Messalonskee boys lacrosse coach Tom Sheridan wasn’t the only one with reduced expectations for Chase Warren’s senior season.

“I didn’t think I was going to play at all,” said Warren, who hadn’t played lacrosse since he was in middle school. “Last year, I was watching the playoff game against Lewiston and they lost — and I’m like, man, I have a lot of friends out there. I just wanted to go out there and have some fun with them my senior year.

“I thought, maybe I can play some (midfield) and get into games a little bit here and there.”

To say Warren has exceeded all expectations, from without and from within, would be a significant understatement. Not only has the three-sport standout at Messalonskee been a regular in the lineup this season, he’s been the team’s starting central defender from Day 1.

He’s often tasked with trying to eliminate the opposition’s best player from the equation. Against a perennial thorn in Messalonskee’s side — Brunswick — last week, Warren had the unenviable task of going one-on-one with returning all-conference player Aiden Glover.

Glover finished with only two of Brunswick’s 12 goals.

“His stick skills weren’t as good as everybody else’s,” Sheridan said, “but he’s someone who works really hard and we knew could cover other team’s best players.”

Warren is the first to admit that he’s still very green and lacks a lot of the basic when it comes to lacrosse. But there are two advantages he has.

First, he earned a reputation as a dogged defender during his basketball career at Messalonskee. Second, he’s been a multi-year starter for Sheridan on the school’s varsity soccer team, capable of playing goalkeeper, midfield and on the back line.

Sheridan loves his versatility, and his intelligence.

“When he said he wanted to come out, I knew I’d put him on defense,” Sheridan said. “He’s always been strong defensively in soccer and in basketball. It really transfers well from basketball to lacrosse.

“He’s really able to play tight individual defense, and he’s learning how to position himself on approach. He’s learning how you take things away that attacking players want to do, how you stick check. And then there’s a whole other level of crease slides, zone defense, man-down defense. He’s learning it all at different levels.”

One thing Sheridan never worries about with Warren is his willingness to put the work in.

“I think the biggest thing is his attitude is fantastic,” said Sheridan, who noticed Warren’s willingness to switch positions on the soccer field from season to season, based on what the team needed. “He’s extremely coachable — whatever I order in from sideline or ask him to do, I tell him one time and he’ll do it right away.

“He’s definitely a team guy. Some players, they really try to seek out the attention. He doesn’t do that. He’s a good overall team player, very solid. As a coach, you always wish you had a bunch of kids with that same kind of attitude.”

“I’ll do whatever they want me to do,” said Warren, who spent free time in the offseason on local fields working on passing and catching, with both long and short sticks, trying to make up for lost time. “I’ll even go get water for the team if that’s what they need.”

Warren relies on two-year starters on either side of him on the Messalonskee defense, Nick Poulliot and Matt Trembly. He also has a fierce appetite for game film.

“I love it, I really do. Every single second I can get, I watch it,” Warren said. “I try to watch my mistakes, the things I should work on, what slides I should be in. I watch a lot of man-down stuff and clearing (scenarios). It’s the stuff that I’m not used to — watching, rewinding, seeing what position I’m in or where I should be or what I can do better.”

Sitting fifth in Class B’s statewide division with three games entering Tuesday night’s game at Mt. Ararat, Messalonskee’s defense has been a work in progress in the second half of the season. Sheridan feels like it’s moving in the right direction, particularly after the Eagles allowed 35 goals in consecutive losses to Greely and Cheverus.

It’s been a focal point in practice and with the postseason not that far away, the defense is rounding into form at the right time.

“Man-down is definitely something we’ve struggled with the last couple of games,” Sheridan said. “Our clearing game. It’s the nuances that separate good teams from great teams.”

Warren understands that he’s a key cog in the defensive scheme.

“It is a challenge, I’m not going to lie to you,” he said. “In practice, I try my hardest. I look at film, and I’m thinking in my mind where I should be (on the field). I try to slow it down so when it comes to game time, it will feel natural to me.”

For a player who hadn’t played the game in nearly four years, it looks natural enough.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC