WATERVILLE — With graduation at Messalonskee High School on Thursday night, Friday’s Class A North girls lacrosse semifinal marked the end of a busy week for the Eagles. So coach Crystal Leavitt made a deal with her team, and that’s why Messalonskee can rest until Monday.

“I told the girls if they worked hard, I’d give them the weekend off,” Leavitt said after the top-seeded Eagles beat No. 4 Cheverus, 12-7, at Thomas College. “They did, and they deserve it. They played really well.”

The defending state champion, Messalonskee (13-1) will host No. 2 Windham (12-2) in the regional final Wednesday at Thomas College, at a time to be determined. No. 4 Cheverus ends the season at 6-8.

On Wednesday, the Eagles fell behind No. 8 Portland early and had to rally to avoid the upset. In a first half played in a steady rain Friday, Messalonskee made sure that didn’t happen again. The Eagles scored twice in the first five minutes, and the goals by Lauren Pickett and Kaitlyn Smith ensured Messalonskee never trailed.

“We worked on (starting well) a lot in practice,” Pickett, who scored six goals and assisted on one, said. “We came out and really did it today.”

“I think the last game scared the girls enough to come out pretty strong, which is good. We’re getting closer to the end, which I think is helping the girls get on track. This could be it if we don’t play hard. The girls are getting energized,” Leavitt said. “(Cheverus is) very fast, a high-pressure defense. We knew we had to come out fast and set the tone for the game.”

The Stags’ Brooke McElman scored with 12:42 left in the first half to cut Messalonskee’s lead to 3-2, but that was as close as Cheverus would get. With 9:47 left in the first half, Pickett scored with a high shot in front of the net, after Smith’s ground ball kept the possession alive.

With 16.3 remaining until halftime, Cheverus appeared to have momentum when Terryn MacDonald’s goal cut the Eagles lead to 6-3. Messalonskee reclaimed momentum when Pickett scored with 5.1 seconds left to give the Eagles a 7-3 halftime lead.

“It gives you that little pep. We wanted the first goal of each half and we wanted the last goal of each half, so it was really nice,” Leavitt said. “That’s what we talked about (at halftime). We didn’t want to give the impression we were going to let up.”

Pickett scored 12 seconds into the second half, and her goal with 19:03 to play pushed Messalonskee’s lead to 9-3.

“When we score goals, everyone gets more hype. We get wanting to score and pass and work as a team,” Pickett said. “We were focusing on talking on defense a lot, and looking for the open players.”

Messalonskee led by as many as eight goals in the second half, before the Stags rallied to score three late goals.

Smith and Ally Turner each scored a pair of goals for Messalonskee. McElman and MacDonald each scored twice for Cheverus. The Stags lost midfielder Mackenzie Johnston for the game with 3:16 left in the first half when she picked up her second yellow card.

Gaby Languet made five saves for Messalonskee. Maeve McGarrity had six stops for Cheverus.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

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Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM