LEWISTON – Prior to the KVAC Championship game, members of the Messalonskee Eagles took notice of Lewiston’s Tim Gilbert getting his lacrosse stick checked by the referees. They saw how tight the head of the stick was, and how easily the ball was trapped in the netting.

So when Lewiston challenged an Eagles’ stick on the tying goal Saturday night, it was as good a time as any to fall back on prior knowledge.

“A couple of kids mentioned that his stick was illegal,” said Messalonskee coach Tom Sheridan.

Gilbert was given a three-minute penalty with 3:54 left in the fourth quarter, and Messalonskee cashed in on the man-advantage in a 6-5 victory over Lewiston in the Eastern A semifinals.

“Last year hurt a lot,” said Sheridan. “They ended our undefeated season here last year and then knocked us out of the playoffs (in the Eastern Maine final). We were the No 1 seed last year. So our kids were pretty fired up.”

Matt Delguidice scored the game-winner with 3:32 left in regulation for his third of the game. Trent Leuttich had a goal and assisted on the winning tally.

Messalonskee scored three goals with the man-advantage.

“One of the keys for us, and we talked about it before the game, was to stay out of the box,” said Lewiston coach Tom Fournier. “I haven’t checked the shots, but I guarantee you we didn’t do a good job of that. We were a man down way too much.”

Lewiston, which rallied to beat the Eagles 7-6 earlier in the year, fell behind again and finally took the lead with 6:10 left in regulation. An Alex Stone goal gave the Blue Devils momentum, but it was a lead Lewiston could not maintain. With 3:54 left, Chris Pelletier’s shot from the top of the box deflected in off Lewiston goalie Alex Pare.

Wanting to give his team a breather for the final stretch, Fournier used his free challenge to question Pelletier’s stick. Since Sheridan had a free stick challenge to use as well, he questioned Gilbert’s.

“I wasn’t really looking for anything,” said Fournier. “I really wanted to save a timeout and we were tired. I kind of just used that to bring everyone in and kind of take a breather. Obviously, I didn’t know my attack man had an illegal stick.”

Gilbert was put in the box for three minutes, giving the Eagles a man-advantage and keeping one of Lewiston’s top offensive players out of the game until the final 54 seconds.

“He had it check last time and the ref said it was fine, but it was close,” said Fournier. “It was three minutes and nonreleasable. So if they scored, we’re still a man down. So it’s not a good thing.”

Delguidice needed just 22 seconds to break the tie. He cut through the middle and took a pass from Leuttich for the game-winner.

“That’s been our favorite play all year,” said Delguidice. “We took it from Colby College. We’ve been running it a lot in practice, and it seems to work a lot. It paid off for us tonight.”

Lewiston stayed within one, and got the ball back in the final minute after a Roy steal. Ben Landry took the lone Devils’ shot. The Eagles got the ball back and ran out the clock.

Stone and Jon Roy each had two goals for Lewiston while Zack Blauvelt had four assists.

“When we played them at our place, we had a big lead, and the big thing for us was not to get frustrated,” said Delguidice. “Last time, we took a lot of penalties. Tonight, we kept our cool and it paid off.”


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