WATERVILLE — The Messalonskee High School boys lacrosse team has come a long way in a relatively short time.

“If you were here during the Lewiston game, we just weren’t doing what we were supposed to do,” Eagle senior attacker Connor Smith said, referencing the team’s season-opening loss three weeks ago. “We’ve really, really put it together since then and we’re clicking, 24-7.”

Smith had five goals in a 14-3 win over Maranacook/Winthrop on Thursday at Thomas College’s Smith Field. He represented just one of several potent offensive options for Messalonskee (3-2), which had five different players score against the Hawks (3-3). Four of those enjoyed multiple goal days.

Junior Colin Kinney scored four times in the win, while classmates Austin Pelletier and Alden Balboni each scored twice.

“We started moving the ball around today,” Pelletier said. “We’ve been working on that. We’ve had games where some players get shut off, so it’s really good to know that we have three, four, five kids that can really put the ball in the back of the net with both hands.”

Pelletier was at the heart of the attack all day, winning balls in the midfield and leading both fast breaks and offensive sets.

Maranacook/Winthrop goalie Will Hays was at his best in the opening quarter, making eight of his 14 saves in the first 12 minutes while trying to help his teammates find their footing in a game in which they were under siege almost from the get-go. Smith finally cracked through with under four and a half minutes remaining for a 1-0 Messalonskee lead, and Pelletier doubled that advantage just over three minutes later.

The game opened up a bit more in the second quarter, with the Hawks finally able to win faceoffs and get clearances with more regularity. But their inability to set up in the attack only helped Messalonskee to transition more quickly and stretch out the Maranacook/Winthrop defense.

“We’ve done a lot of work lately, trying to move the ball quickly,” Smith said. “That’s how you win games. If you move that ball, they can’t slide — and then it’s pass, shoot, score.”

The Eagles scored six goals in the second quarter, three from Kinney, to take a comfortable 8-1 lead into halftime. Only Drew Davis’ goal midway through the quarter slowed Messalonskee’s momentum — and very briefly, at that.

Messalonskee scored four times in a span of 4:26 late in the period.

“We gave them plenty of opportunities,” Maranacook/Winthrop coach Zach Stewart said. “We actually never started playing lacrosse this game, and it was really tough to watch from the sideline. We didn’t fully execute anything we were trying to accomplish.”

Part of that, Messalonskee coach Tom Sheridan said, was the play of his defense. That made for a relatively light day of work for Dawson Charles, called into action to make only seven saves in the win.

“It’s coming along. In the first game, we weren’t quite settled on offense yet and we were just going off what we knew from last year. But we’ve had some time to practice and it’s starting to take shape now,” Sheridan said. “I’m really proud of how we played defensively, too. I think we took over the game (in the second half). That’s where we need to be.”

Tucker Nussinow and Garit Laliberte also scored for Maranacook/Winthrop, but the Hawks managed only six second-half shots.

“They were intimidated,” Stewart said of his team, which starts as many as five freshmen on any given day. “We’ve played better teams this year, but for them to come in so intimidated, it was tough. There was nothing I could do as a coach to help them with that.”

Dana Michaud added a goal for Messalonskee in the second quarter.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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