WATERVILLE — Winning a conference championship is a big deal to some teams more than others. Some set it as a goal in preseason. Others, when scheduled to play in a conference championship game, are mainly concerned with making sure no one gets hurt.

On Friday afternoon at Thomas College, the Maranacook/Winthrop co-op team won the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B boys lacrosse title with an 11-2 victory over Morse, and it was clear that win was a big deal to the Hawks.

“This is the first year that we get anything put at any of our schools. We get a banner now,” said Maranacook/Winthrop coach Zach Stewart. “It’s a really big accomplishment. We’re not just one of those teams fighting for the middle of the pack. We’re conference champions.”

In the KVAC B girls title game, also played Friday at Thomas, Morse defeated Gardiner, 12-10, behind four goals apiece from Bronwyn Morissette and Sophie Sreden.

Part of the reason this title meant so much to the Maranacook/Winthrop players is what happened in last June’s KVAC championship game. The Hawks had the game-winning goal disallowed in the final seconds, and lost to Gardiner in overtime.

“Everyone had a bad taste in their mouth from last year with losing a controversial game to Gardiner,” Maranacook/Winthrop goalkeeper Zach Bessette said. “It was our goal for the whole year. Everybody wanted it. Everybody came out and worked hard, from the first practice to the last. We have our goals set high, and this is one goal of many for our team.”

Still, Morse came out fired up for this one, and while the Shipbuilders were usually off target with their shots on Bessette — the KVAC Player of the Year — Morse goalie Kevin Thibodeau made some close-range saves to keep the score tight. It was a 1-1 game at the end of the first quarter, and that was still the score six minutes into the second quarter.

“We didn’t have a really good first quarter or second quarter, and neither did they,” Stewart said. “It didn’t seem like either team started playing until the end of the second quarter, into the third and fourth. At that point, the boys were ready to play, and we just laid it on.”

Denver Cram gave the Hawks a 2-1 lead when he converted a pass from Alex Tooth. The big play came a little over two minutes later, when Bessette fired a long touchdown pass to Toby Smith, who caught the ball on the run behind his defender and easily scored for a 3-1 lead. Smith and Zack Godbout each added a goal, and Maranacook/Winthrop was on top 5-1 at halftime.

The Hawks coasted in the second half, and Cram and Smith each finished the day with four goals. The Hawks also finished with 11 penalties, although Stewart said the only ones that really bothered him were the conduct penalties. Maranacook/Winthrop (12-0) hosts North Yarmouth Academy (2-8) in an Eastern B quarterfinal game Wednesday.

In the girls game, Gardiner was trying to finally beat Morse after losing regular season meetings by scores of 8-4 and 11-10. The Tigers got a great start to that end in the first half, leading 3-0 at the 16:46 mark on goals by Kelsi Thibeau, Claire Crocker and Ally Day.

But led by Morissette and Sreden, Morse charged back to a 6-3 lead. The final two of those goals came in man-up situations, and were scored 18 seconds apart. The Shipbuilders settled for a 7-5 lead at halftime.

That scenario — one team appearing to have things under control, and the other suddenly striking back — would be repeated several more times. Sreden sent home the first two goals of the second half, and Morse was up 9-5 with 15:23 to play. But Day, who finished the game with six goals, notched a pair of goals and Thibeau scored one with Gardiner a man down to bring the Tigers within 9-8 with 4:42 left.

At that point, it was anyone’s game, but a Gardiner penalty led to man-up goals by Sreden and teammate Amanda Gagne, and the Shipbuilders led 11-8. Then Gardiner took another penalty with 1:54 remaining — meaning the Tigers would be short-handed for the rest of regulation — and Morissette’s goal made it 12-8 with 1:48 to play.

At this point, it really looked over, but again, that was nothing but a fake-out. Day went on two solo rushes and scored 11 seconds apart, getting Gardiner within 12-10 with still 1:11 on the clock. That finally was it, as Morse controlled the ball most of the rest of the way.

“Give us another two minutes, and you never know,” Gardiner coach Chad Kirk said.

Next up for Gardiner (8-4) is an Eastern B playoff game with North Yarmouth Academy (4-8). That game is certainly not a walkover for the Tigers. Both teams played Freeport, with Gardiner losing 13-3, and NYA losing, 14-8.

“It’s a tough draw,” Kirk said. “NYA is NYA. We’ve seen them, in the past, be a power. How down are they? I don’t know, because the west is tough. As long as the fundamentals are good, we’ll be all right.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo


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