Girls' lacrosse: Saints bring championship experience to the lacrosse field

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Many of the St. Dom’s girls’ lacrosse players have won state championships in other sports. From the left, front row: Simone Long, Emma Theriault, Addie Suckow, Eisa Lee, Avery Lutrzykowski, Payton Winslow, Elizabeth Perkins, Sydney Stebbins. Second row: Anna Cote, Hannah Trottier-Braun. Third row: Victoria Chase. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

AUBURN — The St. Dominic girls’ lacrosse team may be making its first state championship appearance in the program’s four-year history, but the Saints aren’t afraid of the big stage heading into Friday’s Class C state championship game against Lake Region at 5 p.m. at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.

Why are they feeling comfortable heading into the biggest lacrosse game of their careers?

Consider the fact four of the 24 lacrosse players are two-time state champions with the girls’ ice hockey team that won back-to-back state titles in 2016 and 2017. Another seven were on the field hockey team that won the state championship this past fall.

The hockey players are Avery Lutrzykowski, Emma Theriault, Payton Winslow and Addie Suckow. The field hockey players are Hannah Trottier-Braun, Elizabeth Perkins, Anna Cote, Sydney Stebbins, Simone Long, Victoria Chase and Elisa Lee.

Saints coach Leslie Klenk believes that having so many players who have won state championships in other sports has helped with chemistry on the lacrosse field.

“I think when you have athletes that overlap in other sports, and they play together in other sports, it really helps the continuity of the team on the field, whether it’s in a hockey rink, on a field hockey field or here,” Klenk said. “They are used to playing with each other, they know how (each other) play and you get patterns of what people like to do on the field.”

Perkins, who was a captain of the field hockey team, believes what has made the lacrosse team so successful this season is they know each other so well.

“We work really well together,” Perkins said. “We are all friends on and off the field, so we trust each other a lot. We have bonded really well and we are always ready.”

The players who have been to state championship games believe their experiences will be valuable.

“The pressure won’t be as much because we went to states in the fall,” Trottier-Braun, who plays defense, said. “We know what it’s like and how hard you have to play to win a game. You can’t go into it cocky, you have to play your hardest. That was a really close game, like Friday’s game will be.”

The field hockey team defeated Winthrop 3-2 in double overtime — Trottier-Braun scored the winning goal — to claim the program’s first state championship.

The Saints (11-3) have seen the Lakers this season. The two teams met on May 9, and Lake Region won a hard-fought game 11-10 in double overtime.

Another thing Trottier-Braun took from the field hockey championship experience is that if the Saints want to lift the trophy, they will need to give maximum effort for the entire game.

Lutrzykowski also knows what it’s like to be in a tight championship game, as the hockey team defeated Scarborough 2-1 to win the 2016 championship.

“Well, lacrosse is very different, but I think being in sync in games, especially our freshmen year where it was close to the very end,” Lutrzykowski said. “I think it will give us a lot of experience in those times.”

The hockey team defended their title in 2017 with 10-2 a route of Falmouth.

Lutrzykowski said that there is excitement among the hockey players since they were unable three-peat in hockey, losing in the regional semifinals earlier this year to Greely, the eventual state champion.

Despite feeling comfortable heading into the rematch with top-seeded Lake Region, the Saints know they can’t take the Lakers lightly. And they still have butterflies despite their experience.

“We all have felt pretty nervous (throughout the playoffs), honestly, because anybody can win on any given day,” Trottier-Braun said. “Every sports season I have ever played, there has been so many upsets in high school sports.”

Senior Caroline Gastonguay, one of the team’s main offensive threats, is one of the 13 players who are looking for their first state championship, said she wants to feel all “the feels” that so many of her teammates have felt.

“I think we are all really excited,” Gastonguay said. “It’s kind of surreal for me because I never have been in a state championship game. All my friends have told me, ‘It’s the best feeling ever.’ I can’t wait to experience that.”

Gastonguay said the nerves will settle once the whistle blows.

Perkins added that she will help her teammates who haven’t been in the state championship situation to manage their nerves, if needed. Klenk said the girls who haven’t won championships do have playoff experience, whether it was with the basketball team that made a regional quarterfinal appearance in 2017 or during lacrosse playoffs last year when they lost in the regional semifinals to Yarmouth.”

Gastonguay is one of the few seniors who has been with the program since its infancy. That is not lost on the 11 who have won championships.

“Winning states was the highlight of my senior year and my high school career,” Perkins said. “I think it will be awesome for some of the girls on our team who haven’t experienced that before. It’s an amazing feeling. All your hard work is justified by winning. It’s amazing. I think it would be special for everybody if they could feel that as well.”

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St. Dom’s Anna Cote turns upfield after scooping up a ground ball during Tuesday’s Class C semifinal. Cote, a freshman, was a member of St. Dom’s state-champion field hockey team in the fall. (Lee Horton/Sun Journal)

St. Dominic’s Hannah Trottier-Braun charges the goalie as Winthrop’s Olivia Simonson chases behind her during the 2017 Class C state field hockey championship in Falmouth. Trottier-Braun helped the Saints win their first field hockey state championship last fall. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

St. Dominic’s Avery Lutrzykowski gets tangled up with Falmouth goalie Julia Bonnvie during a hockey game in Auburn in January. Lutrzykowski has been part of two ice hockey state championships, in 2016 and 2017. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

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