AUGUSTA — In girls lacrosse, controlling draws is crucial. The Maranacook/Winthrop team showed just how crucial on Friday afternoon.

The Hawks earned their first victory of the season, getting five goals from Anna Drillen and three apiece from Anna Erb and Eliza Pattershall en route to a 15-7 victory over a short-staffed Cony team. The Rams, who fell to 2-3, got four goals from Azabell Assaf, two from Raegan Bechard and one from Maci Freeman.

“That was nice. We had three weeks off before we played Messalonskee (in the opener), so we were a little bit rusty going into that game,” Drillen said. “Today, we had a whole week’s worth of practice before we went into this game, so we more got back into it.”

Just as decisive as the final score, though, was the faceoff margin. The Hawks won 18 of the 24 draws, and both sides knew that told the story of the day.

“Lacrosse is a game of possession. We did not possess the ball,” Cony coach Gretchen Livingston said. “They were on attack for a greater part of the first half.”

In lacrosse, momentum hinges on the draw. The team that wins can go into the attack immediately, and the opponent can find itself backed up and defending the net in a matter of seconds. By winning a few draws in a row, a losing team can erase a deficit, or a winning team can turn a nail-biter into a blowout, in a heartbeat.

“It’s so important. I don’t think we won one draw against Messalonskee (in a 9-3 loss), and that played a big role into why we lost,” Drillen said. “(When we win) we can just bring it down and set up our offense, rather than having to go from defense to offense. (There’s) so much running, so many passes you have to catch. It’s so much easier to just go straight into offense.”

Maranacook/Winthrop’s Ella Delisle shoots during a game against Cony on Friday in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

In this case, the Hawks used their success in draws to take command and never relinquish it. With Erb and Drillen sharing the bulk of the faceoffs, Maranacook/Winthrop won seven of the first eight draws, and parlayed that into a 7-1 lead when Drillen scored her second goal of the game with 3:28 to go in the first half.

“We’ve been working on it a lot, winning the draw and communicating between the three players in the middle,” Erb said. “We think that’s really important, because once you win it there you can possess and take your time and pretty much set up whatever you want.”

Erb said the early draw success allowed the Hawks to quickly move on from the Messalonskee loss and find a rhythm.

“Getting that advantage definitely got the adrenaline going, which was really good for us,” she said.

Hawks coach Shawn Drillen, who also got goals from Ashley Deschamp, Ella Schmidt, Ella Delisle and Lily Caban, said his team showed it knew what to do with the ball after winning the fight for it.

“We won a lot of draws which was nice, we have a lot of strong draw players,” he said. “But I think we have a lot of girls that have played enough to know that there’s no rush. In their mind there’s that constant battle, do I want to go and score now, or do I just want to make the easy pass and possess and get around the outside?

“It’s helpful having girls that have that experience. You can tell that to a freshman, but when they’re out there on the field they’re not always thinking about (it).”

AUGUSTA, ME – MAY 7: during a game Friday May 7, 2021 at Cony Middle and High School in Augusta. (Staff photo by Joe Phelan/Staff Photographer) Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

Cony entered the game without five players, including all four senior captains. Among the absent for the Rams were leading scorer Sierra Clark, draw ace Kiara Henry and defensive leader Abby Fielding.

“Were those five to be on the field, this game would be different,” Livingston said. “I’m not taking anything from Maranacook, they played a great game today, but we were down five starters.”

Still, the Rams managed to inject some drama into the game, as Assaf scored three goals in a span of 2:26 at the start of the second half to trim the gap to 8-5 before the Hawks regained momentum.

“In the second half we went into our zone defense, caused some turnovers from that and were able to get it into our attacking end,” Livingston said. “And then I think we just got a little tired there in the second half.”

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