PORTLAND- The Brunswick boys’ lacrosse team traveled to Fitzpatrick Stadium Saturday morning hoping that history would repeat itself.
Two years ago, the Dragons battled Portland in the Class A Final on the Bulldogs’ homefield and enjoyed a 12-9 victory.
Saturday, Brunswick held Portland to nine goals again, but this time had little answer for a dominant Bulldogs defensive unit and saw its title quest and undefeated season end with a 9-3 setback.
“We’re proud of the boys, said Dragons coach Don Glover, who was named Maine’s Coach of the Year. “My goal was to be playing on the last day.
This is icing on the cake. We keep sending the message to the kids that
the goal is to play on the last day and play to their potential. This
group gave all they had.”
Three in a row
Brunswick, which lost to Scarborough in last year’s Class A Final, was rarely tested in its 12-0 regular season. The top-ranked Dragons then got past No. 4 Lewiston (8-6) and second-ranked Messalonskee (13-8) in the Eastern A playoffs to punch their ticket to the championship game.
Portland went 11-1, losing only to eventual Class B champion Yarmouth (11-9) and punished Massabesic, (21-2), South Portland (20-2) and Scarborough (14-1) in its bracket.
The teams’ second state final showdown quickly saw the Bulldogs emerge as the better squad, but Portland wasn’t able to turn an overwhelming edge in possession and opportunities into goals in the first half.
With 8:34 left in the opening quarter, Portland broke the ice and took the lead for good when senior Sam Guimond (from senior Andrew Holt) scored on the man-advantage. After a Dragons’ turnover, Portland made it 2-0 as senior goalie Nick Sterling fired a long pass to junior Gordon Parker, who set up Holt for the score.
Despite a 13-4 edge in shots, the Bulldogs couldn’t add to their lead, however, thanks in part to Brunswick goalie Jeremy Diaz, who made five saves in the first 12 minutes.
Portland got a third goal 2 minutes, 30 seconds in the second period when senior All-American K.R. Jurgelevich got free in front and beat Diaz, but the Bulldogs wouldn’t score again in the half, despite 11 total shots.
Portland had a big edge statistically at halftime (30-17 on ground balls, 24-9 on shots), but remained far from home-free, leading just 3-0.
The Bulldogs then seized control in the third period, scoring four times.
Just 51 seconds into the second half, Portland got it going again offensively as senior Tyler Sandler set up sophomore Caleb Kenney for a goal. With 9:51 left in the third period, just seconds after senior Erik Casparius hit the post on a shot, the Dragons finally got on the board as Tom Gibson scored unassisted, beating Sterling with a high shot.
Portland quickly responded, making it 5-1 with 8:15 left in the quarter when Sandler set up senior Kyle Roberts for a goal right in front. Fifty-eight seconds later, Jurgelevich stole the ball and broke in one-and-one against a helpless Diaz before scoring to push the lead to five. With 5:36 remaining in the third, Sandler (from senior Jason Smith) scored and it was a 7-1 game after three periods.
With victory seemingly a formality, Portland turned its game up yet another notch.
First, Kenney scored unassisted with 10:56 to play to make it 8-1. Brunswick got a goal back when Zach McMillan took a pass from Derek Beaulieu and scored at the 9:33 mark, but the Bulldogs then turned to their awesome, but all-too-frequently overlooked defense to slam the door.
The Dragons wouldn’t get any closer, while Portland was able to keep the pressure on offensively.
With 2:40 to go, Jurgelevich recorded his final high school goal, taking a pass from Kenney and scoring to make it 9-2. Win Gillis (from Mac Caputi) scored with 2:05 left, but that goal proved to be nothing but cosmetic as Portland soon ran out the clock and celebrated its 9-3 win.
The final statistics were heavily weighed in favor of Portland.
The Bulldogs had a commanding edge in ground balls (59-37) and shots (43-25). They forced 37 turnovers. Faceoffs were even (8-8).
Portland (15-1) got three goals and a game-high 14 ground balls from Jurgelevich. Kenney finished with two goals and an assist. Guimond, Holt (one assist), Roberts and Sandler (two assists) also scored. Parker and Smith added assists. Sterling stopped eight shots.
Brunswick (14-1) got 17 saves from Diaz and a goal apiece from Gibson, Gillis and McMillan. Beaulieu and Caputi each had an assist.
“We tried to run them down a little bit and change up some on defense,” said Glover. “We got caught up in some transition situations. They capitalized on those. We adjusted, but they’re a good, disciplined team. They’re a balanced group. They have depth at both ends of the field. They were able to capitalize. We played too much defense in the game. We were timid for awhile. We started a little sluggish and couldn’t get into a rhythm. Credit to Portland. When we get into a rhythm, we can be productive.”
Brunswick figures to be the favorite in Eastern A again next year and could easily find itself back in the state game.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brunswick senior All-American Max Rosner had little room to operate Saturday in the Class A state final.
Brunswick goalie Jeremy Diaz tries to make a point-blank save on Portland sophomore Caleb Kenney. The Dragons lost 9-3 to the Bulldogs.