PORTLAND – For all the changes facing the Cheverus boys’ lacrosse program this spring, one constant remains: Get the ball to Jack Sutton and good things will happen.
Sutton scored five goals Friday to lead the Stags to a 12-6 victory over Deering in a boys’ lacrosse opener on a sleet-crusted Memorial Field at Deering High.
Tom Lawson added three goals and Nick Schleh had two for the Stags, who took command early and maintained a decided advantage in possession while playing through a blend of sleet, rain and snow squalls.
“Our offense really started shaping up,” Sutton said. “In the preseason we weren’t moving the ball like we should have been. We’re adjusting to new coaches and new sets, and we’re just trying to get good looks at every point of the field. Today we started moving the ball really well.”
The defending Eastern Class A champion Stags have adjusted to a new coach in Bill Bodwell, who moved over from Lewiston to replace a longtime coach, Deke Andrew.
Cheverus also has new defenders and the elevation of backup James Beigel (15 saves) to starting goalie.
“They came out fast and strong, and they beat us to a lot of ground balls,” Deering Coach Jon Dubois said. “(Beigel) played really well, and any time (your opponent) wins the ground-ball battle and has a goalie playing well, it’s going to be an uphill battle.”
Lawson scored for the Stags with their first shot of the game for a 1-0 lead just 27 seconds in.
Rick Murray tied it 2:44 later, finishing a nice feed from Adam Rodriguez.
Cheverus then scored six straight, three by Sutton, to build a 7-1 lead halfway through the second quarter. Alec Halpin finished off a nice spin move for Deering’s second goal with 1:35 left as Cheverus entered halftime with a 7-2 lead.
“We’re certainly young and we’ve got guys learning the system,” Dubois said. “Possessing the ball will get you goals and keep them off the scoreboard, and we didn’t possess it as well as Cheverus did.”
The Stags continued to dominate in the third, outscoring the Rams 5-1 for a 12-3 lead.
“We’re just getting to know each other, starting to feel a little more comfortable in our offense,” Bodwell said. “We were making good decisions, creating some space and just trying to do some nice hard dodges.
“The biggest challenge is just getting to know 37 new guys. They work hard, they love the game, and they’re pretty smart lacrosse players. That’s been the easy part.”
Halpin scored three goals and Murray had two as the Rams showed some life late, outscoring the Stags 3-0 in the final 12 minutes.
John DeLoach finished with 10 saves for Deering.
“We played really well in the fourth quarter,” Dubois said. “We outscored them, (won more ground balls), so it’s something to build on.
“We have 11 more tries to get a shot at the (playoffs).”