Portland’s boys’ lacrosse team isn’t known for its strong starts, but Bulldogs came out energized Friday in a Class A North semifinal against Windham, the lone team to beat them this season.

The second-seeded Bulldogs held a 4-0 lead after the first quarter at Fitzpatrick Stadium as Sam Shaw scored three times.

Third-seeded Windham tried to rally, but thanks to several clutch saves from Bulldogs goalie Aaron Hoekstra, it never got closer than three goals in Portland’s 12-6 win.

The Bulldogs (12-1) advanced to Wednesday’s regional final round, either at top-ranked Falmouth, or at home versus No. 4 Lewiston.

“I was fired up to play (Windham) again,” said Shaw, who finished with four goals and two assists. “I thought back to last time when ‘Hoek’ and I were sitting there and he said, ‘We’re not going to let it happen again.’ Lo and behold, we didn’t.”

Shaw opened the scoring just over two minutes in and after Kevin Moore added a goal, Shaw scored twice more for an early advantage.

“We’ve had that article (from our loss to Windham) up in our locker room for awhile now, so we wanted this really, really bad,” said Hoekstra, who made three first-period saves. “To come out firing, that shows how amped we were.”

Thomas Lekousi scored for the Eagles, but Miki Silva answered for the Bulldogs. After Lekousi scored again, Silva scored twice, including a man-up goal with 7 seconds remaining to make it 7-2 at halftime.

First-half shots on goal were 8-8, but Hoekstra’s six saves were the difference.

“(Aaron’s) our backbone,” said Portland Coach Mike DiFusco. “We rely heavily on him. He makes big saves every game. I can’t say enough about him.”

Moore opened the second half with a goal, but Lekousi and Holden Anderson answered before Hoekstra robbed Matt Babb at the end of the quarter to keep an 8-4 lead.

Tristan Arcand gave the Bulldogs a little breathing room early in the fourth quarter, but goals from Lekousi and Tyler Woolston made the game interesting before Silva, Evan Bay and Shaw scored to ice the victory.

“I’ve had some good wins in hockey, but nothing is sweeter than this win,” said Shaw, who plans to play lacrosse next year at Elmira College in New York. “It’s my favorite win in my entire career.”

Silva also scored four goals, Moore scored twice and Arcand and Bay added one goal apiece.

“We had to keep the ball hot and stay active,” said DiFusco. “We did it throughout the first quarter. We slowed down a little in the second and third quarters and paid for it, but we got back to it at the end.”

Hoekstra stopped nine shots.

“I was seeing the ball well,” said Hoekstra. “My defenders help me out plenty. They win us games.”

Windham (11-3) got four goals from Lekousi and one apiece from Anderson and Woolston. Goalie Ben Elliott stopped three shots.

“(Portland) got the lead, but one of the trademarks of our team is we can come back,” said Eagles Coach Pete Small. “We’re used to coming back and we don’t freeze up.

“We’re still young. Top to bottom, most of our guys are young. We’d never won more than eight games in a season and we won 11. This was a good step.”

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