Cape Elizabeth junior Owen Thoreck (12) is congratulated by his twin brother, Connor, after scoring one of his three goals in Tuesday’s 13-5 victory at Falmouth. The three-time defending Class B state champion Capers finished the regular season 12-0.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.
CE- 3 4 2 4- 13
F- 1 2 1 1- 5
10:41 F N. Farnham (Russell)
6:01 CE Pillsbury (Bottomley)
4:42 CE C. Thoreck (unassisted)
2:50 CE Bottomley (unassisted)
9:44 CE Sarka (O. Thoreck)
8:04 CE O. Thoreck (Perkins)
4:54 F Norris (unassisted)
3:46 CE O. Thoreck (unassisted)
15.7 CE Boechenstein (Bottomley)
6.7 F Hickey (unassisted)
3:35 F Scribner (Norris)
1:31 CE Perkins (Bottomley)
49.6 CE C. Thoreck (unassisted)
10:49 CE Perkins (Sarka)
8:29 CE Sarka (unassisted)
3:55 CE Ekedahl (unassisted)
3:23 F Scribner (Russell)
2:21 CE O. Thoreck (unassisted)
CE- O. Thoreck 3, Perkins, Sarka, C. Thoreck 2, Boechenstein, Bottomley, Ekedahl, Pillsbury 1
F- Scribner 2, N. Farnham, Hickey, Norris 1
CE- Bottomley 3, Perkins, Sarka, O. Thoreck 1
F- Russell 2, Norris 1
CE- Raymond 11 of 22
F- Pierce 11 of 21, Zinn 0 of 1
Ground balls (Falmouth, 41-37)
CE- Ekedahl, O. Thoreck 5, Sarka 4, Bottomley, Brett, Perkins, Raymond 3, Avantaggio, Carroll, Narvaez, Pillsbury 2, Hare, Pappas, C. Thoreck 1
F- Hickey 9, Pierce 5, Scribner, Zinn 4, Engleberger, Gilbert, Reed 3, Ciraulo, Russell 2, Barnard, N. Farnham, Mainella, Nolan, Tucker, Valle 1
Shots on cage:
CE (Narvaez) 9
F (Tucker) 11
FALMOUTH—Heading into the 2016 regular season, Cape Elizabeth’s boys’ lacrosse team, the three-time defending Class B champion, had some questions to answer, especially on defense.
Tuesday evening, in the regular season finale, on the turf of fierce rival Falmouth, the Capers once again produced nothing but affirmative responses and capped the year in dominant, decisive and perfect fashion.
The Yachtsmen, hoping to bounce back from Friday’s loss at Kennebunk, scored first, but Cape Elizabeth controlled play from there, scoring five straight goals on the offensive end and smothering Falmouth’s once-prolific offense on the other side of the field to seize control.
The Capers took a 7-3 lead to halftime and after the Yachtsmen got within three on junior Jack Scribner’s goal late in the period, the visitors pulled away for good, as sophomore Tate Perkins and junior Connor Thoreck scored before the end of the quarter and goals from Perkins, senior RJ Sarka and one more from the unlikeliest of sources, junior defender Ben Ekedahl, put it away and Cape Elizabeth went on to a 13-5 victory.
Eight different players tickled the twine, as junior Owen Thoreck led the way with three goals, senior goalie Alex Narvaez made nine saves, the Capers defense put the clamps on Falmouth and Cape Elizabeth wrapped up a 12-0 regular season, its second undefeated mark in three years, and dropped the Yachtsmen to 9-3 in the process.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with the regular season,” said longtime Capers coach Ben Raymond, who earned his 244th career victory. “The seniors did a great job leading and making sure kids came in in the right frame of mind and focused on the little things. Being in close games earlier on this year helped. We learned how to win tight games.”
Cape Elizabeth has long been the sport’s gold standard and Falmouth, with the exception of its championship seasons in 2011 and 2012, has given chase.
The teams first met this spring back on May 11 in Cape Elizabeth, where the Capers almost surrendered a 10-5 fourth quarter lead, then held on for an 11-9 victory.
Falmouth had opened with wins over visiting Freeport (19-6), Kennebunk (10-5) and two-time defending Western A champion South Portland (21-10), then pitched a 16-0 shutout at North Yarmouth Academy and won at at three-time defending Eastern B champion Yarmouth, 12-7. The loss at Cape Elizabeth followed, but the Yachtsmen bounced back to down visiting Fryeburg Academy (17-3) and Wells (17-5), host Messalonskee (13-3) and visiting Greely (14-1) before falling at Kennebunk Friday night, 9-8.
The Capers opened with an 18-8 home win over Waynflete. After winning at Yarmouth, 15-5, Cape Elizabeth blanked visiting Scarborough 10-0, held on for dear life to win at Kennebunk, 10-9, pulled away in the second half for a 12-6 victory at Greely, then held off Falmouth’s furious rally. After surviving another close call on the road, 9-8, at two-time defending Western A champion South Portland, the Capers dominated host Wells (18-5), visiting Lake Region (21-0) and visiting NYA (16-2) and Friday, they outscored visiting Yarmouth, 8-1, in the fourth period en route to a 14-6 victory.
