In the interest of full disclosure, Austin Pelletier had no chance when it came to his lacrosse career.

“My brother was the first one to really play lacrosse,” Pelletier said. “We were baseball players, but I think I was in the third grade when on Christmas I woke up to a lacrosse stick sitting there under the tree. I said, ‘Well, I guess I’m playing lacrosse.'”

The game has certainly served Pelletier well, and he, in turn has served it well, too. For the Messalonskee junior’s efforts this season, he has been chosen as the Morning Sentinel Boys Lacrosse Player of the Year. His teammate, senior Connor Smith, was also considered.

“I really love the creativity of it,” Pelletier, a central midfielder, said of his affinity for the game. “It’s the one reason that it doesn’t matter where I go or what I do, I always have a stick in my hand. It’s why I love watching it, playing it. Seeing some of the things you can do with a stick — see guys bang it around and end it with a great finish — it’s really just a great game.”

Messalonskee went 8-6 this season, advancing all the way to the Class A North semifinals as the No. 3 seed. Considering the number of seniors the Eagles had lost from an equally successful team the season before — including attacking threats Dylan Jones, Will Weeks, Jack Bernatchez and Dylan Burton, among others — Pelletier was one of the reasons Messalonskee was able to return this season without missing a beat.

He’s the quintessential ‘Center X’ player, the type of player who can change the game by doing many of the little things that may go unnoticed — winning face-offs, playing the body in midfield defense, scooping up ground balls and starting the counter-attack.

“It’s not just the goals and assists in lacrosse,” Pelletier said. “It’s banging the ball around, making that second pass — the ‘hockey assist.’ It’s setting screens for each other, creating some space in the offense. That was a big thing for us this year — trying to get other people the ball. We were talking about all the seniors who had graduated, and we knew we had to step up a little bit and get some more goals. I think that was one part of it for me.”

A first-team all-Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference selection, Pelletier isn’t one to rest on what he’s already accomplished in his career. Messalonskee’s go-to face-off man, Pelletier concentrated this year on being able to score goals left-handed, adding a dangerous element to an already high-caliber game.

The 15 goals he scored with his off-hand this season are a source of pride, but he’s far from content.

“I just want to make it sure I’m an ambidextrous player without a real strong hand,” Pelletier said. “I want to work a little on my attack, a little on my defense. I’ve heard form so many coaches over the years that the one day you don’t think you can learn anymore is the one day you’re not getting any better. Every single time I think I can’t learn anymore I learn seven or eight new things.”

Next season will certainly be a challenge for Pelletier, who is playing in a number of leagues, tournaments and showcases this season. The three-sport standout at Messalonskee will be the focus of many opposing game plans during his senior season.

He got a taste of that this year, scoring five or more goals in wins over MCI/Nokomis, Maranacook/Winthrop and Gardiner, but he’s more than happy to let other Eagles have the goals if he can contribute to victories in other ways.

“Defense is definitely going to be huge next year, especially knowing some of the other kids in the midfield on other teams,” Pelletier said. “Making a huge hit, getting the ground ball, playing the body to gain possession and seeing someone score a goal off of that, those are big parts of the game, too. Those are huge momentum changers.”

And, it turns out, one of the best presents Pelletier could give the Eagles.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC


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