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YARMOUTH—For much of Friday evening’s boys’ lacrosse showdown, the Yarmouth Clippers appeared to have the nemesis Cape Elizabeth Capers right where they wanted them.
Within hailing distance.
Until the Capers hit another gear as only they can, which changed the whole complexion of the game and reasserted the dominance of the two-time defending Class B state champions.
Yarmouth had more offensive success than usual against Cape Elizabeth in the first half and only trailed, 4-3, at halftime. That score stood until 5 minutes remained in the third quarter when an unlikely source, junior J Bottomley, snapped a 19 minute, 26 second drought and gave the Capers some breathing room. A goal late in the period from junior R.J. Sarka opened up the lead a little more.
Then, in the fourth quarter, Cape Elizabeth exploded.
The Capers would end all doubt by producing five goals in just under three minutes and after the Clippers scored for the first time in the half, Cape Elizabeth added four more goals for an avalanche of eight goals total in the final stanza as it went on to a decisive 14-5 victory.
The Capers had nine different players score, led by sophomore Owen Thoreck, who had had three goals, and got the finest performance of the season from junior goalie Alex Narvaez, who had 13 saves, most when the game was still close, as Cape Elizabeth improved to 10-1, snapped Yarmouth’s five-game win streak, beat the Clippers for the 14th consecutive time and dropped them to 8-3 in the process.
“I think it’s just another game off the schedule,” said longtime Cape Elizabeth coach Ben Raymond. “I’m pretty sure they’re not too worried about it. If we play in the state final, they’ll be excited no matter what. What’s important for us to know is that we can put numbers up against that team. It’s good for us to know if we move the ball and make good decisions, we can score goals. That will be helpful for us if we see them again.”
Entering play Friday, Cape Elizabeth had beaten Yarmouth 13 straight times, including each of the past two Class B state finals and the first encounter this spring, a 6-3 home win April 28.
Neither team has slipped up much during dominant campaigns.
The Capers romped at Waynflete in their opener, 18-6, then held off visiting Yarmouth, 6-3, in a state game rematch. Wins at Kennebunk (16-8) and at home over Wells (21-0) and Scarborough (10-4) were followed by a 19-11 victory at Falmouth, but on May 16, Cape Elizabeth dropped a thrilling 15-14 overtime decision at Brunswick for its first loss in two years. The Capers bounced back with a vengeance, defeating visiting Greely (13-1) and York (20-2) and rolling Wednesday at North Yarmouth Academy, 18-2.
Yarmouth opened with a 17-2 home win over York, then lost at Cape Elizabeth, 6-3. The Clippers downed visiting Greely (11-6) and won at Lake Region (15-0), but lost at home to Brunswick (14-8) before flipping the switch, enjoying a 14-3 home win over NYA, eking out a 7-6 overtime win at defending Class A champion South Portland, holding off host Falmouth, 8-6, dominating visiting Waynflete (9-1), then rolling at Kennebunk Wednesday, 10-2.
Friday, Yarmouth was seeking its first win over Cape Elizabeth since an 8-4 triumph May 3, 2010, but the Capers won in Yarmouth for the fifth year in a row.
By a final score that didn’t seem likely for much of the night.
On Senior Night (both teams’ seniors were honored before the game), playing in a thick fog, the Clippers got off to a fast start when sophomore Bill Jacobs scored unassisted just 38 seconds in, but that would be the host team’s highwater mark.
With 9:19 to play in the first period, Cape Elizabeth sophomore Connor Thoreck pounced on a rebound and sent a shot past Yarmouth senior goalie Connor Hoehle to tie the score, 1-1.
The Capers went on top to stay with 7:47 left in the first, when sophomore Owen Thoreck set up junior Riley Pillsbury for a goal.
The Clippers then had a man-up opportunity, but their only shot, from Jacobs, resulted in a Narvaez save.
With 5:30 to play in the quarter, Owen Thoreck scored unassisted, but with 2:17 left, Clippers junior Matthew Beatty fired a shot that eluded Narvaez and ricocheted into the goal off the post to cut the host team’s deficit to 3-2.
After Yarmouth again failed to score man-up, as another Jacobs shot was denied by Narvaez, Connor Thoreck (from senior Cole Caswell) scored with 26.8 seconds to go and Cape Elizabeth took a 4-2 lead to the second quarter.
