FALMOUTH—The Cape Elizabeth-Falmouth boys’ lacrosse rivalry has become the finest in the state over the past five years.
Monday evening produced another reason why.
And sent everyone home in awe.
The Capers were coming off a rough loss at North Yarmouth Academy, in which they blew a four-goal first half lead and managed just one goal in the second half.
That would have been incentive enough, but this group, especially the seniors, had other reasons they wanted to win this particular game.
For one, the Yachtsmen had dashed their title dreams one game shy of the state final two years running.
For another, they had never won on Falmouth’s turf field (nor had anyone else).
For most of Monday evening, it looked like the Yachtsmen were going to deny the Capers as they broke open a close game at halftime with four straight goals in the third period to grab a seemingly safe 8-3 lead.
Of course, no lead is ever safe against Cape Elizabeth and after the Capers pounced on a Falmouth mistake and scored late in the quarter, their offense erupted in the fourth.
A goal from senior Alex Bornick tied the score, 8-8, with 6:37 to play, but the Yachtsmen went back on top a little over a minute later when standout senior Charlie Fay scored.
Cape Elizabeth senior Justin Cary tied the game again with 4:42 to play, but again, Fay struck (his sixth goal of the night) with 2:45 to play and the Capers were on the ropes.
They proved as comfortable there as Muhammad Ali on a sweltering night in Zaire in 1974.
Just 33 seconds after Fay’s final tally gave Falmouth the lead, Cary again scored to tie it, but Cape Elizabeth was flagged for three penalties late in regulation, giving the Yachtsmen ample opportunity to salvage a win.
Falmouth never even managed to get a shot and it was on to overtime.
There, after the Capers finished killing the penalties and moments after an apparent Cary game winner was waved off, Cape Elizabeth capped its epic victory as sophomore Griffin Thoreck took a pass from Bornick and launched a rocket that tickled the twine, giving Cape Elizabeth redemption and a scintillating 11-10 triumph.
Bornick and Cary both scored four times, senior Adam Haversat spearheaded a strong defensive effort and the Capers improved to 2-1, handing the Yachtsmen their second overtime defeat in six days, their first loss on their turf field in 18 outings and dropping them to 1-2 on the young season.
“We wanted to be the first team to beat Falmouth on their home turf,” said Haversat. “It’s one of the most incredible comebacks I’ve ever seen. We had the motivation to win. We weren’t going to give it up. We have one of the most talented senior classes. We didn’t want to lose the last game we played (here).”
Cape Elizabeth had Monday night in mind from the moment it walked off the Falmouth turf last June 13, 10-9 losers to the Yachtsmen in the Western B Final.
Cape Elizabeth opened the 2013 campaign with a 19-0 blanking of visiting Lake Region, but couldn’t hold a 5-1 lead at North Yarmouth Academy Wednesday and was upset, 9-6, scoring just one goal in the game’s final 34 minutes.
Falmouth opened with a 10-9 overtime loss at Yarmouth Wednesday, then pummeled visiting Portland, 18-1, Saturday, in an interclass contest.
The teams have played for a little over a decade and while the Capers entered Monday having won 12 of 18 meetings (please see below), six of the past nine had gone the Yachtsmen’s way.
Cape Elizabeth has been the state’s flagship program for over two decades and along the way has enjoyed intense rivalries with the likes of NYA, Kennebunk and most recently Yarmouth, but since Falmouth became a power in 2009, the Capers and Yachtsmen have produced jawdropping performances, both in Cape Elizabeth and Falmouth, be it regular or postseason.
Monday was yet another chapter in that passion play.
One the Capers won’t soon forget.
A game which had a wild ending actually started serenely, as just three goals were scored in the first quarter.
Fay opened the scoring 2 minutes, 37 seconds in unassisted. After a shot from junior Brad Gilbert, which could have doubled the Yachtsmen’s lead, hit the post, Bornick tied the score with an unassisted goal with 4:27 left in the period.
Gilbert found Fay for a goal 43 seconds later and it was 2-1 Falmouth after one.
Cape Elizabeth tied the game again, 2-2, when Thoreck found Cary for a goal in transition early in the second quarter, but Gilbert (from sophomore Bryce Kuhn, who has been a big part of the offense in the early going) answered with 2:42 to play in the half.
The Capers tied the score for the third time 21 seconds later as Bornick scored unassisted man-up, but with time winding down, the Yachtsmen went back ahead as Kuhn fed senior Kris Samaras with a pretty pass for a goal with just 6.9 seconds showing.
Falmouth, behind junior Tyler Jordan, won seven of eight first half faceoffs and had a huge edge in ground balls, 32-14, but five saves from Cape Elizabeth junior goalie Gabe McGinn kept the Capers close.
