FALMOUTH—When the two-time defending Class B champion Cape Elizabeth boys’ lacrosse team flips the switch, all you can do is sit back and say, ‘Wow!’
Tuesday evening, in a showdown at rival Falmouth, the Capers twice put on a show, demonstrating that when they’re at their best, no opponent has a chance.
First, Cape Elizabeth shot out of the gate, grabbing a 5-0 first quarter lead, thanks to nearly constant possession and a pair of goals from senior Ben Shea.
To the young Yachtsmen’s credit, they didn’t wilt and when sophomore Jack Scribner scored a man-up goal with 1:52 to play in the first half, the score was tied, 7-7, but Capers senior Griffin Thoreck put his team back on top, 8-7, at halftime.
Twice early in the third quarter, Falmouth tied the score, but Cape Elizabeth again elevated its game to a level no other team in Maine can touch, snapping a 9-9 tie when senior Andrew Kelly finished a Shea feed with 7:45 left, then adding six more goals in rapid succession to blow it open and push the score to 16-9 after three periods.
The Capers put the finishing touches on their victory from there, prevailing, 19-11.
Shea scored seven times, Thoreck added six goals and Cape Elizabeth improved to 6-0, dropping Falmouth to 5-2 in the process, as the Capers beat the Yachtsmen for the seventh straight time.
“We let them come back, then we buckled down and started taking off again,” Shea said. “We knew what we had to do. We ran our plays and they worked. When we work as a unit, we’re hard to stop. Falmouth-Cape games are the best games. It’s the rivalry, the intensity. It feels great to come out on top.”
Since Falmouth became an elite team in 2009, the Capers and Yachtsmen have met three times each season, with the third always coming in the Western Class B Final. Cape Elizabeth won four of those six playoff games and 11 of 17 games overall in that span (see sidebar, below).
Last year, the Capers swept three close games, then went on to win a second consecutive Class B title in perfect fashion. Cape Elizabeth is expected to be even better this spring and so far, hasn’t disappointed.
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) followed.
The Yachtsmen routed Freeport in the opener, 22-2, then held off host Scarborough, 11-10. A 14-13 loss at Kennebunk followed, but Falmouth bounced back and beat visiting North Yarmouth Academy, 7-3, host Fryeburg Academy, 15-2, and visiting Cheverus, 16-10.
Tuesday, the Yachtsmen sought their first win over the Capers since June 13, 2012, but instead, Cape Elizabeth’s firepower allowed it to extend its three-year win streak to 25.
Capers freshman Finn Raymond won the opening faceoff and the visitors struck first just 72 seconds in when Shea hinted at a big night to come by scoring unassisted for a 1-0 lead.
The second goal didn’t come until 6:05 remained in the first period, as Shea scored unassisted again.
Thoreck scored his first goal 12 seconds later. After Raymond won the faceoff, the ball came to Shea, who set up Thoreck for a shot which Falmouth sophomore goalie Liam Tucker couldn’t stop.
With 5:05 to play in the first, sophomore Owen Thoreck fought through a couple defenders before finishing and with 3:39 showing, junior R.J. Sarka scored an unassisted goal to make it 5-0.
As time wound down in the period, the Yachtsmen finally broke through.
After barely possessing most of the quarter, Falmouth got on the board with 14.3 seconds to go, when Scribner fought through traffic and finished to cut the deficit to 5-1.
As much as they were outplayed in the first period, that’s how much the Yachtsmen impressed in the second.
Scribner scored his second goal, unassisted, with 9:43 to play in the first half to cut the deficit to 5-2.
Seconds after a Capers penalty expired, Scribner set up senior C.J. Leighton with 8:52 remaining to make it 5-3.
Shea scored his third goal, man-up, from Griffin Thoreck with 7:43 left and Thoreck made it 7-3 on an unassisted goal 16 seconds later, but Scribner answered at 6:07. Senior Bryce Kuhn (from Scribner at 4:56), junior Austin Wheeler (unassisted at 3:58) and Scribner (from Leighton man-up at 1:52) then scored in succession to stunningly pull Falmouth into a 7-7 tie.
With 1:08 to go before halftime, Griffin Thoreck put Cape Elizabeth back on top, 8-7, but it was anyone’s game heading to halftime.
In the first half, the Capers held advantages in faceoffs, ground balls and shots, but their early momentum had disappeared.
Playing without senior defensive standout Noah Haversat (who injured his ankle against Scarborough) put Cape Elizabeth at a disadvantage.
“Defensively, we were a little unorganized,” Griffin Thoreck said. “Noah’s a vocal leader. Injuries are a pain in the neck, but we had to adjust.”
“It wasn’t lack of intensity,” said Capers coach Ben Raymond. “It was more what they were doing. They played really well offensively in that span and we didn’t play well defensively. We were unorganized. We’re used to having Noah there. That changed people’s roles a little bit.”
