CAPE ELIZABETH—Two nights after an emotional, pivotal come-from-behind win over rival Falmouth, the Cape Elizabeth boys’ lacrosse team was ripe for a letdown when Kennebunk paid a visit to Hannaford Field Friday night.
But these Capers, as they continue to round into the form they hope will deliver a state title in four weeks, refused to follow that script.
Thanks in large part to the best defense in the state.
One which soon may be among the best in the history of Maine high school lacrosse.
While Cape Elizabeth’s offense struggled to solve Rams junior goalie Ben Bath, beating him just five times, that proved to be five more goals than Kennebunk managed as the Capers pitched a rarely seen shutout, 5-0.
Cape Elizabeth junior goalie Gabe McGinn only had to make two saves and the offense was led by senior Alex Bornick, who scored three times, as the Capers made it seven wins in a row, improved to 8-1, handed the Rams’ their second loss in 10 outings and essentially locked up homefield advantage for the upcoming playoffs in the process.
“The defense played really well,” said longtime Cape Elizabeth coach Ben Raymond. “They were outstanding. It’s rare to shut a quality team out. Kennebunk has some good players on offense and we limited their touches by doing a great job of pressuring. We slid well. We played solid team defense.”
For many years, Kennebunk was one of Cape Elizabeth’s biggest rivals and from 2001-07, the teams met in the playoffs every spring. The Capers usually got the better of the Rams (please see sidebar, below), but in 2006, Kennebunk won the Western B Final in overtime, setting up a scenario where for the first time ever, Cape Elizabeth wasn’t in a state final. Proving that wasn’t a fluke, the Rams did it again the next year, but in 2008, Kennebunk moved up to Class A (the Rams will return to Class B next year). The teams have met six times since, but the Capers have dominated, winning them all, by a composite 79-27 margin.
Kennebunk dazzled the first two-thirds of its season, winning all eight games, while only being tested once (a 5-3 victory over Thornton Academy). The run ended with a 5-4 loss at three-time defending Class A state champion Scarborough Wednesday night, but the Rams almost came back to steal it.
Cape Elizabeth, meanwhile, opened with a 19-0 blanking of visiting Lake Region. The Capers were then upset at North Yarmouth Academy, 9-6, but bounced back with an 11-10 overtime win at Falmouth, then handled visiting Waynflete, 16-9, previously unbeaten Yarmouth, 7-5, host Greely, 8-4, and host Cheverus, 6-2. Wednesday, the Capers were down three goals to visiting Falmouth early in the second half, but shut the Yachtsmen out the final 18 minutes, 39 seconds, closed the game on a 5-0 run and prevailed, 9-6, to stretch their win streak to six.
Friday, Cape Elizabeth made it seven in a row and seven straight over Kennebunk, in memorable fashion.
When Bornick took a pass from senior Justin Cary and beat Bath just 1 minute, 37 seconds in, it looked like it might be a night for offense, but the Capers didn’t score again in the first quarter.
The Rams, meanwhile, couldn’t get anything going on offense, as Cape Elizabeth’s defense, led by seniors Adam Haversat and Brandon Negele, junior Trevor Gale and sophomore Curtis Alexander, made life miserable for the visitors, forcing 13 turnovers in the first 12 minutes alone.
In the meantime, Bath was keeping his team in the game with 10 first half saves, none more memorable than when he robbed Cary point blank with 7:21 to go before halftime.
A minute later, the Capers broke through and snapped a 16 minute, 5 second drought when sophomore Griffin Thoreck fired a shot past Bath.
Cape Elizabeth took a 2-0 lead at halftime as the Rams managed just two shots (only one on cage), while turning the ball over 22 times.
With 7:31 to play in the third period, just as a slashing penalty on Kennebunk junior Nicco Delorenzo was expiring, Bornick took a pass from senior Cam Wilson and beat Bath to make it 3-0.
With 5:02 to go, Bath returned to his wizardry, denying Wilson after Wilson made several spin moves to elude the defense.
The Capers tacked on a fourth goal with 1:28 left in the period when junior Thomas Feenstra scored unassisted.
A minute, 31 seconds into the fourth quarter, Wilson set up Bornick for his third and final goal.
With 7:23 left, in a scary moment, Bornick caught a pass and never saw a hit coming from a Kennebunk player who was just entering the field of play. Bornick was helped off the field in obvious discomfort, but claimed afterwards that he was OK.
“He came out of the box and got me where there we no pads, in the ribs,” said Bornick. “It took my breath away, but I’m fine.”
From there, the only remaining drama was if Cape Elizabeth could complete the shutout.
The answer was a resounding yes and the Capers (who have now gone 66 minutes and 39 seconds of game time without surrendering a goal) prevailed, 5-0.
“We have a whole defensive package we can throw at teams,” Negele said. “We can switch between seven or eight different defenses. You never know what’s coming from where or what we’re doing. Another thing which really helped us tonight was our ride. We have a bunch of different slides on our ride, which utilize everyone on the field. We never want to come out slow. We want to come out firing with everything we’ve got for four quarters. We wanted to build on our momentum.”