Where the prolific Capers wouldn’t score a single goal.
Not that Yarmouth took much advantage.
After Narvaez denied Clippers senior Joe Oliva, Cape Elizabeth senior Andrew Kelly had a point-blank look, but Hoehle robbed him cold.
Yarmouth again went man-up, but for the third straight time, couldn’t tickle the twine as Narvaez saved a bid from senior Sam Morris.
Finally, with 56.7 seconds showing, the Clippers regained momentum when Beatty set up Jacobs for a goal and when junior Ricky Tillotson won the ensuing faceoff, Yarmouth coach David Pearl called timeout, hoping to set up a tying goal before the break.
It didn’t happen, as Jacobs was denied by Narvaez and despite an empty quarter, the Capers took a 4-3 advantage to halftime.
While Tillotson won eight of nine faceoffs, the Clippers committed 12 turnovers and that, combined with Narvaez’s five saves, kept the defending champs in the lead.
Yarmouth would have seven minutes to pull even in the third quarter, but never could do so.
The hosts only had one good look, but Jacobs shot just wide.
Then, with 5 minutes to play in the frame, the unheralded Bottomley took a pass from Sarka on the doorstep and beat Hoehle to make it 5-3.
“We have a really great offense,” said Bottomley. “Griffin, Owen and (senior) Ben (Shea) get so much attention and that frees us up sometimes on the crease. That allows other people to get opportunities. R.J. drew my man and I was wide open and he found me and I finished.”
That goal snapped a 19 minute, 26 second drought and began to turn the engine of the state’s most prolific offense.
Cape Elizabeth got even more momentum when Sarka somehow eluded three defenders before finishing with just 11.4 seconds to go in the third, which gave the Capers a 6-3 lead heading for the final stanza.
There, Yarmouth started with the ball and a nearly two-minute man-up situation after Capers senior Griffin Thoreck was sent to the sidelines for a cross-check penalty.
Again, the Clippers could do nothing with the advantage, as Jacobs managed one shot and Narvaez again made the stop.
“I was just tracking the ball a lot better than I have all season,” said Narvaez. “I felt like I could track any shot. They were far away, granted, but I felt I could see every shot into my stick.”
The finishing onslaught began innocently enough with 9:16 to play, when Caswell scored unassisted.
After Narvaez robbed Yarmouth sophomores Matt Dostie and Anders Newberg, Bottomley appeared to have his shot sent awry when he took a hit, but in a fortuitous turn of events, the ball went right to Owen Thoreck, who finished for an 8-3 lead with 7:27 to go.
Just 51 seconds later, after a Caswell shot hit the post, Caswell got the ball back from Sarka and this time tickled the twine for a six-goal advantage.
With 6:20 to go, senior defensive standout Noah Haversat collected the ball, raced into the offensive zone, saw a lane to the goal, took it and shot and beat Hoehle to make it 10-3.
Sixteen seconds later, the hosts finally converted a man-up opportunity and snapped a 18:52 drought, when Beatty fed Oliva, who solved Narvaez to make it 10-4.
The Capers took momentum right back, however, as Owen Thoreck scored unassisted with 5:38 left and 18 seconds later, Griffin Thoreck passed to Bottomley, who finished to make the score 12-4.
“I think once we get momentum, we build on that,” Bottomley said. “Everyone on the sidelines gets excited and we feed off the positive energy.”
“J’s very skilled,” Raymond said. “He consistently beats his man and made good decisions with the ball. It’s great when some of the other guys have successful days and the guys realize guys other than Griffin and Owen and Ben can score goals.”
Griffin Thoreck added a man-up goal with 3:22 remaining and after Dostie scored Yarmouth’s final goal, man-up, with 1:27 to play, Owen Thoreck set up Shea for a goal with just 17.5 seconds to go, which brought the curtain down on Cape Elizabeth’s 14-5 triumph.
“Yarmouth shut us down in the first half,” Narvaez said. “I was expecting a close game because of what’s happened in the past, so I was nervous. The first half went as I expected, but I wasn’t expecting the second half at all. That was out of the blue.”
“We had a good fourth quarter,” Raymond said. “They played really well in the first three quarters and their goalie made some good saves. their defense did a good job. (Senior Henry Oliva) had Griffin bottled up well. We found good matchups in the fourth quarter that worked better for us and the kids worked harder off the ball. One guy didn’t beat everybody. We developed the offense as the game went on. Hopefully we can not wait so long in the future.”
