Self-deception can be a powerful thing.

At halftime of the Class C boys’ lacrosse championship game Saturday, North Yarmouth Academy senior Ryan Baker told himself he was involved in a scoreless tie.

It was a lie, of course, but it worked for Baker, who scored four times in the third quarter of what turned out to be a 17-5 rout for the second-seeded Panthers over No. 8 Maranacook/Winthrop/Spruce Mountain at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

“Just focus and think you have zero,” he said. “Grind and grind. Like hockey, take a hit and make a play. It’s the same thing out here.”

Baker finished with eight goals as the Panthers (11-4) claimed their first state title since 2007 in their first championship-game appearance since 2012. They reached the final with hard-fought victories over Western Maine Conference foes Freeport (15-9 in the quarterfinals) and defending champion Waynflete (9-7 in the semifinals).

“I expected exactly what happened,” said NYA’s first-year coach, Sam Manders. “Our side of the bracket, I felt, was more competitive with Waynflete and Freeport in it.”

The Hawks (11-5) knocked off No. 1 Oak Hill/Monmouth Academy/Lisbon in the quarterfinals and No. 4 Gray-New Gloucester in the semis, both by one goal. On Saturday they scored twice in the opening quarter, then once more in each of the next three.

“The big thing for them is they play a lot of Southern (Maine) teams,” said Hawks Coach Kyle Dennett, who said his team receives no funding from its three feeder schools. “That was one of the things we really lacked in preparation, was being able to see a team of this speed and this caliber of skill.”

The score was similar to last year, when Waynflete beat Lincoln Academy 18-4 in the inaugural Class C championship game, following the MPA decision to expand lacrosse from two to three classes. In that title game, Waynflete’s Miles Lipton and Hank Duvall each scored seven goals.

Baker got his eighth with a little more than four minutes remaining.

“It doesn’t matter for me about the goals,” he said. “Winning three championships in one year is the biggest thing. Usually when you lose, you cry. This year I haven’t had to cry yet.”

Indeed, NYA won the Class D soccer state crown and a prep school title in hockey.

Jared Buckner, a 6-foot-5 junior, played left wing on that hockey team. In late February, Baker sidled up to Buckner and asked if he’d like to give lacrosse a shot. The Panthers needed a goalie.

Initially reluctant, Buckner agreed to try.

“I fell in love with it after the first practice,” he said.

Nurtured by assistant coach Edward “T-Moe” Hellier, whose goaltending led South Portland to a pair of Class A state championship games and the 2014 title, Buckner blossomed. He made seven saves Saturday after stopping 20 shots against Freeport and 17 against Waynflete.

“I’m facing some of the hardest shots in the conference with guys on my own team,” Buckner said. “Facing that in practice really, really helped.”

The Panthers jumped to a 2-0 lead in the opening three minutes and 5-2 after one quarter. They outscored the Hawks (11-5) by a 9-2 margin in the middle quarters.

Skyler Boucher and Collin Adair led Maranacook with two goals apiece. Owen Austin had one. Will Hays made seven saves.

Cameron Goodrich, Nathan Loisel, Xander Kostelnik and Connor Millett each scored twice for NYA. Mason Parks had a goal and an assist.

“I think we’ve created a winning culture at NYA that I don’t think had been there for a decade or so,” Parks said. “It’s been a great year and we’re really proud of it.”

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