WATERVILLE — Windham senior goalie Jacob Dionne got a good look at Messalonskee when it beat Westbrook 13-9 earlier in the season, anticipating a potential playoff showdown in the future.

It took some time for Dionne to translate what he had seen a little less than a month ago into Saturday’s Class A North lacrosse semifinal, but once he did, the ball started to get a lot bigger in his eyes.

A lot bigger.

“It was looking like a beach ball,” he said.

Dionne got better in net as the game unfolded and made 25 saves to help sixth-seeded Windham dominate the second half and rally to a 15-11 win over No. 2 Messalonskee at Thomas College.

Windham (10-4) will face No. 1 Brunswick in the regional final on Wednesday.

Messalonskee’s season ends at 10-4.

Zach Hough led Windham with five goals, while Zach Callahan added three goals and three assists. Austin Pelletier, Dylan Jones and Connor Smith had three goals apiece for Messalonskee.

“They have a team of really good shooters,” Dionne said of Messalonskee, “and sometimes when you have good shooters, they like certain shots and they like to shoot it from certain places. It’s really easy for me to read, and played into my hands.”

They played into his feet, legs and stick, too — and even his facemask on a couple of occasions. Dionne used virtually every part of his body and equipment to stop Messalonskee’s shots and keep the Eagles from running away early, then limit them to three goals in the second half.

“He saved some point-blank shots (in the first half) to keep them in it and take momentum,” Messalonskee coach Tom Sheridan said. “We made a few mistakes out there and just didn’t really have a sharp offensive game today.”

“Messalonskee is a great team with a great reputation. Our kids just kept fighting,” Windham coach Pete Small said. “We’ve been in three overtime games, including last week against Lewiston. Our kids play with the mentality that even when we’re ahead, we perceive ourselves to be down by three, and we’ve got to play with that grit.”

Windham didn’t need to imagine a three-goal deficit on Saturday as Messalonskee jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first 7:29 with two goals from Pelletier and single tallies from Smith and Jones.

After Small called a timeout, Windham finally got on the board on Bryce Rolfe’s goal with 4:07 left in the first quarter. Tyler Woolston made it 4-2 before Smith widened Messalonskee’s lead back to three heading into the second quarter.

Windham pulled to within a goal in the second quarter before goals from Jones and Dylan Burton made it 8-5 Messalonskee. Windham got a goal at the halftime buzzer from Callahan to cut the deficit back to two.

Rolfe made it an 8-7 game 29 seconds into the second half. That’s when Dionne started seeing beach balls. He made two great stops from close range before Liam McCusker tied the game with 7:26 to go in the third quarter.

Pelletier answered 38 seconds later to give Messalonskee its last lead. Windham closed the quarter with three straight goals by Hough, Callahan and Ross Batchelder, the last coming a man up, to take an 11-9 lead into the fourth.

“When the offense starts scoring, I put in even more effort,” Dionne said. “I try to put in all of the effort I can, but when they get it going, it’s vital for me and my defense to keep the confidence up. So anything we can stop and get down at the other end, we need to do that.”

Smith finally solved Dionne to get Messalonskee within 12-10 with 10:11 remaining. But Batchelder got it back with a shot from the top of the box with 8:47 remaining to start a run of three Windham scores that put the game away.

Messalonskee outshot Windham, 56-31. Sophomore Dawson Charles made 10 saves in net for Messalonskee, which graduates 13 seniors, including six starters.

“We had some great games this season — the two wins against Brunswick and beating Westbrook at Westbrook,” Sheridan said. “We had a lot of seniors who came out and had tremendous senior seasons, and underclassmen as well. It’s one of those things. We just had an off day and sometimes that’s all it takes.”

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33


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