WATERVILLE — In the first half of Wednesday’s Class A North girls lacrosse championship game, after she’d made her third straight how-did-she-do-that save, Messalonskee goalie Gaby Languet made eye contact with teammate Ally Turner.

“We made eye contact, like we usually do, and I was like I don’t know what’s going on right now but I’m having the best game. I was in such a good zone,” Languet said after Thursday’s practice at Thomas College.

A senior, Languet made 10 saves Wednesday and was key in the Eagles’ 7-6 come-from-behind win over Windham. Languet has been solid in net all season for the Eagles (14-1), who will try to defend their state title Saturday in a rematch of last season’s title game against Massabesic (15-0) at 3:30 p.m. at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.

“Gaby’s always great, but she had an outstanding game (Wednesday). Ten saves, that’s phenomenal, especially against a really good team,” Messalonskee coach Crystal Leavitt, who played goalie as a high school player at Morse, said. “As soon as goalies make good saves, I’ll tell you what, it pumps up a team. If a goalie stops that many saves and get the momentum going, that’s an unbreakable bond the team has now. There’s nothing better than shutting down a good team.”

With the graduation of last season’s goalie, Sydni Collier, the Eagles had a hole in net. Languet had played goal since eighth grade, but last season moved out to defense.

“This year, I put the gear back on and it felt good,” Languet said.

Leavitt said there was never a discussion with Languet about moving back to goalie.

“It was an unwritten thing that happened. I messaged her before the beginning of the season and I said ‘What do you need for equipment?’ She took it and she ran with it,” Leavitt said. “I honestly cannot ask for a better person to put in there. She’s spunky, she has a good attitude, she’s always positive. She’s just one of those girls, she can get smacked real hard in the leg or the stomach (with the ball), and she just gets up and laughs it off. She encourages the girls to take hard shots.”

Languet started playing lacrosse when a friend suggested she join the team after getting cut from the junior high softball team in seventh grade.

“Instead of being devastated about it, I went and put the energy into playing lacrosse,” she said.

A year later, Languet moved to goalie when the team needed one. With the exception of her junior season, that’s where Languet has played since. In describing what she feels she does well as a goalie, Languet starts by ticking off things she doesn’t do well. She’s not the fastest runner, Languet said, nor the most athletic or smartest on the field at times. What Languet is — as a co-captain — is a leader. She knows the Eagles count on her to make saves, and she feeds off that. When everything is chaos around here, that’s when Languet feels her best.

“What goalie lets me do is, be vocal to my players. It lets me be quick. I’m the last person the ball has to go through. Just having that in the back of my mind really puts me in a position that for some reason works for me. It’s that pressure that makes me,” Languet paused, and chose her words carefully. “The pressure helps bring out the athlete in me.”

Languet’s attitude is her biggest strength on the field, Leavitt said.

“It’s hard to get inside of her head, and she knows it, too. She doesn’t take anything personal,” Leavitt said. “She’s very optimistic about things. She’s very happy and always smiling. She has a great relationship with all the girls on the field.”

That attitude doesn’t mean Languet doesn’t get nervous. On Wednesday against Windham, that didn’t happen, she said. Not when Windham scored late in the first half to take the lead they held most of the second half, not when Windham had the ball in the closing seconds of regulation looking for a game-winning shot, and certainly not in overtime, when the next goal won.

“If you ask anybody, I’m usually a very nervous person, but for some reason that entire game I felt like I was at home. When we went to OT, I’m like, all right, here we go,” Languet said. “(Wednesday), I’m not going to lie, was a really, really good game for me… There’s some, I think I don’t know how I saved that, then I look back and I think about it. Well, I prepared myself for it.”

Languet tries to follow two pieces of advice drilled into her by assistant coach Jonte Roussel. One, always be watching the ball, even when Messalonskee is attacking at the far end of the field and Languet is nowhere near the action. Roussel’s second mantra is simple. Nothing gets by you.

“Every day, he’s ‘Focus, focus, focus,'” Languet said. “How do I want my defense to be set up? How do I want to position myself to be in the best place I can be? I have that in the back of my mind the entire time.”

Saturday’s championship game is likely Languet’s final lacrosse game. She plans on attending Stonehill College, where she’ll continue with her other athletic love, ice hockey. Languet hopes there’s a moment Saturday she makes eye contact with a teammate after a save. Nothing will be said. Her look will say “I’ve got this.”

Then she’ll focus and make the next save.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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