SHANNON HARTY (12) of the Mt. Ararat High School lacrosse team moves up field with the ball while Holly Black of Brunswick presses during Tuesday’s “Battle of the Bridge” season opener in Topsham. Jenna Brooks scored five goals as the Dragons cruised to an 8-4 KVAC win under first-year coach Dave Boucher.

SHANNON HARTY (12) of the Mt. Ararat High School lacrosse team moves up field with the ball while Holly Black of Brunswick presses during Tuesday’s “Battle of the Bridge” season opener in Topsham. Jenna Brooks scored five goals as the Dragons cruised to an 8-4 KVAC win under first-year coach Dave Boucher.

TOPSHAM

JENNA BROOKS (4) of the Dragons is pressed by Anna Manuel (23) of Mt. Ararat while looking up field.

JENNA BROOKS (4) of the Dragons is pressed by Anna Manuel (23) of Mt. Ararat while looking up field.

Monday’s “Battle of the Bridge” game had quite a different feel than last season.

With longtime Mt. Ararat High School girls lacrosse coach Sam Chard moved on and Alex Sullivan recently stepping away from Brunswick, Samantha Diamond and Dave Boucher were left with a unique challenge as replacements — open the season against your biggest rival in your coaching debut.

With just about six weeks to prepare for the season, it was Boucher, also the Dragons’ girls ice hockey coach, that came out with a tone-setting win. His hockey forward Jenna Brooks transitioned her game to the field with ease and scored five goals that gave Brunswick an 8-4 Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference win.

“I felt great coming into the game,” Boucher said. “After having watched the game, it gives us more confidence. A rivalry win is nice, but a ‘W’ in your first game is also important for confidence. We had a great preseason with the play-days, we won the tournament at Deering last week, so they’re getting confidence. As you know, in most sports, confidence, it goes a long way.”

“We were excited, because we weren’t expecting to win,” Brunswick midfielder Beth Labbe said. “It was just good to come out and beat our rivals.”

Brooks didn’t waste much time, giving Brunswick (1-0) the lead on a free-position goal fewer than four minutes into the game. Mt. Ararat’s (0-1) Shannon Harty countered with a goal, but then the Dragons really got going. After Colleen McKearney ripped one off the post, teammate Dina Murphy was left wide open in front of the cage and scored to make it 3- 1. Lila Solberg, on another wide-open take, followed just a minute-and-a-half later with a goal of her own.

Then it was Brooks again, scoring by herself and completing her hat trick at 6:34, and then taking a pass from Murphy and finishing late in the first half to put the Dragons up 6-2 at the break.

“She’s clearly an outstanding player at both ends,” Boucher said of Brooks. “She has the shot, the cradling skills and speed. Combine all those with knowledge of the game. She’s one of our leaders.”

“She brings a lot of energy to the team,” Labbe said. “She just gets us all going. Having her gets us all hyped up and ready to win.”

On multiple sequences, Brooks either won the ball on a draw-control or stole it at midfield, and all Diamond and the Eagles could do was watch.

“She’s talented, she’s skilled,” Diamond said of Brooks. “She’s quick. We decided to put somebody on her to try to slow her down. Try our best to play good team defense to keep her out of the mix.”

Brooks tallied five goals, three on free-position shots, and watched another handful of shots sail wide of the cage.

Jitters gone

In the second half, Mt. Ararat took a deep breath and the tides started turning a bit. Lila Solberg promptly responded to Brunswick’s first shot of the frame, going in by running onto goal and scoring herself at 19:43. Then, with limited possession, the Eagles tightened up on defense and took Brooks mostly out of the game.

Ten of Mt. Ararat’s 16 total shots came in the second half and the Dragons were limited to just five in the final 25 minutes.

“When we settled down, we could play,” Diamond said. “Second half, we looked really good. First game jitters, against our rival. That was something.”

It might have been her first game at the helm, but her players told Diamond all about the rivalry.

“They said that, no matter who is more athletically talented, it’s always going to be a good game,” she said. “It’s always going to be competitive, they’re always going to get fired up. It’s always going to be a battle until the end. There was definitely times where, regardless of what the score was, we saw that happening.”

Jessica Cloutier punched in a goal with 6.9 seconds left on the clock, but for most of the half, Brunswick cage-minder Mikaela Aschbrenner was locked in. She blocked six shots in the frame and finished with eight total. Casi Perow made a pair of key saves in the first half for Mt. Ararat, but the Dragons’ 11 shots before halftime proved to be too much.

“A nice feature for us this year is we have several scorers,” Boucher said. “We’ve got many good, solid lacrosse players and a great goalie.”

Emily Welch added a pair of goals for Mt. Ararat, which will look to bounce back against Messalonskee on Thursday at 4 p.m. What Diamond might lack in experience, she makes up for in confidence.

“I think that we’re going to rise above,” she said. “I think we’ll bounce back nicely. The last four weeks, we’ve been putting in a lot of work — conditioning, skill work. Having only two tournaments before our first game and not being able to play on a field, this is kind of our first go, really. We can definitely come out on top, and I don’t think we have any doubts.”

As for Boucher and the Dragons, slated to host Lewiston on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m., the transition has been fairly smooth. Part of that has to do with the hockey team.

“It’s a little easier because we already know him,” said Labbe, who’s a winger on the ice. “It’s really nice just to already know the coach and he knows us, so he’s how we like to play.”

Brunswick 8,
Mt. Ararat 4

At Mt. Ararat High School
Brunswick — 6 2 — 8
Mt. Ararat — 2 2 — 4
Goals — (B) Jenna Brooks 5, Dina
Murphy 2, Lila Solberg; (MtA) Shannon Harty, Emily Welch 2, Jessica
Cloutier.
Assists — (B) Rian Sachs 2, Anna
Callahan, Tessa Alexander; (MtA)
Emily Welch.
Shots — Brunswick 16, Mt. Ararat
16.
Saves — (B) Mikaela Aschbrenner 8;
(MtA) Casi Perow 4.
Draw controls — Brunswick 10, Mt.
Ararat 4.
Records — Brunswick 1-0; Mt.
Ararat 0-1.
Up next for the Dragons — Wednesday at home against Lewiston, 4:30
p.m.
Up next for the Eagles — Thursday
at Messalonskee, 4 p.m.


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