PORTLAND — The Portland High boys’ lacrosse team looks like it is ready to pick up where it left off last season when it won its first Class A state championship.

The unbeaten Bulldogs dominated the last three quarters Wednesday night to run away with an 18-4 victory against Gorham in an SMAA game at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

“Like any program, winning is contagious,” Portland Coach Eric Begonia said. “These guys have been in a climate where that’s what we do. They know the effort of the hard work that goes into it. That’s what we’ve asked of them from day one, and they’ve shown they’re willing to do that.”

“We had a strong core of young guys last year who were kind of overshadowed by our All-American players and the big names,” said Caleb Kenney, a junior midfielder who had seven goals and an assist. “But we definitely had contributors last year who carried it over into this season.”

It took the Bulldogs (9-0) some time to get their offense cranked up against Gorham (6-3).

“It’s the first time this year we’ve seen a zone defense.” Begonia said. “We knew they’d throw one at us. Our guys just had to be more patient and move the ball.”

Until now, Portland, averaging nearly 16 goals a game, has relied on the fast break to produce its offense.

“Patience is not what we’re used to,” Begonia said. “We’re an up-tempo team and we like to move the ball up the field.”

The first quarter ended 3-3, but the Bulldogs reeled off five goals in the second quarter to open a commanding 8-3 lead.

“We were able to move the ball and pick them apart a little bit, you know, get everybody attached and move the defense,” Kenney said.

During that 12-minute span, the Portland defense limited the Rams to three shots on goal.

Bronson Guimond and Max Pierter each scored four goals for the Bulldogs. Kevin Nielsen added a goal and two assists, Jason Knight had a goal and an assist, and Gordon Parker had an assist.

Connor Smith, Greg Gagne, Luc Robitaille and Aaron LaPorte each scored for the Rams, and Brad Turnbaugh had an assist.

Nate Hollaran, Gorham’s goalie, stopped 14 of 28 shots before leaving with an injury with 9:33 left. Rob Russell finished, stopping two of six shots.

The Portland defense, which is allowing slightly more than six goals per game, forced 23 turnovers.

“Believe it or not, we’re still a work in progress,” Begonia said. “We’re young in some areas and we’ve got some things we still need to work on. But we’re coming together and things are looking good.”

 

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

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