GARDINER — Averi Baker was describing with incredible precision and excitement one of the many key plays in Gardiner/Hall-Dale’s 9-8 win over Brunswick in a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference girls lacrosse game Thursday. It wasn’t until she was nearly finished with her detailed breakdown that she realized she wasn’t even describing the game-winning goal.

It was hard to blame her, considering how many crucial moments she’d engineered at Hoch Field.

“Averi is one of those players that absolutely has the ability, as a single player, to change the dynamic of the game,” said Gardiner coach Jess Prince, whose 2-0 Tigers were ousted from the first round of the playoffs last season. “It’s her skill, but it’s also her intensity. It’s so contagious. The girls feed off of her. … She’s big for us on both ends of the ball.”

The play Baker had been asked about came with just over three and a half minutes remaining, when she threaded a long pass from the right wing to Sophie Blanchard at the top of the crease. With no time to spare as the Dragon defense collapsed straight to her, Blanchard flipped it home to break an 8-all deadlock.

“There was a defender in my face, but I saw her stick open,” Baker said. “She was yelling at me and — bang! — then it went right in.”

“I just took it, I turned and threw it,” Blanchard added. “It happened to go in.”


Baker, a second-year player spending her first game taking draws in the center circle, wasn’t quite finished. She broke up a Brunswick set play with 1:32 left by picking off a pass out high, and she then scooped up a defensive groundball with a minute to go that ended the Dragons’ final meaningful possession of the day.

“We had persistence and we kept our composure, even though the game was super physical and rough,” Baker said. “We stayed with it.”

Lilly Diversi had four goals and an assist, including setting up Baker for a goal to tie the game at 7-7.

For Brunswick (0-2), it wasn’t what one would categorize as a bad loss.

“This team continues to surprise me,” Brunswick coach Emily Aschbrenner said. “The majority of this team, last year was their very first season on varsity. We’re a very young team. I’ve learned that we’ve got some girls that can play a lot of positions. They’re a very resilient team.”

Gardiner jumped out to an early lead with three goals inside the first 10 minutes, only to have Brunswick fire back with four of its own. Lilly Belanger netted the third of her six goals to hand the visitors a 4-3 lead.


The Tigers added a pair in under two minutes to take a 5-4 lead into halftime.

The Gardiner/Hall-Dale girls lacrosse team celebrates a victory over Brunswick on Thursday in Gardiner. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

A 6-4 Gardiner lead early in the second half turned into a 7-6 Brunswick advantage courtesy of Belanger’s free-position tally with 15:20 remaining.

Prince said that the team tightened up its ball possession in order to finally seize momentum created by the Dragons during a couple of goal-producing stretches.

“We were coming up with the draw control, which is a huge momentum thing, but then we’d get to the offensive third and I think we were a little too eager,” Prince said. “We just had to settle down and take care of the ball better.”

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.