Edward Little’s Dawson Tracey fires the ball past Mt. Ararat’s Gabriel Crowley during Thursday afternoon’s lacrosse game in Auburn. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

AUBURN — Thursday’s KVAC boys’ lacrosse game between Mt. Ararat and Edward Little came down to control.

The host Red Eddies proved the better team at controlling the ball — possession, faceoffs, ground balls, opposing shots — and because of that now have better control at attaining a playoff spot thanks to a 13-10 victory at Walton Field.

“We had to control the ball more, slow it down, instead of trying to go fast every time we get the ball,” EL senior attacker Eli Thibodeau said. “Keep control, wins the game.”

The Red Eddies (3-5) didn’t do a good job of keeping possession at the start, giving the ball away to the Eagles (5-4) with an unforced turnover after winning the opening faceoff. It didn’t take long for the Eagles to capitalize. Connor Brown scored the first of his team-high three goals 90 seconds in to give Mt. Ararat a quick 1-0 lead.

Spencer Frahn answered for EL 89 seconds after that, and the teams traded goals 35 seconds apart six minutes in to tie the game 2-2 — a score that stood for the rest of the first quarter.

The Red Eddies jumped ahead for good with a go-ahead goal 16 seconds into the second. Tyler Morin (game-high five assists) fed Thibodeau (game-high six goals) from behind the net to the left side, and Thibodeau went bar-down with his shot.

“He’s a great assister. He feeds everybody. Great passes,” Thibodeau said. “He’s the key to our offense.”

Thibodeau slapped a shot in for another goal 2:31 in, giving EL a two-goal lead. Mt. Ararat cut it to one with an Eli Schoenberg goal, but Frahn scored two more goals to make it 6-3 with 1:29 left before half.

Keegan Brown scored with 59.4 seconds left to bring the Eagles’ deficit back down to two going into halftime.

It could have been even less, if not for EL goalie Gunnar Winslow, who made four of his 13 saves in the period.

“I mean, really we got a lot of quality looks, and that big guy there, he was awesome. He was fantastic. We got the looks, he just made great saves,” Eagles coach Matt Haskell said. “Their goalie was on fire today. Best goaltending I’ve seen all year.”

Edward Little started another quarter hot on offense in the third. Thibodeau scored 95 seconds in, then Morin scored a goal of his own less than four minutes in to make it 8-4.

“They have several really good shooters, and we picked a couple of — a couple guys got banged up,” Haskell said. “We threw some young kids out there and EL did a good job of playing fast, and they got the looks they wanted, and got the ball in the shooter’s hand and they connected.”

The Eagles scored the game’s next two goals — Sean Roberts and Connor Brown both found the back of the net — but it came during a stretch in the middle of the third that Mt. Ararat dominated possession and couldn’t convert more. Winslow had four more saves in the third.

The Red Eddies finished the period strong, getting goals from Ben Feldman and Thibodeau in the final 1:25 to stretch their lead to 10-6.

“We talked about (four) goals was definitely not a safe lead,” EL coach Jim Dock said. “The game of lacrosse can turn around on a dime real quick, so wanted to make sure that, again, we were possessing the ball and keeping the motion going in the offense so that we weren’t squandering our possessions.”

Morin and Frahn scored 27 seconds apart in the first two minutes of the fourth, Winslow made a save and then got help from the post on another shot, and Thibodeau scored his final goal five minutes in to make it a seven-goal lead for the Red Eddies.

Then the game turned, just as Dock had warned it could. Owen Kelly scored for the Eagles, then Roberts did as well exactly one minute later on the man-up. Connor Brown completed his hat trick 61 seconds later, then Zach Caouette cut the deficit to three with 1:20 to go.

“We were just pick up the tempo and go, go, go, and trying to get the game going so fast that EL would make mistakes,” Haskell said. “I mean, we took chances. We pulled our goalie, we were trying to double the ball, and just trying to get the tempo and go, go, go.”

“It was concerning, but you got faith in your plan, you got faith in your players, in your team,” Dock said.

That was as close as the Eagles got. The Red Eddies were able to hold onto the ball enough to keep their distance on the scoreboard, and they maintained possession when the clock hit all zeroes.

“This is a huge win for us,” Dock said. “We’re coming off a hell of a slump, and we knew this team is worth quite a few Heal points as we were looking towards the playoffs.”

Daniel Jackson made nine saves for the Eagles, with four coming in the fourth to allow his team to get within striking distance.

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Mt. Ararat’s goalie, Daniel Jackson sends the ball to a teammate at Edward Little’s Tyler Morin tries to block during Thursday afternoon’s lacrosse game in Auburn. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)Edward Little’s Gunnar Winslow and defensive player, Terrell Thomas, celebrate a goal during Thursday afternoon’s lacrosse game in Auburn. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)Edward Little’s Eli Thibodeau keeps control of the ball as Mt. Ararat’s Elias Linkel attempts to dislodge it during Thursday afternoon’s lacrosse game in Auburn. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)Edward Little’s Tyler Morin runs the ball around the backside of the goal with Mt. Ararat’s Ryan Mello in pursuit during Thursday afternoon’s lacrosse game in Auburn. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)Edward Little’s Dawson Tracey threads between Mt. Ararat’s Trey Saucier and Hayden Libby during Thursday afternoon’s lacrosse game in Auburn. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)Edward Little’s Cam Audette brings the ball towards the goal as Mt. Ararat’s Trey Saucier pressures him during Thursday afternoon’s lacrosse game in Auburn. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)