The North Yarmouth Academy boys’ lacrosse team celebrates en masse following Saturday’s 17-5 victory over the Maranacook/Winthrop/Spruce Mountain co-op team in the Class C state final. The Panthers won their first championship since 2007.

Derek Davis / Portland Press Herald photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Class C state final

North Yarmouth Academy 17 Maranacook/Winthrop/Spruce Mountain 5

M/W/SM- 2 1 1 1- 5
NYA- 5 3 6 3- 17

First quarter
10:21 NYA Baker (unassisted)
9:50 NYA Loisel (unassisted)
9:16 M/W/SM Boucher (Worster) (MAN-UP)
8:13 NYA Goodrich (unassisted)
7:10 M/W/SM Boucher (Laliberte)
6:22 NYA Millett (unassisted)
4:14 NYA Loisel (unassisted)

Second quarter
10:00 NYA Baker (unassisted) (MAN-UP)
8:40 M/W/SM Austin (unassisted)
1:36 NYA Goodrich (Parks)
42.8 NYA Parks (Baker)

Third quarter
9:56 NYA Baker (unassisted) (MAN-UP)
9:39 M/W/SM Adair (Laliberte)
5:37 NYA Baker (unassisted)
5:02 NYA Baker (unassisted)
4:25 NYA Millett (Rohde)
2:55 NYA Baker (unassisted) (MAN-UP)
1:38 NYA Kostelnik (Parks)

Fourth quarter
11:23 NYA Baker (unassisted)
4:30 NYA Baker (unassisted)
1:58 M/W/SM Adair (unassisted) (MAN-UP)
15.9 NYA Kostelnik (unassisted)

Goals:
M/W/SM- Adair, Boucher 2, Austin 1
NYA- Baker 8, Goodrich, Kostelnik, Loisel, Millett 2, Parks 1

Assists:
M/W/SM-Laliberte 2, Worster 1
NYA- Parks 2, Baker, Rohde 1

Faceoffs (NYA, 14-12)
M/W/SM- Worster 11 of 16, Thamert 1 of 10
NYA- Swett 11 of 20, Hamblett 2 of 5, Tourigny 1 of 1

Ground balls:
M/W/SM- 19
NYA- 42

Turnovers:
M/W/WM- 16
NYA- 13

Shots on goal:
M/W/SM- 22
NYA- 48

Shots on cage
M/W/SM- 15
NYA- 31

Saves:
M/W/SM (Hays) 14
NYA (Buckner) 10

PORTLAND—North Yarmouth Academy’s boys’ lacrosse team wasn’t the squad many expected to be celebrating a Class C state title, but when the dust settled Saturday afternoon at Fitzpatrick Stadium, it was the Panthers culminating a stirring postseason run with a decisive victory over the Maranacook/Winthrop/Spruce Mountain co-op team to end a long title drought.

Third-ranked NYA, which upset defending champion Waynflete, the No. 2 seed, in Wednesday’s state semifinal round, never trailed against the Cinderella eighth-ranked Hawks, but it took a little while for the Panthers high-powered offense to get in gear.

But once NYA, led by prolific senior Ryan Baker, got things going, a championship was guaranteed.

The Panthers went up early on goals from Baker and junior Nathan Loisel, but junior Skylar Boucher answered for the Hawks.

After senior Cam Goodrich scored for NYA, Boucher tickled the twine again before goals from senior Connor Millett and Loisel gave the Panthers a 5-2 lead after one quarter.

NYA couldn’t shake the Hawks in the second period either, as after Baker scored for the second time, senior Owen Austin answered to keep the margin at three.

Finally, late in the first half, the Panthers got a little breathing room, as Goodrich and Mason Parks scored for an 8-3 halftime advantage.

Baker and Company then ended all doubt in the third quarter, as Baker scored for times to spark a 6-1 run and by period’s end, NYA was firmly in command, up, 14-4.

The fourth quarter was a coronation and Baker scored twice more to help the Panthers go on to a 17-5 victory.

Baker had a boys’ state game record eight goals and helped NYA finish the season 11-4, end Maranacook/Winthrop/Spruce Mountain’s campaign at 10-5 and capture the program’s first Class C championship, third overall and first in any class in a dozen years.

“It feels really good,” said Baker, who won his final high school lacrosse game before going on to play at Division II Post University in Waterbury, Connecticut next year. “It’s a great way to go out. We had a lot of heart. A lot of guys really wanted it.”

