WALES — From the mass of bodies huddled together in celebration at one end of Oak Hill’s lacrosse field came a voice over all the others. “We must have done something right,” the Raider player said. “Coach is happy.”

With a 19-1 rout of Erskine that was more ceremony than competition, Oak Hill wrapped up its regular season with a perfect 12-0 record, becoming the first Raider team since 1994 to emerge unscathed. Senior Xavier Michaud scored six goals and assisted on four others in the victory, while freshman Tiger Hopkins scored five goals and added four assists. Seven different Oak Hill players scored, including Nate Marcotte with four.

“It’s amazing,” said senior goalie Brandon Glover, who came to Oak Hill at the beginning of his junior year. “Coming from St. Dom’s, going 0-12 my freshman year to going 12-0 my senior year, it’s amazing.”

The victory over Erskine (8-4) illustrated what Oak Hill has done to opponents all season. Unlike many teams that rely on patient possession with long offensive sets, the Raiders play purposefully and with tremendous pace. During a seven-goal second quarter that blew things wide open, Oak Hill won a face-off following Hopkins’ first goal of the afternoon, made five passes in rapid succession and finished off the play with Hopkins’ second goal just 17 seconds after the first.

Michaud set up the goal with a visionary pass from left to right across the Erskine goal crease, looking as though he and his rookie attacking counterpart had been playing together for all four years of his career.

“We play a lot in the summer together, and we’ve got some chemistry, ” Michaud said. “We like to move the ball fast and get around. Everybody’s a threat on our offense. Now I don’t think it takes (teams) by surprise with our record. But at first, I think it was a different Oak Hill that people weren’t used to.”

“It’s team lacrosse and moving the ball to the next guy,” Oak Hill coach Joe Hinkley added. “Three times, four times today, guys could have had their own goal, but they chose to pass to the next guy.”

Erskine’s Brennan Wade, left, Andrew Robinson and Chad Grant converge on Oak Hill’s Jayson R. Martin during a Class C game Wednesday in Wales. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

The first half of the opening quarter provided an interesting case study in clashing styles and offered promise of a competitive contest. Erskine’s offensive possession slowed things to a near crawl, and the Eagles got a goal from Hunter Rushing with 4:24 to play to cut the Oak Hill lead to 2-1.

Erskine didn’t manage to put another shot on cage until there was 6:10 remaining in the final period, during a man-up opportunity.

“These (Oak Hill) guys are playing very well, and that type of fluid movement is hard to defend,” Erskine coach Jason Wade said. “This was by far the best any team has moved the ball against us, and it’s not even close. When we see that, it’s like getting punched in the jaw. That’s what really did it to us.”

As well as Oak Hill played to close out the second quarter, it was better in the third. Armed with a 10-goal lead and an undefeated season all but assured, the Raiders needed just 67 seconds to add two more goals to the lead and send the contest into running time.

Erskine’s Taidhgin Kimball, left, watches as Oak Hil’s Riley Worth follows through on a shot during a Class C game Wednesday in Wales. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

“We keep trying to get the kids to play four quarters of lacrosse,” Hinkley said. “We’ve still yet to have a game where we’ve played all four quarters. We either start off slow or we start off fast and slow down in the fourth quarter. I just told them, ‘There’s 24 minutes to go, and you’ve got to keep playing until the last whistle.'”

Easy as it would be to overlook the defensive play of a team that scores 19 goals, a large part of the Oak Hill offense is generated on the back end. In the first half, Glover (seven saves) started goals by corralling balls in his crease and making long outlet passes to midfield — plays that one or two passes later ended up in the Erskine goal.

“Absolutely,” Hinkley said of Glover playing a key role for the Raider attack. “It’s very nice to have a kid like that back there.”

“Coach likes to pound it into our heads,” Glover added of the team’s ability to attack quickly. “It’s something we practice every day, so we’re used to it.”

Oak Hil’s Xavier Michaud looks for an open teammate as Erskine’s Brennan Wade defends during a Class C game Wednesday in Wales. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

And the Raiders are used to winning, too.

“We never really thought about being undefeated,” Michaud said. “We just thought about playing our next game — the next game is always the biggest game.”


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