South Portland senior Mary Cronin scores a goal in the first half of Thursday’s 17-6 home loss to Massabesic.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.


Massabesic 17 South Portland 6

M- 11 6- 17
SP- 4 2- 6

First half
24:46 M DiMastrantonio (unassisted)
24:11 SP Leckie (K. Brown)
23:28 M DiMastrantonio (unassisted)
21:16 M Sylvain (unassisted)
18:53 M Ring (DiMastrantonio)
18:24 M DiMastrantonio (Sylvain)
15:41 M Ring (unassisted)
15:25 SP Cronin (Hasson)
13:46 SP Hasson (free position)
12:16 M DiMastrantonio (unassisted)
10:53 M Drain (free position)
9:11 M Sylvain (Renaud)
8:10 M Sylvain (unassisted)
4:15 SP Cronin (Walker)
23.9 M DiMastrantonio (unassisted)

Second half
23:22 M DiMastrantonio (Sylvain) (MAN-UP)
19:05 M Sylvain (unassisted)
15:52 SP Hasson (Walker)
14:30 M Drain (unassisted)
13:27 M DiMastrantonio (unassisted)
6:16 M Irish (Ring)
2:15 M Irish (unassisted)
6.5 SP Leckie (free position) 

M- DiMastrantonio 7, Sylvain 4, Drain, Irish, Ring 2
SP- Cronin, Hasson, Leckie 2

M- Sylvain 2, DiMastrantonio, Renaud, Ring 1
SP- Walker 2, K. Brown, Hasson 1

Draws (South Portland, 14-10)
M- DiMastrantonio 9 of 22, Drain 1 of 1, Rutledge 0 of 1
SP- Cronin 12 of 18, Fleming 1 of 5, Hasson 1 of 1

Ground balls (Massabesic, 35-32)
M- Drain 9, Pike 6, DiMastrantonio 5, Champlin 4, Ouellette 3, Ring, Russell, Sylvain 2, Desrochers, Messina 1
SP- Hasson 9, Backman 4, Cronin, Fleming 3, Boyce, K. Brown, Cummings, Haynes 2, Z. Brown, Cyr, Leckie, Porterfield, Walker 1

M- 13
SP- 25

M- 31
SP- 16

Shots on cage
M -25
SP- 12

M (Wasina) 6
SP (Z. Brown) 8 

SOUTH PORTLAND—South Portland’s young girls’ lacrosse team has made some great strides this spring, but the Red Riots discovered Thursday evening at Martin Memorial Field just how far they still have to go to be part of the state’s elite.

Visiting Massabesic, a team that’s surprisingly unheralded, came to town riding a nine-game win streak and quickly made a statement at South Portland’s expense.

Just 14 seconds in, after winning the initial draw, Mustangs senior standout Maquila DiMastrantonio scored unassisted to set the tone.

The Red Riots tied the score when Jena Leckie, one of the team’s many promising freshmen, finished a feed from junior Kayla Brown, but Massabesic scored five straight goals, as DiMastrantonio finished twice and assisted on a third, to help open up a 6-1 lead.

South Portland got goals from its senior standouts, Mary Cronin and Maddie Hasson, to pull back within three, but two more DiMastrantonio unassisted tallies helped the Mustangs open up a commanding 11-4 advantage at halftime.

While the Red Riots played hard throughout, they were simply outclassed on this night and Massabesic gradually pulled away, induced a mercy rule running clock and went on to a 17-6 victory.

The Mustangs got seven goals from DiMastrantonio and four more from senior Delia Sylvain as they won their 10th game in a row, improved to 10-1 and dropped South Portland to 6-5 in the process.

“I’m not disappointed in my girls, unfortunately, (Massabesic is just) stronger,” said Red Riots coach Leslie Dyer. “They were older and stronger and much better than what I was expecting. They’re the strongest team that we’ve seen so far. They’re good.”

Measuring stick

Massabesic has been a perennial Class A contender for a decade, winning state titles in 2007 and 2014.

This year, the Mustangs fell in their opener, 5-4, at home to defending Class A champion Marshwood, then hit their stride, beating visiting Greely (11-8), host Portland (17-3), visiting Thornton Academy (11-1) and host Cape Elizabeth (11-2), then blanking host Deering (17-0) and visiting Cheverus (18-0), before winning at Scarborough (10-3), at home against Windham (15-5) and at Sanford (23-8).

“That first game hurt and the girls have responded well,” said Massabesic coach Brooks Bowen. “Maybe that (loss) was just what we needed.”

South Portland wasn’t highly touted as the start of the year and after falling at Marshwood (15-3) and at home to Gorham (9-5), it didn’t look like the Red Riots would be a factor, but they roared to life with a 12-8 win at Brunswick, then shocked visiting Scarborough, 12-11, for their first victory over the Red Storm in a dozen years. Wins over visiting Bonny Eagle (12-11) and host Sanford (17-6) and Portland (16-9) followed before the five-game streak ended with a 14-12 home loss to York in a crossover. After beating visiting Deering, 13-4, South Portland lost at Windham Tuesday, 13-9.

Last year, the Red Riots gave the Mustangs a close game in Waterboro, but fell, 8-5.

Thursday, Massabesic won with much greater ease.

DiMastrantonio gained possession to start the game, weaved through the defense and beat South Portland junior goalie Zoe Brown for a 1-0 lead just 14 seconds in.

