Maranacook/Winthrop/Spruce Mountain freshman goalie Matthew Fenlason stands his ground in net. Dianne Fenlason photo

The long rides to and from practice don’t bother Matthew Fenlason — who serves as Spruce Mountain’s only emissary on the Maranacook/Winthrop/Spruce Mountain boys lacrosse team, which finds itself competing for the Class C state title on Saturday.

Maranacook/Winthrop/Spruce Mountain goalie Matthew Fenlason poses in front of the net. Dianne Fenlason photo

The freshman backup goaltender spends a lot of time on the road, but those jaunts from Jay to Maranacook Community School or Kents Hill are worth it for Fenlason, who has been playing lacrosse since the third grade.

The Maranacook/Winthrop/Spruce Mountain Hawks (11-4) will face North Yarmouth Academy (10-4) for the Class C state championship at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland at 12:30 p.m.

Fenlason, who plays golf and is a member of the Spruce Mountain Alpine ski team, wasn’t interested in playing baseball in the spring.

“That (lacrosse) was pretty much the only sport we had,” Fenlason said, “and a bunch of my friends played it, and that’s how I got into it initially.”

So he joined the Kennebec Cannons — a youth lacrosse club.

“It is from the Kennebec area, so a lot of the people are on my team now for a couple of years,” Fenlason said.

For the Fenlasons, it is a juggling act trying to get their Matt, who is also involved in other after-school programs, to practices.

“Practices are at 4 p.m.,” he said. “I am out the door as fast as I can.”

“It just shows the commitment they have,” Hawks lacrosse coach Kyle Dennett said. “It is important to have these kids (from different schools) on our team because without them, we wouldn’t have a program. Matt being one of our guys, who travels quite a bit to get to and from practice, shows a lot about his character.

“They put in the time and they are dedicated to the sport and that just shows how passionate they are to play. I have a lot respect for these kids putting in their time even though they have to travel to play.”

Of course, Fenlason has thought about making an effort to put together Spruce Mountain’s own team.

“It is hard to develop,” he said, “but I have talked to some people and they have a positive attitude right now.

“That would be great (having more Spruce athletes on the team), help out with rides and stuff, too. I have tried (to recruit at Spruce), but no one wants to travel a half-hour.”

Fenlason discovered that he wanted to play goalie in middle school.

“I was in seventh grade and our other goalie didn’t want to play or moved or something, I can’t really remember, so they wanted a goalie, so no one else wanted to do it, and so why not? I had the most time on field playing attack anyway, so goalie seemed like a good position,” Fenlason said. 

So you can bet Fenlason is proud to be one of the backup goalies for the state finalist Hawks.

“That was the goal from the start — now it’s just go win it,” he said. “I think if we come ready to play, we have it in the bag. I think we just have to put in the effort.”

Fenlason said playing for the team is like old times, seeing friends from elementary and middle school.

Matt Fenlason and his mom, Dianne, who is also the golf coach at Spruce Mountain and is a music teacher in the system, commute to Jay from Winthrop, where they live. Matt wanted to be in the music program at Spruce. An agreement with the superintendent’s office allows Matt to attend school at Spruce Mountain.

“Before going to school with them and now that I am away, it is a great way to connect with them again — the people I went to school with before,” Fenlason said. “A couple of people play golf, so that way I can connect with them. It is just a brotherhood.”

The Maranaccok/Winthrop/Spruce Mountain Hawks pose for a photo. Kyle Dennett photo

“Before I coached the Maranacook team, I was the youth lacrosse coach,” Dennett said. “I have seen all these kids in the past, through the seventh- and eighth-grade programs.

“These kids have played together for a really long time and they have an amazing chemistry together, and that’s just something this team has going into this year.”

Dennett is excited to have three goalies on the team, which gives added depth to that position.

“So we have three goalies on our program. Our team has never had three goalies,” Dennett said. “Will Hayes is our starter and we have two backups — Matt Fenlason and Sandor Doucy-Borali — they split time on JV and they both have had some playing time at the varsity level. 

“He’s (Fenlason) is essential because he is the future of our program. We look at the two goalies we have and we have never been in a position where we really had strong backup goalies, and this year that we have really strong backup goalies. 

“Matt Fenlason brings a different look to the goaltending style that kind of throws teams off, I think. He does a great job. He has done a real good job of understanding the game and to just get better. Same thing with Sandora. He’s a great backup goalie. These guys are going to be the future of our program. They are going to compete against each other and vie for that varsity position next year.”

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