GARDINER — Maranacook/Winthrop boys lacrosse had a number of holes to fill coming into the season. That included in net, where the graduation of last year’s KVAC Player of the Year, Zach Bessette, seemed to leave a void the size of a soccer goal.

His replacement, Isaiah Weston, appears poised to fill that void, at least after a performance on Wednesday in which he blocked virtually everything Gardiner threw his way.

Weston stopped 19 shots and backed a defense that held Gardiner scoreless for more than 29 minutes as the Hawks emerged from a physical Eastern B clash at Hoch Field with a 10-4 victory.

“Coming in as a first-time starting goalie, people were definitely iffy about it,” Weston said. “Our team wasn’t really expecting this.”

“He’s only a sophomore at the end of the day,” Hawks coach Zach Stewart said. “To have the confidence to lead your team, and he’s under a lot of pressure. Last year, we did pretty well so that pressure comes year to year. You want people to have that expectation that you’re going to be a good program, so that falls on him when he doesn’t stop a ball. That’s hard to shake that from your mind as a keeper.”

James Canwell led the Hawks offensively with four goals while Kyle Morand added three goals and an assist.

The Hawks, who trailed 2-1 early, got two goals from Canwell in a 15-second span late in the first quarter to go in front, 4-2, and never relinquished the lead.

“We had quick ball movement and got the shots down low. That’s really what the key was today,” Canwell said. “They were really caving in on us around the crease area and we just took them outside.”

Gardiner coach K.C. Johnson told his shooters to go low on Weston, too. They complied early. But Weston was at his best when the Hawks were trying to protect their narrowest lead late in the first half, stopping bids by Logan Clark, Jacob Truman and Chase Begin, to send his team into halftime with a 6-3 lead.

“He had a great game. He was solid,” Johnson said of Weston. “I told the guys to go low because his strength is high, and we didn’t do it. He took a bunch off the thighs early and I felt for him.”

“These (Gardiner) players, especially (senior midfielder Josh) Caldwell, you can’t really predict him,” he said. “He can put it where he wants. He just has a really nice, fast shot. It’s pure reaction off of those shots.”

Tristan Hebert’s goal pulled the Tigers (1-1) within 4-3 with 10:44 left in the first half. The Hawks’ next five goals came unanswered until Begin scored to make it 9-4 with 5:29 left in the game, a drought of 29:15.

“That’s pretty wild, especially with the firepower that they have,” Stewart said. “Our goal was to play good fundamental defense, and that’s really what we did.”

Stewart credited sophomore defender Drew Davis for his work on Gardiner’s star midfielder, Caldwell.

“He was just super, super patient,” Stewart said. “It’s hard to be patient against a guy like that.”

Denver Cram, Bailey Clark and Korey Laliberte scored the remaining goals for the Hawks. Clark and Cameron Bell had the other goals for Gardiner.

Randy Whitehouse — 561-6238

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33


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