WALES — A game between the Messalonskee and Oak Hill boys lacrosse teams last year went down as what Eagles head coach Tom Sheridan called one of the season’s most memorables matchups.

The sequel took place Tuesday afternoon — and it was no less exciting as the two teams battled tooth and nail in a game that wasn’t decided until the final minutes.

Messalonskee claimed a 10-9 win over Oak Hill in a cross-class showdown at Stacen Doucette Memorial Field. The Eagles led the Raiders much of the way but had little breathing room as the home team never trailed by more than three and made a late push that fell just short.

“Last year, we beat them 15-12, and it was a competitive game; we had to fight for it right until the end,” Sheridan said. “This one was competitive, too — a little lower-scoring, but I’m glad my guys were able to hold on again this time around and pull out a tough one.”

Cooper LeClair scored four first-half goals to help power Messalonskee to the victory, and Will Durkee and Brady Brunelle had two goals each for the Eagles. Adam Hinkley had a game-high five goals for Oak Hill, which also got two goals from Lukas Bergeron and three assists from Liam Holland.

LeClair wasted no time getting Messalonskee (7-3) on the board, whizzing a shot past Mason Dubois to put the Eagles up 1-0 after just 21 seconds. He would finish with three goals in the first period as Messalonskee also got a tally from Durkee to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 lead entering the second.


“Cooper is usually the third part of our attack, but he’s a really competitive kid, and he went gangbusters today,” Sheridan said. “He’s really tough to stop once he gets rolling, and the kids were being unselfish and just giving it to the open guy. He happened to be the open guy, and he finished it.”

Not about to let the game spiral, though, Oak Hill (7-3) got a goal from Gage Spear with 10:51 left in the half to make it 4-3. The Raiders would then answer goals from LeClair and Brunelle with tallies from Bergeron and Hinkley, respectively, to stay within a goal entering the break. 

After a goal from Walter Fegel a minute into the second half put Messalonskee up 7-5, Durkee scored his second of the game to put the Eagles up three for the first time. They would lead by three twice more at 9-6 and 10-7, but both times, Oak Hill answered with a goal.

“The biggest thing for us was being able to stop them on the faceoffs,” said Oak Hill head coach Joe Hinkley. “Bryce (Crowell) is really good, and we knew that was obviously going to be a challenge. Our kids knew that coming in, but I thought they did a good job. Offensively, when we had chances to score, we scored.”

Trailing 10-8, Oak Hill pulled within one with 34 seconds to play as Hinkley scored his fifth goal. The Raiders had a chance to tie after a turnover with 17 seconds left gave them the ball at their end of the field, but Messalonskee ultimately regained possession and ran out the clock.

The loss was the second in a row to a higher-class opponent for Oak Hill, which fell 7-4 to Portland on Saturday. That loss didn’t sit well with the Raiders, but the effort shown Tuesday, Coach Hinkley said, was one of a team that’s learned some lessons during its recent stretch of play.

“That was the best I’ve seen in a while out of our kids; we brought our A-game for four quarters,” Hinkley said. “We were down on ourselves after that loss to Portland, and we talked about a lot of things, but the biggest thing was keeping our heads up. Today, we just lost to a really good Class B school by one goal.”

It’s the continuation of a tough stretch for Messalonskee, too. Next up for the Eagles is a Friday showdown against a Brunswick team that ended their season in the state semifinals a year ago, something to which LeClair immediately turned his attention following the win.

“I’m already thinking about that,” LeClair said. “We want revenge for last year. They beat us after we beat them in the regular season, and we’re hungry. We just have to keep bringing the intensity in practice and keep getting better.”

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