LEWISTON — What were first baby steps Thursday afternoon became giant steps for the Edward Little boys’ lacrosse team.

Down by as many as six goals in the season-opener at Bates College, the Red Eddies suddenly showed signs of life against a seasoned Messalonskee team. EL got within three goals twice before the Eagles pulled away in the final quarter for a 13-7 win.

“We have a lot of young kids that are learning,” EL coach Chris Carpentier said. “They’re still learning the game. It’s kind of fun to watch at the same time.”

EL scored three straight goals in the third quarter to get within 8-5. Then early in the fourth, the Red Eddies scored to cut it to 9-6. Both times Messalonskee answered with key goals to seize control again.

“The attack was clicking there for a little while,” Carpentier said. ” It was nice to see them involved.”

Dylan Jones scored four goals to lead the Eagles, which reached the Eastern A semifinals last spring. Jack Bernatchez had two goals and two assists while Connor Smith and Austin Pelletier each had a pair of goals.

EL got three goals from Matt Verrill and two goals and an assist from Spencer Frahn. Ganan Mancini added a pair of goals.

“The guys settled in and played pretty well,” Messalonskee coach Tom Sheridan said. “I think it’s a matter of getting used to being on the field again. We had a lot of scrimmages this year. We had a good preseason overall. I thought it we were pretty good offensively. We moved it pretty well and defensively, we could slide a little better, but that will come in time.”

Leading 7-2 at the half, Jones put the Eagles up 8-2 early in the third quarter. Frahn scored with a goal in off goalie Jeff Frasca. Then Verill converted a Frahn pass. Frahn scored again with 1:11 left in the third to make it 8-5. EL goalie Brandon Asselin, who did a nice job keeping EL close early,  cleared the ball downfield where Frahn took advantage of an Eagle turnover.

EL’s momentum was short-lived though. Messonskee scored just eight seconds later when Jones buried a Bernatchez pass for a 9-5 lead to end the third.

“As soon as they would score, we’d come right back and score another goal,” Sheridan said. “That’s what we preach on offense. We want to attack all game long. We just have to figure out what formations work best for us.”

EL got within 9-6 with 11:11 left in the game when Mancini scored off an Ethan Nadeau pass. Once again, the Eagles responded. Messalonskee scored four straight. Bernatchez had a pair while Dana Michaud and Smith also scored. Dylan Burton assisted on two of them as Messalonskee opened a 13-6 lead. Verrill added a last-second goal for EL.

“We saw them come back and we were a little nervous about that,” Sheridan said. “We had to make sure we had forward progress going.”

EL got into a sizable hole. The Red Eddies were plagued by inexperience and a short bench, with numerous players sidelined due to injury or ineligibility. Messalonskee opened a 4-1 lead in the first quarter. Jones had a pair of those to finish the quarter. Mancini had the lone goal for EL.

“Offensively, we did some good things,” Sheridan said. “Defensively, we have new personnel out there. We have some freshmen out there too. They did a good job. Overall, I thought it was a good day.”

The Eagles built a 6-1 lead in the second quarter on goals from Sawyer Michaud and Pelletier. EL got a goal from Verrill, but Pelletier scored again to make it 7-2 at the half.

“I’ve been pleased with what I’ve seen,” Carpentier said. “These guys have been playing hard and been doing a lot of good things.”

Despite the loss, EL found positives in its performance and something to build on as the season unfolds.

“Last year, it was about the same, but we only had one goal,” Carpentier said about playing Messalonskee. “They had 15. So we’ll take this any day, especially against a team like Messolonskee. You know they’re going to go far.”

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