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Achieved milestones and memorable playoff runs highlight the season

Owen Lyons of Maranacook/Winthrop cradles the ball as he circles Kaiden Delano of Oak Hill/Monmouth/Lisbon/St. Dom’s on May 6 in Wales. Daryn Slover / Sun Journal

In one of the very first workouts of the year, Dan Brannigan set a target date of June 15.

The new head coach of the Maranacook/Winthrop boys lacrosse team, Brannigan, was still getting acquainted with his new squad after years as an assistant at nearby Oak Hill. It didn’t take long for him to figure out that his new team needed big goals.

“I remember being with them the first week and saying, ‘Guys, we can make waves this year and compete for a state title,’” Brannigan said. “The boys looked at me strangely, but I knew we had the potential if we put it together. I knew we could be there in the very last game.”

Maranacook/Winthrop did that by averaging 15.6 goals per game while going 15-2 and reaching the Class C title game for only the second time in program history. The Hawks’ run marked a year of many achievements in central Maine, which also included several players reaching career milestones with 100 goals.

Bennett Ross (96 points) led the midfield for Maranacook/Winthrop, which also had a strong season from forward Ethan Chilton and goalkeeper Lucas Woodruff. Then there was Owen Lyons, who scored a whopping 121 points and scored his 100th career goal on May 6 against Oak Hill.

“I nicknamed him ‘Silk’ because he’s so slick,” Brannigan said of Lyons. “There was one game this year where I pulled him aside at halftime and said, ‘Hey, you’re my senior leader; I need you.’ He said, ‘Coach, I’ve got four goals on seven shots.’ I looked at the stat sheet and thought, ‘Huh, you’re right.’ He’s such a natural athlete and he can have a big game and you don’t even know it.”

Elsewhere in Class C, Oak Hill, led by dangerous forward Adam Hinkley, also had a strong season, going 10-6 and reaching the state semifinals. The Raiders tied 8-8 with Wells in that semi-final before ultimately falling 13-10.

Erskine Academy finished 7-8.

After reaching their first state title game a year ago, the Messalskee boys team had another strong season in Class B in 2024. The Eagles finished 13-3, outscoring their opponents by an average of 5.4 goals per game and half reached state finals (16). -6 loss to York) for the fourth consecutive season.

Messalonskee’s Brady Brunelle, the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Large School Player of the year, had 54 goals and 45 assists and finished with 320 career points. Ryan Parent added 61 goals and 24 assists for the Eagles, and Owen Kirk recorded 45 caused turnovers and 85 groundballs.

Led by KVAC Small School Player of the Year Chase Ranger and Coach of the Year Matt Reynolds, Mt. Blue is coming off a 10-5 season in Class B. Gardiner, led by two KVAC Small first-teamers in midfielder Cody Dingwell and FOGO Zach Kristan, had its winningest season since 2017 at 9-6.

Messalonskee’s Tyler Hansen, right, is slowed by Owen Chadwick (29) and Gardiner’s Owen Grant during a May 30 match in Gardiner. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

On the girls side, Messalonskee entered 2024 with a possible rebuild after losing head coach Crystal Leavitt and several key seniors from a year ago. Still, the Eagles kept up their winning ways, going 10-6 with a state semifinal berth under new head coach Cora Clukey.

“We had some brand new guys that became some of our trusted players,” Clukey said. “We had to get back to the basics, as far as catching and throwing, stick checking and things like that. We put a lot of work in – the players and coaches all did – and it was great to see it all click by the end of the season.”

The highlight of Messalonskee’s season was the Class B quarterfinals against No. 3 Brunswick. The Dragons had defeated the Eagles 13-5 in the season opener, but in the June 8 playoff rematch, Messalonskee rallied from an early deficit to claim a 10-5 victory.

“We were down 2-0, and I remember specifically not calling a timeout,” Clukey said. “Between quarters I just said, ‘Two goals is nothing, guys.’ We had great passes and we just weren’t ready. In the second quarter we scored two goals, which were among the best team goals, and from then on it all clicked.”

Cony’s Kate Morin tries to take the ball from Messalonskee’s Emma-Jane Parsons during a girls lacrosse game May 24 in Oakland. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

Messalonskee had one of the top scorers anywhere in the state in senior EJ Parsons, who scored 71 goals in her second season playing lacrosse. Chloe Masse also had a strong season in midfield for the Eagles, whose season ended with an 18-1 loss to eventual runners-up Greely in the semi-finals.

One of Messalonskee’s Class B rivals, Cony, also faced some question marks entering the season with just one senior, Maci Freeman. But like the Eagles, the Rams also found success as they surpassed double-digit wins for the third straight season at 10-5.

“We were unsure because we lost seven seniors, three of whom went on to play at the collegiate level, but our freshmen and sophomores really stepped up and we also had a few juniors step in that we didn’t expect to be involved were coming,” said Cony head coach Gretchen Livingston. “We were excited about what we could achieve as such a young team.”

Freeman and junior Abby Morrill, both first-team selections from KVAC Small School, each reached the 100-goal milestone in their careers. Freeman had 42 goals and 24 assists for the Rams, and Morrill added 48 goals and 16 assists. Cony fell 18-1 in the semifinals to eventual state champion Greely.

Led by first-team All-KVAC Small School midfielder Chloe Roberts, who scored 47 goals and added 29 assists, Mt. Blue had its third straight winning season at 8-7. Gardiner just missed the Class B playoffs at 7-7, while the new Lawrence/Winslow co-op finished 3-11.

In Class C, Maranacook trailed one of his own career scorers in Ashley DeSchamp 14-2 to reach the Class C semifinals. Erskine Academy went 8-7 and posted its first winning season in five years.

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