The hosts answered right back, as sophomore Paige Fleming won the draw, the ball came to Kayla Brown and Brown fed Leckie to tie it, 1-1.

That proved to be the Red Riots’ highwater mark, as with 23:28 to play in the half, DiMastrantonio put the Mustangs on top to stay after rolling around the crease and tickling the twine.

Sylvain scored her first goal with 21:16 to go in the half, unassisted.

With 18:53 left, DiMastrantonio set up junior Josie Ring to make it 4-1 and 29 seconds later, DiMastrantonio was set up by Sylvain for another goal.

With 15:41 to play in the half, Ring scored unassisted for a 6-1 advantage. 

South Portland tried to rally, as Hasson set up Cronin for a goal 16 seconds later and with 13:46 remaining before halftime, Hasson finished a free position, beating Massabesic sophomore goalie Lydia Wasina, to cut the deficit to 6-3.

The Mustangs roared right back behind an unassisted goal from DiMastrantonio, a free position tally from sophomore Madison Drain, a Sylvain goal off a free position feed from freshman Skylar Renaud and a Sylvain unassisted tally with 8:10 left to make it 10-3.

Cronin (from freshman Molly Walker) scored with 4:15 go to before halftime, but with 23.9 seconds showing, DiMastrantonio struck for the fifth time in the half for an 11-4 Massabesic advantage at the break.

In the first half, the Mustangs outshot the Red Riots, 20-7 and South Portland was hindered by 14 turnovers.

Massabesic never gave South Portland life in the second half.

Just 1 minute, 38 seconds in, DiMastrantonio finished a feed from Sylvain for a man-up goal and with 19:05 to play, Sylvain scored unassisted to make it 13-4.

The Red Riots didn’t allow the Mustangs to get the clock moving, however, as Hasson scored from Walker with 15:52 to play, but after Drain scored unassisted with 14:30 left, DiMastrantonio scored unassisted 63 seconds later and that made it 15-5 and got the clock running.

Senior Allison Irish extended the lead to 11 goals when she finished Ring’s feed from 6:16 to play and Irish scored unassisted with 2:15 left to complete Massabesic’s scoring.

South Portland’s final goal came with time about to expire, as Leckie converted a free position to account for the 17-6 final score.

“We’re just trying to focus on ourselves,” Bowen said. “We’re fortunate because we do have some great players. We have young athletes who are playing well and have gotten better. We’re working on bench depth because we’ll need subs too in June.” 

DiMastrantonio scored a game-high seven goals and also had an assist. Sylvain had four goals and two assists. Drain, Irish and Ring all scored twice. Renaud and Ring also had assists.

Wasina made eight saves.

Massabesic had a 35-32 edge in ground balls (Drain had a team-high nine).

The Mustangs enjoyed a 31-16 shots advantage (25-12 on cage) and only turned the ball over 13 times.

Learning experience

South Portland got two goals apiece from Cronin, Hasson and Leckie. Walker assisted on two goals, while Kayla Brown and Hasson also had an assist.

Brown made eight saves.

The Red Riots won 14 of 24 draws and got nine ground balls from Hasson, but they were doomed by 25 turnovers against an opportunistic foe.

“(Massabesic) did a phenomenal job anticipating where the ball would go and they intercepted about 50 of our balls,” said Dyer, with slight exaggeration. “We threw the ball directly to them and we weren’t shooting and if we don’t shoot, we won’t score. Something unique about them, is they play a different, aggressive defense. They’re fast enough to get back. They have smart players. Some of their shots, there was nothing Zoe could do.”

Despite the loss, South Portland has still accomplished a lot this spring.

“It’s been a huge learning year for these girls,” Dyer said. “I’m only losing three, and they’re some great players, but these freshmen are learning so much. I’m going to have a great group coming back. Coming into this season, I didn’t know what to expect. I expected rookie mistakes and we’ve cleaned up a lot, but we still have a long way to go.”

Playoff tune-up

The Mustangs appear locked into the No. 2 playoff seed in Class A South behind Marshwood. They close the regular season at home versus Gorham Tuesday.

“We have to clean up some things,” Bowen said. “We’ve had some communication breakdowns we have to fix. We have to worry about us and doing what we can. We don’t get caught up on who we’re playing.”

The Red Riots were fifth in Class A South at press time and will likely be on the road in the playoffs. First, they’ll try to secure a winning regular season record for the sixth time in seven years when they close at Noble Saturday.

“I’d love to get a home playoff game,” Dyer said. “It’s between Biddeford, Gorham and us and I’d love to see any team again. We’ll keep moving forward.” 

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Massabesic sophomore Logan Champlin sends South Portland sophomore Madi Cyr to the ground.

South Portland sophomore Kaya Backman is hemmed in by Massabesic sophomore Logan Champlin, left, senior Madison Russell and senior Keilly Lynch.

South Portland senior Maddie Hasson shoots past Massabesic sophomore goalie Lydia Wasina.

South Portland freshman Eileen Porterfield speeds past Massabesic junior Taylor Manning.

South Portland freshman Molly Walker plays keep-away from Massabesic sophomore Madison Drain.

South Portland junior Kayla Brown looks to pass. 

South Portland sophomore Paige Fleming is defended by Massabesic senior Keilly Lynch.