PARIS — Less than a minute into her first varsity lacrosse contest, Oxford Hills goaltender Sam Hatch learned what it felt like to face one of the state’s premier scoring threats.
And she learned what it felt like to stop her.
Hatch stuffed Mountain Valley sniper Ayla Allen with a right leg save, the first save she’d ever recorded at the varsity level.
“I was really glad I stopped it, and I definitely felt it, it went right off my knee,” Hatch said. “I stopped it, though; that’s all that matters. I’ll live with my knee.”
The Vikings seized the momentum after that, providing the green goaltender plenty of support in an 18-7 victory on a damp and chilly afternoon at the Gouin Athletic Complex.
“I’m so proud of her,” Oxford Hills coach Sarah Proulx said. “She stepped it up for the team. She did it for herself.”
The team pressed Hatch, normally the team’s backup keeper, into service Tuesday after its primary keeper missed a practice.
“Last night we stayed after practice, and we worked, and we worked,” Proulx said. “She was tired, but we worked. I put probably hundreds of shots on her.”
Proulx also handed Hatch a motivational article, and tried to prepare her mentally the best she could.
“I was definitely nervous at first, because now I was really playing, and in a really important game,” Hatch said. “I really felt like I had to be on my toes.”
And she was, behind an explosive offense and a stifling defense, both of which, Proulx said, played about as well as a unit as they had all season.
“That game right there was a team effort, one of our first full efforts where we worked together as a team on defense, working as a team on offense, working together to win ground balls,” Proulx said.
Hannah Warren led the Vikings (4-3) with eight goals, Danielle Allen and Marisa Hanning had four each and Abby Morton and Lacey Landry added one apiece in the victory, Oxford Hills’ second over Mountain Valley (2-4) in as many tries this season.
“This gets us back on the right track, it gets us back rolling again,” Hanning said. “We couldn’t afford another loss, and this got us back on the right track.”
“They play really well between the restraining lines, and that’s where they’ll beat most teams,” Mountain Valley coach Rick White said. “That’s where they hurt is last game, too. We’re chasing, and we’re always chasing and we can never catch up.”
One of the reasons for the offensive outburst, Hanning admitted, was the fact that Hatch started in the cage.
“Everybody had to step it up, and everybody did,” Hanning said. “It really brought the team together, we really wanted to work hard and really wanted to help the goalie and not leave her back there hanging out to dry.”
After Hatch’s initial save on Allen, Hanning and Warren alternated goals to push the Vikings to a 3-0 advantage. Allen beat Hatch on her next attempt to cut the hosts’ lead to two, but Oxford Hills ran off another three in a row — two from Warren and another from Hanning.
The Falcons cut the deficit back down to two a second time on three quick goals, two from Allen and another from Nicole Lavorgna, but that was as close as the Falcons got.
“We did OK in the first half, but we fell off in the second,” White said.
After a pair of goals to end the half, the Vikings took over the in the second, scoring eight of the next nine goals to put the game out of reach and secure for Hatch her first varsity victory.
Allen finished with five for the Falcons, and keeper Jordan True made 10 saves.