PORTLAND — The odds were still long when Lauren Pickett’s goal trimmed the Messalonskee girls lacrosse team’s Class A state championship deficit to four goals. But the Eagles had a chance.

And when you’re the defending champion and winners of 14 of 15 games for the season, you think a chance is all you need.

“Lacrosse is such a fast-paced game,” Messalonskee coach Crystal Leavitt said. “The game’s not over until the buzzer. That’s our philosophy.”

The confidence and optimism were not enough. Not this time. This time, the undefeated Mustangs of Massabesic made sure of it.

Massabesic scored five unanswered goals in the second half and notched nine of the game’s last 10 scores, earning a 13-4 victory at Portland’s Fitzpatrick Stadium and a dose of vengeance after falling to this same Messalonskee team in this same game a season ago.

“We talked about just finishing it off this year,” Massabesic coach Brooks Bowen said. “We had a big nucleus coming back, just like they did. We thought we’d be facing them again, and we did.”

And for part of the game, it looked like the Eagles might be up to their tricks from last June, particularly when junior midfielder Ally Turner (three goals) scored with 5:40 left in the first half to bring Messalonskee within a goal at 4-3. Massabesic had an answer, scoring four straight goals for an 8-3 lead, but when Pickett, a junior midfielder, scored on a free position with 14:12 left, the Eagles had the time remaining to pull off the load of work still in front of them.

“We’re always just saying ‘The game’s never over, the game’s never over,’ ” Turner said. “Even when we were down by six, we were like ‘You know what? We still have a chance.’ With lacrosse, goals can score quick.”

Massabesic had another answer, however, and this one was a knockout blow. Skyler Renaud’s shot was saved but the sophomore midfielder was able to score on her rebound, and after the Mustangs won the ensuing draw, Madison Drain raced through a seam in the defense and scored to make it 10-4 with 10:38 to go.

Leavitt called a timeout, but it didn’t stop the bleeding. Drain took the ball on the faceoff and raced downfield for a goal just 19 seconds later, and goals by Taylor Manning (three goals) and Morgan Pike (four goals) with 7:51 and 3:30 to play, respectively, put even the resilient Eagles in too deep a hole.

“Last year we showed up first half, second half, every second of the game,” senior midfielder and captain Lydia Dexter said. “I can’t really say that for this game. It was back-and-forth in the first half. Second half, they kind of pulled away, and our defense just kind of let up.”

According to Bowen, he saw a close-out effort from a team refusing to allow a similar ending to last year.

“When they scored and made it 8-4, I thought we really raised our level of play,” he said. “Defensively, we had a great stop, came down and buried one on the fast break, made it 9-4, and then we just kept coming.”

The Mustangs took an early 2-0 lead, but the Eagles drew even when Turner scored first while coming from behind the net, then again 53 seconds later when she gathered a turnover and took it all the way down the field before burying the shot for a 2-2 tie with 14:20 to go in the first half. Massabesic’s Pike and Logan Champlin struck next before Turner came from behind the net again to cut the deficit to 4-3.

With the game tight, the Mustangs countered with a run similar to the one that would eventually put the game out of reach. Pike scored in transition after a save, and Manning, while shorthanded, got by a pair of Eagles in front of her and turned on the jets through the rest of the defense for a 6-3 halftime lead.

Manning notched another shorthanded goal just 1:53 into the second half, and Drain buried her first goal on a free position with 17:56 to go.

“We thought if we just kept up that intensity, we’d keep up with them,” Turner said. “But we just got flat, and our defense started to break down.”

Massabesic’s meanwhile, was tough. The Mustangs flooded the area in front of the goal, causing several Messalonskee ballcarriers to turn back and pass out and try to re-organize the attack. Massabesic also began to double-team the dangerous Eagle scorers, with Turner facing constant pressure whenever she got the ball after the Mustangs’ lead started to mount.

Messalonskee also deprived themselves of some scoring chances, turning the ball over deep in the Massabesic end six times.

“We had a target on our backs, we knew that,” Leavitt said. “We weren’t going to see anything less than 100 percent from that team today.”

“They have an incredible defense, and they put the pressure on,” Dexter said. “But at the same time, we could have moved the ball a lot quicker, seen the gaps with the double- and triple-teams better. They’re good, we didn’t show up and they deserved to win that game.”

The Massabesic players rejoiced as the final seconds ticked off, finally able to celebrate the victory they had been cruelly deprived of last season. But oddly enough, there were few tears, and even some smiles, on the Messalonskee sideline as medals were presented.

As Leavitt pointed out, there are only three seniors leaving this Eagles team. And with the Mustangs set to lose only five seniors, perhaps Part III will be taking place soon enough.

“Honestly, it’s actually encouraging for me,” said Leavitt, whose team consists of eight freshmen. “And now they’ve experienced a situation like this, they’ve been in this environment. … This gives me hope, because I’ve got three more years with some of these girls and I’m really excited about it.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.