WATERVILLE — Messalonskee’s India Languet was well aware of Portland’s penchant for overtime dramatics heading into Wednesday’s Eastern Class A girls lacrosse championship.

The Eagles’ junior captain was confident that if it came to that, though, her team could handle the pressure.

“I wasn’t nervous about that because we call ourselves the overtime queens,” said Languet, whose team was 4-0 in games played beyond regulation this season. “We’ve come back and we’ve won just as many overtime (games) as they have.”

On Wednesday Languet and the Eagles earned a new nickname for themselves: Regional champions.

Top-seeded Messalonskee (14-1) led for all but the first 1:24 of the contest, yet still needed to survive a late push from the third-seeded Bulldogs (9-6) in its 11-8 victory at Bernatchez Field on the campus of Thomas College. It is the first regional lacrosse title in the 15-year history of the program.

“We were just very ready,” Messalonskee’s Nathalie St. Pierre, who had four goals and an assist, said. “We knew we had a great chance at winning this game. We didn’t want to come home with another runner-up plaque again.”

“It’s been a long time coming, but it’s time to bring that Eastern Maine championship a little bit further north,” added Eagles coach Ashley Pullen, who played on Messalonskee’s first varsity team in 2000.

According to Portland coach Cameron McManus, this past season was the strongest in program history even in light of the loss Wednesday. The Bulldogs dispatched No. 2 Mt. Ararat 10-9 in overtime and No. 6 Cheverus 16-15 in four overtime periods en route to the Eastern A final.

“We made it two rounds further than we’ve ever made it before. This is the best program Portland lacrosse has ever seen and they should all be really proud of themselves,” McManus said. “We have a plaque to show that this team they put it all out there and really brought our program to the next level. The bar has been raised for next year.”

As expected, the Bulldogs did not go quietly despite trailing throughout the afternoon.

Languet’s goal 1:24 into the opening half sparked a streak of three unanswered scores and the Eagles went on to open up a 7-3 lead by intermission. Messalonskee’s advantage ballooned to as much as 11-5 on Ally Turner’s goal with 2:14 remaining before Portland made its final push.

Isabel Stehli, Ella Coose and Lauren McIntyre each scored goals within an 80-second span to cut the deficit to three with 43.8 seconds remaining, but the Eagles won the ensuing draw and ran out the clock from there.

“I’m really proud of how the girls ended the game,” McManus said. “They could have put their heads down and been out of it early in the second half, but they stuck with it.”

It was only fitting that the Eagles sealed the game after winning a draw, as it proved to be a major asset for Messalonskee throughout the contest. The Eagles held a 14-7 advantage on draw controls, which allowed them to dictate the pace of the game and limit Portland’s dangerous fast breaks.

“We knew that was going to be coming, so we tried to be as ready as we could for it. Obviously it’s a great tool that they have and they execute it very well,” Pullen said of the Bulldogs’ abilities in transition. “The idea was to minimize the damage that they did that way, and we successfully did that by having control of the ball and having possession.”

When in their set offense, the Eagles relied on a balanced scoring attack. Languet, Lauren Pickett and Lydia Dexter each finished with a pair of goals, while Turner notched four assists in addition to her goal.

Coose paced Portland with three goals and an assist, while Merritt Ryan had a pair of scores and an assist, including the 100th goal of her career with 14:42 remaining in the first half. Liz Victor had a strong game in net for the Bulldogs and finished with 12 saves.

“Merritt’s a great player. We’re so pumped to have her again next year,” McManus said. “Where we’re really going to feel the loss is a big senior class, obviously, but Liz Victor in goal, that’s going to be a big blow for us next year. I’m not sure what we have coming in, but those are going to be the big shoes to fill for sure.”

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

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