CAPE ELIZABETH—Wednesday evening’s boys’ lacrosse showdown between the host Capers of Cape Elizabeth and high-powered Yachtsmen of Falmouth had a distinct postseason feel.
While hopefully it will be much warmer and drier four weeks from today when the rivals will likely meet again, with a regional title on the line, June lacrosse will have to go a long way to measure up to this instant classic.
Cape Elizabeth, the defending Class B state champion, stinging from an earlier eight-goal loss at Falmouth and an upset setback at Lewiston last weekend, raced to a quick 5-1 lead before the Yachtsmen came to life.
Falmouth managed to tie the score at 5-5 early in the second half, but the Capers went up 7-5 and still clung to a one-goal lead as time wound down, only to watch as the visitors managed to force overtime when senior Nick Bachman scored an improbable goal with all of two seconds showing in regulation.
Then, in the extra session, both teams had good looks, but as he did virtually all night Cape Elizabeth senior goalie Jack Roos stood tall until Capers senior Wilson Laprade took a pass from classmate Casey O’Donovan and ended the evening with a goal, giving the Capers a dramatic and confidence-boosting 8-7 victory.
Cape Elizabeth improved to 6-2 with the win, ending Falmouth’s unbeaten run and dropping the Yachtsmen to 7-1.
“This means so much,” said Laprade, who delivered his first career overtime winner. “There was so much anticipation and energy going into the game.”
Cape Elizabeth and Falmouth have set themselves apart this spring, Friday’s stumble at Lewiston notwithstanding.
The Capers entered 2011 full of confidence that they could go back-to-back for the first time since 2002 and 2003, but a 12-4 loss at Falmouth served as an early wakeup call. Cape Elizabeth bounced back to defeat visiting Freeport (14-0), Kennebunk (15-2), Yarmouth (13-2) and North Yarmouth Academy (17-2) before winning at Greely, 14-8 and being upset at the Blue Devils.
The Yachtsmen built on their win in the opener with decisive victories over visiting Waynflete (17-5), defending Class A champion Scarborough (13-3), visiting North Yarmouth Academy (14-2) and host York (15-5). Last Friday, Falmouth ended Yarmouth’s nine-year, 73-game home win streak, 14-5, and less than 24 hours later, easily handled visiting Brunswick, 13-1.
In last year’s regional final at Falmouth, Cape Elizabeth beat the Yachtsmen in overtime, 7-6.
Wednesday, the Capers would do it again, suggesting that the rivals remain as close as can be.
The first period was a feeling-out process which saw Falmouth junior standout Abyn Reabe-Gerwig win every faceoff and the Yachtsmen enjoy an edge in shots, but Roos made five saves.
Cape Elizabeth went on top with 9:04 to go in the 12-minute opening stanza thanks to an unassisted goal from senior Timmy Takach. With 4:20 to play in the quarter, Takach fed sophomore Justin Cary for a goal and a 2-0 lead. The visitors finally got on the board with 1:58 left when senior Johnny Goodrich scored unassisted.
The Capers dominated the early phase of the second period as junior Thomas Bottomley (from junior Tim Lavallee at 9:15), senior Teddy Smith (from Takach after a turnover at 7:11) and Takach (unassisted at 6:49) all beat Falmouth junior goalkeeper Cam Bell to make it a 5-1 game.
“(Falmouth junior) Mike Ryan did a nice job shutting down Timmy Lavallee,” said Cape Elizabeth coach Ben Raymond. “Timmy Takach had the mismatch tonight. He beat his man and he shot well.”
The Yachtsmen’s prolific offense (which entered the game averaging 14 goals per contest) finally came to life as halftime neared.
With 1:25 showing, Bachman took a pass from Cooleen and beat Roos to make it 5-2. After Roos denied Falmouth sophomore standout Will Sipperly in close and Bachman sent a low shot just wide of the cage, senior Brendan McDonnell took a pass from junior Mitch Tapley and scored with just 10.4 seconds to go to pull the Yachtsmen within 5-3 at the break.
“The great thing is we learned about what teams will do against us and we made some nice adjustments,” said Yachtsmen coach Mike LeBel. “We made some mistakes in the first half, but we came back.”
Falmouth dominated statistically in the first half, but nine saves by Roos kept the hosts on top.
The Yachtsmen would draw even in the third period, but were never able to take the lead.
