CAPE ELIZABETH — For more than two decades, the Cape Elizabeth boys’ lacrosse program, one without peer in the state of Maine, has considered itself a family.
Former players long past their glory days return to encourage the new generation of stars, gently reminding them of what’s expected.
Last June, after what had to seem like an eternity of five years away from the pinnacle, the Capers won the Class B state championship, peaking in June and upsetting Falmouth and Yarmouth in a memorable four-day span to set off a long-awaited celebration.
This past week has seen the other end of the emotional spectrum in Cape Elizabeth.
After the sudden passing last Friday of Thomas Laprade, father of four boys, including senior Wilson Laprade, one of the Capers’ top players, the lacrosse family closed ranks, gave a community something positive on which to focus and most importantly, gave solace to Wilson, who chose to play two games in a three-night span.
And he didn’t just play.
He played superbly.
Saturday night, three days after blanking visiting Freeport (14-0) for its first win of the season, Cape Elizabeth had its way with visiting Kennebunk in a 15-2 triumph. Laprade scored once and assisted on three other goals. Senior Teddy Smith led the way with six goals. Classmate Casey O’Donovan added three.
Monday night brought the biggest test since a season-opening 12-4 loss at Falmouth, way back on April 15.
Coming to town was Yarmouth, which in recent years had threatened to surpass the Capers as the state’s premier program, but Cape Elizabeth had beaten the Clippers twice in a row (including last June) and with Laprade and his teammates fired up, Yarmouth stood no chance.
With 5:15 to go in the first period, Laprade set up O’Donovan for the game’s first goal and the Capers were ahead to stay. They’d add five more in the second quarter, including one from Laprade, playing man-up, to make it 5-0. The lead was 6-0 at the break.
Things didn’t get any better for the visitors in third period.
Just 45 seconds in, Laprade scored (from junior Tim Lavallee). Laprade added another goal 53 seconds later (unassisted) for an 8-0 bulge. Three straight Smith goals pushed the lead to 11-0.
From there, it was academic and Cape Elizabeth went on to the 13-2 triumph.
“We passed the ball around really well,” said Laprade. “We have good shooters. We got everything done we needed to do. Rival games are always different because of the atmosphere.”
Smith led all scorers with five goals, but Laprade was the biggest story, scoring three goals and adding an assist.
He certainly has plenty of support.
“(Wilson’s) one of my closest friends,” said Smith. “We try to keep him going. I give him a ton of credit. We try to do the best we can to rally around him.”
“Wilson’s been outstanding,” added Cape Elizabeth coach Ben Raymond. “He’s just trying to keep some sense of normalcy around him. He has a great group of friends. There are 10 seniors who are really tight. What better place for him to come than here to forget about things for a couple hours a day. Unfortunately, we’ve been through things like this before with other boys and other families. The great thing about it is it’s a close group of kids and coaches. We spend a lot of time together. We’re helping him and his family as best we can. He wants for us to be normal. He played outstanding tonight and the other night.”
Cape Elizabeth will be home Saturday versus NYA. Next week brings trips to Greely and Lewiston. A rematch with Falmouth (at home) awaits May 18. Despite the ease of Monday’s win, the Capers know they still have a long way to go in their quest to repeat.
“We have to work things out throughout the season,” said Laprade. “The first game was a challenge. The same thing happened last season (and we won the championship). Hopefully the same thing happens this year.”
Future tests and championship runs, for now, take a backseat to real life.
For Wilson Laprade and his family, for a few glorious hours, lacrosse provided a wonderful distraction.
“Everyone’s been really supportive,” Laprade said. “Cape lacrosse has offered everything they have. It means a lot to know everyone’s there for you. It’s encouraging. I have to be able to go out there and be with my buddies. Everything’s changing at home. It’s good to be out here and be around my friends. Keep things like they were before.”
Senior Wilson Laprade displayed courage and excellence during Monday night’s 13-2 home win over rival Yarmouth. Laprade, just three days after the death of his father, scored three times to help lead Cape Elizabeth to an inspirational victory.