OAKLAND — Even with a six goal advantage at halftime Tuesday, the Messalonskee High School girls lacrosse team figured rival Cony would find a way to make a run at its lead.

“It’s been a rivalry for a few years now and it’s been a close game every single time we play them,” Messalonskee junior Nathalie St. Pierre said. “It’s nice to have good competition, and it really pushes us and I think it makes us better.

“We knew that the second half they would come out (with) high pressure. They always have a high-pressure defense and through the midfield, so we were ready for that.”

The Rams scored three straight to start the second half, but a three-goal deficit would be as close as they would get as the Eagles rode two goals from junior India Languet and some stellar ball control in the final 11 minutes to hold on for a 9-4 win in the season opener for both teams.

St. Pierre had a hat trick for Messalonskee (1-0), while underclassmen Ally Turner, Emma Dehetre and Lydia Dexter each scored goals as well in the win. Cony (0-1) got a balanced scoring attack with goals from Becca Coniff, Mary Kirschner, Hilary Tyler and Anna Brannigan, while Lizzy Dennison had a strong game in net and finished with nine saves.

“I cannot be upset with the effort that my girls put forth on the field today,” Cony coach Gretchen Livingston said. “We just need to tighten some things up as we head forward and I look forward to playing Messalonskee again.”

Both teams experienced a fair amount of turnover from last season to this, yet early on Tuesday it was the Eagles who appeared better apt to handle it. St. Pierre got her team on the board just 1 minute, 4 seconds into the contest and the Eagles went on to take a 7-1 lead at the break.

The Rams showed some resolve out of halftime, though, scoring three straight to force Messalonskee coach Ashley Pullen to take a timeout with her team ahead 7-4 with 11:09 to go in the contest. The Eagles responded immediately out of the timeout with Languet, one of the team’s three captains along with St. Pierre and Calla Balboni, scoring just 11 seconds later.

Languet added another score with 6:29 to play and Messalonskee proceeded to control possession for the next 5:05 to put the game away. This year’s Eagles team features a number of freshmen and sophomores playing in key spots, yet when the team was in need of a big play Tuesday, it was experienced upperclassmen like Languet and St. Pierre who came through.

“They have been great leaders throughout the preseason and I know they will be through the regular season as well,” Pullen said. “We have really good team chemistry and they have really kind of mentored some of the underclassmen. I think that’s what is allowing some of our younger players to really step up and play big roles on the field.”

Like Messalonskee, Cony came into Tuesday’s opener with a number of questions — particularly at the offensive end. The Rams had a handful of players flash the potential to be consistent goal scorers for the team this season, which Cony will look to build on moving forward.

“Who is going to take it consistently to the net? We have a ton of people that can score,” Livingston said. “It’s just the girls deciding that they have that confidence and they’re willing to take it to the net.”

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

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