland’s offensive end, LaPlante gave the Riots the lead for good with 2:12 remaining in the half.
“We’re a little short-handed in the midfield and other positions with a lot of injuries,” Gardner said. “I’ve had four kids with concussions this season and it’s just killing us. The officials called a tight, clean game and unfortunately it resulted in a lot of cards for both sides so it made it even more taxing on the transition with all of the running the kids had to do.”
“We could sense them getting frustrated, especially toward the end when we were trying to stall,” LaPlante said.
South Portland goalie Kirsten Kane (eight saves) added to Lewiston’s frustration with some nice saves in the second half.
“She did a great job today,” Fenton said. “She’s gotten stronger and stronger as the year’s gone on.”