SOUTH PORTLAND — Put two of the youngest boys’ lacrosse teams in the SMAA on the same field and what do you get?
South Portland got a lift from Duncan Preston down the stretch Wednesday night to beat Thornton Academy, 10-7.
Preston scored his third and fourth goals in the final six minutes as the Riots won their third straight.
“Duncan is a monster out there,” South Portland Coach Tom Fiorini said. “He plays a really tough game and works very hard.”
South Portland (6-2) held a three-goal halftime lead but the Trojans (4-3) then closed within a goal with more than eight minutes left.
“We made it close,” Thornton Coach Ryan Hersey said. “This is the first game where we’ve come out (in the second half) and really played hard. We showed we can play with the top-tier teams so I’m happy.”
The score was 2-2 at the end of first quarter. The Trojans, who ended with 31 turnovers, then got especially sloppy with the ball in the second quarter and the Riots made them pay.
South Portland scored three consecutive goals off the fast break in a little more than three minutes following turnovers to open a 5-2 lead with less than four minutes left in the half.
“It was our youth coming out, our inexperience, but I’m really proud of my guys,” Hersey said, “We kept on coming back. In the second quarter, every time we scored they shoved it back right down our throats and got that three-goal lead again.”
South Portland led 7-4 at halftime.
The Trojans, who have just two starting seniors, made a move to get back into the game in the third period, which ended with the Riots clinging to an 8-6 lead. Cooper O’Brien scored four minutes into the fourth quarter to make it even closer.
“We were pushing the ball when we didn’t need to,” Fiorini said. “We could have settled in a little bit more, taken a little more time and given our defense a rest.”
The South Portland roster includes four seniors.
“We’re extremely young but I have thoughts that this team can go places and win some games, but then again the inexperience kicks in at times,” Fiorini said. “When we should have been settling the ball, we were pushing the ball, and that’s just inexperience.”
Tom Leddy scored three goals for the Riots. Joey Babbidge added two goals. Alex Neal had a goal and two assists, and Andrew Whipple had three assists.
Taylor Brown led the Trojans with three goals. Cody Falton followed with two goals. Isaac Sinclair scored a goal and Josh Cyr had two assists.
South Portland finished with a 33-25 edge in shots for the game.
Chris Camire had 12 saves for Thornton and Edward Hellier, made nine saves for the Red Riots.
Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:
Correction: This story was updated at 12:51 p.m., May 9, 2013, to correctly identify Red Riots player Duncan Preston.