Brunswick’s Julia Barron, left, and Messalonskee’s Shauna Clark battle for a ball during an April 6 scrimmage at Messalonskee High in Oakland. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

New Brunswick boys lacrosse coach Jason Miller is heading into the season with an open mind.

“It’s going to be interesting, it’s tough to say how the season will go for us individually and across the conference,” said Miller, who has been with the Dragons program since 2007 and took over for Don Glover following his retirement after the 2019 season.

The Dragons return just five seniors, including three with varsity experience.

“The team is extremely young yet highly motivated to get into shape and get better each day” said Miller. “I think the stress of the past year has obviously had a negative effect on the kids psyche, but on the flip side, this group is excited about working hard, and appreciative for the chance to play. It’s exciting to be their coach.”

The Dragons also have a new face leading the girls program — 2015 Brunswick graduate EmaLeigh Aschbrenner.

“Everyone is just excited to get out there and compete,” said Aschbrenner, who graduated from the University of New England in Biddeford in 2019 before returning to Brunswick. “We have a lot of juniors and seniors who may not be at the junior and senior level in terms of experience due to last year.”

Aschbrenner said she has been pleased with what she’s seen from her team in the preseason.

“We have a lot of skilled players on attack and on defense, I think we have what it takes to have a very good season, but we still have a lot of work to do,” she said.

Turnout has varied across the Midcoast.

New Brunswick girls lacrosse coach EmaLeigh Aschbrenner watches her team play Messalonskee during an April 6 scrimmage in Oakland. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

In Brunswick, the girls program has 35 players, down from around the usual 40. The boys, meanwhile, have 43 players in the program — up two from 2019. In Freeport, the boys team has 25 players, most of whom are underclassmen.The Morse girls have 28 players and the Mt. Ararat girls team has 36 players in the program — down a bit from years past.

“It’ll be nice to see teams that we’re familiar with and have played before, even if this year it a total question mark right now,” said Mt. Ararat girls coach Chad Kirk. “It’ll be stop and go and we may get frustrated at times with things out of our control, but it will be important to stay focused and not let those things distract us.”

The Morse boys team, meanwhile, will be “starting from the ground up,” coach Jay Paulus said. The Shipbuilders have just one senior.

“I’m not as much watering the leaves as I am watering the roots,” said Paulus, who enters his 17th season. “Our team is predominantly underclassmen who have been playing with our youth program for years with our coaching staff, which is promising.”

That same feeling of unknown goes for Morse girls head coach Linda Levesque, who has no returning starters from her 2019 squad.

“It feels like a new beginning for us,” said Levesque. “We have a brand new team, a brand new school, and some brand new facilities. … Considering where we are, we are hoping to use this season to sharpen our lacrosse IQ and build chemistry together on and off the field. We’re still looking to find our identity as a team, which I’m confident will come to us soon.”

The Freeport girls team returns eight players from its 2019 squad.

“We’ve looked sharp and well-rounded so far,” said Freeport head coach Marcia Wood. “For me, it’s been all about getting two classes up to speed with varsity level lacrosse.”

The Freeport boys team has a new coach in Kevin Woods, who has high hopes for the season.

“Of course as a coach naturally I have high expectations for us this season,” said Woods. “While we are a young team, we have the belief that we can do some great things together.”

When it comes to between the lines, not much will change within the game, other than masks being worn at all times. Players who participated in winter sports may have come accustomed to that already, but for some, it will take some time to adjust.

“We’ve been practicing and working out in masks, but I’ve told them to be aware and pace themselves when it comes time for a game,” said Levesque.

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