CAPE ELIZABETH—A serious case of deja vu was in the air Tuesday evening at Hannaford Field.
And on the scoreboard.
Longtime powerhouses and rivals Cape Elizabeth and Yarmouth did battle in an early season boys’ lacrosse showdown that was eerily reminiscent of the last time the squads squared off, in last year’s state final.
In that one, the Clippers’ defense did enough to hold the potent Capers’ offense at bay, but Yarmouth’s offense wasn’t able to score enough to spring the upset and Cape Elizabeth repeated as Class B champion, 6-3.
Tuesday, the Clippers were again solid on defense, but again, Yarmouth couldn’t tickle the twine with enough frequency to pull out a victory and the game again ended with a 6-3 score.
On three different occasions, the Clippers pulled within one goal, the last at 4-3 when junior Matthew Beatty scored from senior Joe Oliva man-up with nine minutes to play in the third period, but Yarmouth wouldn’t score again and arguably the most dangerous offensive player on the field, Capers senior standout Griffin Thoreck, proved to be the difference in the clutch, as he set up senior Cole Caswell late in the third quarter for some breathing room, then added a dagger with 6:56 to play as Cape Elizabeth went on to its 13th successive win over the Clippers, its 21st straight victory overall and improved to 2-0 on the young season, dropping Yarmouth to 1-1 in the process.
“It’s good for us to know how to play in a close game and how to close it out,” said Thoreck, who led all scorers with three goals. “We’ll see them again, probably two more times. This was good for us.”
Since the beginning of recorded lacrosse time, Cape Elizabeth has been the state’s elite program, but there was a stretch of six years between 2004-09, where the Capers were eclipsed by Yarmouth. In that span, the Clippers won four state titles and beat Cape Elizabeth on 12 of 15 occasions.
When Cape Elizabeth sprung a mild upset and edged Yarmouth in the 2010 state final, dominance in the rivalry swung back to the Capers’ side and after capturing all three meetings a year ago, including the state game, Cape Elizabeth took a 12-game win streak over the Clippers into Tuesday’s contest.
The Capers are the two-time defending Class B champion and the feeling exists among many that this could be an all-time great team. Cape Elizabeth had no trouble with host Waynflete in its opener, an 18-6 win back on April 17, and had done very well in non-countable exhibitions against teams from out of state.
Yarmouth began with a 17-2 home victory over York on April 16.
Tuesday, the Clippers hung tough for 48 minutes, but at the final horn, it was the Capers celebrating once more.
It took almost five minutes for the scoring ice to be broken, but Cape Elizabeth drew first blood when Caswell set up senior Ben Shea for a 1-0 lead.
After Oliva took a crosschecking penalty, the Capers went up, 2-0, when Thoreck took a pass from his sophomore brother Owen Thoreck and scored a man-up goal with 6:22 to play in the first quarter.
After Yarmouth senior goalie Connor Hoehle denied both sophomore Connor Thoreck and Owen Thoreck on consecutive shots, the Clippers got on the board with 39.5 seconds showing, when sophomore Bill Jacobs fired a shot past Cape Elizabeth junior goalie Alex Narvaez, pulling Yarmouth within 2-1.
“It’s an early season game where a team finds their identity,” said Clippers coach David Pearl. “We were a little nervous. They were feeling us out. We were feeling them out, seeing who they have for players and their style of play. We know them well and they know us well. I don’t think there were any surprises today.”
The second period remained tight.
The Clippers had a golden opportunity early, as Caswell was caught with no mouthguard and had to sit for a minute and senior Noah Haversat drew a 30-second pushing penalty, but Yarmouth turned the ball over and never had a look at a tying goal.
With 10:33 to go before halftime, Connor Thoreck got some room and rifled a shot past Hoehle to make it 3-1.
The visitors crept back to 3-2 when Oliva scored unassisted with 6:21 left before halftime, but with 4:53 showing, Griffin Thoreck scored his second goal, unassisted, to push the lead back to two.
Late in the half, the Clippers had a man-up opportunity, but fired three shots wide of the mark and the Capers took a 4-2 advantage to halftime.