Cape Elizabeth’s balance was on display big-time, as Owen Thoreck had three goals, Bottomley, Caswell and Connor Thoreck added two apiece and Haversat, Pillsbury, Sarka, Shea and Griffin Thoreck all had one goal. Owen Thoreck also had three assists, while Sarka finished with two and Bottomley, Caswell and Griffin Thoreck had one apiece.
Narvaez had his best effort to date with 13 saves.
“(Alex) made great saves,” Raymond said. “I’d say it’s his best game of the year, without a doubt. We were waiting for that breakout game he had almost every game last year. He hasn’t seen as many shots this year. Tonight, he saw the ball well and made great saves. He stepped up to the challenge.”
Narvaez credited his defensive mates for his success.
“The defense does an amazing job,” Narvaez said. “We’ve been working on our slides and communication.”
“I think our defense has played the way we expected them to play since the Brunswick game,” he said. “We didn’t pressure the ball the way we wanted to in that game. When we don’t pressure the ball, it makes slides a little longer. We got pressure on the ball tonight. Noah Haversat probably caused at least eight, 10 turnovers. (Senior Jack Drinan’s) right there. Noah Wolfinger too. (Sophomores) Ben (Ekedahl) and Peyton (Weatherbie) can come in. We made things difficult for their offense.”
The Capers had a 37-35 edge in ground balls, as Haversat collected seven and Owen Thoreck finished with six.
Cape Elizabeth outshot Yarmouth, 43-27 (25-18 on cage), and overcame 17 turnovers.
The Clippers got two goals from Jacobs and one apiece from Beatty, Dostie and Joe Oliva. Beatty also had two assists. Hoehle made 11 saves and Tillotson impressed by winning 17 of 22 faceoffs and collecting a game-high nine ground balls.
“When you look at the score, you’d think we got killed, but anybody who was here realizes we were in it,” said Pearl. “We had our looks. Our offense needs to finish. We had multiple one-on-ones on their goalie. We made him look good. We hit his stick, we hit his body. He’s a good goalie. Those were positional saves. Our offense looked great tonight, we just couldn’t finish. We’re still struggling man-up. That’s been a point of emphasis, but you wouldn’t know it. We have to go back to work. It got a little disheartening at the end.”
Barring a major upset, Cape Elizabeth and Yarmouth will meet once more, on the big stage at Fitzpatrick Stadium for the Class B championship June 20.
While the Capers have the top seed and homefield advantage locked up in Western B, the Clippers (second to Maranacook/Winthrop in Eastern A) aren’t guaranteed anything. Yarmouth finishes at NYA Wednesday.
“We’re going to bounce back,” Pearl said. “You get knocked down, then you get back up. The measure of this team is going to be how they respond and I know they’ll respond. We’ve been facing adversity all season because we’re so injured. We’re starting freshmen and sophomores in the midfield.
“We finish at NYA, then it’s on to the postseason. I don’t think it matters where we’re ranked. Having homefield advantage is a clear advantage, but there’s something really fun about getting on a bus and bonding and going to another team. Call me crazy, but I enjoy the bus rides with the guys.”
Cape Elizabeth plays its Senior Night finale Tuesday versus Falmouth.
“(The Brunswick) loss made us realize we’ll have to work for it and persevere and keep trying our hardest all the time,” Bottomley said. “We just focus on the task at hand and go into every game thinking we’ll play our hardest. We want to come out on top no matter what. We just have to keep working hard in practice and get better every day.”
“I’m ready for another playoff run,” said Narvaez. “I’m confident in our team right now, but I know we can improve.”
“We’re trying to play our best lacrosse at the end of every year, not just this year,” Raymond added. “Playing Yarmouth and Falmouth at the end, those games are important. We’ll play our best game against Falmouth, because we’re pretty sure we’ll see them again. We just have to make sure we’re prepared for them.”
Cape Elizabeth senior Cole Caswell shoots past Yarmouth senior goalie Connor Hoehle.
Yarmouth junior Matthew Beatty winds up for a shot.
Cape Elizabeth senior Griffin Thoreck is tailed by Yarmouth sophomore Anders Newberg.
