WATERVILLE — It was a hot Saturday afternoon on the turf at Thomas College. Messalonskee trailed Cony by five goals in the first half. The Eagles trailed by four goals in the second half. They were down three goals with seven minutes left.

All of this is a way of saying that Messalonskee had several chances to pack it in.

“That’s just not our team,” Messalonskee’s Mikayla Turner said. “We’ve never been like that. We’re a unit, we support each other, and we fight for every ball. That’s the mentality that we’ve had all season.”

The Eagles had only one lead all day, but that came when Turner scored with 2:05 left, giving Messalonskee a 16-15 victory in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A girls lacrosse championship game.

“Certainly, it would have been wonderful for Cony girls lacrosse to get its first KVAC championship,” Cony coach Gretchen Livingston said. “But apparently today, we just needed to learn a lesson one more time, so we can be successful in the postseason. I thought it was a great game.”

In the KVAC A boys lacrosse championship game, Brunswick pulled away in the second half for a 15-6 win over Messalonskee.

All signs pointed to the girls game being competitive, as Cony and Messalonskee are both 9-3, and split their two regular season meetings, which were decided by a total of three goals. Still, Bayleigh Logan scored three goals for Cony, and teammates Hayley Quirion and Emily Quirion added two apiece as the Rams raced to a 7-2 lead with 9:41 left in the first half.

“They’ve shown before in this season that they can come back from being down, so I had faith that they could come back, and I think they knew that they could too,” Messalonskee coach Ashley Pullen said. “They have so much heart, and so much desire, and ultimately — especially on a hot day like today — that’s what won it for us.”

Messalonskee fought back to 7-6 at the half, only to have Cony score three straight after the break for a 10-6 lead. Undaunted, Messalonskee notched the next four goals, including two by Nathalie St. Pierre, to tie things up at 10-10.

Two of those goals came with Messalonskee in a man-up situation. A Cony player was sent to the bench area for two minutes after a check to Turner’s head. Turner had a lot of red showing through her blond hair on the right side of her head, leading one of her teammates to joke, “Mikayla, you dyed your hair?” Turner missed several minutes before returning to action.

“Originally, I was fine, but there was blood on my shoulder,” Turner said. “I thought it was somebody else’s, and then I realized it was actually coming from my head. It’s fine. I just had to wait for it to stop bleeding before I could go back in.”

Hayley Quirion (five goals) and Becca Coniff (three) seized control on offense, and brought Cony back to a 14-11 lead. But Turner scored on a rebound, and Messalonskee’s Lucy Guarnieri scooped up a loose ball on the run and took it home to make it 14-13. After Hayley Quirion scored for Cony, St. Pierre responded and Cony’s lead was 15-14 with 4:12 to play.

The Rams almost got their two-goal lead back, but Coniff’s rocket hit the crossbar. With 2:20 to go, Kristen Kern scored on the run after getting a pass from Turner. Kern then won possession on the draw control, and Turner scored again 15 seconds later.

“It was a breakaway, and one person in front of me,” Turner said. “That’s what we practice: How do you get around them, and how do you shoot and score?”

Turner won the ensuing draw control (Messalonskee had a 19-14 edge in draw controls for the game), and Cony’s chances for a tie took a major hit when two players were hit with yellow cards in the final 90 seconds.

“I let the refs ref, and I coach,” Livingston said. “I try to teach my girls to let the refs ref, and only control what they can control. That didn’t lose the game for us.”

Messalonskee goalie Sydni Collier grabbed a loose ball with 33 seconds to go, snuffing out Cony’s last chance. Messalonskee now moves on to face Mt. Ararat at 3:30 p.m., Wednesday at Thomas College, in an Eastern A quarterfinal.

“Certainly, we can’t overlook Mt. Ararat, but I feel good. I feel like we’re ready,” Pullen said. “I’m excited to see where it goes.”

Meanwhile, Cony hosts Portland at 4 p.m., Wednesday, and Livingston couldn’t help but notice that Cony and Messalonskee will face each other in the semifinals if the seeds hold.

“The scenario looks pretty similar to what the scenario looked like for us last year, where we’re hosting Portland in the first round,” Livingston said. “To be honest, I don’t really want to look past that. We know what the possibilities are. We know we could see these guys within a week, but we’ve got to beat Portland first, and they’ve got to beat Mt. Ararat first.”

On the boys side, Messalonskee had lost two competitive games with Brunswick this season, by scores of 10-8 and 12-11. So even though the Eagles were missing Dan Condon for this game with an injury, it was a bit of a surprise to see Brunswick up 6-1 at halftime and 7-1 early in the third quarter.

The Eagles turned it on at that point, getting within 7-4 on goals by Dylan Burton, Jordan Carson, and Dylan Jones. Messalonskee got even closer on a great display of passing from Jose Languet to Jones to Ben Weeks, and it was a 7-5 game with 4:32 still to go in the third quarter.

That was Messalonskee’s high point. With 2:33 to go in the quarter, there was some pushing, some jawing, and some more pushing. The Eagles were hit with three simultaneous penalties — illegal body check, unsportsmanlike, and conduct — by three different players. Brunswick scored within 10 seconds with the three-man advantage, and 36 seconds after that with the two-man advantage, and the score was 9-5 after three quarters. When Cam Glover scored three times in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter, Brunswick was on its way.

“We had that one penalty, and really kind of broke down after that,” Messalonskee coach Tom Sheridan said. “Even though they didn’t get all the goals during that time, it just felt like all the momentum we had was just sucked up by that.”

Glover scored four goals for Brunswick, and TJ Sullivan had six. Messalonskee takes a 9-3 record into Wednesday’s Eastern A quarterfinal against Portland, which will follow the Messalonskee girls game at Thomas College. Each of the Eagles’ losses this season came to No. 1 seeds — Brunswick in Eastern A, and Maranacook/Winthrop in Eastern B.

“I think we’ve got to go back to basics and do what we like to do on offense and defense,” Sheridan said. “I think they’ll bounce back. The offense and the defense, we’ll right the ship this week in practice, and be ready to go.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo

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