Things have gotten off to a good start for the Gardiner Area High School boys lacrosse team.

The Tigers have stormed out to a 3-0 start, topping rivals Maranacook/Winthrop and Cony last week before beating Class A Lewiston in overtime on Monday at home. Gardiner, the consensus choice among the league’s coaches to finish at the top of the Class B North standings, has yet to be held to fewer than 11 goals in any game this season.

And, yet, Tiger head coach K.C. Johnson still thinks there’s more in his group.

“We have a lot of weapons,” Johnson said. “We’re just not there yet, but we’ll get there.”

As was the case with most teams in the first week of the season, Gardiner is still trying to find a bit of chemistry. With limited preseason practice time outdoors, school vacation week and some other commitments wrapping up for players, finding the right mix has been the biggest focus for Gardiner.

Connor Manter, who scored the overtime winner against Lewiston, missed a chunk of preseason while playing travel hockey with the Maine Moose.


“Our output can be higher, I think,” Johnson said. “(Maranacook/Winthrop) always makes us grind out goals, but we need to be better at execution. We’re not patient enough with the ball yet. I’m a setup guy.”

The Tigers, who have road games on the slate this week at Oak Hill and North Yarmouth Academy, are trying to find the right balance between quick-strike attacking and a more patient approach out of their offensive sets.

“We make two passes and that’s ‘spinning the ball,'” Johnson said. “For me, spinning the ball is two times around the horn and seeing what matchups there are. Our guys just don’t do that very well yet.”

Certainly, one bright spot — albeit hardly an unexpected one — has been the play of junior midfielder Sloan Berthiaume. Berthiaume has nine goals on the season and has been part of a dominant effort in the faceoff circle for Gardiner, which won a combined 28 of 33 faceoffs in the wins over the Hawks and Rams. Berthiaume and Garrett Hinkley have been the go-to duo on the draws.

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After finishing last season unbeaten, Cony is experiencing growing pains in the early part of the campaign. It’s not a complete rebuild in Augusta, but the graduation of twin brothers Bret and Tyler Sproul, as expected, has left some holes in the Rams’ attacking game.


“We’ve still got to get a little bit more movement without the ball,” Cony coach Chad Foye said after his team surrendered seven unanswered second-half goals in an 11-4 loss to Gardiner. “We’re not making cuts at all, and then when we do, we don’t see them. There’s a lot of things we’ve got to work on.”

That Cony (0-2) struggled over the final 24 minutes against Gardiner didn’t come as a surprise, Foye said. Good teams are going to exploit inexperience.

“Against them, not so much. They’re good,” Foye said. “They don’t miss passes, they don’t miss ground ball chances. They’ve got a little bit more experience than our guys do. We’re learning, and this is a process. It’s going to be a long season, and we’re going to be OK. We’ve just got to keep improving.”

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Youth is being put the test at both Winslow and Maranacook/Winthrop this season, with varying results.

While the Black Raiders are still looking for their first win at 0-3, the Hawks are 2-1 with wins over Cony and Winslow.


“I’ve got five starting freshmen,” Maranacook/Winthrop coach Zach Stewart said. “For a team with five starting freshmen, I’m pretty happy.”

The Hawks’ lone loss is to Gardiner, an 11-7 decision in which Maranacook/Winthrop simply refused to go away. Freshman Garit Laliberte scored four goals in the loss, stepping into the spotlight when the Tigers made life very difficult for senior standout Drew Davis.

“We knew Gardiner was going to be the best team in our division,” Stewart said. “Graduating so many seniors (from last year) and starting five freshmen, I have to be happy with where we’re at.”

For Winslow, senior goalie Doug Carmichael has been called into action repeatedly, making 36 saves across the last two games for the Black Raiders — against Maranacook/Winthrop and Camden Hills.

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Already, the Lawrence girls lacrosse team is leaps and bounds ahead of where it was a year ago.


In its season opener Tuesday against Erskine, the Bulldogs were tied with the Eagles with under 11 minutes remaining in regulation.

Though Erskine would pull away late to win, it was almost as good as a victory for Lawrence — which went 0-12 last season in its first as a varsity program.

“It’s a huge step in the right direction,” Lawrence coach Gail Bucklin said. “We’re so pleased with how they’re playing. I told them, ‘We’ve been practicing for four weeks for this game right here.’ They steppped up and were excited to play. They’re very serious about the game.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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