“Like always, our defense got it done,” said Bornick. “Their stick skills and foot position and ability to break down an offense makes them great. In practice, they always pick off the passes. Adam’s a magician.”
“We had a goal at the beginning of the week to go undefeated this week and focus on these games that were worth a lot of (Heal Points),” Raymond added. “I’m no math major, but I think this locks up homefield. We should be solidly in first. We did a really good job in practice all week, the game the other night and in tonight’s game. We executed and finished when we needed to.”
Cape Elizabeth had avoided a letdown.
“We recognized from the start that after the Falmouth game, we had to be focused,” Bornick said. “We had to treat (Kennebunk) like they were Falmouth. They’d only lost one game. We came in with confidence and put it away.”
“It was the seniors’ last day of school and they were outside all day, so that was much more of my concern than where they were mentally,” said Raymond. “I had to go out and tell Justin not to ride a bike with no handlebars and Adam was riding a moped with no shoes on. The prom’s tomorrow. There’s a lot of things going through these guys’ minds.”
Bornick had three goals and Feenstra and Thoreck one apiece to pace the offense. Wilson added two assists and Cary had one. Bath prevented further damage with 16 saves, many of them highlight reel material.
“He’s a great goalie, but I think we should have had more go in,” Bornick said. “We’re working on moving up earlier, getting that extra pass and making the goalie move so we can have easy shots on the doorstep. When we have that many chances, we need to realize outside shots won’t go in on a goalie like that. It was low scoring, but we got it done.”
“Their goalie played really well,” Raymond said. “He was good on outside shots. We had to get in tight to make him move. We got the looks we wanted, which means the offense is working. We’re getting kids in the spots we want them to be, but we’re not finishing as much as we’d like. We need to focus on where we shoot it, not how hard we shoot it.”
Haversat had a team-high eight ground balls. Negele collected seven. Junior goalie Gabe McGinn only had to make two saves as the defense forced 38 turnovers. Several defenders even got involved on the offense at times.
“Our defensive players have terrific stick skills, better than a lot of our offensive players,” Raymond said. “We ask them to run the field. They cross the 50-yard line and they see the goal and they’re going. We’re trying to fix that.”
Cape Elizabeth finished with a 36-9 shots advantage (21-2 on cage). The Capers overcame 23 turnovers.
Kennebunk goes to South Portland for a key Western A battle Tuesday, then finishes the regular season at home versus Deering May 29.
After playing Pinkerton, N.H., in an annual exhibition game Monday, the Capers get a momentary breather Tuesday when they go to Fryeburg, then they finish with a home game versus NYA May 24 and a trip to Yarmouth May 30.
“There’s always something we can improve on,” Negele said. “It’s really the little things. The more games we have, the better we’ll get.”
“We want to get better and better,” Bornick said. “We want to stay focused and we want to put it away.”
“We have Pinkerton Monday and they’re always the top team in New Hampshire,” Raymond added. “We’ve played them at least the last 12 years. Then we have NYA here and finish up with Yarmouth. That’s a great way to finish the schedule and get ready for the playoffs. I hope we’re not peaking. I don’t feel like we are, but I feel like we’re improving. I feel like we need to be more consistent on the offensive end of the field.”
Cape Elizabeth 12 @ Kennebunk 3
@ Cape Elizabeth 15 Kennebunk 2
Cape Elizabeth 15 @ Kennebunk 7
Cape Elizabeth 9 @ Kennebunk 4
Cape Elizabeth 13 @ Kennebunk 8
@ Cape Elizabeth 15 Kennebunk 3
@ Cape Elizabeth 6 Kennebunk 5
Western B Final
@ Kennebunk 8 Cape Elizabeth 5
Cape Elizabeth 12 @ Kennebunk 11
Western B Final
@ Kennebunk 8 Cape Elizabeth 7 (OT)
West Region semifinals
@ Cape Elizabeth 11 Kennebunk 3
West Region Final
@ Cape Elizabeth 12 Kennebunk 3
@ Cape Elizabeth 14 Kennebunk 4
Cape Elizabeth 11 Kennebunk 6
West Region semifinals
@ Cape Elizabeth 19 Kennebunk 4
Cape Elizabeth 12 @ Kennebunk 11
@ Cape Elizabeth 11 Kennebunk 7
@ Cape Elizabeth 9 Kennebunk 6
K- 0 0 0 0- 0
CE- 1 1 2 1- 5
10:23 CE Bornick (Cary)
6:18 CE Thoreck (unassisted)
7:31 CE Bornick (Wilson) (MAN-UP)
1:28 CE Feenstra (unassisted)
10:29 CE Bornick (Wilson)
CE- Bornick 3, Feenstra, Thoreck 1
CE- Wilson 2, Cary 1
CE- Drinan 4 of 8
Ground balls (Cape Elizabeth, 48-44)
CE- A. Haversat 8, Negele 7, Barber, Lynch, Wilson, Yokabaskas 4, Alexander, Bornick, Gale 3, Cary, Feenstra, N. Haversat 2, McGinn, Thoreck 1
Shots on cage:
K (Bath) 16
CE (McGinn) 2