Cape Elizabeth sophomore Owen Thoreck fires one of his three goals past Yarmouth senior goalie Connor Hoehle.
Cape Elizabeth junior goalie Alex Narvaez keeps a wary eye on Yarmouth senior Luke Bray. Narvaez made 13 saves in the victory.
Cape Elizabeth sophomore Owen Thoreck is hounded by (left) Yarmouth senior Henry Oliva, sophomore Anders Newberg and senior Garrett Flanagan.
Yarmouth junior Ricky Tillotson keeps the ball away from the long stick of Cape Elizabeth senior Jack Drinan.
Cape Elizabeth senior Griffin Thoreck (12) and classmate Noah Haversat celebrate Haversat’s fourth period goal.
Cape Elizabeth 12 @ Yarmouth 8
@ Cape Elizabeth 10 Yarmouth 5
Yarmouth 9 @ Cape Elizabeth 3
@ Yarmouth 7 Cape Elizabeth 3
Class B State Final
Yarmouth 9 Cape Elizabeth 4
@ Cape Elizabeth 9 Yarmouth 5
@ Yarmouth 8 Cape Elizabeth 7
@ Yarmouth 4 Cape Elizabeth 3
Yarmouth 6 @ Cape Elizabeth 5
@ Cape Elizabeth 8 Yarmouth 6
@ Yarmouth 15 Cape Elizabeth 8
Cape Elizabeth 7 Yarmouth 6
@ Yarmouth 13 Cape Elizabeth 11
Yarmouth 15 @ Cape Elizabeth 7
Yarmouth 11 Cape Elizabeth 6
@ Cape Elizabeth 7 Yarmouth 1
Cape Elizabeth 9 Yarmouth 8 (OT)
Cape Elizabeth 16 @ Yarmouth 6
Cape Elizabeth 15 @ Yarmouth 6
Cape Elizabeth’s boys’ lacrosse team celebrates its 14-5 win at Yarmouth Friday night, the Capers’ 14th straight victory over the Clippers.
Jason Veilleux photos.
More photos below.
CE- 4 0 2 8- 14
Y- 2 1 0 2- 5
11:22 Y Jacobs (unassisted)
9:19 CE C. Thoreck (unassisted)
7:47 CE Pillsbury (O. Thoreck)
5;30 CE O. Thoreck (unassisted)
2:17 Y M Beatty (unassisted)
26.8 CE C. Thoreck (Caswell)
56.7 Y Jacobs (M. Beatty)
5:00 CE Bottomley (Sarka)
11.4 CE Sarka (unassisted)
9:16 CE Caswell (unassisted)
7:27 CE O. Thoreck (Bottomley)
6:36 CE Caswell (Sarka)
6:20 CE Haversat (unassisted)
6:04 Y J. Oliva (M. Beatty (MAN-UP)
5:38 CE O. Thoreck (unassisted)
5:20 CE Bottomley (G. Thoreck)
3:22 CE G. Thoreck (O. Thoreck) (MAN-UP)
1:27 Y Dostie (unassisted) (MAN-UP)
17.5 CE Shea (O. Thoreck)
CE- O. Thoreck 3, Bottomley, Caswell, C. Thoreck 2, Haversat, Pillsbury, Sarka, Shea, G. Thoreck 1
Y- Jacobs 2, M. Beatty, Dostie, J. Oliva 1
CE- O. Thoreck 3, Sarka 2, Bottomley, Caswell, G. Thoreck 1
Y- M. Beatty 2
Faceoffs (Yarmouth, 17-5)
CE- Raymond 3 of 19, Spencer 2 of 3
Y- Tillotson 17 of 22
Ground balls (Cape Elizabeth, 37-35)
CE- Haversat 7, O. Thoreck 6, Drinan 4, Raymond, Sarka 3, Caswell, C. Thoreck, G. Thoreck, Weatherbie, Wolfinger 2, Bottomley, Ekedahl, Narvaez, Shea 1
Y- Tillotson 9, Dostie, Leblanc, H. Oliva. J. Venden 3, Hoehle, Newberg, Rouda 2, Barton, M. Beatty, Bray, Flanagan, Garrett, Jacobs, Morris, J. Oliva 1
Shots on cage:
CE (Narvaez) 13
Y (Hoehle) 11