SACO – After graduating four of his top five scorers from a year ago, Thornton Academy boys’ lacrosse coach Ryan Hersey hoped offense by committee would deliver success.
Hersey was dead on. Six players scored Saturday as the Golden Trojans beat Portland 9-4 in an SMAA opener at Hill Stadium.
“There were a whole bunch of kids that this was their first time starting at the varsity level,” Hersey said. “I think as the year goes on we’re going to see a lot of them get a little bit more comfortable and start to emerge. I think we do have the potential to be a much better offensive team.”
Zachary Bryant and Taylor Browne scored three minutes apart midway through the period to give Thornton a 2-0 lead after one.
Portland’s lone shot on goal in the period came with 30 seconds left and was handled easily by Chris Camire, who finished with 10 saves.
“We had a tough time getting going in the first half in general,” said first-year Portland coach Mike DiFusco. “I think we were getting the butterflies out in the first quarter and you could definitely tell a lot of young guys were out there for their first time. It was a learning experience for us.”
The Bulldogs got back into the game two minutes into the second quarter when Ben Allen cashed a second-chance opportunity to cut the Trojans’ lead to 2-1.
Thornton Academy didn’t waste any time with an answer. Just 18 seconds later Tyler LaPointe traveled the length of the field and beat Portland goalie Andrew Hoekstra (11 saves) to give the Trojans a 3-1 lead.
“I think that third goal was huge,” said Hersey, “because then we were able to rattle off a fourth and a fifth goal. I think we got a little bit comfortable and I was very pleased where we were at halftime.”
Ian Carrier and Cooper O’Brien added goals before the end of the period and the Trojans carried a 5-1 lead into halftime.
Portland stayed within distance by scoring twice to open the second half. Joe Nielson and Joe Emmerson capitalized on a rash of Thornton penalties to allow the Bulldogs to make it a 5-3 deficit with three minutes left in the period.
For the second time in the game the Trojans had a quick response. Cody Falton and Browne scored in quick succession to push Thornton into a 7-3 lead.
“We were a man down for the majority of the quarter and then they got a penalty so it was five-on-five,” said Falton. “Once we hit five-on-five we were able to settle it back down, create offense and really get back into the rhythm of things. I felt that that was where we got the momentum back and played better.”
O’Brien’s second and Browne’s third completed the scoring for the Trojans.
Connor Bruce scored the other goal for Portland, which played without two of its top scorers from last season, Max Pierter and Mike Fuller, due to injury.
SOUTH PORTLAND 8, MARSHWOOD 7: Alec Neal scored the winning goal with 20 seconds left to lift the Red Riots (1-0) over Marshwood (1-1) at South Portland.
Joey Babbidge set up the winning play on an out-of-bounds play. He found Neal driving on the right side and Neal bounced a shot past the keeper.
Duncan Preston also had two goals and an assist for the Red Riots.
Timo Hellier made 18 saves, including some big ones down the stretch.
Drew Hale scored three goals and set up another for the Hawks.
MASSABESIC 10, GORHAM 9: Jacobs Desrochers scored five goals, including the winner, as Massabesic (1-1) beat the Rams (0-1) at Gorham.
The Mustangs trailed most of the game but scored twice in the final six minutes to take a 10-8 lead. Gorham got one goal back with time winding down.
Stephen Chaves scored the Mustangs’ other late goal, finishing with two goals and three assists. Desrochers also had two assists.