Prior to Tuesday, since the start of the 2002 season (see sidebar, below), the Capers held a 21-7 overall edge and an 9-5 advantage at Falmouth.
This time around, on a beautiful evening for lacrosse (the temperature was 81-degrees at the start), Cape Elizabeth won for the fourth year in a row in Falmouth.
Just 79 seconds in, the hosts got the jump when sophomore Nick Farnham finished junior Devin Russell’s feed, but that would be the Yachtsmen’s highwater mark.
Falmouth possessed for several more minutes and almost doubled its lead with 8:19 to play in the first quarter, but Farnham’s blast hit the post.
The Capers’ first shot resulted in their first goal, as senior J Bottomley set up classmate Riley Pillsbury for the tying score with 6:01 remaining in the frame.
Cape Elizabeth then went ahead for good when Connor Thoreck scored unassisted 1 minute, 19 seconds later.
With 2:50 left in the first, Bottomley’s unassisted goal made it 3-1.
Narvaez preserved that lead as time expired in the quarter, denying Farnham’s shot.
Narvaez continued to impress in the second period, even though he was looking into the setting sun.
First, he robbed Scribner.
The Capers then continued to open up their lead, as Owen Thoreck set up Sarka with 9:44 to play in the half and after Owen Thoreck hit the post, with 8:04 to go, Perkins set up Owen Thoreck for a 5-1 lead.
Falmouth snapped a 17 minute, 47 second scoring drought and Cape Elizabeth’s 5-0 run when junior Henry Norris scored unassisted with 4:54 remaining in the half, but Owen Thoreck answered by bulling through the defense and finishing and after Narvaez robbed Scribner point blank, he denied Farnham again, then stopped a shot from senior George Gilbert.
“Alex was most impressive in the second quarter when he was mostly blind,” Raymond said. “He made some tough saves with a tough sun to look into.”
With 15.7 seconds remaining, Bottomley set up junior Jeb Boechenstein for a five-goal lead, but nine seconds later, off a faceoff win by sophomore Spencer Pierce, sophomore Brendan Hickey scored to seemingly give the Yachtsmen life.
Narvaez didn’t allow Falmouth to go on a run, however, as in the third quarter, he denied Farnham and Scribner.
With 3:35 left in the frame, Scribner (from Norris) tickled the twine to cut the deficit to three, but Cape Elizabeth soon put it away.
With 1:31 left in the third, Bottomley set up Perkins for an 8-4 advantage.
With 49.6 seconds showing, Connor Thoreck finished from a tough angle to make it 9-4 heading for the fourth quarter.
There, the Capers ended all doubt.
With 10:49 to play, Sarka set up Perkins for a 10-4 lead.
After Narvaez denied a Norris shot, Sarka scored unassisted with 8:29 showing and the advantage was seven.
After Scribner hit the post, Cape Elizabeth went up 12-4 with 3:55 left, on a most improbable play.
Out of a timeout, Sarka rolled the ball up top to Ekedahl, who raced into the offensive zone and when he didn’t encounter any resistance, he went one-on-one with Falmouth junior goalie Liam Tucker and finished.
“Out of the timeout, RJ was in the corner and I was at midfield,” Ekedahl said. “He rolled it to me, I picked it up, went to net and tried to get a shot on net. I hadn’t scored before. It’s an amazing feeling.”
“We knew they’d double the ball and RJ did a great job selling it, took a few steps back and gave a nice little roll to Ben,” Raymond said. “Ben got in free and the other guys did a nice job moving away. We didn’t necessarily need him to shoot it, but Ben was going to shoot in that situation. That was a key moment in the game. We didn’t want to give them any life.”
Falmouth’s final goal came with 3:23 remaining, as Russell set up Scribner, but 62 seconds later, Owen Thoreck scored unassisted and the Capers went on to a 13-5 victory.
“It feels really good,” Connor Thoreck said. “We wanted to win badly. This is the outcome we wanted. When you come out and play a team like Falmouth, that is very talented and has players who can shoot well, we had to come out hot.”
“I think we played pretty well the majority of the game,” said Raymond. “It got a little helter-skelter from time to time. They took us a little out of our comfort zone, but the kids did a great job adapting on the fly, something we don’t always do well. We made adjustments to what they were giving us.
“The seniors have done a great job of leading. We stayed out of the penalty box and did a much better job clearing in the second half. If we can do that and keep our full team on the field, we’ll be successful. We had to get out on Scribner and Gilbert and Norris fast. Giving up just five goals to that team is outstanding. I’ll take that every time.”
Owen Thoreck paced a balanced offense with three goals. Perkins, Sarka and Connor Thoreck all had two goals. Boechenstein, Bottomley, Ekedahl and Pillsbury all scored once. Bottomley had three assists and Perkins, Sarka and Owen Thoreck finished with one each.
