LEWISTON — Lewiston freshman goalkeeper Sam Cote was admittedly nervous about playing in her first full varsity game.
“It was good, it was great, I loved it,” Cote said. “Nervous? Well, maybe a little because I was playing varsity for the first time, but more excited than anything.”
Blue Devils coach Christy Gardner painted a different picture.
“When I told her she was starting, she was so excited, she was bouncing out of her skin,” Gardner said. “She was absolutely ready to step up to that position.”
Cote had to be ready.
With rival Edward Little staring her down and the seniors on the squad counting on her to help the team to a victory on senior day, she answered that challenge, stopping 18 shots — many from in tight while the game was still close — to lead Lewiston to an 18-8 victory over the Red Eddies at soggy Don Roux field at the Franklin Athletic Complex on Tuesday.
“Especially on senior day, I really needed to play well,” Cote said.
Cote also had plenty of help, particularly in the second half. Edward Little trailed by two early after the break, and twice cut the Lewiston lead to one. But the Blue Devils exploded thereafter, netting nine consecutive goals to put the game out of the Eddies’ reach.
“We found our game. The girls found the way they really know how to play,” Gardner said. “We’ve been working a lot on our transition and I’ve been watching them improve every day in practice on their passing and their communication. Finally they pulled it together in the second half.”
Kirstin McCombs led the way for the Blue Devils with seven goals.
“It’s senior day. She wanted to have a heck of a game, and she did,” Gardner said. “I would say overall, all of our seniors played well, especially without having been outside a lot lately.”
Edward Little (1-8) weathered an early 3-0 Lewiston lead, stopped the bleeding and hung with its cross-river rival for the balance of the opening half.
“The girls came back. They had their heart in it,” EL coach Jess Somers said. “They played tough and with that heart through the first half and into the second half.”
Miranda Casey, one of seven different Edward Little players to pot a goal Tuesday, led things off for the Red Eddies. After McCombs made it 4-1 with her third of the game, Maddie Williamson pulled EL back within a pair.
The Blue Devils threatened to break the game open with one each from Lauren Lessard and McCombs, but three in succession from EL’s Shelbea Russell, Saydi Voisine and Hannah Johnston made it 6-5. Kayla Hamel netted one for Lewiston with 18 seconds remaining in the first half to reestablish the Devils’ two-goal edge.
The sides traded goals early in the second half, with the Eddies twice pulling to within a goal. But they were never able to force a tie.
The Blue Devils’ defense made sure of that.
“The defense started communicating more than anything else,” Gardner said. “As soon as they figured out what defensive set to run together, they started talking out the slides, talking out the shifts and they worked out all the little kinks in the defense.”
Then, Lewiston started scoring. And didn’t stop.
“We let up. We stopped the intensity for a little while, and it was hard to try and regain the momentum once they got those next few goals,” Somers said.
McCombs and Sara Marden went back to back 33 seconds apart, the latter coming with 17:09 remaining. Then, Lessard alternated goals with Kelsey Dumond and Natalie Rousseau over a 2:55 stretch to push Lewiston’s advantage to 15-7. McCombs and Marden added another each and the teams traded goals in the final two minutes of regulation to cap the scoring.