For Emma Begin, on-the-job learning is a key to Lewiston's success

·5 min read

Jun. 7—LEWISTON — Paige Pomerleau uses more than a few words to describe Emma Begin, Lewiston's starting goalie.

"Emma has come a long way. She's like our support back there on (defense)," Pomerleau, a defender, said. "She guides us and is kind of like our quarterback. She's just really useful, makes a lot of great saves and she keeps us in many games."

But Begin is quick to attribute her success to her teammates, who constantly stand behind her.

"Our forwards are fabulous, but if our defense can't be good, too, then we are going to get scored on us no matter what," Begin said. "It's very important to have a good defense."

Begin likes how her defense communicates with her, but she knows it's a two-way street. The defense is also impressed with Begin's dialogue with them.

"Communication is a really big thing because as long as we are talking, we are always picking up the (opposing) players, make good passes, and know where everyone is," defender Leah Dube said. "But when we aren't talking, it's this big, whole chaos."

Begin, a senior, has been like a sponge in her first season of guarding the Blue Devils' net during Lewiston's 7-5 regular season.

"We had a starter that was with us (Ceci Racine), who had three years of experience and Emma didn't have that transition," Lewiston coach Tracey Blaisdell said. "She had to jump right in after missing last year (because the season was canceled because of the coronavirus). We would have worked hard to transition her last year (to get her some games in), but we didn't have that luxury."

Blaisdell said Begin has a strong mental game, by not letting goals affect her and focusing on the next shot, and is also coachable and willing to try things out.

One thing Begin has worked on in a short amount of time this season is her clears to get the ball to the midfielders and attackers.

"I think my clears are pretty good," Begin said. "They aren't always the best when the other team plays good defense or man-on-man (defense). When we can get those little openings, it works pretty well."

Blaisdell agrees the Begin's strength is her clears or transitioning defense to offense. Like any good quarterback, Begin knows her teammates' strengths and weaknesses.

"What we have done is you have to know your players and she knows who's (out) there depending who's playing which positions," Blaisdell said. "We rotate a lot because the depth, depending who's there, she can clear short or is she going to clear long. Maybe a team is covering pretty well, and she has to come out (of her crease). She has this nice ability to evolve over the season. We worked on it as a team, but she has been an integral part of that."

Blaisdell said Begin is good at reading the situation to make the right play.

The Blue Devils have had a daunting stretch near the end of the regular season, playing six games in eight days. Begin was steady despite Lewiston going 3-3 during that stretch. Begin said she had to grind it out like the rest of her teammates.

"In the running aspect, I am not running a lot. It's not too demanding, but it's just mostly my arms because the (goalie) stick is very heavy, especially consistently doing all those passes," Begin said. "But it's not too bad."

The team gives credit to Begin for keeping the Blue Devils in the game in a late-season loss against Oxford Hills.

"She had a high save percentage in that game," Pomerleau said.

Begin made 18 saves on 29 shots for a .62 save-percentage in the 11-10 overtime loss against the Vikings. She had six other games during the season that she had to stop 10-plus shots.

"It can get a little boring in the slower games," Begin said. "The less shots I see means the better my team is. I am thankful for what I get."

Blaisdell credits Begin's endurance during the second half of the season when other players were exhausted from a grueling schedule.

"In that stretch, Emma had to really step up her games because our players were physically exhausted," Blaisdell said. "That meant (opposing) players were going to slip through and she was going to be facing more shots than we anticipated or what we would like in any given game. She was able to help support her team and she was able to step up in those moments. It made all the difference. It kept our games tight."

Begin's hard work this season has given her an opportunity to play in college next year. She was interested in attending Husson University in Bangor so she reached out to the Eagles coaching staff.

"I pretty much knew what school I wanted to go to. It was just a matter if (Husson's) coaches wanted me," Begin said. "I reached out and (coach Dorian Gilmartin-Dzitko) saw a little bit how I played and said, 'Alright, we will take you.'"

She will study Health Sciences at Husson. She becomes the third Blue Devils player who will play lacrosse in college, along with teammates Charlotte Gastonguay, who will be attending Rollins College in Florida, and Shauna LeBlanc, who is heading to St. Joe's.

"Emma is extremely coachable, so any coach would love to have her because she's only going to get better," Blaisdell said. "She's willing to play. ... Emma will do well there."

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