HOOSICK, N.Y. -- When the Hoosick Falls Central School boys lacrosse team finished last season without a win, coach Mark Marquart stressed the importance of patience with his squad.
Thursday, the Panthers saw the fruits of their labors as the team beat up Maple Hill, 14-4, to give Hoosick Falls its fifth win of the 2014 campaign and send the Panthers into the Sectional tournament on a high note.
"You tell them we are building, we are building, but it is tough to see it until you get your first win," said coach Mark Marquart. "Once we got our first one, we were like ‘let's build.' ... Every other sport in this town, you lose one or two and people get frustrated. Us, we are building the other way. I just told them they have to understand the process, that it takes time."
If Thursday's game was any indicator, that process has come a long way. Leading the way for Hoosick Falls was Noah LaBarge, who scored three goals and added three assists to pace a well-balanced attack that saw eight different players score in the contest.
"Their defense was playing zone because I guess they didn't think they could handle us athletically," LaBarge said. "We just tried to get it, pass, draw and dump inside and look for quick goals."
LaBarge assisted on the first goal of the day as he found Derek Bird, then scored the second goal to put Hoosick up 2-0 with 7:32 left in the first period. Nick Schrom, who led all scorers with four tallies, whipped in a shot submarine-style to put the Panthers up 3-0 going into the second.
"Our biggest idea for us is draw and dump with the ball," Marquart said. "The second you beat a man and a guy is coming to you, look where that man was coming from. Just look for that open pass and guys [having] active sticks."
In the second quarter, Hoosick Falls added four more goals, with LaBarge connecting with Damon Dubois twice in the frame, while the defensive trio of Mark Hackett, Logan Hoyt and Jake Bakaitis, along with goalie Chris Shielding, kept the Wildcats from getting a good look at the cage.
"[Defense is] what we pride ourselves on," said Hackett. "Coach gave us a good scouting report. We just had to shut them down and we did, simple as that."
After Hoosick Falls opened the third with another goal from Schrom, Maple Hill finally got on the board through Austin Seymour. The Panthers, though, responded with three more goals, including a pair from LaBarge just 17 seconds apart, to put the team up 11-1 going into the third.
In the fourth the Panthers emptied out the bench and started shuffling players around, as Hackett and Bakaitis moved into midfield and scored a goal each.
After the game, Hackett couldn't hold back his smile as he talked about his team.
"I have been on the team since I was a freshman when we were a club team," Hackett said. "It's great to see us come this far, all this progress, going from a club team to a varsity sport to getting five wins and going to the playoffs. It's great to see how we are progressing."
Finishing the regular season with a 5-9 record, Hoosick Falls now waits to find out its opponent in the Sectional tournament. While the playoff waters will be new territory for the Panthers, the team knows what it has to do to remain competitive.
"We can trust our defense. Shielding is doing a great job in goal this year," LaBarge said when asked to assess their playoff readiness. "We just have to be able to pass and move on offense and we should be alright."
Marquart also stressed the importance of his offense in the postseason, saying: "We have to work on our patience. When we play a team that can pressure you and get the ball out of your stick, you have to be cognizant of how far you should be out, if you are going to cut to get the ball you really have to do it full speed. There is no laziness involved."
Shielding finished with eight saves in the cage, while J.D. Dorword made 18 saves for the Wildcats. Dubois finished with a pair of goals and assists.