OAKLAND — It was a thing of beauty — a moment in which you could tell just what kind of day this was going to be for the Messalonskee boys lacrosse team. 

It started in near disaster with just under nine minutes left in the first half against Gardiner on Wednesday as the Tigers fired a shot off the post. His team having survived by inches, the Eagles’ Tatum Doucette picked up a loose ball in the defensive half and survived a tough stick check from a Gardiner player.

From there, Doucette effortlessly made his way through the Gardiner defense before finding Walter Fegel, who turned and fired home a magnificent goal. It was a play that was the essence of an eight-goal first half that powered Messalonskee to a 10-3 victory over the visiting Tigers.

“They were chirping, so when I scored, that felt good,” said Fegel, a senior attacker. “(Tatum) made a great play down there, and I got trucked, did a backward somersault and turned around and celebrated with the team.”

Fegel (three goals, two assists) and Brady Brunelle (five first-half goals) had big games for Messalonskee, which got its two remaining goals from Cooper LeClair and Jack Kinney. Cole Brann (two goals, one assist) led the way for Gardiner with Brayden Elliot adding the Tigers’ other tally.

Messalonskee (2-0) came out hot out of the gate, getting goals from Fegel and LeClair inside the first two minutes. The Eagles next got two goals from Brunelle, both assisted by Fegel, before Brann scored with 32 seconds left in the opening quarter to put Gardiner on the board.


“I think Walter and Cooper getting those two goals for us right away really set the tone,” Brunelle said. “Gardiner is kind of a rivalry, so whenever you can have something like that happen right away, it really kicks you right off. It was really nice for us to get that.”

After Brunelle scored his third goal with 10:12 left in the first half, Fegel made it 6-1 after Doucette made that long run over the length of the field to find him near the goal. Brunelle then added two more goals to give the Eagles a comfortable lead going into the break.

Messalonskee scored only twice in the second half with Gardiner (1-1) showing a lot more after Fegel’s third goal put the Eagles up 9-1. With the Eagles staying sound defensively, though, the result was never in doubt as the home team responded to two goals from the Tigers by shutting them out over the last 15 minutes.

Messalonskee’s Walter Fegel, left, is defended by Gardiner’s Casey Paul during Wednesday’s lacrosse game at Messalonskee High School in Oakland. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

“Our defense definitely stepped up and played a great game today,” Messalonskee head coach Tom Sheridan said. “We communicated well on slides and stuff like that. This year, we haven’t had a whole lot of chances to play somebody who can put us on defense for a while, so it was good to see that and see where the kids are at.”

Messalonskee’s effort came, as Sheridan noted, against a Gardiner offense that had scored goals in flurries in its season opener Monday against Cony. Cody Dingwell, Kole Johnson, Nate Luiz and Casey Paul, who scored a combined 10 goals in that 16-1 win over the Rams, were held goalless Wednesday.

Sheridan was quick to point out that Messalonskee’s offense was a bit out of sync in the second half, one in which the Eagles, in his words, “did a few things outside the norm.” Yet thanks to some alert plays against a relatively inexperienced Gardiner defense in the first half, his team had effectively put the game to bed by that point.

“What was working well was our midfield going straight down the alley and taking advantage of their slides,” Fegel said. “Their defense was confused; I think they have a newer defense, and we were able to take advantage of that and get some good shots.” 

Messalonskee’s success on defense, of course, helped, too — and even on one of the rare occasions where the Eagles were not at their best on that end of the field, they were still able to turn what could have been a disaster into gold.

“When you’re aggressive and get after it in transition, that’s what can happen,” Sheridan said. “I thought we definitely played well today. There were some things we could have done better, but hey, coulda-woulda-shoulda.”

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