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So Far, So Good: Cougars Top Raiders to Continue Impressive Start

  • Kearsarge’s Andrew Van Hooydonk, left, celebrates with teammate Butch Bolger after scoring against Lebanon yesterday. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Kearsarge’s Andrew Van Hooydonk, left, celebrates with teammate Butch Bolger after scoring against Lebanon yesterday. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Kearsarge’s Ollie Gallo fires a shot around Lebanon’s Tate Singleton during Kearsarge’s 10-6 win in Lebanon yesterday. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Kearsarge’s Ollie Gallo fires a shot around Lebanon’s Tate Singleton during Kearsarge’s 10-6 win in Lebanon yesterday. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Kearsarge’s Andrew Van Hooydonk, left, celebrates with teammate Butch Bolger after scoring against Lebanon yesterday. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)
  • Kearsarge’s Ollie Gallo fires a shot around Lebanon’s Tate Singleton during Kearsarge’s 10-6 win in Lebanon yesterday. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

Lebanon — The Kearsarge High boys lacrosse team thinks it’s too early to know if this season might produce better results than last year’s 7-9 campaign. Based on the Cougars’ first two games, it’s hard to imagine anything else.

Senior attack Peter Allen had three goals and three assists, Tom Brass scored a pair and Ollie Gallo had one score and three helpers as Kearsarge won at Lebanon, 10-6, in raw conditions yesterday. Travis Newman, Andrew Van Hooydonk, Alex Wilson and Matt Pickman all added scores for the Cougars, who overcame an early 2-1 deficit and led by four goals for most of the second half.

Kearsarge improved to 2-0, while the Raiders — down a pair of starters because of illness — slipped to 0-2.

“We moved the ball a lot better today than we did (in Monday’s 17-4 home win over Stevens),” said Allen, owner of a team-high eight goals and tied with Gallo for a team-best five assists. “We started off kind of slow today, but then we got quick on our feet and started setting each other up instead of just going for breakaways. When we (sustain possessions), it helps all of us because everybody is less tired.”

The Cougars’ ball movement started in the back with goalie Will Aufranc, who made a number of impressive stops among his 21 saves. It was what the junior did with the ball after saving it that most pleased third-year Kearsarge coach Mike Heffernan.

“If you look at the way he distributed the ball, that’s what really set the tone and the tempo for us today,” Heffernan said. “That’s what indicates to me that he’s ready to play at the next level and set himself apart.”

Aufranc used his stick, legs and hands while dashing around the crease to turn away close-range bids, including a pair of stellar stops against Lebanon senior Jeff Taylor in the fourth quarter.

A goalie since the sixth grade, Aufranc said he purposefully refrains from over analyzing his performance in the crease.

“I don’t really know what I’m doing (that’s working), because I’m really not thinking about it,” Aufranc said. “I just try to be tough, I guess, and not get too down on myself if I let in a few goals. That’s something I’ve struggled with in the past.”

Newman scored on a bouncer from 20 feet at 1:55 to make it 1-0, but Lebanon struck back 11 seconds later on a right-side rocket from Scott Colburn on a feed from Ryan Damren.

Lebanon grabbed its only lead of the game at 2:06, Colburn finding Johnathan Bingel with a crossing pass before the latter beat Aufranc mid-range to make it 2-1.

Kearsarge responded with four unanswered goals from four different players — Brass, Allen, Pickman and Wilson did the honors — staking the visitors to a 5-2 advantage. Taylor’s strike from Phil Hwang (two assists) brought the Raiders to within 5-3 at halftime, but the Cougars never led by fewer than three goals after Allen scored from Gallo 20 seconds into the third quarter.

Kearsarge grabbed its first four-goal advantage 4:09 into the third on Brass’s second of the day and staved off the physical Raiders down the stretch.

Lebanon stayed within striking distance thanks to a strong performance from junior Jacob Mellish, who made 17 saves in his first game of the season in net. A backup goalie and midfielder last season, Mellish had asked Raider coach Nick Yager to play exclusively in the field this year, but requested a return to the crease after playing midfield during Lebanon’s 14-2 home loss to John Stark in the season opener Monday. Freshman Joey Rogers and sophomore Kyler Tang split time in net in that setback.

Other lineup shuffles yesterday included the shifting of former defender Taylor and midfielder Dylan Drew to attack in hopes of sparking what was a stagnant Lebanon offense in the opener. Each scored once yesterday for the Raiders, who were without defender Jake Jasinski and midfielder Hunter Crowe because of illness.

“I thought we did a lot of things much better today,” Yager said. “We came out and competed against a good Kearsarge team. They beat us, but we ran with them. For us, I think it’s just a matter of continuing to fine tune the lineup until and finding (combinations) that work.”

Stick Checks: The game was delayed for about five minutes after Lebanon junior defender Bryan Terrill got the worst of a collision with Kearsarge defender Jordan Barthol in the open field. Terrill suffered a laceration on his brow and was helped off the field. ... Kearsarge received six whistles for penalties; Lebanon had three, all in the fourth quarter. ... Junior varsity callup Tate Singleton scored with 22 seconds left for the Raiders. ... Drew’s buzzer-beater goal to end the first half was waved off for a lane violation. ... It was the first of three road games in six days for the Cougars, who play at Derryfield tomorrow and at John Stark on Tuesday. ... Three of Lebanon’s next four are on the road, including Monday at Stevens and Wednesday in a rematch with the Cougars in North Sutton, N.H.

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.

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Kearsarge at Lebanon boys lacrosse in Lebanon, N.H., on April 11, 2013. Kearsarge won, 10-6. Valley News — James M. Patterson …