After failing to capitalize on an initial man-up advantage in the third quarter, Yarmouth did score man-up with exactly nine minutes to go in the frame, when Oliva set up Beatty for a goal which made it 4-3, but the Clippers wouldn’t score again.
With 4:14 remaining in the third, Griffin Thoreck set up Caswell for a goal which gave Cape Elizabeth a little breathing room.
The Capers would take a 5-3 lead to the fourth quarter, where Shea hit the post in the second minute, but with 6:56 to go, Griffin Thoreck finished unassisted for a 6-3 lead.
Yarmouth hoped to answer man-up, but Oliva’s shot was saved by Narvaez.
Even though a late shot from junior R.J. Sarka hit the post, Cape Elizabeth was able to slam the door and prevail, 6-3.
“We worked hard in this game,” said Capers defensive standout Jack Drinan. “We knew it would be a good one. The ground balls really mattered. We knew we had to get them. The offense did a good job moving the ball around and the defense did a good job on their middies and attack.”
“Today was a good test to find out where we are and the things we need to improve on,” said longtime Cape Elizabeth coach Ben Raymond. “Our defense did a really nice job holding them to three goals. Alex played great. Offense was very good at times and other times, it wasn’t very good. That had a lot to do with their defense. They shut off the one-on-one stuff and slid well. Their goalie made some saves.”
Griffin Thoreck was the game’s lone multiple goal scorer, tallying three.
“We got away a little bit from what we wanted to do,” Thoreck said. “When we moved the ball, we got goals, but when we tried to do it individually, we struggled and turned the ball over. We have so many offensive players who can score, but when we play as a team, we get in a groove.”
Caswell, Shea and Connor Thoreck each added one goal. Caswell, Griffin Thoreck and Owen Thoreck had assists. Freshman Finn Raymond won six of 11 faceoffs. Narvaez made five saves and the defense pitched a shutout the final 21 minutes.
“This year, we have all new defenseman, other than (senior) Noah Wolfinger,” Drinan said. “We’re trying to play our hardest. We have a strong, athletic defensive core that gives their all.”
Ground balls were even, 34-34, as were turnovers, 23-23. The Capers finished with a 26-24 shots advantage (14-8 on frame).
For Yarmouth, Beatty, Jacobs and Oliva had the goals. Oliva also had an assist and led the Clippers with five ground balls. Hoehle made eight saves.
Overall, Pearl was pleased with his team’s effort, especially that of his defense in holding the Capers to six goals.
“We have a very good defense,” Pearl said. “That’s a strong tradition we’ve had in Yarmouth. These guys work hard. The most selfless time you play is on defense, when you have to work together. Connor made great saves. He’s the best goalie I’ve seen. He’s the unanimous captain on this team and he showed why today. We’re working on offense. Every year I say that. We could have had a number of goals. We had opportunities, but their goalie made saves. It’s a game of inches.”
Both teams will face many tough opponents between now and May 29, when they square off again in Yarmouth.
The Clippers are home against Greely Friday. After visiting Lake Region, Yarmouth hosts defending Eastern A champion Brunswick and ancient rival North Yarmouth, goes to defending Class A champion South Portland and plays at dangerous Falmouth, all in an 11-day stretch.
“I do know we leave here knowing if we work hard, we can beat (Cape Elizabeth),” said Pearl. “We’ll see them in a month. We’ll see how much better we get. I love this team. It’s a fun group that works extremely hard. We realize our potential.”
The Capers figure to be tested at Kennebunk Friday (the Rams beat Falmouth, 14-13, Tuesday). After hosting Wells, Cape Elizabeth has a home test against Class A power, Scarborough, then visits perhaps the two teams best equipped to knock it off: Falmouth and Brunswick.
“We know we have potential, but it doesn’t matter if we don’t put in the effort,” said Drinan. “We have to play hard every game and not take any opponent for granted. If we do, we could give up a perfect season, which we’re trying to achieve. We have to give everything in every quarter, every game. I think we need to keep working on everything because we have a lot of people who are new to defensive concepts.”
