When Ashley Pullen was named the coach of the Messalonskee girls lacrosse team, she knew a serious challenge lay ahead.

The Eagles graduated eight, highly-regarded seniors, she was the third coach in three years and had to prove to a young group of players that they could become successful.

Once Pullen’s energy and enthusiasm grabbed a foothold, the Eagles took off, claiming two big wins at the end of the season. They followed those with an Eastern A quarterfinal overtime victory over No. 2 Portland, in Portland.

“What this team did was better then what was expected,” Pullen said. “We accomplished a lot with a young group of players that I am excited about.”

For her outstanding season, Pullen has been named the Morning Sentinel/Kennebec Journal Girls Lacrosse Coach of the Year.

“I’m very proud of the way the team played and how they came together during the season,” she said. “I think we are in good shape. Our young players are ready and it is exciting to think about next season.”

After opening the season with a 4-3 record, the Eagles had a team meeting to discuss the remainder of the year and where they wanted to be when the playoffs began. A one-goal win over Gardiner was followed by a pair of heartbreaking losses to Brunswick and Cony.

“That was a tough stretch,” Pullen said. “We lost to Cony by one goal, but the team didn’t give up, they knew what they needed to do and came through.”

Class B Morse was next. The Shipbuilders were coming off a big win over Cony but the Eagles ran away with a 17-8 win.

Messalonskee saved its best for last, playing an impressive transition game, along with solid defense, to take an 11-8 win over Mt. Ararat.

“The win over Mt. Ararat on our home field stands out,” Pullen said. “It was our senior game and it was a total team effort. If we had lost that game, things would have been different.”

In the quarterfinals, two overtime goals lifted the Eagles to the upset win over Portland before they lost 10-9 to Cheverus in the semifinals. The game nearly went to overtime when leading scorer Sara Grenier hit the post with three minutes left in regulation.

“My underlying goal was to have these girls get the bug for lacrosse,” Pullen said. “I think they are finding it to be fun and, hopefully, we can continue to grow over the summer with players going to lacrosse camp.”


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