PORTLAND – Circumstances forced senior midfielder Brett Harmon to take a new path to goal. But he ended up leading his team to where it wanted to be: in the win column.
Harmon, a career midfielder, moved down to attackman and dodged his way to three goals in Deering’s 10-3 victory over rival Portland on Friday night in an SMAA boys’ lacrosse game at Fitzpatrick Stadium.
Billy Farrell and Issac Santere had two goals apiece, and Alec Halpin had three assists for Deering (2-1), which ran its unbeaten streak over Portland to four — three regular-season games and a regional quarterfinal last June. With a number of players sidelined, including key midfielder Ben Allen, the Bulldogs (0-3) featured five sophomores in the starting lineup and struggled to reach the ball in the first half.
Bulldogs goalie Andrew Hoekstra had 10 saves. The Rams’ Jon Deloach had six saves behind a stout defense led by James Doyle, and Sam and Max Hornblower.
And up top, Harmon had a new perspective.
“That was my first time playing attack,” Harmon said. “If I’m at the X-spot, I’m facing the back of the cage. It’s a whole new look at the field.”
His first task is to distribute the ball to the open teammate. Barring that, his job is to bring the ball around and shoot it himself. That’s how he scored, including twice in the fourth quarter to stem Portland’s three-goal run that had cut the lead to 6-3.
“(Playing the X-spot) is not something we ask Brett to do,” Deering Coach Jon Dubois said. “But he rotated back and felt comfortable dodging from there. He scored two in the fourth quarter. I couldn’t ask a kid to step up at a better time.”
Harmon’s shift in position came at the end of a bittersweet first quarter. The Rams were dominating play and held a slim 1-0 lead thanks to Farrell’s shot from 10 yards with 7:25 left. Four minutes later, the Rams’ star attackman Rick Murray took his sixth shot, collided with a defender and limped toward the bench.
Geoff Mathews made it 2-0 with 3:10 left, and 48 seconds later Sam Hornblower rifled in a shot from 30 yards to make it 3-0. Still, more than a few Rams fans were eyeing the bench, where Murray was having his ankle packed in ice.
“(Murray) was a big loss but we emphasized rotation,” Dubois said. “We had six different scorers to open the game, so kids responded well to adversity like that.”
Connor Bruce cut Deering’s lead to 6-1 just 44 seconds before halftime. The Bulldogs continued to show life into the third, outscoring the Rams 2-0 on doorstep goals by Luigi Grimaldi and Brady Green. But the Rams were too tough for the young Bulldogs.
“We got into a hole again, then we started doing all the right things in the third quarter,” Portland Coach Mike DiFusco said. “We’re improving every day in practice. It’s a process, and it’s my job to make sure kids leave this (locker room) every day with their heads up.”