PORTLAND – North Yarmouth Academy was the faster team. And the more experienced team. And the more tested team.

And the Maranacook/Winthrop/Spruce Mountain boys lacrosse team found that out for itself Saturday afternoon.

Ryan Baker scored eight goals to lift the second-seeded Panthers over the eighth-seeded Hawks 17-5 in the Class C championship game at Portland’s Fitzpatrick Stadium.

NYA, playing in its fifth championship game, won its third title and finished 11-4. Maranacook/Winthrop/Spruce Mountain, which reached its first title game, ended at 11-5.

“It doesn’t even matter for me about goals,” said Baker, who was also a member of NYA’s championship soccer and hockey teams. “Winning three championships in one year is the biggest thing. … Usually when you lose, you cry. This year, I haven’t had to cry yet.”

Nathan Loisel, Cameron Goodrich, Connor Millett and Xander Kostelnik added two goals apiece for the Panthers. Skyler Boucher and Collin Adair each had two goals to lead the Hawks.

“(There’s) nothing to be disappointed about. We met our goal this year. We were going to make it to states, and we made it to states,” coach Kyle Dennett said. “We should be happy with getting here. It stinks to lose, but they were the better team today. They came out to play, and I think we were just too excited. We’ve never been on this stage before.”

“They were faster than us, in the first place,” said Adair, a senior midfielder. “It wasn’t our day. It was definitely their day.”

The whole game wasn’t one-sided. The Hawks trailed only 2-1 and 3-2 early, and were a manageable three goals down at 6-3 with less than nine minutes to go in the first half.

But the Hawks couldn’t keep up with the Panthers for long, and as the lead mounted in the second half, a team that had made it to the title game on the strengths of rallies and upsets began to realize there wasn’t going to be another one Saturday.

“That game would have been closer if we didn’t give up on ourselves,” Boucher said. “We beat ourselves in that game, in my opinion. They wanted ground balls, and they wanted it more.”

NYA started fast, with Baker scoring with 10:21 left in the first and Loisel netting another just 31 seconds later. Boucher then struck on a man advantage to cut the deficit in half, slinging in a shot from 15 yards out with 9:16 left.

Goodrich had the next goal with 8:13 left, but Boucher buried a shot from the right with 7:10 to go to make it 3-2. NYA got the next three goals from Millett, Loisel and Baker, respectively, but Owen Austin ran up through the Panther defense and scored with 8:40 left in the second quarter to make it 6-3 and keep hopes alive.

“We battled back in the first half, but it just wasn’t the same in the second,” Adair said. “We just kind of lost some of our energy that we had the past couple of games after being scored on a couple of times.”

A big reason for that was NYA’s relentlessness. The Panthers got goals from Goodrich and Mason Parks to close out the half, continuing the afternoon’s theme of the Hawks being unable to build momentum.

“We would get a goal and they would get two,” Adair said. “We’re not used to going down like that.”

Down 8-3 at the half, the thought was sinking in that a rally was unlikely.

“When we went into halftime, we were down,” Boucher said. “We were beating ourselves.”

Baker made it 9-3 with 9:56 left, but Adair answered back just 17 seconds later. It was the Hawks’ last gasp; NYA tallied the next seven goals, with five going to Baker, one going to Kostelnik and the other going to Millett.

Any hopes of a Hawks rally were killed by their propensity for penalties. NYA had six man advantages in the second half alone, and scored on four of them.

“They scouted us, so we put in a six-man wheel,” said Baker, whose eight goals one-upped Hank Duvall’s and Miles Lipton’s seven from Waynflete’s victory in the first Class C title game a year ago. “The wheel works. They don’t know what to do.”

Adair stopped the run with a goal with 1:58 left, and Kostelnik rounded out the scoring with 15.9 seconds left. Hawks goalie Will Hays made eight saves for the game, while NYA’s Jared Buckner made seven.

Disappointed in the loss, Hawks players and coaches were still happy with the breakthrough season – and, with 27 of 34 players due back, what it will do for the program going forward.

“We learn from our loss, and we move forward,” Boucher said. “We’ll be back.”