The Lewiston girls lacrosse team is eager to make another playoff run after reaching the Class A semifinals in 2021.

Scoring will be an important part of matching or surpassing last year’s success. However, last year’s top two scorers, Charlotte Gastonguay (73 goals and 21 assists) and Brie Dube (39 goals, 12 assists), graduated, so the Blue Devils will be relying on their depth to create offensive opportunities this spring.

The offense this year will be led by seniors Ceci Miller, a midfielder and Mya Grant, who has moved to attack from defense.

Miller was a key offensive player on last year’s team, which went 8-6. Her 19 goals ranked fourth on the Blue Devils and her 12 assists were third. Grant’s focus in 2021 wasn’t on the offense, but Blaisdell said the senior has a high lacrosse IQ and anticipates well.

“It’s going to be really hard. We are definitely not going to be able to do it like them, we are going to feel their absence a lot,” Miller said. “I think our focus this year is going to be having a good time, playing our best, working as a team, doing the best we can with everybody we have. We have a great team, but, obviously, they are amazing — we aren’t going to top that.”

Lilly Gish and Rebecca Lussier, also seniors, combine with Miller and Grant to give the Blue Devils a solid core of returning players.

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Head coach Tracey Blaisdell said that having Leslie Klenk — Gastonguay’s mother who coached St. Dom’s to the 2019 Class C state title —  return as an assistant also will help because Lewiston will be using the same motion-based offense.

“I feel like our offense — we have a lot of these experienced players, we just have to rework it a little bit,” Blaisdell said. “Leslie Klenk is an assistant coach this year and she’s going to work with the offense. They know her style, and she’s got them going on a couple of plays (so far).

“We feel like we are picking up a little bit where we left off, but it’s a shift — we have those adjustments.”

Miller said that she learned some of the technical aspects of the offense from Gastonguay, such as when to shoot and pass, and she hopes to pass that knowledge on to this season’s underclassmen.

Grant said that because players are still becoming familiar with their new roles, the offense isn’t as sophisticated as when Gastonguay and Dube were running it. Much of the focus so far has been on positioning and player and ball movement.

“In just the first few weeks of practices, we have been working on our passing and moving around,” Grant said. “We started some of our offensive plays and getting the ball worked around. We have been focusing on passing and making sure everybody knows where they are going.”

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Blaisdell wants all of the players to be involved. To help implement that mindset, only underclassmen participated in Lewiston’s first round-robin exhibition last Saturday. She wanted provide them a game situation without the temptation to defer to the veterans.

While a lot of focus has been on offense, the defense also will be important to Lewiston’s success. Blaisdell said juniors Alyssa Marcoux and Leah Dube are reliable defenders, which is why Grant is able to switch to attack, her natural position.

“I think our defense, with Alyssa Marcoux and Leah Dube, they really can take on some of that role (that Grant played last season of minimizing opponents’ chances),” Blaisdell said. “Caitlin D’Andrea transferred in —  she actually played for Portland last year —  and she has a lot of experience on defense. I feel good about the defense.”

Blaisdell added that sophomore defender Gabby Thomas has shown growth in the preseason.

MORE PRACTICE

Blaisdell is looking forward to the Blue Devils having more practice time this season. They had to quarantine three times in 2021 because of COVID-19.

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“What we really missed last year is the opportunity to prepare for a game, have the game, and then have the opportunity to practice and say, ‘What can we do to improve?'” Blaisdell said. “Last year, because of that, we may have had a stretch of practices, but all of a sudden we had to play all these games. We had no time to rework something, we had no time to take what we learned in the game and put it into play.”

The players did well picking up as much as they could despite the limited practice time. Blaisdell said that proof of that, and their improvement, is the win over Portland in last season in the quarterfinals. In 2019, the Blue Devils lost to the Bulldogs in the playoffs.

While more postseason success is the goal this spring, Miller said Lewiston doesn’t want to look too far into the future.

“It would be great to get to the semifinals again this year, or even further,” she said, “but I think a good goal this year is at least getting to the first round of the playoffs, seeing where that takes us.”

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