With 9:27 to go, Tapley again fed McDonnell and it was 5-4. Just 46 seconds later, Sipperly, after nice individual move, scored unassisted to tie the score.
The game remained deadlocked for several minutes thanks to stellar goalkeeping from both Roos and Bell. Finally, with 58.9 seconds remaining in the quarter, Takach scored an unassisted goal and the Capers were back on top, 6-5.
When Laprade set up Smith for a goal 35 seconds into the fourth, Cape Elizabeth had restored its halftime lead of two goals, 7-5, but with 9:43 to play, Bachman scored unassisted and the tension ratcheted back up a notch.
The score would stay 7-6 for almost the rest of the game, but Falmouth was unrelenting in its quest to draw even.
With 6:06 to play, McDonnell appeared primed to tie the score, but his shot hit the post. A little over a minute later, Bachman’s bid was denied by Roos. With 4:32 to go, Tapley’s shot in close was saved. With 1:55 remaining, Bachman unleashed a shot, but Roos again stood in the way. With 44.1 seconds to go, Sipperly hit the post and it appeared the Yachtsmen would fall frustratingly short.
Not so fast.
With time winding down in regulation, Cooleen chased down a ground ball near midfield, turned and floated a pass that senior Zach Alexander somehow caught despite stiff defensive pressure. Alexander then found Bachman, who one-timed a blast that Roos couldn’t save.
The clock showed 2 seconds and just like that, the game was tied, 7-7, and it was on to overtime.
In Maine boys’ high school lacrosse, teams play four-minute “sudden victory” periods until someone scores. It took more than three minutes to determine a winner, but the Capers would get the better of the Yachtsmen in extra time once more.
Cape Elizabeth managed to win the faceoff in overtime, but turned the ball over, giving Falmouth a chance to cap its comeback win.
Sure enough, the Yachtsmen managed to get off a shot as Sipperly did the honors, but Roos made the save, ensuring the game continued.
“Sometimes goalies get a little tight in overtime and we thought that if we got a shot on goal, it would be tough to save,” LeBel said. “We did and Roos came up big.”
Alexander was then called for a penalty, giving the Capers a chance to win the game playing man-up, but they again turned the ball over. At the other end, Alexander looked to win it, but Roos stopped him cold. After yet another turnover by the hosts, Tapley fought his way in close and fired, but Roos managed to keep the ball out of the cage.
Cape Elizabeth then transitioned and kept possession and finally ended the game.
First, Laprade took a pass in close and prepared to shoot, but was taken out of the play on a hit from Falmouth senior defender Caleb Bowden. The ball shot out of his stick, but was run down by Cary and the Capers kept possession.
Then, senior Casey O’Donovan raced in and found Laprade and this time, the senior wouldn’t be stopped. Laprade fired a rocket and Bell had no chance to make the save.
The ball flew into the net and the Capers had an 8-7 victory, unleashing pandemonium on the field.
“We had the momentum almost the whole game and they got it at the end,” Laprade said. “Roos made two nice stops in overtime. Once we got it down there, we knew we could score. Casey beat his man up high and their defenseman slid early. Casey made a great pass. I was on the doorstep. I was hoping to score that one. It was really sweet. It means a lot after last week. We played really well, then lost to Lewiston. We had a breakdown. This gives us confidence when we needed it against the No. 1 team in the state. We’re so evenly matched.”
“Those guys definitely are the team to beat right now,” Roos said, of Falmouth. “We really had to bring a certain intensity tonight. We did and it was worth it. They’re a really good team. They scored with two seconds left. Not many teams can do that in a high-pressure environment. It was tough and it hurt to give that up, but we still had overtime to get it done and we did. We had a little trouble getting it going in overtime, then we put one in.”
“It was a good game,” Raymond added. “Both teams played well at times. Both teams played not well at times. It what you expect this time of year. It was definitely good to come out on top, especially after being on top most of the game. They tied it up and the kids could have easily been down about that, but they got past it quickly and did a great job in overtime.
“Both goalies made great saves. The guys were probably down a little bit (going to overtime), but they didn’t let it get to them at all. We didn’t expect to get the ball after the faceoff. We were prepared to go into overtime and play defense and when we got our chance, find a matchup we liked. I think (winning this game) definitely helps the kids, but if we’d lost in overtime, I think we would have taken the same message away.”
