Christy Gardner was worried.
Regular varsity starting keeper Kirstin Burgess has been nursing an injury, and really needed another couple of days off. She was ready to play, if necessary, Gardner said, but not in a perfect world.
Gardner’s other choice?
A freshman with only sporadic experience at the varsity level.
“A lot of times, when it comes to freshmen starting, it’s not about their skills being ready, it’s about, are they mentally ready,” Gardner said. “It’s a lot of pressure.”
Sam Cote did not behave like a typical, deer-in-the-headlights freshman in her first full varsity game.
Late in the season.
Against rival Edward Little.
“She was bouncing out of her skin,” Gardner said.
Thankfully for the Blue Devils, she harnessed that energy into competitive aggression and quick reflexes during the contest.
“She made 16 saves,” Lewiston goalie coach Stephanie Belanger was quick to point out. “That’s awesome for anyone. She did great.”
Belanger, a former Blue Devils keeper, would have been proud of an 18-save effort at any point in her career. That Cote was able to do so under the circumstances into which she was thrown impressed even Edward Little’s coaching staff.
“She was really good at everything down low, on the bottom,” EL coach Jess Somers said. “We were shooting everything at her feet, and she was good at it.”
(Nearly) no teams unblemished
None of the 39 teams in Maine girls’ lacrosse remains without a loss, but the race for the top seed in the upcoming playoffs is all but decided in three of the four divisions.
The only hotly-contested race for a No. 1 seed is in Western Class A, where three teams — Scarborough, Kennebunk and Gorham — are within six Heal Points of each other at the top of the standings. In Eastern A, Brunswick holds a comfortable lead over Cony, though that race is yet to be determined as well.
Things are much more clear in Class B. In the West, Waynflete, with one loss, is 44 points clear of Falmouth, with Eastern B power Yarmouth is 64 points clear of North Yarmouth Academy, which is clinging to the No. 2 position despite a 4-6 record.
On the boys’ side, only one team in Maine remains without a loss: St. Dom’s. The Saints, at 11-0, have a good chance to finish the season that way, as well, with only a game against winless Mountain Valley remaining on the docket.
Despite that record, the Saints may find themselves in second place if Yarmouth, which plays a much tougher schedule, can win a pair of games against its final two opponents, playoff-bound Western B teams Cape Elizabeth and Greely.
Chasing No. 1
Lewiston finds itself in a tough position in Eastern A similar to St. Dom’s plight. The Blue Devils have taken care of every opponent this season except one, losing to Portland in overtime. Because of that loss, the Devils may figure into the No. 2 position in Eastern A instead of No. 1, even though there are no unbeaten teams in Eastern A, thanks to the existence in the conference of Portland-based Deering, Cheverus and Portland High Schools.
Deering defeated Heal Points-rich Portland recently, vaulting the Rams into the top spot with a pair of games remaining.