PORTLAND – Matt Flaherty of Deering had just scored twice in 44 seconds to neutralize Cheverus’ two-goal lead.

Stags senior goalie Colm Pusey dug the ball from the cage, took a deep breath and imagined how the rest of the game would play out.

“I knew our defense would clamp down,” he said, “and our young goal scorers like (Tom) Lawson would come through. And then I’d have to stop the ball from there on out.”

And that was that.

Lawson scored his second goal with 7:08 left in the third quarter, and Pusey and his defenders held strong as No. 4 seed Cheverus earned a 4-2 victory over No. 3 Deering in the Eastern Class A boys’ lacrosse final at Memorial Field on Wednesday night.

Cheverus (11-4) advances to the state final Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium against Scarborough, which beat Kennebunk 6-3 in the Western Maine final. It’ll be the Stags’ first state final since 2003.

Deering, which lost the regional final to Lewiston in 2011, finishes at 9-6.

“Deering played a great game,” Lawson said. “They’re aggressive, they played the whole time. We’ve grown up a lot since they beat us 4-2 (in the April 13 opener). We’re a completely different team. This whole playoff experience has been awesome.”

As was Pusey, who finished with 12 saves.

“Colm was the real difference in the game,” Cheverus Coach Deke Andrew said.

“At times he made it look really easy. They were shooting with good velocity and he saw the ball very well.”

“Their goalie was awesome,” Deering Coach Jon Dubois said.

Cam Olson put the Stags up 1-0 just 25 seconds into the second quarter, finishing a 40-yard rush with a shot past Nick Martin (13 saves). Lawson made it 2-0 just 24 seconds later, rolling in from behind the cage to beat Martin low.

Dubois wasn’t too concerned about the deficit. “I knew it was going to be a tighter game than that,” he said. “Our defense was probably going to hold them down, and their goalie would probably hold us down. That proved to be the case in the long run. They played a good transition game on us.”

And the Stags’ transition often started with Pusey.

“He outlets the ball well,” Dubois said.

“In the second half, they got the ball over midfield and possessed it. We possessed the ball well in the first half, but we just couldn’t get the shots to fall on Colm.”

It took Flaherty less than a minute to tie the game. But Lawson scored the winner with 7:08 left in the third, and Tommy Sullivan added a goal in the fourth quarter. Earlier in the game, a full-speed collision drove a player’s helmet into Sullivan’s left hip. Ice between shifts helped in the first half, then tape and adrenaline kept him going in the second.

“It hurt really badly but you have to play,” Sullivan said. “Absolutely not, you can’t think about sitting out when your school has an opportunity like this.”

One that can end with a state title.

“We’re excited,” he said. “We’ll just practice hard, watch some film and get ready for them.”