For the first four-plus minutes of the third period, it looked like the game would remain nip-and-tuck and go down to the wire, as Scribner tied the score, 8-8, with a man-up goal, Shea put the visitors back on top with a shot just inside the pipe, then junior George Gilbert made it 9-9 when he spun 360 degrees and beat Cape Elizabeth junior goalie Alex Narvaez with 9:49 left in the frame.
Then, the Capers put on a jawdropping offensive display to pull away.
Kelly put Cape Elizabeth ahead for good, 10-9, when he finished Shea’s pass with 7:45 to go.
With 6:16 left, junior Riley Pillsbury, while falling down, set up Griffin Thoreck for a two-goal lead.
With 5:15 showing, Shea scored unassisted after a nice individual effort.
The onslaught continued as Griffin Thoreck and Owen Thoreck both scored unassisted in a 30-second span.
With 2:02 to play in the third, Griffin Thoreck set up Shea for a goal and with 12.1 seconds remaining, Owen Thoreck fittingly capped the surge by scoring unassisted for a commanding 16-9 advantage.
“We moved the ball a little bit more,” Ben Raymond said. “Griffin really came alive that quarter. We put the ball on his stick. That’s what he needs to do, he has to step up. He doesn’t have to score goals, but he has to make it happen.”
Cape Elizabeth tacked on a couple more goals early in the fourth quarter, as Pillsbury set up Shea for a goal with 10:47 to play and two minutes later, sophomore Connor Thoreck scored unassisted to cap a 9-0 run.
With 6:51 remaining, Scribner scored unassisted to snap a 14 minute, 58 seconds drought. Scribner scored his seventh and final goal, man-up, 25 seconds later, but with 5:23 to go, Shea set up Griffin Thoreck for the goal which accounted for the 19-11 final score.
“Falmouth has a special place in our heart,” Griffin Thoreck said. “They’re a great team. We love coming here. It’s always a battle. It’s great to win on the road. (Falmouth) played awesome offensively, but once we were able to press up on their hands, we got the ball and we controlled the game. The slump was hard to get out of, but once we did, it was smooth sailing. We clicked on all cylinders offensively. We were moving off picks. We we move, everything comes to us and great shooters will put it in the net.”
“We shot really well,” Ben Raymond said. “We caused turnovers and we cleared really well. We always expect a quality game from Falmouth, especially here. They’re always well prepared and they know what we try to do. They’re young, but they’re learning and they’ll be a really difficult team to play at the end of the year. I’m happy the game was that tight. We can’t relax. We have to continue to get better.”
Shea had a breakout game with seven goals and three assists.
“It was really the pick plays,” Shea said. “I wasn’t dusting my guy. l got picks and got my hands free and that’s all it takes sometimes. I felt good out there.”
“When he hits his shots, he can fill any corner he wants,” Griffin Thoreck said. “He’s a phenomenal shooter.”
“Ben’s a very good shooter,” Ben Raymond added. “When we can get him the ball in the right spot, that’s when we’re most effective. He’s developing his game more and more.”
Griffin Thoreck, who didn’t have a single goal or assist against Scarborough, scored six times and added an assist.
“I had to start off with a good couple shots and after that, the game just comes to me,” Thoreck said. “It did and I kept it going.”
Owen Thoreck had three goals and Kelly, Sarka and Connor Thoreck all scored once. Pillsbury had two assists. Narvaez made five saves.
Cape Elizabeth won 18 of 33 faceoffs, had a 38-24 advantage on ground balls (senior Jack Drinan led the way with 10 and Raymond scooped up seven) and outshot Falmouth, 38-29 (29-16 on cage). The Capers overcame 14 turnovers.
The Yachtsmen got a standout performance from Scribner, who had seven goals and two assists.
“Luckily, Scribner stepped up,” said Falmouth coach Mike LeBel. “That’s the best performance I’ve seen an attackman put forth this season. It’s really impressive he could score like that against that defense.”
Gilbert, Kuhn, Leighton and Wheeler each had one goal. Leighton had an assist. Tucker made 10 saves and Mainella had a team-high five ground balls. Falmouth turned the ball over 18 times.
“They made athletic plays and went to the cage and we didn’t slide,” said LeBel. “It’s the experience they have. They know where to be. They play a more aggressive style. Not only were we not aggressive, but we didn’t slide appropriately. Finally it just wore us down. They have good players and took us one-on-one and made more plays.”
Falmouth (second in the Western B Heal Points standings) is idle until Tuesday of next week, when it will host two-time defending Eastern B champion Yarmouth. After going to Wells and Greely and hosting Kennebunk, the Yachtsmen finish the regular season at Cape Elizabeth June 2.
“We have so much inexperience and I can’t rush it,” LeBel said. “I can’t expect the guys to learn the game that fast. It’s a lot to ask. They’re good kids. They’re trying to do it. They don’t have the ability yet to do what I’m asking. We don’t have to win every game. The focus is more on us improving than on winning. We just have to improve every day.”
