St. Dom’s Mia-Angelina Leslie runs past Boothbay’s Reagan Cola during the Class C girls lacrosse quarterfinal in Auburn on Saturday. Sun Journal photo by Lee Horton

AUBURN — This winter Mia-Angelina Leslie transitioned from a post player to more of a ball-handling guard for the St. Dom’s girls basketball team that reached the Class C South quarterfinals.

Those ball-handling duties have transitioned from the court to the lacrosse field as Leslie has helped the Saints to a second straight Class C state championship appearance, a rematch with Lake Region on Saturday at 10 a.m. at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.

The junior midfielder had 24 goals and 15 assists for St. Dom’s, which is 9-5 this season.

“I like seeing the open player, and getting the assist is really fun when I see my friends score,” Leslie said. “I get really excited because I like to see them score.”

It’s just Leslie’s natural instinct.

“One thing you got to know about Mia, no matter what sport she plays, is she’s really an awesome team player,” St. Dom’s girls lacrosse coach Leslie Klenk said. “Sometimes, it’s to a fault. She will look to pass and find the open player more than she will take in the ball herself.”

A big strength in Leslie’s game is her vision, which isn’t surprising considering her basketball background.

“I think her biggest strength is how well she sees the field and the open players,” senior attacker Emma Theriault said. “That’s probably the most important thing in any sport, is being able to see everything that’s going on.”

Leslie took over the point guard-like role this season from Caroline Gastonguay, who graduated last year. Gastonguay had 56 goals and 74 assists a season ago, and many of Leslie’s were set up by those assists.

Leslie said it has been a challenge to fill Gastonguay’s shoes, but Klenk — Gastonguay’s mother — and her St. Dom’s teammates made it easier to get the job done.

“We all had confidence in her from the start,” senior midfielder Avery Lutrzykowski said. “She’s obviously a phenomenal player, so we knew she needed to gain confidence, but we had faith in her from the beginning.”

Klenk didn’t try to put the pressure on Leslie to fill her daughter’s shoes.

“I didn’t start (the conversation) it that way,” Klenk said. “I just said this is what we are going to do and this is what we need you to do. She plays basketball, she is familiar with this kind of role. She has made it into her own. Avery (Lutryzkowski) plays the same position, but they play it totally differently, which has made our offensive better.”

Leslie said it took until the final game of the regular season to be truly comfortable in her new role. While the Saints lost 11-2 to Class B Waynflete, it was the game that everything started to click for her, as playing against better players made her comfortable.

Mia-Angelina Leslie looks to make a pass during St. Dom’s Class C quarterfinal win over Boothbay last week.

The postseason stats back up Leslie’s assessment. She scored two goals in a 20-9 victory over Boothbay, the school that ended the Saints basketball season in the quarterfinals. She then contributed four goals in an 11-8 semifinal victory over Erskine Academy on Wednesday.

“Mia has kind of blossomed into that role, she has been improving every week,” Klenk said. “Last week and this week, we’ve seen her take more of a leadership role and take ownership of the ball and drive when she needs to.”

Making Leslie’s job easier is that she has so many scoring threats around her to choose from, such as Theriault, Lutrzykowski, Tayrn Cloutier and Charlotte Gastonguay.

Leslie has gotten better as the season has progressed because those scoring threats have made it easy for her to distribute the ball.

Lutrzykowski is able to come down with the ball in high-traffic areas.

“I love it, she because she’s always there at the right place and she can always catch it in a crowd,” Leslie said. “She can capitalize on the opportunities that she gets.”

Theriault and Cloutier, meanwhile, are lefties, which is a nice change of pace for Leslie.

“It’s awesome, when they are on the left side we have a really good opportunity to pass it to them on the backdoor cuts,” Leslie said. “They do a really good job a good job on that. I think our offense is strong catching it and I can pass to anyone on the team.”

Theriault tips her cap to Leslie for being able to switch hands to become a lefty herself when finding the two southpaws, something Theriault said not many players are able to do.

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