GARDINER — For the Gardiner girls lacrosse team, Thursday’s game against unbeaten Messalonskee was a measuring stick against one of the top teams in Class A.
For Messalonskee, it was a chance to cap off a big week with another impressive win.
The Eagles got five goals from senior Kristy Bernatchez and four from junior Allyson Fischang in posting a 17-9 win against the Class B Tigers. Messalonskee is 9-0 and in first place in Eastern Maine Class A while Gardiner is 8-1 and in first place in Eastern Maine Class B.
Messalonskee defeated rival Cony 11-4 earlier this week and is off to one of its best seasons ever.
“I don’t think anyone expected us to do as well as we have this year,” said Bernatchez, who is headed to the University of North Carolina in the fall on a field hockey scholarship. “I think we have a lot of different scoring options we can go to.”
Kristen Kern added three goals for the Eagles while teammate Sydney Gagne scored two.
Junior Ally Day paced the Tigers with five goals while senior Brooke Davis scored four.
“It was a really good team,” Day said of the Eagles. “I think we learned a lot for defense. Playing better teams just helps yourself get better.”
The Tigers play three Class A teams over their final four games, including a game against rival Cony on Saturday.
“The game played out the way I thought it would,” Gardiner coach Andy Haskell said. “We’d have a hard time adjusting to their speed and athleticism. We just had some tough matchups out there and they took advantage of it.”
The Eagles scored early and often with Bernatchez netting three of the first six goals to stake them to a 6-2 lead. Gagne scored the first and last goal of the half to give Messalonskee an 11-3 lead. They controlled the ball in Gardiner’s end of the field and found cutters heading to the net and their zone defense kept the Tigers at bay. The second half was a better matchup as each team scored six goals.
“We made some adjustments at halftime in terms of some of our markings,” Haskell said. “We kind of went into a high-press defensive system and were able to create some turnovers. We were able to work some things better offensively.”
While most of the pressure was on Gardiner goalie Maddy Cutler (eight saves), Messalonskee goalie Izzy Skinner (12 saves) turned away some tough shots, including four from point blank range.
“She has played very well all week,” Messalonskee coach Ashley Pullen said.
Gardiner cut the lead to 16-9 on back-to-back goals from Day and Davis, but freshman India Languet restored some order with a goal off a nice pass from Fischang and the Tigers ran out of time.
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638