The top-ranked Capers might get their biggest test of all Saturday, when they go to Bowdoin College to battle defending Eastern A champion Brunswick at 10 a.m. After hosting Greely and York next week, Cape Elizabeth is at NYA and Yarmouth before closing at home against Falmouth.
“We can’t be complacent,” Griffin Thoreck said. “We have to play our game. When we play our game, when we’re clicking, I don’t think there’s a team that can stop us.”
“There’s no freebies these next few games,” Shea said. “We have to make a statement. We’ll rise to it. We have so many talented individuals, but if we work as a unit, we get it done.”
“We want to be tested,” Raymond added. “No matter what, we’re playing against athletic teams that have the best coaches we’ll see all year long. That’s great, playing quality games against quality opponents who will push us and hopefully make us get better.”
Cape Elizabeth senior Ben Shea winds up for a shot.
Cape Elizabeth senior Cole Caswell possesses the ball.
Falmouth junior George Gilbert tries to get past a Cape Elizabeth defender.
Falmouth senior Jack Mainella is defended by Cape Elizabeth freshman Finn Raymond after winning a faceoff.
Cape Elizabeth sophomore Owen Thoreck leaps and shoots on Falmouth sophomore goalie Liam Tucker.
Cape Elizabeth junior Riley Pillsbury tries to get past Falmouth junior Jack Bernier.
Cape Elizabeth junior R.J. Sarka scores a first quarter goal.
Falmouth sophomore Jack Scribner is defended by Cape Elizabeth sophomore Peyton Weatherbie. Scribner had seven goals and three assists, but it wasn’t enough.
Cape Elizabeth senior Ben Shea fires one of his seven goals past Falmouth sophomore goalie Liam Tucker.
Cape Elizabeth sophomore defenseman Peyton Weatherbie looks for an open teammate.
Falmouth junior Austin Wheeler possesses the ball.
@ Cape Elizabeth 6 Falmouth 3
Western B Final
@ Cape Elizabeth 11 Falmouth 7
Cape Elizabeth 12 @ Falmouth 5
Cape Elizabeth 8 @ Falmouth 4
Cape Elizabeth 10 @ Falmouth 3
@ Cape Elizabeth 8 Falmouth 3
Cape Elizabeth 12 @ Falmouth 2
@ Cape Elizabeth 13 Falmouth 4
Cape Elizabeth 13 @ Falmouth 2
Cape Elizabeth senior Ben Shea (4) beams following the Capers’ 19-11 win at Falmouth Tuesday night. Shea had seven goals and two assists as two-time defending Class B champion Cape Elizabeth made it 25 consecutive victories over three seasons.
CE- 5 3 8 3- 19
F- 1 6 2 2- 11
10:48 CE Shea (unassisted)
6:05 CE Shea (unassisted)
5:53 CE G. Thoreck (Shea)
5:05 CE O. Thoreck (unassisted)
3:39 CE Sarka (unassisted)
14.3 F Scribner (unassisted)
9:43 F Scribner (unassisted)
8:52 F Leighton (Scribner)
7:43 CE Shea (G. Thoreck) (MAN-UP)
7:27 CE G. Thoreck (unassisted)
6:07 F Scribner (unassisted)
4:56 F Kuhn (Scribner)
3:58 F Wheeler (unassisted)
1:52 F Scribner (Leighton) (MAN-UP)
1:08 CE G. Thoreck (unassisted)
10:57 F Scribner (unassisted) (MAN-UP)
10:08 CE Shea (unassisted)
9:49 F Gilbert (unassisted)
7:45 CE Kelly (Shea)
6:16 CE G. Thoreck (Pillsbury)
5:15 CE Shea (unassisted)
4:22 CE G. Thoreck (unassisted)
3:52 CE O. Thoreck (unassisted)
2:02 CE Shea (G. Thoreck)
12.1 CE O. Thoreck (unassisted)
10:47 CE Shea (Pillsbury)
8:48 CE C. Thoreck (unassisted)
6:51 F Scribner (unassisted)
6:26 F Scribner (unassisted) (MAN-UP)
5:23 CE G. Thoreck (Shea)
CE- Shea 7, G. Thoreck 6, O. Thoreck 3, Kelly, Sarka, C. Thoreck 1
F- Scribner 7, Gilbert, Kuhn, Leighton, Wheeler 1
CE- Shea 3, Pillsbury 2, G. Thoreck 1
F- Scribner 2, Leighton 1
Faceoffs (Cape Elizabeth, 18-15)
CE- Raymond 16 of 28, Spencer 2 of 5
F- Mainella 15 of 33
Ground balls (Cape Elizabeth, 38-24)
CE- Drinan 10, Raymond 7, Ekedahl 6, Pillsbury 5, Narvaez, Shea, Spencer 2, Caswell, Sarka, Weatherbie, Wolfinger 1
F- Mainella 5, Kuhn, Wheeler 4, Russell, E. Zinn 2, Bernier, Gilbert, Leighton, Masciangelo, Scribner, Tucker, Valle 1
Shots on cage:
CE (Narvaez) 5
F (Tucker) 10