After dousing coaches Ben Raymond (grey shirt) and Charlie Carroll with water, Cape Elizabeth’s boys’ lacrosse team rushes the field to celebrate Saturday’s 16-7 win over Yarmouth in the Class B state final. The Capers won their fourth championship in five seasons.
Chris Lambert photos.
More photos below.
The state’s most storied boys’ lacrosse program returned to the pinnacle Saturday afternoon, but their opponent, one which possesses no shortage of pride itself, certainly didn’t make it easy.
Cape Elizabeth’s regional final victory over Falmouth Wednesday was viewed by many as the de facto state championship, but the Yarmouth Clippers had other ideas and at one point in the third period, only trailed the heavily favored Capers by three goals, but Cape Elizabeth, which shot to an early 5-0 lead, saved its best for last and pulled away to prevail, 16-7.
“We reminded the guys how important it was,” said longtime Capers coach Ben Raymond. “Falmouth wasn’t the last game. We wanted to win the last game, especially for our seniors. They did a great job making sure everyone stayed focused. They went out the right way.”
Cape Elizabeth has long been the gold standard in the sport, winning 19 previous championships (10 since the Maine Principals’ Association began sanctioning the sport in 1998), but a year ago, the Capers’ quest for a fourth straight crown was dashed in stunning fashion by Falmouth, which won, 7-5, in the Class B South Final, handing Cape Elizabeth its first ever home playoff loss.
This spring, it was clear from the get-go that it was the Capers and Yachtsmen, then everyone else in Class B.
Cape Elizabeth opened the season by letting a lead slip away and losing again at home to Falmouth, 9-8. The Capers didn’t fall again, winning their final 11 regular season contests by a composite 174-33 margin.
Cape Elizabeth’s win over the Yachtsmen in the rematch, 8-5, at Falmouth May 20, gave it the top seed for the Class B South tournament and after earning a bye into the semifinals, the Capers had no trouble with fourth-ranked Wells in the semifinals (18-2) before holding off the second-ranked Yachtsmen’s furious late rally in a 6-5 regional final triumph.
Yarmouth had a very different experience this spring, but still wound up in the state game for the fifth year in a row.
The Clippers suffered decisive early losses to eventual Class A champion Brunswick, Cape Elizabeth and Falmouth and wound up just 6-6, but as the No. 6 seed in Class B North, saved their best for last, knocking off No. 3 Erskine Academy (17-2), seventh-seeded Maranacook/Winthrop (11-1) and Gardiner (13-2) to advance.
Prior to Saturday, the teams had met nine prior times in the state final with the Capers winning six, including four in a row. The most recent came two years ago, when Cape Elizabeth held on for a 7-5 victory.
Saturday, the Capers raced to a quick lead, but Yarmouth, chasing its fifth state title, never gave up and made things interesting before Cape Elizabeth closed strong.
Just 44 seconds in, senior All-American Owen Thoreck beat Clippers freshman goalie Spencer King to put the Capers on top for good.
After senior All-American Connor Thoreck scored a second goal, junior Finn Raymond, the coach’s son, scored twice (the second came man-up).
“Finn played well,” Ben Raymond said. “He led the midfielders in scoring this year. Teams focused on Connor and Finn had the benefit of going up against short-stick defenders. His confidence grew. He made big plays against Falmouth and Yarmouth when we needed him to.”
Owen Thoreck then added one more to make it 5-0 after one quarter.
Yarmouth started to show signs of life in the second period, as senior Remi Leblanc got it on the board and after Connor Thoreck answered, freshman Anders Corey beat Capers senior goalie Sam Price to cut the deficit to 6-2. Junior Tate Perkins then scored late in the half and Cape Elizabeth was back on top by five goals at the break.
The Clippers made things very interesting in the third quarter.
After Cape Elizabeth senior Noah Bates scored, the next three goals went to the underdogs, as Bill Jacobs, Leblanc and junior Silas Chappell all tickled the twine to cut the deficit to 8-5 heading for the fourth quarter.
Yarmouth even got to start the final stanza man-up, but couldn’t convert and the Capers began to pull away.
Finn Raymond ended the run and after junior Henry Venden answered to cut the deficit to 9-6, Raymond scored for the fourth time, Connor Thoreck, junior Jacob Brydson, Connor Thoreck again and senior Jeb Boeschenstein followed suit before Jacobs got a goal back.
Boeschenstein added one more and senior Jon Fiutak produced the final tally in Cape Elizabeth’s 16-7 victory.
The Capers finished the season 14-1.