Surprise, surprise

Saturday’s state final matched a pair of teams who weren’t necessarily viewed as the favorites when the season and even the postseason began.

Maranacook/Winthrop/Spruce Mountain has been an annual contender, but after an 8-4 regular season, which included one-goal home losses to Mt. Ararat and Biddeford and home setbacks to Gardiner and defending Class B champion Brunswick, the Hawks, despite being ranked eighth, went on a run, upsetting undefeated top seed Oak Hill/Monmouth/Lisbon (13-12) in the state quarterfinals, then holding off No. 4 Gray-New Gloucester (5-4) in Wednesday’s state semifinal round.

NYA lost decisively to eventual champion Waynflete in last year’s semifinal round and this season, under first-year coach Sam Manders, the Panthers went 8-4, falling at home to eventual Class B finalists Greely and Yarmouth, at Waynflete and at York.

The Panthers defeated No. 7 Freeport, 15-9, in the state quarterfinals, then Wednesday, turned the tables on the third-ranked Flyers, erasing a 6-3 halftime deficit and prevailing, 9-7.

“That was a dogfight the other day,” said Baker. “We lost to Waynflete in the regular season and we weren’t going to let that happen again.”

The Panthers and Hawks had met three previous times in the playoffs, with NYA winning in the 2012 Eastern B quarterfinals (16-5) and the 2015 Eastern B semifinals (11-7) and the Hawks prevailing in the 2014 Eastern B quarterfinals (9-2).

While Maranacook/Winthrop/Spruce Mountain was making its first appearance on the big stage, NYA was taking part in its seventh all-time state game (see sidebar, below) and boasted several players who were part of a Class D champion soccer team and a prep champion hockey team this school year.

Saturday, on a sunny and warm 74 degree afternoon, the Panthers controlled play most of the way and put a bow on a memorable campaign.

Senior Alasdair Swett won the opening faceoff for NYA and 99 seconds into the game, Baker scored for the first time, beating senior goalie Will Hays unassisted to put the Panthers on top for good.

With 9:50 left in the first period, Loisel scored for the first time, unassisted, to double the lead.

The Hawks then went up a man and with 9:16 showing, got on the board, as sophomore Timothy Worster set up Boucher to cut the deficit in half.

NYA immediately responded, as after forcing a turnover, Goodrich scored unassisted with 8:13 on the clock.

After Panthers junior goalie Jared Buckner stopped shots by sophomore Thomas Thornton and senior Collin Adair, he couldn’t deny Boucher, who finished a feed from junior Garit Laliberte, to pull the Hawks within one, 3-2, with 7:10 to play in the opening stanza.

That’s as close as the Hawks would get, however, as Millett scored unassisted with 6:22 left in the frame and with 4:14 to go, Loisel’s unassisted goal put NYA up, 5-2.

Late in the quarter, Buckner denied junior Beau Schmelzer and at the other end, Hays made saves on shots from Parks, Goodrich and sophomore Chris Hamblett.

The Panthers had an opportunity to pull away in the second period, but until the very end, failed to do so.

With 10 minutes to play in the half, NYA added a man-up goal, as Baker scored for the second time, unassisted.

The Hawks answered with 8:40 remaining, as Austin scored unassisted, but they could draw no closer.

After going over eight minutes without scoring, the Panthers responded with 1:36 on the first half clock, as Parks set up Goodrich and with 42.8 seconds to go, Parks scored, off a feed from Baker, and NYA held an 8-3 lead at halftime.

The Panthers outshot the Hawks, 26-14, in the first half and could have led by more were it not for seven Hays’ saves.

NYA then ended all doubt in the third period.

With 9:56 left, playing man-up, Baker finished unassisted.

Adair got a goal back for the Hawks, from Laliberte, 17 seconds later, but Baker scored unassisted with 5:37 on the clock, did so again 35 seconds later and after Millett scored (from freshman Charles Rohde) with 4:25 to go, Baker scored another man-up, unassisted goal with 2:55 to play in the third for a commanding 13-4 advantage.

The Panthers added one more goal in the frame, as Parks set up senior Xander Kostelnik for a 10-goal lead.

“We’re a second half team,” Manders said. “Just like against Waynflete, I knew we were right where we wanted to be.”

