The area girls lacrosse scene has grown by two teams, though both had to wait an extra year to make their varsity debuts after last spring’s season was wiped out because of COVID-19.

Gray-New Gloucester/Poland and Mt. Blue will both compete in the statewide Class B, and with every team qualifying for the postseason this season, that means there is a chance the two newcomers face off in the playoffs.

Before looking that far ahead, however, the teams have their sights set on other opponents.

“We are still battling the pandemic, but through it all the team is staying very positive and looking forward to the opportunity to compete in our first ever varsity girls lacrosse game this Friday at Nokomis,” said Mt. Blue co-coach Jody Harmon, who is sharing the lead role with Elizabeth LeClair.

Senior goalie Mackenzie Baston protects the net Tuesday during Gray-New Gloucester/Poland lacrosse practice in Auburn. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

The Gray-NG/Poland co-op, known as the 26ers, was primed to play at the varsity level last year after what head coach Emma Lafrance called “a really great season as a JV team in 2019.”

“This is a special year for us because we will be competing at the varsity level for the first time,” Lafrance said. “These girls worked hard during our last season to get us to the varsity level of play.”

Despite a solid foundation that’s been created and built upon since the JV program was started in 2016, Lafrance expects there to still be growth throughout this first varsity season. That includes the mental and tactical part of the sport, and working around new rules put into place this year.

The 26ers will lean upon what Lafrance called “a very strong, young midfield line that will be able to make an impact right away on both ends of the field.”

Senior Ashley Wilson fires on net Tuesday during Gray-New Gloucester/Poland lacrosse practice in Auburn. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

The Cougars have seven players who are holdovers from the club program that last got to play in 2019. The roster as a whole includes those experienced players, some players who have only played boys lacrosse and athletes new to the sport.

Harmon said the past year has created many challenges for the program, but the Cougars are excited to finally get going as a varsity squad.

EDWARD LITTLE RED EDDIES

Like the 26ers and Cougars, Shaun McKinnon was also supposed to make his debut last year. Instead, the new Edward Little head coach had to wait a year to “finally get on the field and coach this tremendous group of athletes.”

“As a coaching staff, we have been impressed with the skills and determination that the team has shown early,” McKinnon said.

The Red Eddies have 11 seniors on the team, which McKinnon said should work to their advantage.

“Their experiences will help mold the younger players and provide them great insight,” he said.

McKinnon will have some experience on the sideline with him in his first year at the helm of the Red Eddies. His varsity assistant is Leavitt graduate Allie Belaire, who played collegiately at St. Joseph’s College. The JV coach is Richard Bruce, who will be assisted by former EL player Becca Raby.

“Collectively, we ask a great deal from our players, but know they can deliver,” McKinnon said.

ST. DOM’S SAINTS

It’s been two years since St. Dom’s won the Class C state championship, but a lot has changed in that time. Namely, the Saints’ head coach.

Butch Dow takes over the program from Leslie Klenk, and he’s ready to move things forward from the glory of the past.

“New season, new coach,” Dow said of his outlook to his first season at the helm. “Looking to change the way we play, so it will be a rebuilding year, with a lot of young players and some new players.”

The Saints will have a speedy attack, but will need to build their defense.

“We may surprise a few teams with our style of play, once all the players have the chemistry worked out,” Dow said.

LEWISTON BLUE DEVILS

Tracey Blaisdell didn’t get a chance last year to build off of her first season at Lewiston in 2019. Thankfully, her team was ready to hit the ground running when 2021 started.

“The team was eager to get back on the field, playing with impressive effort and determination from day one,” Blaisdell said.

The Blue Devils have 13 returning players, to go along with 19 new players to the program. Included among the new faces is senior attacker Charlotte Gastonguay, who was on the St. Dom’s state championship team two years ago.

Blaisdell said the offense has plenty of experience and is coming together nicely. The defense is younger, but Blaisdell said, “They have demonstrated a strong game sense.”

“I am pleased by the team’s chemistry, and as the team continues to jell, I anticipate positive results,” she added.

MARANACOOK/WINTHROP HAWKS

The Hawks were in the same position two years ago as the 26ers and Cougars are this season — a new varsity team ready to face the unknown.

The co-op got off to a good start in 2019 and finished with an above-.500 record. The Hawks hoped to improve on that last year, but now have to see what two years of waiting will mean.

“We hope to have a strong team this year,” Hawks coach Shawn Drillen said. “We have lots of good athletes and quite a few experienced players. Our strength will be ball control and strong defense.”

The Hawks no longer have all-conference goalie Samantha Cloutier between the pipes, but her replacement, Emma Cushing, is one of a handful of seniors on the team.

OXFORD HILLS VIKINGS

One team that especially primed for big things before the 2020 season was canceled was Oxford Hills.

The Vikings lost just once during the 2019 regular season and hosted a playoff game before a disappointing ending to the campaign. The lost year in 2020 meant an extra amount of roster losses due to graduation.

There’s still plenty of talent in the program, however.

“Lots of positions to fill strategically in field placement, and this team can do that without a doubt,” Vikings coach Jaimee Smith said. “The talent is strong and motivation to be successful is apparent at practice.”

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