A couple of twists greet the central Maine high school lacrosse season when the season starts this week.

First, the schedule has been beefed up to 14 games from 12. This puts the high school slate more in line with its college brethren; Colby’s men’s and women’s teams play 15 games each, for example.

“To get the girls out on the field and playing their sport (more) is a big plus,” Messalonskee girls coach Crystal Leavitt said of the new schedule. “They can’t gain experience unless they play. So play, play, play; that’s what I’m about.”

Many area teams also have a newcomer on the schedule: Houlton, which joins the varsity ranks after several years as a club program. The boys’ nearest rivals — Bangor, Brewer and Hampden — are about 120 miles away, and their schedule includes MCI/Nokomis (about 150 miles), Lawrence/Winslow (170) and Erskine Academy (175). 

The Shires’ girls schedule features Lawrence, Winslow, Erskine, MCI/Nokomis, Cony (195), Maranacook/Winthrop (200 miles), Gardiner (200). 

Closer to home, Leavitt’s Eagles have some unfinished business after earning the top seed in the Class B tourney, only to fall to No. 9 Brunswick in the quarterfinals. Messalonskee graduated a talented group of seniors that included Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Player of the Year Francesca Caccamo, but the Eagles return several veterans, including seniors Shea Cassani (goal), Madi Doody (attack), Julia Wade (midfield,) Alivia Johnston (defense), Nealey Dillon (defense) and Abigail Klinge (attack).


“We have a good group back, for sure,” Leavitt said.

Cony reached the Class B semis last year, where it lost to eventual state champ Greely. The Rams lost five starters, including two now playing in the college ranks (Raegan Bechard, Southern Maine; Emma Doiron, Husson), but they bring back 11 players who either started or saw significant playing time last year. Seniors Madison Chavarie (in third year in goal), Jasmyne Mills (defense), Ashley Tobias (defense) Azabell Assaf (midfield), Dinah Wadleigh (midfield/attack), junior Maci Freeman (midfield) and sophomore Abby Morrill (midfield) all started last season. 

In the quarterfinals, Cony defeated Gardiner/Hall-Dale, which after an 11-3 performance last season, will look to go deeper into the playoffs.

Mt. Blue, which went 9-5 and reached the regional quarterfinals last year as a second-year program, returns eight seniors, including all-KVAC second-team selections Emma Dunn (midfield) and Callahan Towle (defense).

Lawrence, under first-year coach Kaitlyn Daly, brings back captains Madison Chamberlain, Whitney Churchill and Kaylee Nutter to a team that lost in the opening round of last year’s Class B tourney.

Cony goalie Madison Chavarie is hugged by teammates after the Rams defeated Gardiner in a Class B girls lacrosse quarterfinal game Saturday in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“We have a lot of new athletes and have already seen a lot of growth within the first two weeks,” Daly said.


In Class C, Maranacook/Winthrop’s season ended much like Messalonskee’s — a top seeding followed by an early exit in the quarterfinals. The Black Bears bring back eight starters, including senior goalie Stella Lauter and classmate Lily Caban, an all-KVAC second-team midfielder last year. 

The team also boasts an incoming freshman class of 14 athletes, many of whom have years of experience, second-year coach Sarah Caban said in an email.

“With 30 players to form full Varsity and JV teams, we are starting to benefit from the all the local community’s efforts to develop women’s lacrosse in central Maine,” Caban said. “It should be a very exciting season.”

On the boys’ side, Messalonskee looks to get over the hump after falling to eventual state champ Brunswick in last year’s Class B semifinals, a loss that denied the Eagles their first trip to a state final. Messalonskee returns senior attackmen Will Durkee and Walter Fegel, who each surpassed 40 goals last season. Midfield classmate Bryce Crowell is one of the top face-off specialists in the state, according to 28th-year coach Tom Sheridan, and junior midfielder Brady Brunelle and senior defender Landen White are also expected to contribute. 

“We are playing some of the top teams in the state, so hopefully it will prepare us for a good season,” Sheridan said in an email. “We have many of our top scorers from last season and we are hungry to get back to the playoffs and play our best lacrosse in June.”

Gardiner, which was knocked out in the first round of last year’s Class B playoffs, returns 11 players, including all-KVAC first-team defender Cam Laselle. Midfielders Cody Dingwell, Cole Brann, Nathanael Luiz, Kayden Weston, Kole Johnson and Grayson Allumbaugh also return, as do defenders Evan Michaud, Wilson Roberts, Shawn Soucy and Garret Doyle.


Messalonskee boys lacrosse player Bryce Crowell looks over at a drill during a March 29 practice in Oakland. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

The Tigers also welcome 10 newcomers, including some who are new to the sport, coach KC Johnson said.

“We will be at work in progress and I’m looking forward to see this team grow as one cohesive unit,” Johnson said.

Cony also has several players new to lacrosse this season. The Rams, who went 5-7 last year, bring back goalkeeper Elijah Beland, attackers Kyle Van Doren Crooker and Nick Geneseo, defender Killian Arnold and midfielder Josh Barrett.

“We’re pretty young, but our numbers are up from last year,” third-year coach Kyle Gleason said.

Mt. Blue looks to build upon last year’s 4-8 record, which included five games that went to overtime. The Cougars return 13 players, including co-captains Dustyn Hinkley, Levi Bogar and Chase Ranger, all midfielders. The feeder program has expanded to the second grade, which should help the high school team in the long run, fourth-year coach Matt Reynolds said.

“Over the course of the next few years, we should only be getting stronger,” Reynolds said. “This team is very close and has been playing together for several years now.”

In Class C, Marnacook/Winthrop has a young team with only two seniors a year after earning a No. 3 seed in the tourney, only to lose to eventual state champion Waynflete in the quarterfinals. None of the five Hawks who made last year’s all-KVAC team — including 53-goal scorer Wyatt Lyons — return, but the team brings back senior midfielder Chase McLaughlin and attckman Aidan Guimond.

Oak Hill/Lisbon/Monmouth/St.Dom’s also fell to Waynflete in the playoffs and also lost a scoring ace in Tiger Hopkins. Returning seniors Alex Hinkley (defense), Nic Michaud (goal), Dom Trott (long-stick midfielder) and Liam Holland (attack) are displaying strong leadership toward the young players as they adjust to the varsity game, coach Joey Hinkley said.

“We have some big holes to fill this year, which will be tough, but overall the kids are doing great and excited for the year,” Joey Hickley said.

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