LEWISTON — Perhaps it falls into the small consolation category, but other Eastern Class A boys’ lacrosse teams have noticed Lewiston High School’s improvement from the third week of April to the third week of May.
The problem is, if the Blue Devils harbor any hopes of playing into the third week of June — regional and state championship territory — they’ll have to finish off a game like Thursday’s twilight showdown at Bates College.
Lewiston rallied to tie Brunswick a staggering six different times. But the Devils couldn’t answer Nick Kressbach’s strike from point-blank range with 2:58 remaining in regulation, and the Dragons drifted away with a 9-8 victory.
“They came out swinging,” Brunswick coach Don Glover said of Lewiston. “They’re an inspired team right now. Their lacrosse IQ is going up every time they put on the helmet, and it’s obvious.”
For the second time in six days, a potential gold mine of Heal Points slipped through the Blue Devils’ fingers.
Lewiston (3-4) led unbeaten reigning state champion Portland in the fourth quarter before falling to a 12-10 defeat Saturday.
Defending Eastern Maine champ Brunswick (5-1) was within arm’s length from start to finish, but a scoreless stretch of nearly nine minutes at the conclusion was the Devils’ undoing. In a good news/bad news twist, Lewiston gets another crack at a perennial power when it visits Class B Cape Elizabeth tonight.
“It’ll be tough to go to Cape after an emotional game like this,” said Lewiston coach Bill Bodwell, an assistant at Brunswick the previous four years. “We were right on Portland’s heels, and we played a good game today. We’re going to get some good wins here in a little bit.”
Ryan Lemelin scored three goals to lead Lewiston, including two straight to force a 3-3 halftime tie. Cody Dussault and Kurtis Stocker both picked up a pair of goals, tying the game in every instance.
But the Devils couldn’t match Kressbach’s second goal of the game off an assist from Peter Morrell. Just as Dussault and Stocker gave the Dragons fits with their quickness in one-on-one isolation, Kressbach and Morrell created mismatches in front of the cage with their size and shooting abilities.
“With a frame like that in lacrosse at attack, you’re going to get some opportunities,” Glover said of Kressbach. “He’s starting to realize that when he’s matched up against a kid who’s 20 pounds lighter, he’s going to be tough to stop.”
Morrell (two goals, two assists) and Sam Franco forced the ball out of Lewiston’s possession multiple times in the final three minutes. Sophomore goaltender Theron Wilgus also made his fifth and final save in that stretch.
Wilgus found out about his assignment Thursday morning, learning that the Dragons’ usual keeper would sit out the game due to disciplinary reasons.
“I was just excited to start, and then I started thinking, ‘Whoa, this is a varsity game.’ They’re a pretty good team, so it might not have been the best game for me,” Wilgus said. “It was a good game. It was just frustrating at times.”
Brunswick enjoyed a sizable 37-19 shots advantage, but Lewiston maximized its opportunities.
Curtis Robinson scored the tying goal for the Devils early in the fourth, only two minutes after Evan Didisheim put the Dragons in front.
“It’s tough when you’re chasing,” said Bodwell, whose team fell in an early 3-1 hole. “In the first quarter we just couldn’t clear. And later there were a few offsides, a few substitution things that I think are just an experience thing.”
George Mills joined Kressbach and Morrell as a multiple goal-scorer for the Dragons.
Jesse Leeman made 11 saves for Lewiston.