READFIELD — Maranacook/Winthrop goalie Isaiah Weston still has a small star-shaped ball mark above his left eye from where Camden Hills’ Jonah Cameron split his face mask in half with a point-blank shot in the Class B North lacrosse semifinals.

“The ball just came extremely fast towards me. I kind of just closed my eyes and then my face mask fell down,” Weston said.

Weston took cover quickly and stayed crouched to the ground until officials saw what had happened and blew play dead. His left eye swelled up and he played the rest of the Hawks’ 15-5 win with less than perfect vision.

“He just kept right on playing with a broken face mask,” Hawks coach Zach Stewart said. “Another kid scooped up the (rebound), and Isaiah, it didn’t even phase him. Luckily, the rebounder missed. The kid is tough as nails.”

Since the tournament started, Weston and Maranacook/Winthrop’s defense have shown few cracks, allowing 10 combined goals in wins over Winslow and Camden Hills and leading the fifth-seeded Hawks to their first regional title game at No. 3 Yarmouth on Wednesday.

Maranacook/Winthrop (9-5) was anything but nails down the stretch. It lost three of its last four in the regular season, causing its veteran defense of seniors Levi Emery, Derek McLaughlin and junior Logan Stanley, and the rest of the Hawks, to recognize their practice habits needed to change.

“We came into the playoffs with more urgency,” McLaughlin said. “We had a rough end to the regular season and we didn’t want to keep that bad momentum going. So we turned it around in practice, brought a lot more intensity.”

Lack of communication was also holding the Hawks back. Now everyone from Weston in net to the defense to midfielders such as Zach Godbout, Drew Davis and Jack Vickerson have made sure to have each other’s backs.

“Everybody has an understanding of what’s going on on the field. If one person slips up or misses his man, everyone’s talking. They’ll redirect him to the right person,” Stanley said. “It’s really important that everybody’s talking on the field.”

“We’ve made a couple of adjustments and we’ve kind of simplified things,” Stewart said. “The younger midfielders have really meshed a lot better with the older defensemen.”

Last year’s state runner-up, Yarmouth (10-4), will present a whole new set of challenges for the Hawks. Attacks Matthew Beatty and William Jacobs propel an offense that had 35 goals in playoff wins over North Yarmouth and Gardiner.

“We need to play the best game we’ve played this year and it will all start with communication and execution,” Stewart said.

The Hawks hope communication will continue to help them limit inside scoring chances against Weston, who has been tough to beat from 15 feet and out in the playoffs.

“Through repetition here with big shooters like (teammate) Ty (Smith), I’ve been able to train myself to stop those,” he said.

Weston had 22 saves against Camden Hills and has been very aggressive coming out of the net, collecting a half-dozen ground balls.

“He’s been playing lights out these last two games, especially against Camden,” McLaughlin said.

Many of Maranacook/Winthrop’s veterans have a score to settle with the Clippers. Two years ago, they knocked the top-seeded Hawks out of the semifinals.

“It’s just given us more motivation to keep going,” McLaughlin said.

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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