KENTS HILL — With 10 games remaining in the regular season, it’s too early for the Gardiner boys lacrosse team to think about the postseason. Then again, it’s tough not to.

The Tigers return 12 players from a team that won the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B championship last season and look stronger than ever. Tuesday, they beat Maranacook/Winthrop 13-3, a day after beating Camden Hills 14-1 in their season opener.

“We definitely have a great crew of leaders this year,” senior attackman Keegan Smith said. “We’ve been working really hard in the offseason, playing year-round most of us.”

Smith finished with four goals and two assists, a day after he had three goals and seven assists against Camden Hills. Fellow senior Austin Moore matched Smith’s total of four goals and two assists while Seth Wing, Tyler Jamison, Josh Caldwell, Alex Nadeau and Dalton Sargent scored a goal apiece.

The game was the season opener for Maranacook/Winthrop, a playoff team a year ago. The Hawks, though, played shorthanded.

“We have four kids in Europe and one of my varsity starters (Toby Smith) has a broken arm,” first-year coach Zach Stewart said. “So we’re down five guys.”

The Hawks gave a good account of themselves in the first period and held the Tigers scoreless until Moore sliced through the middle and scored unassisted with 17 seconds left. From there, the Tigers took over. They scored four goals in the second period to take a 6-0 lead at the half. The Hawks didn’t help themselves by taking 12 penalties to Gardiner’s two.

When they did get into Gardiner’s end of the field, the Tigers’ defense of Jake Truman, Josh Moore and Steve Sirois limited the chances against junior goalie J.D. Crocker (five saves).

“It’s a cohesive group,” Gardiner coach K.C. Johnson said. “They like each other, they play football together. With J.D. back there, they’re pretty happy.”

At the other end of the field, Hawks goalie Zach Bessette was peppered with shots. He finished with 19 saves, many of them from point blank range.

“Our goalie is arguably the best goalie in the state,” Stewart said.

The Hawks got on the scoreboard in the fourth period when Zach Glazier scored twice and assisted on a goal by Simon Davis.

The Tigers face tough opponents in Morse and St. Dominic in their next two games. And if the season holds true to form they’ll face a southern power like Yarmouth or North Yarmouth in the playoffs.

“Our lacrosse actually has gotten better,” Johnson said. “The kids are pushing the envelope and they have expectations. Our goals are to go as far as we can.”

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

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