Messalonskee’s Josh Languet (18) celebrates the first goal of the game for Messalonskee against Camden Hills on Friday in Oakland. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

OAKLAND — There was plenty of pressure on the Messalonskee boys lacrosse team ahead of its season opener Friday night.

Pressure on a young team trying to replace a sizable chunk of its roster from a year ago. Pressure on an untested defensive group. Pressure to find goals. Pressure to perform in key man-down situations.

Most of all, there was the pressure of being the first team to take to the new turf field on the school’s campus.

“We were a little stressed out being the first ones on the field,” Messalonskee head coach Tom Sheridan said. “I’ve been coaching here 25 years, and I feel like they put a lot of pressure on me  sending me out here first. But it worked out OK.”

Messalonskee’s Ethan Mattson (23) kicks up some turf as he evades Camden Hills defenders Nicholas Task (4) and Jackson Fitch (24) on Friday at Messalonskee High School in Oakland. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

Despite a slow start which led to conceding three of the game’s first four goals, the Eagles let the pressure turn their performance into a diamond in a 7-5 Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference win over Camden Hills. Josh Languet scored five goals for Messalonskee, while Wade Carter made eight saves to preserve the victory.

“It felt like a lot of fun out there,” Lanquet said of the new home field. “Working on it, practicing this week, felt great. It’s a little bit hard, but I’m getting used to it. It’s definitely helped the team out.”

“I love this field,” Carter said. “It’s a lot different than going over to Thomas College, because we now we get to stay right at home. I love staying home, don’t get me wrong — but getting out and playing lacrosse is a lot better.”

Camden Hills opened up a 3-1 lead with goals from Kieran McGrath, Sylvan Eichenlaub and Charlie Griebel sandwiched around a late-first quarter goal from Languet.

But then the Eagles got things going in the second quarter, scoring four goals in less than three minutes to build a 5-3 lead. Languet scored two of them, with Luke Buck and Trevor Norton also putting their names on the scoresheet.

Lanquet made it five unanswered goals going into halftime with his fourth strike with 38.1 seconds left in the second period.

“I don’t think we went into the game too confident,” Carter said. “Once we found our confidence, we got going. Some of our guys are really talented… and they started to realize they can be great players. I’m excited to see where it ends up.”

Languet’s role has been significantly raised this spring, with the graduations of Colin Kinney and Dawson Charles.

“We replaced 15 kids from last year’s roster. That’s two-thirds of our team,” Sheridan said. “Josh has been getting better every game. He worked hard in the offseason to get ready, and he had a good game. He had some good ones this preseason. I think when other guys get more comfortable around him, he’ll get even better.”

“A lot of people doubted us, because we lost a lot of seniors last year,” Languet said. “I’m trying to be more of a leader out there. I’m trying to communicate more with the boys. With attack, you’ve always got to be there and be ready to get whatever goals and assists you can.”

Messalonskee goalie Wade Carter, back, makes a save Friday in Oakland. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

His fifth goal, while a man-up, in the third quarter provided a key insurance marker.

The Windjammers cut the deficit to 7-5 through goals from Noah Quesnel and McGrath, and they appeared to have a rally in them with 8:50 remaining in the game.

But Carter made a point-blank stop on Griebel, and then the Eagles killed off a full two-minute man advantage for Camden Hills while allowing just two shots over the span.

Still, Messalonskee’s work was not quite done. Camden Hills dominated possession over the final seven minutes of play — but there was little penetration through the middle of the Eagle defense led by Parker Brunelle, Andrew Laverdiere and Adam Dewitt.

“Practicing this week was kind of mediocre, but what I just saw at the end of that game was not mediocre,” Carter said. “That was above anything that I expected, and I loved it. They’re all brand new guys, but they worked their hardest and killed it and made my job a lot easier.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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