PARIS — Jacob Mondor was still getting used to his new stick when the Vikings went into halftime tied with rival Edward Little on Tuesday.
Something clicked in the second half, and the senior scored a hat trick in the final two quarters to help the Vikings earn a 9-8 boys lacrosse win that was capped off by an EL own goal off a defender’s stick.
“So I saw that they were playing man defense, and so they were very wide, so by doing that I only had to beat one person instead of four trying to get a goal,” Mondor said. “They left the middle open so it made shots easier and I was trying to put the shot on the ground. I had a new stick, so I was trying to figure it out in the first half but I kind of figured it out in the second.”
Mondor scored twice in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 8-8, then with 41 seconds left in the game, Oxford Hills tried to make a pass across the net to a player far away on the other side of the field. The ball deflected off a stick of an EL defender and found its way into the net to give the Vikings the victory.
“The way the game ended is the way the game ended,” Edward Little coach Tom Smith said. “I won’t fault a kid ever for going out there and hustling. Sometimes, I mean, that’s just a horrible chance thing to happen and that was just a crap way to end a game like that, but it is what it is.”
“I believe it was off a deflection from a defender, which is a killer,” Oxford Hills coach Hunter Rowell said. “The kids were pumped here but I reminded them that could have happened to us, so we have to respect our opponent. Some bounces go their way and some go our way.”
After owning most of the possession for the first half of the third quarter, the Vikings gave up back-to-back goals to EL’s Wesley Clements and Caleb Davis with just under four minutes left in the period to fall behind 7-5. A quick Oxford Hills goal from Mondor, his second of four on the day, was abruptly answered by a coast-to-coast goal from EL defender Connor Travers, who flattened an Oxford Hills player in front of the EL net, scooped up the loose ball and sprinted down field to score and put EL up 8-6 with 3.3 seconds left in the third.
“I just told them to slow down and play in your heart instead of your heads,” Rowell said. “We’ve been here before, being down, and coming back is our M.O. right now. It kind of gives us a heart attack as coaching staff but we believe in our kids to come back and we don’t give up until the last whistle.”
The Vikings do have a history of battling back this season. They made comebacks in each of their two Lewiston matchups this season and had a five-goal, come-from-behind win against Lake Region already. Mondor wasn’t phased by a two-goal deficit, especially with 12 minutes left to play.
“We had to keep our momentum going, make smart passes and not try to throw it through five defenders and just make the smart play, don’t try to be a hero,” Mondor added.
After realizing the defensive strategy of the Red Eddies, Mondor went on the attack. With 6:33 left in the game, Mondor scored from the middle and brought his Vikings within one. A very physical game on both ends, the Vikings were fighting for every loose ball they could as well as creating as many turnovers as possible.
With 5:27 left to play, Mondor scored from the middle again, this time off a pass from Nick Bancroft, who didn’t score on the day but made plays with his stick and his body.
“Just continuing to play smart, and lacrosse is a contact sport, so we just use our bodies to maintain possession,” Rowell said. “We can throw our bodies around every now and again within the rules and it goes our way sometimes.”
The own goal was the deciding goal, but Edward Little had many bright spots.
Davis scored four of the Red Eddies’ five goals in the first half of play, including the first and last goals of the half.
Davis opened the scoring with 10 minutes left in the first quarter with a man up when he ripped a shot to the top of the net to take a 1-0 lead. After Mondor tied it just over a minute later, Davis scored again after the senior came in from the left corner and scored in front of the net.
“He was in beast mode,” Smith said of Davis. “He actually has been doing a fair amount this year. He’s been able to step up and be a first defender and also step up and put a quality shot up on goal, and has just been getting better and more confident as the season has gone along.”
Clements also put on a show for EL while getting knocked down over and over again. The junior scored two goals, set up some plays for his teammates and kept getting back up after some physical hits by the Vikings.
“We’re missing a couple guys and we had some guys that had to go out there and be warriors and (Clements) was one of those guys,” Smith said. “Cayden Childs was another. He was beat up and out there limping along. Those guys absolutely showed me something impressive.”