Sam Cote and Laurianne Murphy have spent their entire Lewiston lacrosse careers knocking at the door.

A bounce here. An inch or two there. Oh-so-close to putting the Blue Devils in the state championship conversation.

Wednesday afternoon, the two seniors get one more chance to leave their mark. No. 5 Lewiston (7-5) opens what should be the most closely matched Class A East girls’ quarterfinals in state playoff history at No. 4 Windham (8-4). Game time is 5 p.m.

“Every time we’ve made it, we’ve only made it to the first round, and I think that pushes everyone to want to make it past the first round,” said Murphy, one of four senior attackers for Lewiston.

The Devils are making their third consecutive appearance in the regional quarterfinals.

Lewiston lost in its first two trips, both as a No. 3 seed and both on de facto home turf at Bates College. Cheverus won 12-8 in 2012. Windham played the spoiler a year ago, 13-10.

“It’s a rematch. It wasn’t awful. I just know we lost and that was upsetting,” Cote said. “I know they were good shooters. I remember that because I’m the goalie.”

Bolstered by the scoring touch of Murphy, Sierra Thistlewaite and Jessica Cote and the steady experience of Sam Cote in the defensive end, the Devils are balanced.

That’s an appropriate personality in this year’s playoff field. The top three seeds — defending state champion Cheverus, Messalonskee and Cony — all have 9-3 records. No. 6 Portland (6-6), No. 7 Mt. Ararat (6-6) and No. 8 Brunswick (5-7) will not be first-round pushovers.

Lewiston didn’t play Cheverus or Windham during the regular season but split with Cony and absorbed two close losses to Messalonskee, including a 15-14 overtime road verdict to wrap up the KVAC regular season.

“I think in the East and even in the West, it’s wide open. There’s not a whole lot of separation between one and eight, I’ll tell you that,” Lewiston coach Skip Capone said. “Cheverus is still the top dog until someone beats them. You’ve got to consider them the prohibitive favorite. Then you shake them up in a hat and see who makes the fewest mistakes and plays their game.”

Windham and Lewiston scrimmaged in the preseason. Their lone common opponent was winless Edward Little. The Eagles won 24-6, while the Devils dismissed the Red Eddies twice, 15-3 and 21-2.

The Eagles enter the playoffs with four consecutive wins. The Devils’ season has been characterized not by runs or streaks but by competitiveness in every game. Lewiston had one-goal losses to Messalonskee, Cony and Class A West No. 2 Thornton.

“We’ve been right there. The girls are confident,” said Capone, a longtime football coach who took the job on short notice just before preseason tryouts. “The kids just don’t give up. There have been a bunch of situations where we’ve been down or whatever, and they just keep battling until the end. That’s what it’s going to take in the tournament, obviously.”

With those proven performers in front of both cages, Lewiston’s likely key to victory is controlling the middle third.

“I think we’re really good in all parts of the field. Our defense is strong and our offense is strong. We’re pretty evenly matched between the two,” Murphy said. “Our transition needs to be a l0t better. We get a lot of turnovers in transition, and that’s where all the goals come from, because we just don’t get back in time. I think that’s the biggest thing.”

Capone downplayed Lewiston’s recent playoff experience, noting that “only four or five” of his players saw significant time against Windham a year ago.

Cote, a three-year starter, still hopes that might be good for a goal or two in a bracket where most games are likely to be decided by that margin.

“That kind of makes it scary, but also exciting, because anybody can win. We’re all on the same level,” Cote said. “I actually don’t think any of the younger kids are nervous. Maybe they don’t know it yet. Everybody’s not really nervous, but excited.”

Lewiston’s quest for third-time’s-a-charm results will be one of five quarterfinal games involving local teams Wednesday.

The other four will be boys’ games, and only one of the area teams will be a favorite. That’s Class B East No. 1 Maranacook/Winthrop (12-0), which will host No. 8 North Yarmouth Academy (2-10) in a contest dramatically more challenging than the records make it appear.

NYA won state championships in 2001 and 2007 and was runner-up in 2011 and 2012. And if the past doesn’t mean much, a brutal schedule in the present — including close losses to powers Yarmouth, Greely, Kennebunk and Waynflete — prepared the Panthers well.

Maranacook/Winthrop won the regular-season meeting on the road, 6-1. It was the only game in which the Hawks were held to fewer than 13 goals all season. They’ve outscored opponents 213-43.

In another Class B East quarterfinal, No. 7 Oak Hill (4-8) travels to No. 2 Freeport (7-5). The Falcons’ losses were against a who’s-who of Maine lacrosse, including Class A Gorham.

No. 6 Edward Little (5-7) and No. 7 Lewiston (5-7) each will hit the road in hopes of a Class A East upset.

The Red Eddies visit No. 3 Cheverus (8-4). The Stags have won four consecutive games and lost to Thornton and Kennebunk by a single goal.

Top-seeded Brunswick (10-2) hosts the Blue Devils. Lewiston won three of its final four regular-season games to make the playoffs. The Dragons rolled 12-2 when the teams met in May.


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