“It’s really easy to keep (the guys) focused now, just show them the film of this game,” Raymond said. “Part of a season is ups and downs. There will be good games and not so good games. You just hope your good games come at the end of the year. I don’t think we played badly today, but we can be more consistent. It’s just decision making. We need to continue to grow as a team and learn the strengths and weaknesses of the kids on the field. We see the potential every day, flashes of outstanding offense and transition and defense, the things we focus on. We cleared really well today, which has been a focal point in practice. When we run an offensive set, we usually do very well. It’s just reining guys in and getting them to buy into the system.”
Yarmouth sophomore Anders Newberg defends Cape Elizabeth junior Riley Pillsbury.
Cape Elizabeth sophomore Connor Thoreck and Yarmouth senior Joe Oliva collide.
Cape Elizabeth senior Jack Drinan, who had a game-high nine ground balls, eludes Yarmouth senior Will Garrett.
Yarmouth sophomore Matt Dostie is defended by Cape Elizabeth sophomore Peyton Weatherbie.
Cape Elizabeth sophomore Connor Thoreck fights through the Yarmouth defense.
Yarmouth junior Ricky Tillotson is blanketed by Cape Elizabeth senior Jack Drinan.
Cape Elizabeth 12 @ Yarmouth 8
@ Cape Elizabeth 10 Yarmouth 5
Yarmouth 9 @ Cape Elizabeth 3
@ Yarmouth 7 Cape Elizabeth 3
Class B State Final
Yarmouth 9 Cape Elizabeth 4
@ Cape Elizabeth 9 Yarmouth 5
@ Yarmouth 8 Cape Elizabeth 7
@ Yarmouth 4 Cape Elizabeth 3
Yarmouth 6 @ Cape Elizabeth 5
@ Cape Elizabeth 8 Yarmouth 6
@ Yarmouth 15 Cape Elizabeth 8
Cape Elizabeth 7 Yarmouth 6
@ Yarmouth 13 Cape Elizabeth 11
Yarmouth 15 @ Cape Elizabeth 7
Yarmouth 11 Cape Elizabeth 6
@ Cape Elizabeth 7 Yarmouth 1
Cape Elizabeth 9 Yarmouth 8 (OT)
Cape Elizabeth 16 @ Yarmouth 6
Cape Elizabeth 15 @ Yarmouth 6
Cape Elizabeth’s boys’ lacrosse team celebrates its 6-3 home win over Yarmouth Tuesday evening in a rematch of last year’s Class B state final. The Capers beat the Clippers for the 13th consecutive time.
Jason Veilleux photos.
More photos below.
Y- 1 1 1 0- 3
C- 2 2 1 1- 6
7:05 CE Shea (Caswell)
6:22 CE G. Thoreck (O. Thoreck) (MAN-UP)
39.5 Y Jacobs (unassisted)
10:33 CE C. Thoreck (unassisted)
6;21 Y J. Oliva (unassisted)
4:53 CE G. Thoreck (unassisted)
9:00 Y Beatty (J. Oliva) (MAN-UP)
4:14 CE Caswell (G. Thoreck)
6:56 CE G. Thoreck (unassisted)
Y- Beatty, Jacobs, J. Oliva
CE- G. Thoreck 3, Caswell, Shea, C. Thoreck
Y- J. Oliva
CE- Caswell, G. Thoreck, O. Thoreck
Faceoffs (Cape Elizabeth, 6-5)
Y- Tillotson 5 of 11
CE- Raymond 6 of 11
Ground balls (34-34)
Y- H. Oliva 5, J. Oliva, Rouda, Venden 4, Tillotson 3, Beatty, Hoehle, Jacobs, Newberg, Pietropaoli 2, Dostie, May, Morris, Ranagan 1
CE- Drinan 9, Shea 5, Sarka, G. Thoreck 4, Haversat, O. Thoreck 3, Weatherbie 2, Bottomley, Caswell, Pillsbury, C. Thoreck 1
Shots on cage:
Y (Hoehle) 8
CE (Narvaez) 5