Oak Hill/Monmouth/Lisbon defensemen Jacob Godbout, left, Sean Moore and Alex Hinkley have made defense a key part of the Raiders’ undefeated season and march to the Class C semifinals. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Knowing the rivalry Oak Hill has with Monmouth and Lisbon, Raiders coach Joe Hinkley was apprehensive about establishing a co-op with the Mustangs and Greyhounds three years ago.

But that uncertainty is now a distant memory as boys lacrosse players from the two high schools have quickly learned to acclimate themselves and make strong contributions to the second-ranked Raiders (12-0), who host third-ranked Wells (10-4) in the Class C semifinals at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.

“So far, I have enjoyed it,” Hinkley said. “I was obviously a little nervous starting a co-op with two schools. It was definitely nerve-wracking to see how the kids were going to mesh together, I guess, because they are three different schools and we are always rivals in football with Lisbon, baseball with Lisbon. I know soccer between Lisbon and Monmouth and Oak Hill has always been a rivalry. 

“That was always my biggest fear that year when Sean Moore and Jacob Godbout came over. The only thing Sean had going for him, coming from Lisbon, was he played in our rec. department with all our kids. He knew the kids coming into high school, so it wasn’t like he was the new guy. Jacob didn’t know anybody.”

Hinkley said the athletes from the two schools take the game seriously.

“Especially the kids we have, because they are lacrosse players,” he said. “They want to play and get better. They are focused on being there. They are not just there to make friends.”

Hinkley doesn’t see Monmouth or Lisbon creating a lacrosse team any time soon because there are other popular sports programs that still dominate the spring at those high schools.

“I think if any school would want to do it first, it would be Lisbon, but they have a great baseball and great track and field programs there, so I think it would be tough,” he said. “I don’t know if they would ever get a full 15 to 20 kids who want to play.”

SPRINGING TO ONE’S DEFENSE

Oak Hill/Monmouth/Lisbon (12-0) has a high-powered offense, led by new school single-season scoring record holder Tiger Hopkins.  But the defense holds its own as well. In three games against a pair of area Class A schools, two against Lewiston and one against Class A Edward Little, the Raiders allowed only 2, 4 and 5 goals.

Making that defense tick are Godbout (Monmouth) and Moore (Lisbon), both juniors, and sophomore Alex Hinkley (Oak Hill) — who are from three different schools, but work incredibly well together.

“I think it builds a little camaraderie there (with) the three schools,” Joe Hinkley said. “I think it really brings that end of the field together, and obviously (goalie) Nick Michaud is from Oak Hill. He’s the boss back there and they all respect him. They are all great kids. They play really well together.”

Joe Hinkley said the battle-tested defense has seen more than a few talented offensive opponents come its way this season. Hinkley added that Godbout, Moore and Alex Hinkley make their teammates work hard in practice, as well.

“They have shut down star players on the other teams and clearly give them a run for their money,” Joe Hinkley said.

The three defenders each have different strengths and skills.

Joe Hinkley said Godbout’s stick handling and speed give him an edge.

“He’s got the vision to run up the field a little bit better than the other two,” Joe Hinkley said. “He has a great attitude and he is always willing to listen to what needs to be done.”

Godbout said it’s rewarding to play for a successful team like the Raiders.

“We have great chemistry,” Godbout, who also competes in a hockey co-op with Cony High School, said. “A lot of us are juniors, so we jelled together throughout the years. I definitely feel comfortable with them.”

Moore, according to Joe Hinckley, is the brains behind the defense.

“When (Moore) scoops the ball, he looks up — and if there is a kid open— he is going to hit him,” Joe Hinkley said. “He is not going to miss it. He is usually covering the offense’s best player. I think he is the best out of the three, overall …”

Moore reaped the benefits of playing in the rec. program with all the Oak Hill players and enjoys sharing the field with players from other schools.

“It is just a great social aspect of it,” Moore said. “Everybody brings something different to the table.”

Moore said that familiarity has helped the defense continue to improve.

“We have the same coach for quite awhile now, so we know everything together,” Moore said. “We have been working together for a long time and we are pretty good friends together. We can work well together.”

Joe Hinkley said Alex Hinkley is the most aggressive of the three defenders and has no problem letting the opposition know when he is on the field.

“He has got the speed to run up the field and he is aware of his surroundings …” Joe Hinkley said. “He knows he obviously doesn’t have the best shot with a long stick, so he is looking to make that pass to attack men.”

Alex Hinkley said that the defense is one of the keys to the Raiders’ prosperity this season.

“Obviously, we have an amazing offense,” Alex said. “But if the defense isn’t there, the offense wouldn’t be able to carry the game the entire time.”

Moore and Godbout aren’t the only players from other schools who play for the Raiders. Lisbon’s Chance Versey and Liam Holland also see action.

“Chance is the forward defenseman pulled off the bench. So if somebody gets a penalty, he is going in,” Joe Hinkley said. “Liam Holland is a two-way midfielder for us. He is young; he is getting there.” 

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