Massabesic came out of halftime with a short to-do list: Focus on the ball. And move your feet.
The Mustangs did both. Jackie Guillemette scored three goals in 1:16 to send Massabesic to a 13-7 win over Portland in a Class A girls’ lacrosse match Tuesday at Fitzpatrick Stadium.
“We had a little scolding (at halftime),” Guillemette said. “We got our heads back on our shoulders, started spacing out and creating better shots.”
The change was needed. After building a 3-0 lead in the opening 14 minutes, the Mustangs gave up goals to Ellis Linsmith (11 minutes left), Ella Coose (1:55) and Hallie Allex (7.2 seconds) to go into the break at 3-3.
Portland’s high-pressure defense, led by Coose, Linsmith, Erin Mahoney and Isabel Stehli, kept the ball pinned in Massabesic’s end. The Mustangs were 2 of 11 clearing the ball in the opening 25 minutes (15 of 19 overall), as Portland midfielders Laura Frank and Lizzy Landry gathered ground balls and picked off errant passes forced by defensive pressure.
“In the first half we weren’t focused and our passing was pretty awful,” said Massabesic center midfielder Rayne Whitten. “It might be the bleachers. During warm-ups I couldn’t see the ball (with bleachers in the background.) In general, though, it was a lack of focus.”
Both teams suffered from dropped balls that killed the flow of the game.
“We had open players, we just weren’t passing well,” said Massabesic Coach Brooks Bowen. In the second half “we started getting comfortable in our sets and moving the ball around.”
The results were almost instantaneous. MacKenzie Kidder’s shot went off the near post and in at 22:13 of the second half to put the Mustangs up, 4-3. A minute later, Merritt Ryan of Portland collected a ground ball and went to the cage to make it 4-4.
Guillemette then scored three straight, putting in a ground ball (5-4), a clever backhand (6-4) and a free position (7-4).
Whitten, who was an astounding 17 of 21 on draws, added four second-half goals to put the game out of reach.
“We’ve been asking (Whitten) to move her feet a little more to create better angles for her shots,” Bowen said. “That’s what you saw in the second half. She started moving the goalie around a little bit and taking better shots.”
Abbey O’Brien of Portland (1-1) made 16 saves, including three on free positions in the first half to hold off the Mustangs (2-1). Megan Hill finished with six saves for the Mustangs.
For Portland, the game provides a valuable early-season lesson.
“At the start of the second half we had a little bit of a defensive breakdown and dug ourselves a hole we couldn’t quite get out of,” said Portland Coach Cameron McManus. “We found some things to work on. I’m proud of the girls for fighting through to the end. The score got away from us but they kept their heads up and stayed in it.”