WATERBORO — The Massabesic girls lacrosse team entered this postseason in an unfamiliar position: the favorite.

So far, the tag is suiting it just fine.

The Mustangs lived up to the ranking Saturday night, using its athleticism to get on the fast break and an aggressive, attacking defense to beat fourth-seeded Marshwood 11-9 in a Western Class A regional semifinal at Massabesic High School.

It was the 13th victory on the trot for the Mustangs (13-1), who are now one win away from a return trip to the state title game. They’ll host second-seeded Thornton Academy (11-3) in the regional final on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

“We’re used to being the underdogs, so there’s a lot of pressure from being the top seed,” Massabesic defender Jolena Lampron said. “But we just went out and played our game. Everything came together.”

Lampron keyed Massabesic’s defensive effort, forcing eight turnovers as she time and time again was able to get into passing lanes to pick the Hawks off and start breaks the other way. Marshwood (9-5) turned the ball over 13 times in each half, with Lampron’s last caused turnover with 30 seconds to play, ending any Hawks’ hopes.

“It was tough. Turnovers got us in trouble early, and it got a hold of us,” Marshwood coach Bernie Marvin said. “They’re a very aggressive defense. They fill in well at the back, and they come out hard and really pressure.”

Seven different players scored for Massabesic, while junior Lindsey Poirier was a one-girl wrecking crew for Marshwood, scoring its final eight goals after assisting on the first. Despite many times being double and triple teamed by the Mustangs’ backer defense, Poirier was able to finish in heavy traffic multiple times, also helping the Hawks to a 14-8 advantage at the draw circle.

“She’s got stick skills, and she’s really poised catching the ball in traffic,” Massabesic coach Brooks Bowen said of Poirier. “She has great feet, and she places her shots very well on the net. If you give her the whole net to shoot at she’ll find the spot, so our game plan coming in was to make sure we had somebody on her right hand. We didn’t always get there in time, but it worked well enough.”

The teams traded goals three times to start the game, with a pair of Poirier free-position goals 24 seconds apart giving Marshwood its first lead at 4-3 after 15 minutes. But Massabesic retook the lead thanks to a pair of goals created by Rayne Whitten, who scored to tie the game back up, and then drove the Hawks net before dishing to Maquila DiMastrantonio on the crease for an easy finish.

Delia Sylvain then put the Mustangs up 6-4 on a free-position goal, but Poirier got the Hawks back within one with 1:39 left in the half thanks to a great centering pass from her sister, Annalise.

Marshwood won the resulting draw and had a chance to head into the half tied, but Lampron stepped in, literally, to ensure that didn’t happen, starting a fast break as she stepped in front of a pass to cause an interception.

“Coach’s big thing is anticipating,” Lampron said. “When you anticipate, you get the steal, and that worked out today.”

Lampron then moved the ball up to the midfield line, where Whitten picked up a ground ball and charged at the Massabesic cage, drawing the defense before sliding a pass to Karlie Pike, who rolled the cage and sent her shot past goalie Emily Kahler to give the Mustangs a 7-5 edge at the break after a quick-paced first half.

“We know each other well enough, and historically its always one of those types of fast-paced games,” Bowen said. “You never do really feel comfortable when these two teams come together, so we expected a game just like that.”

After Sylvain and Poirier swapped goals to open the second half, Massabesic took its first three-goal lead thanks to another long transition move, starting when MacKenzie Kidder picked up a loose ground ball and sent a 30-yard pass to a waiting DiMastrantonio at the midfield line.

With the field opened up, DiMastrantonio turned and charged, ending her run 40 yards later with a leaping left-handed shot to put her team up 9-6.

“I saw an opportunity,” DiMastrantonio said. “That was about playing with poise. On the fast breaks, it takes a lot to slow down and make the right decisions, and we’re getting the hang of that.”

Goals from Whitten and Emma Desrochers then made it 11-6 Massabesic with 7:55 to play. Poirier made one last charge, scoring three-straight goals ”“ and having another shot nicely saved by Massabesic goalie Megan Hill ”“ to get the Hawks back within two with 2:45 to play.

But Alexis Foglio controlled the next faceoff, and the Mustangs ran all but a minute off the clock before Marshwood was able to get the ball back, with Lampron making one last defensive play to stop the Hawks’ counterattack and seal things up.

Next up for Massabesic is Thornton Academy, the team the Mustangs started their winning streak against with a 12-6 victory. But that was back on May 2, and Lampron said her team knows plenty has changed for both teams over the ensuing six weeks.

“TA has improved a lot from the beginning of the season,” Lampron said. “I don’t really think that first game means much now. It’s going to be an awesome game. It will be just whoever comes ready.”

— Staff Writer Cameron Dunbar can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 323 or [email protected]

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