READFIELD — Consistency was never in short supply for the Maranacook/Winthrop/Spruce Mountain boys lacrosse team. In fact, if anything, consistency was becoming an all-too-familiar theme.

Few programs at the Class B and, eventually, Class C levels had been winning games as steadily as the Hawks in recent seasons. And just as steadily, those successful seasons were being met with early postseason exits. The Hawks would have that bad game in the quarterfinals. Or run into that juggernaut in the semis. And just like that, another promising season would end with no hardware to show for it.

It definitely got frustrating,” senior midfielder Collin Adair said.

This year, however, has seen an end to the pattern. From a humble eighth seed, the Hawks have made it all the way to the Class C final, their first state championship, with upset wins over No. 1 Oak Hill/Monmouth/Lisbon and No. 4 Gray-New Gloucester paving their way.

Now, the team that never had the bounces go its way is a win over No. 2 North Yarmouth Academy away from a state title. And for the players who weathered those losses, this is a moment worth waiting for.

I’ve been wanting this for all four years, it’s nice to have it finally pay off,” senior goalie Will Hays said. “I know all the younger guys are looking forward to this, it’s great to just get out there and be able to play in this (game).”

And, first-year coach Kyle Dennett said, perhaps turn some heads in the process.

I think people have kind of undercredited us because of where we’re located, and we know the south is a big location for lacrosse in the state of Maine,” he said. “We wanted them to know that we’re up here, we’re ready to play and we’re ready to compete with any of those guys.”

Under previous coach Zach Stewart, the Hawks had turned into one of the state’s strongest programs, making the regional semifinals every year from 2013-17. But while going up against the bigger Class B programs, their luck often changed. The Hawks were bounced in 2011 and ’12 in the Class B North quarters, the next three in the semis, and in 2016 in the final with a 22-5 loss to Yarmouth.

Another loss to Yarmouth, this time by an 11-1 score, bounced the Hawks from the B North semis in 2017. A move to Class C didn’t fare much better; the Hawks lost to Lincoln Academy 13-9 in the quarterfinals.

Rather than accept that they’d be doomed to close calls, however, the players resolved to make the 2019 story end differently.

“After last year, it was just heartbreaking going home early in the playoffs,” junior midfielder Garit Laliberte said. “It’s just like this was our redemption year to show what could have happened if we made it past that game.”

Dennett, who had spent two years on the Hawks’ staff as an assistant, moved up to the head job after Stewart stepped down due to work commitments. And one of the first things the former New England College long-stick midfielder did was have his players write down their goals.

The pretty unanimous goal for the team was to make it to states this year,” he said. “I think these guys are confident in their ability to play. They know how much they’ve grown in the years that they’ve played together, and they have a lot of chemistry together.”

The Hawks knew going in that they were good, but it was actually a loss that convinced them they could be great. In a May 22 game against Brunswick — the defending Class B state champions, and the Class A champs the year before that — the Hawks gave the Dragons a test, falling 13-8 but showing everyone just where their ceiling could be.

Running with them, and shutting (Aiden) Glover down, that was an eye-opener big time for us,” junior defender Jacob Sousa said. “That was crazy, that we could run with them and compete with that team.”

“We’ve never had that close a game with Brunswick, and they have a star-studded lineup there,” Adair said. “It was a loss in the sheets, but it was definitely a mental victory there.”

Up next was the playoffs, where after a win over Fryeburg Academy, the Hawks drew undefeated top seed Oak Hill/Monmouth/Lisbon. At a point where so many seasons had gone sour, Maranacook/Winthrop/Spruce Mountain changed the narrative, getting four goals from Skyler Boucher en route to a stunning 13-12 win.

You could tell they just underestimated us coming into the game,” Laliberte said. “We had a scoring (run) where we scored, like, six in a row on them, and they were just so surprised that we scored that many in a row.”

Next up was Gray-New Gloucester in the semifinals, where this time the script called for defense. Again, the Hawks had the answer. Hays made 13 saves, lifting his team to a come-from-behind 5-4 victory.

“Beating (Oak Hill/Monmouth/Lisbon) really showed that we could hang with the best teams in the league,” Hays said. “And then doing it again, coming back from a deficit against Gray, really showed that we’re able to keep with teams and battle back.”

All of which are lessons that a few postseason defeats in a row can beat out of a team. The Hawks, though never lost faith that their time was coming.

Now, they’re a game away from their season ending with the biggest win of all.

“Every year, you just learn from the year before,” Dennett said. “That’s what this team has done. … It’s just a growing pain. Unfortunately, we felt the pains before the good times, but this year we’re feeling the good times and we’re excited to go to a state championship game.”

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