With renovations to Mt. Blue High School well under way, athletes playing spring sports based on the school’s campus have had to find a home away from home.
For the boys’ lacrosse team, that home is at the University of Maine at Farmington. But just not right away.
“We’re using their field, and we had to wait until they were certainly done with their spring sports,” Mt. Blue coach John McDonough said.
For that reason, the Cougars’ first eight games of their 12-game regular-season schedule are on the road.
“It doesn’t help you, for sure,” McDonough admitted. “You spend a lot of time on the bus, and getting off the bus and playing is never easy. But I don’t think it’s really hurt us yet, either. The camaraderie has been great. We have some seniors who, even though their parents will make the trip, they’ll ride the bus back anyway. It’s one of the things they do, and that’s good senior leadership.”
And the team’s support group has traveled well with the squad.
“I’m amazed at how many of the parents, how many fans we get that follow these kids,” McDonough said. “Even (Wednesday), parents drove down to the Brunswick game. It’s been great to have that support.”
Through the team’s first six contests — half the regular-season schedule — Mt. Blue has split with its opponents, three wins and three losses. After three consecutive rough outings, particularly on the team’s defense, a win over Cony provided an abnormal final score: 7-4.
“It’s tough, because I never know which side of my defense is going to show up,” McDonough said. “We played Edward Little. We shut them out the whole second half, and you don’t really see that all that often. They seem to be a second-half team right now.”
With the second half of the season upon them now, McDonough and the rest of the Cougars are looking forward to finishing the campaign — finally — at their adopted home.
Not all bad
Mountain Valley’s girls’ lacrosse season has been a study in ups and downs. The Falcons dropped their first three games of the season, but progressively scored more goals each time out, netting seven in their first contest, nine in their second and 10 in their third.
The trend continued in a tight, 10-9 win over Fryeburg, and a 14-goal outburst in a victory over Camden Hills, helping Mountain Valley back to 2-3 at the time.
A rematch with Oxford Hills proved tougher, though.
But coach Rick White continued to address the positive following his squad’s loss to the Vikings on Tuesday.
“There were some bright spots,” White said. “We did a little better transitioning, we looked ahead a little bit better, and some of the passes were better today. Each game has been an experience.”
When the schedule came out, White and his team set a goal to win at least five games. With half the schedule in the books, at 2-4 through Tuesday’s games, that goal, White said, is still in reach.
“I still think this team has the ability to win five games,” White said. “There are five games out there that we can win, and we’re working toward that goal. There are going to still be some tough ones to play, but if we can improve a bit on some of the little things, we absolutely can win five, maybe even six.”
Tough decision pays off
When Sam Hatch made her first save of the game, Oxford Hills coach Sarah Proulx let out a deep breath.
Proulx made the gutsy call of sitting her starting goaltender in the middle of a three-game skid, for a game the team desperately needed to win, after the keeper missed a practice.
Hatch made the move work, stopping 10 shots and challenging several others that went wide, as the Vikings earned a victory over Mountain Valley.
“It’s a proud moment for a coach, when you’re scared to make a decision like that, to sit a player out, and it’s your starting goalie,” Proulx said. “To put in your JV goalie who has had minimal, minimal work this year, to put her in for the first time, and against one of the hardest shooters, and probably the hardest left-hand shooter I’ve seen in a long time, I think she did great.”
Proulx’s positive energy and faith in Hatch permeated throughout the rest of the squad, creating a rallying point.
“Knowing that she was making saves was great,” midfielder Marisa Hanning said. “I wanted to keep it to the minimum for shots on her, but she was doing great. For the first varsity game she played, she did excellent.”