Vikings fight past determined Devils

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SOUTH PARIS – Late in the first half of Tuesday’s game against the Lewiston Blue Devils, the Oxford Hills girls’ lacrosse team’s coaching staff was pleasantly bewildered.

“Where’s this team been all year?” wondered one.

“I don’t know, but this is great to watch,” another answered back.

The Vikings were the picture of perfect passing and aggressive play throughout much of Tuesday’s game, taking four-goal leads twice, and then punching in the game-winner with 2:43 to play to eke out an 11-10 win over the Blue Devils at the Gouin Sports Complex.

“We’ve worked hard on the catching and the quick transition,” said Oxford Hills coach Ann Bell. “Today, the girls were showing that quick transition and that was big for us.”

Oxford Hills (5-5) solidified their position as the fourth and final playoff team from Eastern Class A with the win over Lewiston (4-6), which started the day just five Heal Points behind the Vikings.

The Blue Devils, despite falling behind by four goals late in the first half and again early in the second, mounted comebacks, mainly on the back of senior Kelsey Rodrigue. Rodrigue netted four goals in the second half, broken up only by two Oxford Hills goals.

“That was heart,” said Lewiston coach Don Jalbert. “That was a lot of heart.”

Lea Chouinard scored the equalizer, though, thanks in part to Rodrigue drawing three defenders without the ball. That goal, with 3:14 to play in the game, knotted the game at 10, the first tie score since the six-minute mark of the first half.

Just 31 seconds later, the Blue Devils broke down defensively, allowing Kari Pelletier to sneak up the left side, knife through the middle and bounce a shot past Lewiston keeper Mary Leblanc.

“I didn’t like that we let them back into it,” said Bell, “but it was really big for us to score that and then to be able to keep control of the ball down in their end.”

The teams traded goals early. Pelletier and Meridith Vieira combined for the first four Viking tallies, while Mallory Long notched a pair for Lewiston. Lauren Brett added a pair, and Kelsie McLaren capped the first-half scoring for Oxford Hills.

Brooke Mason led off the second half with a goal that pushed the Vikings’ lead to four before Rodrigue and Lindsey Dostie started chipping away.

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