“I think we lost our poise for a second there when they were coming back and I thought we had to just get it together and I feel like those goals really helped us overcome the (comeback),” said Finn Raymond.
“We got off to a great start,” Ben Raymond said. “It was a great first quarter, then it got a little closer. Their goalie made some saves and we didn’t shoot well and had penalties. We worked hard to make sure the guys were focused for the game.
“(Getting back) was definitely something we focused on for a year. The kids knew from day one what the goal was. Last year helped the guys understand they had to bring the right attitude. It was a very fun season. It seemed really short.”
Finn Raymond and Connor Thoreck paced the onslaught with four goals apiece. Boeschenstein and Owen Thoreck both added two goals, while Bates, Brydson, Fiutak and Perkins each had one.
Yarmouth could have folded quickly Saturday, but showed tremendous heart.
“I’m really proud of what our guys accomplished and how we grew,” said Clippers coach David Pearl. “We got ourselves into another five-goal hole, just like we did against Falmouth last year. We tied them in the second quarter and won the third, 3-1. We just had a hard time in the fourth. A team as talented as Cape can wear down their opponent. The kids played admirably. We were such an underdog.”
Jacobs and Leblanc each bowed out with two goals apiece, while Chappell, Corey and Venden had one each.
Corey also had five assists.
Pearl made a point of praising sophomore Griffin Primeau for his toughness.
“Griffin had 12 faceoff wins Saturday after he was in the emergency room a few days prior after getting a bad slash against Gardiner,” Pearl said. “He started on JV, then became the backup faceoff guy, then took all the faceoffs at states. The team rallied around him. That’s indicative of our team.”
While Yarmouth finished just 9-7 (its fewest victories since 2012), the Clippers showed steady improvement.
“We weren’t competitive early in the season against Brunswick, Cape or Falmouth, but we concentrated on getting better every day and building confidence,” Pearl said. “By the end, we were the only team other than Falmouth to score seven goals against Cape.”
Yarmouth graduates six seniors, but returns many players who saw time in big spots this spring. The Clippers hope this spring’s trial by fire will pay dividends in 2018.
“The seniors are leaving proud and we’ll miss them,” Pearl said. “The younger kids learned from them. We have good pieces in place. I’m really excited about next year.”
Cape Elizabeth expects to move up to Class A next spring, as the sport grows to three classes (Falmouth will make the move as well).
The Capers will be hurt by graduation, as 13 seniors, including three All-Americans (senior defensive standout Ben Ekedahl is the other), depart.
“It will be very difficult to say goodbye to the seniors,” Ben Raymond said. “I spend a lot of time with those guys. I saw them all grow up and coached them since kindergarten.”
Cape Elizabeth will reload as usual, however, and make a run at the only thing this program has yet to accomplish so far.
Winning a Class A championship.
“It may be a little different next year,” Ben Raymond said. “Our plan is to apply up to Class A. We want to do something to make a more tiered schedule so we can have more competitive games too.
“We return a lot of good players. Some who saw a lot of time this year. Offensively, we return more than most teams.”
Sun Journal staff writer Lee Horton contributed to this story.
Cape Elizabeth senior Owen Thoreck gets past Yarmouth freshman goalie Spencer King and finishes.
Yarmouth junior Cooper May gets the ball knocked away by Cape Elizabeth junior Ethan Avantaggio.
Cape Elizabeth junior Tate Perkins finishes in close.
Yarmouth junior Cooper May is defended by Cape Elizabeth senior Peyton Weatherbie.
Cape Elizabeth junior Ben Carroll launches a shot on goal.
Yarmouth senior Bill Jacobs shoots and scores from way downtown.
Cape Elizabeth junior Finn Raymond shoots and scores.
Yarmouth junior Cooper May gives Cape Elizabeth senior Jeb Boeschenstein a friendly shove.
Yarmouth junior Henry Venden shoots and scores past Cape Elizabeth senior defender Peyton Weatherbie and senior goalie Sam Price.
Cape Elizabeth senior Owen Thoreck, left, and junior Finn Raymond celebrate a goal.
Bedlam breaks loose at the final horn as the Capers celebrate their championship.
Cape Elizabeth players jump into the stands to celebrate with their classmates and fans.
Yarmouth seniors Patrick Mallett, Remi LeBlanc and Bill Jacobs receive the runner-up trophy.
Cape Elizabeth seniors Ben Ekedahl, left, Gavin Spidle, Owen Thoreck, Connor Thoreck, Peyton Weatherbie and Sam Price show off the championship trophy.
The Capers strike a familiar pose following the win.