Takach led Cape Elizabeth’s offense with three goals and two assists. Smith scored twice, while Bottomley, Cary and Laprade (who also had an assist) had one goal apiece. Lavallee also finished with an assist. Lavallee and junior Brian Brett led the team with six ground balls each.
“We were definitely better defensively than the first game,” Raymond said. “We were more prepared. The first game, we didn’t prepare at all. We were solely focused on what we wanted to do. Tonight, we added some of their tendencies to what we wanted to do. We didn’t talk about winning or the score. I had eight goals I wanted us to achieve. We probably accomplished half of them. The focus is winning the game that really counts (at the end of the season). The kids understood that, but they’re competitors so they want to win.”
Roos stole the show (and perhaps the win) by making 21 saves, most of them of the clutch variety.
“From what I’ve heard, Jack hasn’t played that well lately, but you always know he can play a great game,” LeBel said. “He played phenomenal. We ran into a buzzsaw today. We shot well, he just made good saves. We had very good opportunities, couldn’t finish and they finally made the play at the end.”
Falmouth got three goals from Bachman, two from McDonnell and one apiece from Goodrich and Sipperly. Tapley had two assists, Alexander and Cooleen one each. Junior defensive standout Michael Ryan collected a game-high eight ground balls. Bachman and Reabe-Gerwig both finished with six. Bell made 16 saves.
“That’s a heck of a team over there,” said LeBel, of the Capers. “It’s not like they got lucky. The played very well. Kudos to them. They played a hell of a game. It took us a long time to get going. We’re still trying to figure out what teams are going to do to try and slow us down. It takes us a little while to figure it out. I think we eventually did.”
The final statistics, as expected, were pretty even.
Each team won nine faceoffs as Reabe-Gerwig and Takach split their encounters. Both squads finished with 38 ground balls. Falmouth had a 39-24 edge in shots, but only 28-24 in shots on cage. The Capers turned the ball over 25 times to just a dozen for the visitors.
Cape Elizabeth and Falmouth are almost certain to see each other again, but both have work to do first as the regular season nears its conclusion.
The Yachtsmen (first in the Western Class B Heal Points standings and in the latest coaches’ poll) host Yarmouth Friday and Greely next Wednesday before closing on the road at NYA and Freeport.
Falmouth will use this loss as a positive.
“I think we’ll still get homefield advantage for the playoffs,” LeBel said. “(This loss is) not a bad thing. We’ll get the kids focused. It’s a great learning experience. We know what to work on now and we’ll fix it.”
The Capers (second in Western B, third in the coaches’ poll) go to NYA Friday, York next Wednesday and Yarmouth on May 27 before finishing at home against Waynflete May 31.
“We’ll keep building on this success,” said Roos. “The most important thing to keep building.”
If the rivals square off a third time this spring it will be in the Western B Final on June 15, almost certainly in Falmouth.
That would be a can’t-miss affair.
“We have bragging rights for now,” Laprade said. “We have momentum going into the next time we play them.”
“We’re two even teams,” Raymond added. “Whoever plays well and makes the fewest mistakes will win. That’s what it will come down to. A lot of little things.”
F- 1 2 2 2 0- 7
CE- 2 3 1 1 1- 8
9:04 CE Takach (unassisted)
4:20 CE Cary (Takach)
1:58 F Goodrich (un)
9:15 CE Bottomley (Lavallee)
7:11 CE Smith (Takach)
6:49 CE Takach (un)
1:25 F Bachman (Cooleen)
10.4 F McDonnell (Tapley)
9:27 F McDonnell (Tapley)
8:41 F Sipperly (un)
58.9 CE Takach (un)
11:25 CE Smith (Laprade)
9:43 F Bachman (un)
2.0 F Bachman (Alexander)
1:14 CE Laprade (O’Donovan)
F- Bachman 3, McDonnell 2, Goodrich, Sipperly 1
CE- Takach 3, Smith 2, Bottomley, Cary, Laprade 1
F- Tapley 2, Alexander, Cooleen 1
CE- Takach 2, Laprade, Lavallee 1
F- (Bell) 16
CE- (Roos) 21
F- Reabe-Gerwig 9-of-18
CE- Takach 9-of-18
Ground balls (38-38)
F- Ryan 8, Bachman, Reabe-Gerwig 6
CE- Brett, Lavallee 6
Shots on cage: