After 22 years on the sidelines, after countless wins and losses of every variety, Tom Sheridan recognizes when a team accomplishes something special.

When the Messalonskee High School boys lacrosse team beat perennial Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference powerhouse Brunswick at Thomas College on May 27, Sheridan saw one of those moments.

“We measure ourselves by how we do against those Brunswick teams,” Sheridan said. “That’s what we live for as a program, games like that.”

After that win, the first for the Eagles over the Dragons in five years, according to Sheridan, Messalonskee went on to defeat their nemesis yet again just over a week later to win the KVAC Class A North championship.

For his efforts, Sheridan is the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel Boys Lacrosse Coach of the Year.

Cony’s Chad Foye was also considered.

Messalonskee finished 11-4, bowing out in the Class A North semifinals. But, as Sheridan has reminded his players, only one team can win the state title each season.

In the end, he doesn’t judge his team’s season on the final playoff loss to Windham.

“We had some pretty good games along the way,” Sheridan said. “It’s tough for the kids when they’re looking forward to a state title or playing in the state game, but even if you don’t get there, it doesn’t mean your season is not successful.”

The two wins over Brunswick, a program which has long been a thorn in the Eagles’ collective side, proved that point.

A promising season didn’t start off so well for Messalonskee, as a team with 13 seniors dropped their first game on the schedule at Lewiston. The Eagles were also without a solid presence in goal.

Sophomore Dawson Charles stepped into the role and grew, losing only two of his starts the rest of the year — and only one in the regular season.

“I definitely believe it’s a marathon and not a sprint,” Sheridan said, pointing to both this season and the one on the horizon next spring. “At the beginning of the year, you’re not going to be where you want to be by the end of it.”

After the first win over Brunswick in May, it was clear that this Messalonskee team had taken the steps to put it in the conversation with the best programs across the state. In 2014, the Dragons easily dispatched the Eagles in a lopsided regional final.

That made the victories this season even sweeter.

“Those are the games that you remember,” Sheridan said. “We want those games that really mean something. The games you feel you should win during the year, those are important, too — but the good teams, when you go out and play well against them, it feels really good.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

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Twitter: @TBarrettGWC