Just 37 seconds into the fourth period, Baker scored unassisted and with 4:30 left, Baker scored his eighth and final goal, unassisted, to make it 16-4 and induce a mercy rule running clock.

The Hawks scored one final time with 1:58 remaining, as Adair scored man-up, but with 15.9 seconds to go, Kostelnik’s unassisted tally accounted for the 17-5 final score and NYA celebrated its championship.

“We know how to play,” Baker said. “We prepared for them like every other team. We focused on ourselves. That’s all we can do. We’re a second half team. We started grinding. That’s what we do. Our sticks were a little weak early. We had to settle down. It was the first state game for a lot of guys.”

“It feels good to give (athletic director) Jack Hardy a championship before he retires,” Manders said. “My goal was to take the guys as far as I could in the playoffs and 12 seniors helped take us along. It was a process. We were learning stuff up until the last practice. They’re focused young men. That really showed. I tried not to overwork them in practice and keep them fresh. We don’t prep for any teams. We play our game and make teams beat us.

“It’s nice to have three classes. I think it’s appropriate. The seniors won a bunch of championships in other sports. They know how to win. I just had to provide them with the necessary information.”

Maranacook/Winthrop/Spruce Mountain got two goals apiece from Adair and Boucher and one from Austin.

Laliberte assisted on two goals and Worster also had an assist.

Hays made 14 saves.

Worster had a game-high seven ground balls.

The Hawks committed 16 turnovers.

“(There’s) nothing to be disappointed about,” Hawks coach Kyle Dennett said. “We met our goal this year. We were going to make it to states and we made it to states.  We should be happy with getting here. It stinks to lose, but they were the better team today. They came out to play, and I think we were just too excited. We’ve never been on this stage before.

“We learn from our loss, and we move forward. We’ll be back.”

Dominance

Baker’s eight goals eclipsed the seven that Waynflete’s Hank Duvall and Miles Lipton each scored in the Flyers’ state game win over Lincoln Academy a year ago.

“I thought about it a little bit,” said Baker. “Miles and Hank are great players. It wasn’t about goals for me, but it was in the back of my mind. I wanted to beat it. That drove me. Mason and my other teammates helped me out a lot. It’s a little sad my high school career is over, but I’m happy to celebrate. I can’t thank Coach enough. He brought energy and smarts. He’s a great coach.”

“Ryan is hard to stop,” Manders said. “His mental tenacity is so good. He wants to score. The team knows what he wants to do and works with him.”

Goodrich, Kostelnik, Loisel and Millett all added a pair of goals and Parks finished with one.

Parks had two assists and Baker and Rohde each added one.

Buckner made 10 saves.

“Our D and our goalie are the best parts of our game,” said Baker. “Our offense just complements them.”

Swett won 11 of 20 faceoffs, helping the Panthers hold a 14-12 advantage in that all-important category.

NYA had a 42-19 advantage in ground balls (Baker and Swett led the way with six apiece), enjoyed a 48-22 edge in shots (31-15 on cage) and only turned the ball over 13 times.

The NYA roster will have a different look in 2020, but don’t be surprised if the Panthers are right back in the title hunt again.

“I’ll have to wait and see what I’ve got, but I’m excited about our middle school group coming up,” Manders said. “They were strong.”

Kennebec Journal staff writer Drew Bonifant contributed to this story.

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

NYA senior Ryan Baker beats Maranacook/Winthrop/Spruce Mountain senior goalie Will Hays for one of his record eight goals.

NYA senior Alasdair Swett goes airborne for a shot as Maranacook/Winthrop/Spruce Mountain junior Jacob Sousa defends.

NYA senior Xander Kostelnik lines up a shot.

NYA junior Nathan Loisel weaves his way through a pair of defenders.

NYA senior Ryan Baker celebrates after scoring a goal.

NYA senior Ryan Baker (back to camera) and junior Mason Parks embrace during the victory.

Previous NYA state game results

2012
Class B
Falmouth 7 NYA 4

2011
Class B
Falmouth 15 NYA 4

2007
Class B
NYA 10 Kennebunk 3

2001 
NYA 13 Cape Elizabeth 10

2000
Cape Elizabeth 10 NYA 8

1998
Cape Elizabeth 16 NYA 9

1993
Cape Elizabeth 13 NYA 7

1992
Cape Elizabeth 9 NYA 6