WATERVILLE — Perseverance has become a common occurrence for the Messalonskee High School girls lacrosse team this season.

Despite featuring a number of first-year starters following a challenging offseason, the Eagles (5-0) began this week trailing only Mt. Ararat (5-0) and Lewiston (5-1) in the Heal points standings in Eastern Class A.

“I don’t think I would have predicted it given the offseason that we had,” Messalonskee coach Ashley Pullen said Monday of her team’s start. “It was a very rough offseason for us, but that said I think we have a lot of heart coming into this season and a lot of determination to kind of go in and play each game like it could be your last.”

Pullen said the loss of Cassidy Charette, who was fatally injured in a hayride accident in Mechanic Falls in October, was “devastating.” The team also lost a number of key contributors to graduation, as well as a few more that elected not to come out for the team for various reasons.

This has left the Eagles with a roster of just 18 players, which has limited what they can do in practice. On Monday, Messalonskee spent the majority of its practice utilizing half or less of Thomas College’s Bernatchez Field.

“It’s definitely been difficult. We haven’t been able to do a whole lot of full-field work, so we make the best of what we’ve got,” Pullen said. “We do a lot of three-quarter field work. There’s definitely things that I would love to work on that we haven’t been able to do just because we don’t have the numbers.”

Even with everything that the Eagles have working against them, they have still found a way to succeed. Part of that has been the result of returning veterans like India Languet and Nathalie St. Pierre, but a number of freshmen — Haley Lowell, Ally Turner and Lauren Pickett, to name a few — have stepped up to play key roles.

“Coming into the season I was a little nervous but I had faith in a lot of us. I knew that we could do it,” Languet said. “I knew that we could step up because I talked to a lot of the girls on the team and we knew that coming into this we just really needed to be prepared.”

• • •

It has been a solid start to the season for the Winslow boys (3-2 Class B East), but this week the Black Raiders are going to find out just where they stand in their first season as a varsity team.

Winslow started the spring 3-1, but against opponents whose combined record so far stands at 4-22. Monday the Black Raiders took on their first above-.500 opponent in division-leading Maranacook/Winthrop (6-1) and suffered a 15-2 defeat.

“I feel like we had some of our competition in the beginning wasn’t the best, but some of the other teams that we’ve encountered have been really stiff competition,” Winslow’s David Selwood, who had one of his team’s two goals Monday, said. “…It really shows how big of a step we have to make and where we need to be to reach that next level.”

The competition is not going to get any easier for the Black Raiders, either. They have one more game this week, Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Gardiner (5-1).

“We’re still in the learning phase with this program. We got something to learn every day,” Winslow coach Bruce Lambrecht said. “Whether you win or lose you have to find something you can do better and that’s where we are right now.

“…At times we don’t play well and at times we play great. Consistency is what you want to see. When you’re working with high school kids there’s a lot of things they all need to work on.”

• • •

Maranacook/Winthrop will not be going undefeated during the regular season like it did last spring, but the Hawks may be equally, if not more, dangerous than they were a season ago.

A revamped attack predicated around unselfish scoring and a strong defense have both been key for the Hawks thus far, but so has been the play of Isaiah Weston. The sophomore goalkeeper has stepped in almost seamlessly for the now-graduated Zach Bessette, and through seven games he has allowed just 22 goals.

“There was a learning curve at the beginning but now that he has gotten a little bit of experience it’s second nature to him,” Hawks coach Zach Stewart said. “We’re halfway through the season and he’s playoff ready. He’s ready to rock and roll, which is awesome.”

Weston had the chance to learn from Bessette last season as a freshman, and he said the biggest thing he took away from the experience was how to be a leader on the field.

“Even though he would get frustrated with the defense but (he knew) how to keep (his) cool,” Weston said. “Goals do go in. It happens 13 times a game. You just have to be able to go with the flow and not get too angry at your team or yourself.”

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

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