OAKLAND — The Cony and Messalonskee high school girls lacrosse teams are about as evenly matched as it gets. So when Messalonskee took a 10-9 win Thursday in a game that saw five lead changes, nobody involved was surprised.
“Ashley (Pullen, Messalonskee’s coach) and I both knew today would be like this,” Cony coach Gretchen Livingston said. “Two great goalies, two great teams. It’s always like this.”
It was the second close win of the week for Messalonskee (2-0), which defeated Mt. Ararat 10-7 on Tuesday. For Cony (1-2), it was the second consecutive one goal loss, coming off of Tuesday’s 9-8 loss at Lewiston.
“It was important for us not to get flustered and maintain our composure,” Pullen said.
The score was tied 4-4 at the half, and Messalonskee’s Kristyna Bernatchez scored a pair of goals early in the second half to give the Eagles a 6-4 lead. The lead was short-lived, however, as Cony scored three quick goals, two by Emily Quirion and another by Hayley Quirion, to lead 7-6 with 15:22 to play.
Pullen stressed to the Eagles to play smarter offense, and over the last 15 minutes, Messalonskee’s offense began to gel. Bernatchez scored to tie the game with 14:15 remaining, and Allison Fischang’s goal with 12:41 to play gave Messalonskee the lead for good.
“We took much smarter shots in the second half than we did in the first half. I think there was one point in the first half where we had taken 10 shots and had two goals,” Pullen said. “We took care of the ball more, and it was a great team effort.”
Sydney Gagne scored to give Messalonskee a 9-7 lead with 8:24 to play, and from that point, the Rams could only try to play catch up. A few minutes after Cony’s Josie Lee scored to cut Messalonskee’s lead to one, Kristen Kern scored her fourth goal of the game to give the Eagles some breathing room.
“The second half, I just feel like we really pulled it together. This season, we’re coming out with a strong start,” Kern said.
“We didn’t get as many ground balls as we needed to. They definitely beat us to ground balls today,” Livingston said. “I told my girls at the beginning, whoever has the ball more is going to win, and that’s exactly what happened.”
After Gagne scored at the 15:06 mark of the first half to give Messalonskee a 1-0 lead, Cony answered with three quick goals, taking a 3-1 lead on an Emily Quirion score with 6:04 left in the first half. Pullen called a timeout, and Kern scored three goals in the final 4:04 of the half to send the teams into the break tied.
“I said not to panic, and I said they needed to go out there and play like the team that played on Tuesday night at Mt. Ararat, the team that drove to the net with confidence. I lit a fire under them,” Pullen said.
“The score gave me that little push I needed to come up strong,” Kern said.
Isabelle Evans made 11 saves for Cony, while Elizabeth Skinner had five stops for Messalonskee.
Cony and Messalonskee will meet again, in Augusta, on May 14.
“It will be interesting to see what happens when they come to Augusta, and we look forward to that game,” Livingston said.
Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242