“We have a bunch of shooters and we work a lot on shooting in practice,” Connor Thoreck said. “That’s what we like to do.”
“These kids came together and haven’t relied on one person,” Raymond said. “Any offensive player has the green light to go. It’s hard to key on a couple people.”
Ekedahl and Owen Thoreck shared team-high honors with five ground balls.
Narvaez, who seemingly always saves his best for Falmouth, made nine key saves.
“Alex has been tremendous,” Connor Thoreck said. “We’ll miss him next year. He makes great saves. He’s one of our most valuable players.”
Cape Elizabeth’s defense, which has been without injured junior stalwart Gavin Spidle nearly all season, has lived up to the legacy of previous stingy units.
“It’s been tough without Gavin,” Ekedahl said. “He’s a key defender, but we’ve worked hard in practice. We’re doing really well. We talked and figured out what was going on and we shut them down. We’ve stuck together as a team, even in close games.”
“Gavin is probably our number one defender, but other guys have stepped up,” Connor Thoreck said. “They’re grinding in practice and they’ve shown they’re good players. We came in knowing we’d lost talented players and that we’d have to step up.”
Cape Elizabeth committed 20 turnovers, but forced 24 and had a 31-25 edge in shots (24-14 on cage).
Falmouth got two goals from Scribner and once apiece from Farnham, Hickey and Norris. Russell had two assists and Norris finished with one.
Hickey had a game-high nine ground balls, as the Yachtsmen won that category, 41-37.
Tucker made 11 saves.
Faceoffs finished 11-11.
“It was a perfect storm of a hangover from the Kennebunk loss and Cape being good,” said Falmouth coach Mike LeBel. “Offensively, we’ve kind of hit a wall. We’re just not clicking the way we were earlier. We’ve gotten a little impatient. We tried to get it back too quickly and we forced shots. We wanted to play better than we did, but their defense forces you to take outside shots and (Narvaez) is pretty tough on those. We didn’t shoot particularly well. Cape can exploit teams’ weaknesses and knows where to attack.”
Unless Kennebunk somehow crashes the party, it’s almost a certainty that Falmouth will go to Cape Elizabeth June 15 for the Class B South Final, which would mark the eighth successive season the rivals would meet for a berth in the state game.
The second-ranked Yachtsmen will earn a bye into the semifinals June 11 where they will likely get another shot at Kennebunk.
“It’s not Armageddon here,” LeBel said. “I still think we have a chance. We’ve identified what we’re doing wrong. We have to come up with ways to fix it.”
The Capers are the top seed in the region for the fourth straight season and will next play in the semifinals June 11, when they host Waynflete or Fryeburg Academy.
“When we play Cape lacrosse, we’ll play well,” Ekedahl said. “We’ll focus on our next game. Nothing ahead or behind. It will be nice having homefield advantage again.”
“Our seniors want to win their fourth straight (championship), which is hard to imagine,” Connor Thoreck said. “We want to get that for them. I think we’re pretty confident. We love playing at home. That makes us feel safe. Our fans our tremendous. Lacrosse is a big thing in town. People care about it a lot. The close games are what we look forward to the most. We like the challenges.”
“It’s always a great week-and-a-half for us,” Raymond added. “We’ll get back to almost like a preseason. We’ll do a lot of fitness. We can focus on little things, then we can plug in whatever we want, or nothing. We’ll see how it goes. We’ll have an Alumni Game Saturday. We’re in a very good spot.”
Cape Elizabeth senior goalie Alex Narvaez makes one of his nine saves.
Falmouth sophomore Nick Farnham launches a shot.
Cape Elizabeth junior Ben Ekedahl towers over Falmouth junior Jack Scribner.
Two of the state’s best players go toe-to-toe as Cape Elizabeth junior Owen Thoreck tries to get around Falmouth sophomore Brendan Hickey.
Cape Elizabeth senior Riley Pillsbury gets a step on Falmouth senior Jack Engleberger and shoots and scores.
Cape Elizabeth senior RJ Sarka shoots on Falmouth junior goalie Liam Tucker.
@ Cape Elizabeth 12 Falmouth 8
Cape Elizabeth 12 @ Falmouth 10
Western B Final
@ Cape Elizabeth 11 Falmouth 8
@ Cape Elizabeth 8 Falmouth 6
@ Falmouth 14 Cape Elizabeth 12
Western B Final
@ Falmouth 10 Cape Elizabeth 9
@ Falmouth 12 Cape Elizabeth 4
@ Cape Elizabeth 8 Falmouth 7 (OT)
Western B Final
@ Falmouth 11 Cape Elizabeth 9
Falmouth 11 @ Cape Elizabeth 4
@ Falmouth 9 Cape Elizabeth 7
Western B Final
Cape Elizabeth 7 @ Falmouth 6 (OT)
@ 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