AUBURN — After a rough start to the season, the Maroons hope a win against the team that denied them a section title last year can provide a needed boost.
Redemption is sweet indeed.
Auburn boys lacrosse secured its highest goal total of the season at Holland Stadium Thursday in a 14-10 win over East Syracuse-Minoa. After starting the season winless through four games, the Maroons are now off the schneid.
"It definitely feels good to get that first win against a good, quality opponent," Auburn coach Matt Smith said. "We told the guys to trust the process. We scheduled the teams we scheduled for a reason, which was to prepare us for our league play. I think it started to show tonight.
"They say when you start from rock bottom, it makes a great foundation."
Jake Morin (assist) poured in six goals for Auburn while Mitch Fanning (assist) recorded three tallies. Matt Vanliew (two assists) scored twice in his season debut, Greg Walsh buried a pair and Joey Leonta rounded out the scoring with one goal.
Parker Hogan finished with 12 saves.
"Parker has been so steady for us between the pipes," Smith said. "He's making great saves, leading the defense, along with our other senior captains. They're leading by example with their play, their actions as well as their words."
Auburn opened the scoring 4:29 into the game on Fanning's first of the night and, after East Syracuse-Minoa tied the score 2:09 later, never trailed. The Maroons built their lead to 8-4 at halftime and led by as much as seven midway through the third quarter after Morin buried two straight goals.
East Syracuse-Minoa, the defending Section III, Class B champion, wasn't going to let Auburn off the leash easily. Down by six entering the fourth, the Spartans went on a 4-2 run to cut their deficit to four with four minutes remaining.
Auburn won the ensuing face-off after the last East Syracuse-Minoa goal, drew a penalty after over two minutes of keep away between Walsh, Fanning and Vanliew behind the Spartans net, and Leonta scored the back-breaker with 1:31 left to make it a 14-9 game.
"Teams are going to make runs and I like how we responded to that," Smith said. "We held the ball, were smart with the ball, were patient. Greg Walsh had a great game. I think tonight he put himself on other teams' scouting reports. That's what we need to alleviate some of the pressure to our midfielders."
The Spartans scored once in the final 10 seconds, but it was too little, too late this time against the Maroons.
Offensively, Auburn had by far its best night of the season. The Maroons hadn't scored more than 10 goals in any game so far this season and were held to six goals in both of their previous two outings.
The return of Vanliew, who was battling an injury through the first four games, helped Auburn return to its high-scoring ways.
"It causes match-up problems for other teams, so other teams can't just focus on our midfielders," Smith said. "Now they have another weapon that they have to worry about. Matty came out and played great today. It was great to see Matty healthy and be able to contribute for his senior year."
Auburn (1-4) looks to build on its first win at home against Fulton on Saturday.