There is no bonus reward for scoring on a long-distance shot in lacrosse, so the risk is far greater than, say, basketball, where outside shooting can be the key that unlocks a tight zone. But both sports operate on some similar principles: Keep the ball moving; find the open man; take what the defense gives you.
It took Westhampton one quarter to figure that out.
"It was sloppy," Hurricanes coach Drew Peters said of his team's scoreless opening period. "Our kids hear 'zone' and they start throwing the ball around."
Or, as was the case early, throwing the ball away against Harborfields' packed-in zone. Then Westhampton's offense got into a zone of its own -- a comfort zone.
"We made smarter passes and that opened it up for us to get better shots," Evan Gagne said.
Gagne and Kevin Dean scored a hat trick each as host Westhampton beat Harborfields, 9-3, Tuesday in a Suffolk Division II game.
The Hurricanes, putting together their best season in more than a decade, according to Peters, improved to 11-2 overall, 9-2 in league.
The Tornadoes, who got two dazzling unassisted goals from Connor Coyle, dropped to 6-6, 5-6.
"They played a nice 3-3 zone. They want you to force it inside. They're giving you the outside shot," Peters said. "We have a couple of kids who can shoot. If we get a shot at 12 or 13 yards [from the goal] and we get our hands free, we'll take it."
Gagne, just a sophomore, scored two of his goals on long-range shots in the third quarter. Both of Casey Hickey's first-quarter goals came on perimeter blasts, one from a short left angle and the other from straightaway.
Dean converted from in close twice -- on slick feeds from Jack Murphy (three assists) and Scott Martin (one goal, two assists). Dean's one long-distance goal was bounced into an empty net when the Harborfields goalie lost the ball while attempting to clear and Dean scooped up the grounder.
"We let them come at us and looked for skip passes to get the zone moving," Dean said. "We're very good shooters."
Tuesday, that gave the Hurricanes an outside chance of winning.