GARDINER — The Gardiner girls lacrosse team christened its new turf field in a big way Thursday.

Powered by eight goals from Lilly Diversi, the Tigers cruised to a 20-2 win over Erskine Academy. It was the first official game on the new turf surface at Hoch Field, which was finished last fall.

“This is amazing,” said Diversi, a junior. “First official game on the turf, it just feels so good.”

Both the Tigers (1-0) and Eagles (0-1) fought through cold, misty conditions, which in prior years may have done damage to the former natural grass surface at Hoch Field. Such was not the case Thursday, as both teams had no issues getting up the down the field.

“The girls were like, ‘Well, we christened the field.’ They sure did,” Tigers head coach Jessica Prince said. “It was really great. What was nice, I think, was that (while) we had a couple of girls put up some big numbers. But we had a multitude of girls scoring, a lot of team lacrosse, which was really nice and not something that we did a lot of in the past. It was nice to see a lot of girls showing up and getting this win, it was definitely a team effort.”

Averi Baker had four goals for Gardiner, while Sophie Blanchard added three goals. Maddy Blais and Sarah Luiz each added two goals for the Tigers.


The Gardiner Tigers celebrate after winning 20-2 against Erskine Academy in the opening game of the girls lacrosse season Thursday at Hoch Field in Gardiner. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Sarah Praul put the Eagles up 1-0 in the first minute of the first half. Four minutes later, Gardiner responded with a goal by Blanchard to tie the game. It would be the first of 11 unanswered goals the Tigers would put up in the first half — four of which came from Diversi, who led Gardiner with 45 goals last season — and Gardiner went into halftime with an 11-1 lead.

“It feels so good to come out really strong like this,” Diversi said. “We worked so hard last year. This is amazing to see how strong we came out compared to last year. Everyone was kind of new (last year), so we didn’t have a strong first game.”

Prince said a key for the Tigers — who made it to the first round of the Class B tournament before falling to Brunswick last season — is the work the players have put in during the offseason.

“The biggest thing, I think, is for one of the first times since I’ve been here, we have veterans,” Prince said. “Last year, we graduated a couple of girls, a big part of the team. But we didn’t lose any of our starters. So, we have all of our starters back. We have girls who did work in the offseason, and I think it shows when we get into these situations. It didn’t feel like the first game of the season. It felt like we hit the ground running.”

Praul scored Erskine’s second and final goal in the first minute of the second half. But Gardiner answered back with nine unanswered goals, including four from Diversi, for the final 20-2 score.

“I see us doing really good things this season,” Diversi said. “Everyone is super pumped; everyone seems to have (winning) in mind.”

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.