BRUNSWICK — Top-seeded Brunswick survived a late rally by Cheverus to advance to the Class A boys’ lacrosse state final for the first time in three years Wednesday night, eking out a 9-8 win over the third-seeded Stags.

The Dragons will play Western Maine champion South Portland at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.

Brunswick returns to the state final after losing to Cheverus in the regional final last season and the regional semifinals in 2012. The teams don’t meet during the regular season.

“These games have been dogfights and this game was no different,” said Cheverus Coach Bill Bodwell, who grew up in Brunswick. “I’m glad we made it close at the end. We were down by three (goals) with seven minutes left, and the boys battled great.”

The Dragons (13-2) took the lead for good midway through the second quarter but never led by more than four goals.

“This was a chess game,” Brunswick Coach Don Glover said. “We practiced coming into this knowing we would have to be patient and poised. There were little (playing) pieces there on the possession part and the groundballs, being composed and so forth.”

For the first time this season, Brunswick used a zone defense. It seemed to slow the high-powered Stags (10-5).

“It took away a lot of their one-on-one (plays), where we probably would have been mismatched,” Glover said. “If we went toe to toe with them, man to man, we probably would not have won tonight. We clogged it up. We played good help defense where guys backed each other up.”

The Dragons opened a 5-2 lead with less than three minutes left in the first half on the first of three goals by Cam Glover.

Cheverus pulled to within a goal three times during the second half.

The Stags lost one of the main cogs in their offense when Jack Sutton, who had a goal and an assist, suffered a separated shoulder early in the third quarter.

“We’re not that deep, and we didn’t have him for most of the second half,” Bodwell said.

The Dragons received strong performances from goalie Chris Mrvichin, who stopped 14 shots, and Ian Schlosser, who won 11 of 18 midfield draws.

“All year, we didn’t rely on one guy,” said Brunswick middie Matt Brooks, who finished with two goals and an assist while intercepting three passes. “We don’t have one guy who does it all. It’s the whole team, and that’s what we pride ourselves in.”

TJ Sullivan scored twice for Brunswick. Christian Glover and Josh Dorr each scored once, and Schlosser, Lucas McCue and Tyler Hillis each had an assist.

Nick Schleh led the Stags with four goals. Tom Lawson had a goal and an assist, James Kane and Patrick O’Hanlon also scored, and Alex Nason had an assist.