KENTS HILL — Drew Davis finally got a shot to go in. And the Maranacook/Winthrop boys lacrosse team needed it.
Davis scored a pair of goals, including the tally that ended up making the difference with just over four minutes to play, leading the Hawks to a 4-3 victory over Cony in the Class B North season opener for both teams at Kents Hill School.
The game was a matchup between two of the top teams in the region last season — Cony went 12-1, M/W made the B North final — and coach Zach Stewart was happy to see the way his group, which lost many of the top playmakers from last year’s squad, handled the season’s first challenge.
“It was a really great game for us. Make no mistake about it, we are a very, very young team,” he said. “For those guys to come out and rally like they did in the end, that’s more of a high point for me than the win itself.”
It didn’t appear the Hawks would need such a rally after Davis scored 10 seconds into the game and the team spent the first 4 minutes and 49 seconds taking a 3-0 lead. But Nate Foye scored later in the first quarter and then again in the second to bring Cony within one, forcing M/W to start looking for some suddenly needed insurance.
The Hawks leaned on Davis, a senior midfielder and one of the team’s leaders, to put the game away. He fired just wide in the closing seconds of the second quarter, tried three shots in the third quarter — with one hitting the post — and came up empty on his first two tries of the fourth quarter, with Cony goalie Cam Gallant stopping one and the other sailing wide.
“I kind of got in the zone of ‘I know we need it,’ ” Davis said. “It’s a close game, and I decided to take it in and I either had to dump it or take it. I saw an opportunity to take it, so I shot.”
The Rams couldn’t keep Davis contained. He took the ball down the field after a Cony miss, found space and fired a shot that bounced past Gallant, putting M/W up 4-2 with 4:11 to go.
Stewart said the objective was to work offensive sets that utilized the rest of the M/W offense, but that the Cony defense disrupted the plans and forced the team to adjust on the fly.
“I always tell my guys, ‘Sometimes you just need to play lacrosse,’ ” he said. “And Drew, being a senior, knowing how to put a team on his shoulders, had an opportunity to just play lacrosse.” The goal became pivotal once Chad Bickford took the ball up the right side and scored with 3:23 to play. The Rams had chances at the equalizer but threw the ball away in transition with 37 seconds left, then were denied after a timeout with seven ticks left when Foye ran around a screen but skipped his shot wide right just before time expired.
“We’re a little behind offensively in movement, and I think part of it was last year we could rely so much on individual stuff,” said coach Chad Foye, whose team lost 60 percent of its scoring with the departures of Bret and Tyler Sproul. “We had chances at the end, we just didn’t execute passes. That’s from not being outside and not being ready offensively.”
It didn’t help that the Rams were behind from the game’s first play. Davis — one of Class B’s best on faceoffs — won the opening draw, took it downfield himself and scored from up close, making it 1-0 with 11:50 left in the first.
“It felt really good,” Davis said. “I like to set the tone. If I ever get a chance to get to do that I like to, just to get the team going.”
It seemed like a rout was in the works when Alex Nuce scored off of a feed from Bailey Stockford with 10:10 to go and Garit Laliberte brought the ball down after catching a pass from goalie Will Hayes and scored with 7:11 left. Nate Foye had a response ready, however, scoring first with 3:59 to go on a spinning shot after a feed from Alex Rende, then finding the net from 15 yards out with 3:01 left in the second quarter.
It became a defensive struggle from there, with Gallant (eight saves) and Hayes (seven) trading big stops on shots that threatened to turn the game. Gallant stopped seven of the last eight shots he saw, while Hayes made four saves in the third quarter alone.
“We started a little slow, so that didn’t help us,” coach Foye said. “I thought it was a really good game, I was pretty happy as the game went on with how we played. But we can’t just start out slow and expect to straighten things out.”
Drew Bonifant — 621-5638