Maranacook/Winthrop/Spruce Mountain goalkeeper Will Hays celebrates behind the net after the Hawks won 5-4 over Gray-New Gloucester in a Class C semifinal Wednesday in Gray. Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover

GRAY — Goalie Will Hays stepped up to aid Maranacook/Winthrop/Spruce Mountain’s second-half comeback in a 5-4 win over Gray-New Gloucester in the Class C boys lacrosse semifinal Wednesday.

Skyler Boucher capped the eighth-seeded Hawks’ rally with the go-ahead goal with 1:26 remaining in the game. The four-seeded Patriots then called a timeout with 43 seconds left and set up a play that paid off earlier in the game.

Skyler Boucher (9) of Maranacook/Winthrop/Spruce Mountain celebrates with his teammates after his fourth period goal put the Hawks up 5-4 against Gray-New Gloucester on Wednesday. Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover

Gray-NG had scored a goal in the first half on a play in which two players crossed behind the net and one came around with the ball and scored. The play was tried again in after the late timeout, but this time Hays was ready and saved it low with 10 seconds left to secure the Hawks’ trip the Class C state championship on Saturday.

The Hawks were ready this time, and Hays stopped the Patriots’ shot attempt.

“Just don’t let in a goal. I kept telling myself that,” Hays said. “I had that weak third goal and I just told myself, ‘Not again.’”

The game got off to a slow start, as each team held healthy amounts of the possession and neither scored for the first six minutes.

With 5:48 left in the opening quarter, Gray-New Gloucester’s JJ Mazur found a darting Kyle Mercier in front of net. Mercier received the pass and put the ball in the bottom right corner of the net to give the Patriots a 1-0 lead.

Maranacook tied the game when Garit Laliberte scored near the end of the quarter..

The Patriots fought through a physical first half to take a two-goal lead into halftime.

Maranacook/Winthrop/Spruce Mountain goalkeeper Will Hays makes a save while knocking Gray-New Gloucester’s Kyle Mercier in the helmet in Gray on Wednesday. Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover

With 7:28 left in the first half, Travis Caron went around the back of the net at the same time as Scott Lynch and the two switched possession. Caron came around the left side of the goal and ripped near post to give the Patriots a 2-1 lead.

“We had to make some adjustments,” Hawks coach Kyle Dennett said. “We weren’t expecting anything they threw at us. They threw some pressure at us, they threw some offensive sets we’ve never seen before, so it was just learning to play on the fly.”

Gray-NG (11-3) went back to that same play a minute later, but after two players switched off on the cross behind the net, the shot was saved by Hays.

Gabe Gendreau scored from about 20 yards out with five minutes remaining in the half, after decking a Maranacook player, extending the lead to 3-1 before the half.

Maranacook found its groove in the third quarter.

With 6:40 left in the period, Hays made one of his 13 saves to propel his team onto a fastbreak, which led to an Ian Dow goal that cut the deficit to 3-2.

Collin Adair of Maranacook/Winthrop/Spruce Mountain has the ball knocked loose by Gray-New Gloucester defender Jake Butler in Gray on Wednesday. Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover

“Will was unbelievable and I don’t think we would have won this game without him today,” Dennett said. “He was a machine. I don’t even know. I think he blacked out that quarter. Praise to him, we wouldn’t have been in this game without him.”

Tim Worster scored 1:34 into the fourth quarter to tie the game at 3-3, breathing new life into the Hawks.

Beau Schmelzer got the ball about 25 yards out with just over nine minutes left and made a spin move to the right, cut back inside and juked a defender and scored a goal that give Maranacook/Winthrop/Spruce Mountain its first advantage, 4-3.

The Patriots answered with a goal from Drew LaCerda to tie the with 6:26 remaining.

“I thought offensively we executed pretty well,” Gray-NG coach Kris Parkin said. “I think a little more patience at times would have helped. … I am just proud of the boys, they played hard all year.”

But the Hawks took back the lead on Boucher’s goal, and Hays shut down the Patriots’ attempt to tie it back up, making one of his eight second-half saves.

“I was able to step it up and play for my team,” Hays said. “I’ve never been to states before, so it should be nice.”

Beau Schmelzer, center, of Maranacook/Winthrop/Spruce Mountain celebrates with his teammates after scoring a goal in the fourth period of a Class C semifinal Wednesday night against Gray-New Gloucester. Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover


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