Oak Hill boys lacrosse coach Joe Hinkley didn’t see this coming. Not entirely, at least.

He figured the Raiders, a co-op team along with Monmouth and Lisbon, would be good — after all, they did go 9-4 and made the Class C playoffs last year. But becoming the class of the…well, class…in the regular season? That was less expected.

“I was quite surprised, to be honest with you,” he said. “They just were hungry after last year’s … (playoff) loss to Waynflete, and they definitely want a rematch with them to get past them.”

The Raiders have played like a team on a mission. Oak Hill was 9-0 entering Tuesday, and has been dominant on the offensive end all season long. The Raiders have scored 133 goals in the nine games, an average of 14.8 per contest, and Hinkley said the offensive potency has been a product of experience and chemistry at the attack and midfield.

“I think it’s just been the kids, especially the senior group … playing together since fifth grade,” he said. “They’ve been doing the same system. The assistant coach up here at the high school has been with them since fifth and sixth grade, pounding this program into them, the same plays and offense. It definitely makes a difference.

“I thought we’d be in the middle of the road scoring goals. I never expected this many.”

In Tiger Hopkins (a freshman), Noah Moring and Xavier Michaud, Oak Hill has a trio of players who can put up anywhere from four to seven points a game. A bevy of other talented players, such as Nate Marcotte and Gabe Samson, prevent the Raiders from being too one-dimensional.

“They all look toward Xavier,” Hinkley said. “But Noah and Tiger are right up there. If somebody tries to lock one of them off, the other two are going to be stepping in and having their game.”

With the Raiders distancing themselves from the Class C pack, Hinkley said he knows the bull’s eye is settling on his team, while adding that his players aren’t getting ahead of themselves.

“I think they realize now they have a target on their backs, just because of how many points we’re worth in the Heal point standings,” he said. “We’re going as the next game is the biggest game of the year. … Keep everybody in line and plug away.”

 

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Two top contenders in the Class C girls race faced off Tuesday when Erskine hosted Maranacook/Winthrop.

For Maranacook/Winthrop, it’s been an impressive first season as a varsity program. The Hawks entered Tuesday with a 5-3 record, albeit with losses in their last two games.

“I guess a little bit,” coach Shawn Drillen answered when asked if he was surprised by the early success. “Overall, I had pretty high expectations, just because we have a lot of good athletes on the team … and they compete hard. They’re getting the fundamentals down now, and I feel like we can compete with anybody.”

The Hawks are comfortably in the playoff picture, and while Drillen acknowledged his team will be inexperienced with the bigger stage once those games arrive, he doesn’t anticipate that being a detriment.

“I think that once we get to the postseason, the girls are going to be happy to be there,” he said. “I don’t think that there’s going to be a ton of pressure to get the experience under their belt and get a sense of it.”

 

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Erskine, meanwhile, has continued building on its success. After sneaking in as the very last playoff team in the Class B field two years ago, the Eagles reached the Class C semifinals last season (beating undefeated Winslow in the playoffs along the way) and have been a contender again this year.

“In their heads, finally, we’ve gotten to the point where they know they’re going to try to win every time they go out,” said coach Shara MacDonald, whose team was 5-2 going into Tuesday. “I know sometimes, in years past, we’ve gone out with the idea that ‘Maybe we can win.’ I think that mindset is developing a winning personality. … They’re going out with the idea that they want to win the game.”

The Eagles’ engine has been the high-scoring tandem of Joanna and Jordan Linscott, but MacDonald said the team as a whole has stepped up.

“The other part of it too is the ability of the other kids to just work with (the Linscotts), setting screens, ball movement, and just the idea that they’re not going to quit,” she said. “They had goals set at the beginning of the season to do better than we did last year, and they’ve certainly dug in and are trying to do that.”

 

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With a quick look at the record, it may not look like the Mt. Blue boys have improved much after a 2-10 season last year. The Cougars entered Tuesday below .500, at 3-5 with one third of the season to go.

But Mt. Blue is currently sitting inside the playoff picture after missing the postseason last year. And coach Kevin Averill said he’s seen some progress on the field — thanks largely to a replenished youth program that’s finally starting to pay off at the varsity level.

“We’re starting to see the fruits of the trees being planted, because my junior and sophomore class that I have is my first group from that feeder program,” said Averill, who’s in his fifth year coaching the team. “You can see from the box scores that Evan Stone and Keegan Roberts (are) the two top goal scorers for our team. Being a sophomore and junior, they have that multiple years of experience.”

Mt. Blue’s also been more competitive than the record suggests, losing four of the five games by four goals or fewer.

“We really are just a handful of possessions from flipping that record around and being 5-3,” Averill said.

The Cougars will have a good chance to solidify a playoff berth with three of their last four games coming against teams that are below .500.

“Even though we know we’ve got some games that look winnable, we’ve still got to go out there and we’ve got to go earn them,” Averill said.

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