AUBURN — Getting yourself into the statewide picture as a boys’ lacrosse program is one thing. Becoming a fixture is another.

St. Dominic Academy understands the phenomenon from its decades of dominance on the ice.

Schools have added hockey by the dozens in the last two decades. Some shine for a season or two. Others emerge as a power within the group, only to have hiccups when they tackle a team from the next tier at playoff time.

The Saints’ life cycle in lacrosse has followed that pattern. Relatively new to the sport, St. Dom’s took the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference by storm with an undefeated regular season in 2010.

Yarmouth ended that ride with an 18-5 rout in the Eastern Class B championship game. Even that represented a quantum leap from a 26-1 semifinal loss the previous year.

“They’ve been playing together all their life, and we’ve got kids that have never even played before,” St. Dom’s senior co-captain Dylan Rodrigue said. “I think we can (get back to the Eastern final). The outcome might be the same, but the experience of getting there is going to be a different story.”

High school lacrosse became a Maine Principals’ Association-sanctioned sport in 1998. The dividing line between Class A and B has existed only since 2006.

In that infancy, the sport has been a tale of haves and have-nots. Yarmouth has been a state champion or runner-up seven times in the last eight years — about the length of time St. Dom’s has featured a varsity program.

Cape Elizabeth and North Yarmouth Academy are the only other B-and-under schools to celebrate a state title. They, like Yarmouth, were playing the ancient game of lacrosse as a club activity long before it became fashionable.

“Our numbers are down,“ St. Dom’s coach David Haefele said. “(Yarmouth) also lost a lot of kids, but the thing about them is they always have guys ready to step in.”

St. Dom’s will have a leaner look as it tries to build on last year’s unprecedented success.

Offensive stalwarts Trevar Haefele (107 points) and Tim Day (68) have graduated, leaving junior Troy Haefele (80) and senior Matt Adams (68) to pick up the pace.

“We still have two great attack guys in Troy and Matt,” junior goalkeeper Cody Rodrigue said.

What the Saints don’t possess are a wealth of athletes who have played the game since grade school, as is the case with their southern rivals.

Hockey players continue to naturally gravitate to the distant, spring cousin of the game they love.

“You would think (last year’s success) would make more kids want to play,” Coach Haefele said. “We’re down to 21 kids. School enrollment is down. Everything is down. It’s a lot of things, I guess. The economy is tough on everyone.”

Moving to the KVAC for lacrosse — a move that mirrored St. Dom’s switch to the MVC in all other sports — gave the Saints a more manageable regular-season schedule against schools in their same stage of development.

After a slow start that included a one-goal win over Gardiner and a comeback victory over Morse, St. Dom’s won nine of its last 10 regular-season games by double digits.

Taking another step toward becoming a benchmark program means carving out similar results with a largely different cast.

“Last year was a start. It’s a foundation,” Dylan Rodrigue said. “This team definitely is not last year’s team, but there are qualities we didn’t have last year that we have this year. The goal of getting back there again, maybe it seems farther than last year, but it can still be achieved as long as everyone puts everything in it.”

[email protected]

Boys’ lacrosse preview

Players to watch

Edward Little — Mitch Adams, Zach Earle, Travis Landry, Cody Meserve, Drew Lupardo, Dylan Nadeau, Tylor Raymond; Lewiston — Eliot Chicoine, Sam Cloutier, Cody Dussault, Seth Mason, Chris Rancourt, Curtis Robinson, Brandon Tiner; Mountain Valley — Travis Blanchard, Kyle Duguay, Travis St. Pierre, Nick Sterling; Mt. Blue — Dillan Burnham, Griffin Conlogue, Matt Davis, Ethan Kyes, A.J. Larrabee, Adam Lewia, Nick Watson, Phillip Wells; Oak Hill — Jon Averill, Brian Daniels, Sam Hatch, Eric Lapointe, Nate Rolston, Trever Samson; Oxford Hills — Matt McVety, Andy Ripley, Collin Tucker, George Turner; St. Dom’s — Matt Adams, Kevin Costello, Anthony Fagone, Troy Haefele, Cody Rodrigue, Dylan Rodrigue.

Overview

Lewiston welcomes back an experienced crew that would like to pick up where it left off last season. The Blue Devils went 6-6 against a brutal Eastern Class A schedule, dropping three of those games by one or two goals. It paid off in the playoffs, when Lewiston shut out Deering and gave Portland all it could handle in the regional semifinals. The Devils are strong in the midfield and on defense and should be among the elite teams in the region.

Edward Little will feature some new faces, but the Red Eddies have been on an upswing. Despite missing the playoffs in 2010, EL posted a winning record and split its series with Lewiston for the second straight year. Elsewhere in Class A, Mt. Blue and Oxford Hills are poised to move up in the standings after taking their lumps with young teams a year ago, combining for only six victories.

St. Dom’s won’t have the frontline depth of last season, but plenty of firepower remains. The Saints should still be among the top teams in the Class B division of the KVAC. Oak Hill could rebound and challenge for an Eastern B playoff spot after a freshman and sophomore-dominated squad won only one game last spring.

Statewide, the favorites aren’t hard to figure out. Portland, Scarborough and Brunswick all have made three appearances Class A state final since the leagues were divided into A and B in 2006. Yarmouth and Cape Elizabeth remain the Class B heavyweights until further notice.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.