Edward Little’s Ariana Guay, left is defended closely by Lewiston’s Mya Grant as she tries to clear her defensive zone during an April 14 game in Lewiston. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Edward Little girls lacrosse coach Shaun McKinnon last week challenged to the team to improve to 2-2 after opening the season with a pair of losses to Lewiston and Oxford Hills.

The Red Eddies answered the challenge, beating Westbrook 12-1 on Friday and MCI/Nokomis 8-1 on Saturday morning.

McKinnon said the team has been gelling, for which he credits the senior leadership of Megan Lachance, Caroline Audette, Calean McGuigan and Hailee Brown.

“The girls are starting to buy in and get confidence — because we haven’t won many games in the past,” McKinnon said. “Now they are getting confidence and starting to come together as a team. It has been the difference with the addition of (a large freshmen class) and excellent senior leadership.”

Edward Little has already surpassed its win total from last season when it won only one game.

McKinnon, in his second year as head coach, said he’s impressed with offense output so far this season. He lauds Audette as a catalyst of the offense from a new position.

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“We put Caroline Audette at the X position — which is behind the goal — and she was able to facilitate,” McKinnon said. “She had three or four assists. Our spread offense that spreads the 8(-meter) and 12(-meter) marks, which allows us to slash the middle, has opened up scoring opportunities for our team.”

The primary benefactors of moving Audette to the X position have been freshmen Izzy Hayes and Stella Smith. Hayes scored a team-high six goals Friday, while Smith tallied two goals Saturday.

Lachance led the offense with seven goals in the two games combined.

Senior Hailee Brown stepped up this season to play goaltender, a position she’s somewhat familiar with, having played goalie for the Red Eddies’ girls soccer team.

“Our goalie, Hailee Brown, has really worked hard in practice with our goalie coach, (Martin) Bressler,” McKinnon said. “She’s a soccer goalie, so she gets it. She was a starter for coach (Mike) Bisher this (past) fall. She understands the position, and she’s getting more comfortable in the position.”

Brown directs traffic, which has helped defenders, such as McGuigan, Ariana Guay, Nora Condi and Anaya Egge, know where they need to be.

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McKinnon has issued another challenge to the team: Extend the winning streak to four, with upcoming games against Brunswick on Thursday and St. Dom’s on Friday.

“I said: ‘Look, Brunswick will be a great team, and it will be a tough test. They played (well) against Winthrop/Maranacook, and Winthrop/Maranacock beat Oxford Hills.’ Brunswick took (Winthrop/Maranacook) to overtime; that will be a tough game,” McKinnon said. “I told them: ‘I want to be 4-2 on Friday. If not, we will be 3-3 going into the second week of May.’ I think giving the girls a goal to reach has been working out well.”

DEPTH BOLSTERS LEWISTON

Lewiston boys coach Ben Fournier said a major reason for the Blue Devils’ recent three-game winning streak — against Cony, Oxford Hills and Bangor — is depth and balance that make it difficult for opposing defenses to focus on stopping one player.

“What helps us this year is we don’t have one go-to guy that opponents can shut down and take everything off the table,” Fournier said. “We are getting a lot of contributions from a lot of the guys, and the scoring is pretty spread out, the assists are pretty spread out.”

Sophomore Cody Dionne and senior Eli Bigelow are anchors in the midfield. Fournier said if opponents focus on one, the other one can take advantage.

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Defensively, the Blue Devils are getting contributions from long-stick defenders Elisha Brito, Caed Langley and Kevin Gallic.

Lewiston has used two goalies so far, including freshman Brock Rancourt, who got playing time in the 11-4 win over Oxford Hills. Starter Cooper Kearns returned for Saturday’s 10-7 win over Bangor.

“It’s great for him to get that varsity time early on,” Fournier said. “When Cooper graduates, Brock is going to be our guy. Instead of waiting as a sophomore to get some varsity time, it’s nice to get him some (early this season), and he did very well.”

The Blue Devils have a small roster, but that has allowed the coaches to work more with players individually or in small groups.

“We have 28 kids in our program — varsity and JV. It’s a blessing and a curse,” Fournier said. “It’s a curse because we have a real short bench, but it’s a blessing because it gives us time to work with everybody on every facet we are working on. We don’t split up into varsity and JV. We are taking a pretty big programmatic approach this year where everybody is involved in everything. Even if they only play JV, they can run the varsity plays because we practice them together.”

BUSY WEEK FOR RAIDERS

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The Oak Hill/Lisbon/Monmouth boys are in currently a stretch of four games in five days that began with a 19-2 win over Edward Little on Tuesday. Wednesday’s rain pushed a road game against Maranacook/Spruce Mountain/Winthrop to Thursday. On Friday, the Raiders travel to Lincoln Academy, and then they host Portland on Saturday.

Coach Joey Hinkley hopes he can spread around playing time as the week goes along.

“If we are up a little, I will try to get some starters out,” Hinkley said after Tuesday’s victory. “But I didn’t put in as many JV kids in today because we have a JV game, and they need to get their own game in. (Thursday), I don’t think Maranacook has a JV team, and if we are up, maybe we will get more kids on the field. If not, we will play our game.”

Hinkley said the four games will test out the team’s endurance, and he hopes no injuries happen.

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