KENTS HILL — Connor Smith stood on the sideline and watched as his teammates on the Messalonskee High School boys lacrosse team engaged in a back-and-forth first half with Maranacook/Winthrop Tuesday at Kents Hill School.

Smith, who scored 17 goals in three games to start the season, missed the first half along with fellow starter Will Weeks due to a violation of team rules, Eagles coach Tom Sheridan said.

Once on the field, Smith did not wait long to make his presence felt. He scored a pair of unanswered goals to start the second half and erase a one-goal deficit, as Messalonskee (3-1 Class A North) sank the Hawks (4-1 Class B North) 14-11.

“That really motivated me to bounce back and have a strong second half,” Smith said. “I tried to get right on it because I had that element of being angry, but I also had that element of knowing our team was down and they needed me. I helped play as a team and we got it done.”

Smith had three goals in the second half while teammate Dylan Burton finished with three goals and four assists. Dylan Jones had a team-high four goals in the victory. Ty Smith had a game-high seven goals to pace Maranacook/Winthrop.

“They got out on us early. We started off a little slow and kind of woke up there a little bit,” said Sheridan, who celebrated his 43rd birthday with the win Tuesday. “We battled a few injuries there and we weren’t starting two guys in the beginning of the game. Our offense wasn’t really moving that well, but I think the kids were inexperienced in the beginning and when we brought back on our more experienced guys in the second half we really started moving.

“Once we play fast we’re really hard to keep up with, and that’s just it, we’ve been pretty unselfish when we’ve been going.”

A goal from Kyle Morand with 1:31 remaining in the second quarter gave the Hawks a 7-6 lead at the half, but Smith wasted little time in knotting the game. He scored just 47 seconds into the third quarter off an assist from Burton, which proved to be a winning combination for the Eagles.

Smith gave Messalonskee the lead for good when he ripped an underhand shot past Hawks goalkeeper Isaiah Weston with 6:59 to play in the third, and Burton then gave the Eagles a two-goal cushion with 5:01 to play in the quarter off an assist from Smith.

“Very simply, Messalonskee was the better team (Tuesday). That was the fact of the matter,” Hawks coach Zach Stewart said. “They played really hard and it was a really good game by Messalonskee, and I’m not disappointed with our effort either. Our guys busted their butts the entire time.”

The Hawks very nearly had an answer every time the Eagles pulled away. Messalonskee held its largest lead of the game at 13-9 with 3:25 remaining off a goal from Sawyer Michaud, but the four-goal advantage hardly felt safe.

Smith cut into the lead with his seventh score with 2:38 to play, and 35 seconds later defenseman Levi Emery stripped the ball away from Smith at midfield and took it himself for a goal to cut the deficit in half.

That was as close as the Hawks would get, though, as Jones found a cutting Smith on a pass from behind the net with 42 seconds left to seal the win for Messalonskee.

“Hawks never quit,” Smith said. “Whether we’re down 10 points or we’re down one point, we always finish and don’t give up at all.”

For Messalonskee, the game against the Eagles is the first of two scheduled against undefeated teams this week. They will travel to defending Class A champ Brunswick (5-0) for a 6:30 p.m. start on Friday.

“We know it’s a pretty tough task in our schedule this week and next,” Sheridan said. “We’ve got to make sure we keep rolling along.”

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

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