Brunswick  won the Class A state title two years ago. The Dragons won it all in Class B last year.

So it makes sense that the rest of the coaches in the class are opting to wait before tabbing a new favorite.

“Brunswick’s got 23 seniors,” Gardiner coach K.C. Johnson said. “So out of the chute, they should be the most promising.”

Members of the Messalonskee boys lacrosse team practices at Thomas College in Waterville on March 27. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

The Dragons will still face tough opposition. Messalonskee should be good. Camden Hills should be strong, along with Johnson’s own Tigers. And the southern gauntlet — Greely, Yarmouth and York — looms as well.

“There are some big boys in that conference,” Johnson said.

Gardiner has the pieces in place to return to form after a lackluster 6-8 season. The midfield, led by seniors Tanner Hebert, Jake Weston and Matt Boynton, is experienced and will be a strength, as will a a defense led by seniors Garrett Maheux and Cam Michaud.

The key is the attack, which has size to its advantage but not experience.

“(There are) a lot of raw athletes that played a lot of different sports throughout the year,” Johnson said. “I think the lacrosse I.Q. is there, but it’s got to be the buy-in. … We could have some talent this year. We have a very quick defense, our midfield is seasoned.”

Messalonskee has some talent returning from a team that reached the Class B semifinals. Wade Carter is back in goal, Brennen Francis and Josh Languet are scoring threats and coach Tom Sheridan likes the chances of newcomers — like sophomore midfielder Luke Buck and freshman attack Rhys Bridges — to break through.

“(We have) a lot of guys that have been part of the team, but now they get pushed into a bigger role,” Sheridan said. “Instead of relying on three or four kids to score, this group could have eight or nine kids with multiple goals (in a game).”

Cony will look for a strong season under new coach Jake Whitaker, a former assistant with the team. The offense, led by Nic Mills, Micqueas Biasuz and Ian Bowers, should be an asset.

The boys are really coming together this year with some strong upperclassmen leaders,” Whitaker said. “This team is looking to win and is willing to put in the work to make that happen.”

Lawrence and Mt. Blue missed the postseason last year and will look to close the gap — and even slip into the playoff fold. Lawrence plays its first full season under Dan Brannigan, who inherited an 0-9 squad and won each of his three games at the helm last season.

The Bulldogs have over 30 players on the roster, and while many are newcomers to the sport, Brannigan said the team’s depth should be a strength.

The hunger and desire to put the Lawrence lacrosse program on the map is there from top to bottom,” he said. “If it all comes together this year then the ‘Dogs will be a team to be feared.”

Kevin Averill at Mt. Blue is also optimistic his team can be turning a corner after back-to-back 2-10 seasons. The Cougars are quick on defense and talented on the offensive end.

We have a really good young nucleus that will continue to grow together throughout the season,” Averill said. “If we are able to play within our abilities and to our strengths, I see us getting into the playoffs.”

 

CLASS C

It’s anybody’s race in Class C, where there are several strong teams but no juggernauts in the field. North Yarmouth Academy, Fryeburg Academy, Lincoln Academy and Waynflete might be the favorites, but Winslow coach Dakota Gendreau said they’re not the only contenders.

“I feel there’s a good group of five teams that are competing for a state championship,” Winslow coach Dakota Gendreau said. “It is a wide-open scene.”

Gendreau’s Black Raiders could find themselves in the mix, too. The team returns some considerable scoring punch, particularly in the form of seniors Isaac Lambrecht and Jared Lambert and sophomores Hunter Gagne and A.J. Carey.

“I would see us as definitely a playoff contender,” Gendreau said. “We’re a team that’s going to be playing for one of those 10 spots.”

Maranacook/Winthrop has a new coach in Kyle Dennett, and he has a team that should be a tough matchup in Class C. In players like Garit Laliberte, Owen Austin, Skyler Boucher and goalie Will Hays, the Hawks have both the talent and experience to make a run at the semifinals or beyond.

“We have a bunch of guys who have had playoff experience,” Dennett said, “but we still intend to be seated well going into Class C playoffs. We anticipate (making) a deep run in playoffs this year.”

Erskine has KVAC All-Stars Gavin Blanchard and Cameron Tyler back from a team that snuck into the playoffs last year, and the Eagles are playoff hopefuls this year as well.

We have some holes to fill but I am happy to see that my guys came in excited and ready to get things rolling,” coach Jason Wade said. “We are optimistic about our chances to compete.”

Oak Hill/Monmouth/Lisbon had another solid season last year, and a strong group of attackers and defenders should help the Raiders stay competitive despite a midfield looking to improve. Meanwhile, in its third season as a varsity program, MCI/Nokomis is eyeing a more competitive season after a 4-8 campaign.

Defense was last year’s challenge,” coach Chris Hopkins said. “(We) need to get much better at man-to-man body position defense and slides transitions.”

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Garit Laliberte, Maranacook/Winthrop: Junior midfielder was an all-KVAC pick and will be a top scoring threat for the Hawks.

Nic Mills, Cony: If senior can recover from knee surgery during wrestling season, he’ll give the Rams a formidable presence at midfield

Gavin Blanchard, Erskine: Senior was an all-KVAC pick and is one of the best faceoff specialists in Class C.

Cam Michaud, Gardiner: Senior is the leader of a Tigers defense that coach KC Johnson feels will be a strength this season.

Josh Languet, Messalonskee: Junior was part of a deep scoring attack last year, but will be counted on to play a bigger role for Eagles.

GAMES TO WATCH

April 27: Greely at Messalonskee

May 11: Gardiner at Maranacook/Winthrop

May 14: Messalonskee at Brunswick

May 18: Erskine at Winslow

May 29: Gardiner at Cony

PREDICTED CHAMPS

Class B: Brunswick

Class C: North Yarmouth Academy

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