The Yachtsmen dominated most of the third period and seemingly put a safe distance between them and their talented foe, but unless the clock reads 0:00, no lead is ever safe against Cape Elizabeth.
Falmouth took a two-goal lead for the first time just 21 seconds into the third when Fay set up junior I.V. Stucker.
Stucker scored again, this time unassisted, with 10:43 to play in the quarter and two minutes later, the Yachtsmen got a break when Capers senior Cam Wilson was ruled to be playing with an illegal stick.
Wilson was sent to the penalty box for three minutes (non-releasable) and Falmouth had a man advantage.
The Yachtsmen used that advantage to push the lead to five as Gilbert set up Fay with 8:05 remaining and Fay (this time from Samaras) scored again with 6:29 showing to make it 8-3, capping a 5-0 surge in less than six minutes of game action.
Wilson, for one, was downtrodden.
“Things were tough,” he said. “I was getting down on myself. I was thinking, ‘How will we fix this at practice? How will we come back from 1-2 when we thought we’d go undefeated?'”
Falmouth might have delivered the coup de grace moments later were it not for a sensational effort from Haversat.
With McGinn out of the goal, Samaras intercepted a pass and appeared to have an open goal beckoning. He tossed a shot on target, but from nowhere, Haversat stepped into the picture and snared the ball, keeping his team on life support.
“I saw Gabe running out of the net and I knew they didn’t notice me in the goal,” said Haversat, who saw some time as a goalie as a freshman. “I saw it and kind of closed my eyes, put my stick out and managed to stop it. At first, I thought it went in and I was going to hang my head, but I heard cheering from the sideline. Then I knew I’d made the save.”
“He saved a goal, but I might say he gave them the shot,” Raymond said. “He got out of it. He does a ton on defense. He and (sophomore) Curtis (Alexander) coordinate what we’re doing. All our defenders were outstanding. They moved their feet well. They’re athletic. Adam has one of the best sticks on the team.”
Cape Elizabeth got a similar break later in the quarter, but it took advantage.
With senior goalie Will Nash away from the cage, the Yachtsmen gave the ball away and Bornick pounced on it and not to be denied, finished, to snap a 12 minute, 31 second drought, pulling the Capers within 8-4 with a whole quarter remaining.
“I’m not going to feel sorry for them about that,” said Raymond. “We had an own goal last year that was a pretty big goal. We did a good job chasing the loose ball down. We rode really hard. They tried to throw the pass, Cam got his stick there. We had people in the right spots.”
That fourth period would belong to Cape Elizabeth.
Just 30 seconds in, Wilson fired a shot that Nash slowed, but couldn’t stop and the ball trickled across the goal line to cut the deficit to 8-5.
With 10:02 to play, Cary scored unassisted to make it 8-6.
Things really got interesting with 8:51 showing, when Bornick set up senior Jake Lynch for a shot that Nash couldn’t save and the Capers were only down one.
The visitors capped the comeback with 6:37 to go, as Wilson set up Bornick.
Cape Elizabeth Pride had shone through again.
“When we were down 8-3, our guys could have packed it in, but they fought even harder,” Raymond said.
Falmouth’s offense reawakened with 5:20 remaining. After a Capers’ turnover, Fay scored unassisted to make it 9-8.
Cary answered unassisted 38 seconds later and the game was deadlocked again, 9-9.
After McGinn made a nice save on a Gilbert bid, the Yachtsmen kept possession and after some textbook ball movement, went back on top, 10-9, when Fay took a pass from Stucker and finished.
Again, Falmouth couldn’t hold on, as with 2:12 left, Cary managed to score unassisted once more to forge the sixth and final tie of the night, 10-10.
The game would go to overtime, but in retrospect, it’s amazing it did, considering the chances Cape Elizabeth gave the Yachtsmen.
With 1:18 to play, Alexander was sent to the sidelines for 30 seconds for pushing.
Falmouth did nothing with the opportunity, failing to register a shot.
As that penalty expired, however, things got even more dire for the visitors as senior Brandon Negele first was called for an illegal body check (one minute, non-releasable), then a slash (another minute).
At that point, the best case scenario for the Capers was to survive into overtime, run off another minute, 22 seconds there, then return to full strength.
The Yachtsmen, meanwhile, would have the ball and could either score, or hold possession as time expired to get it to start the overtime.
Falmouth could do neither, failing again to get a shot off and giving the ball away late, which actually allowed Cape Elizabeth to start overtime with possession.
“That just came down to execution,” said Yachtsmen coach Mike LeBel. “Man-up worked well. We were banging the ball around, stretching the defense and trying to be patient. We just had a bad pass from Brad to Charlie that didn’t connect. Had it connected, maybe it goes in.”
“That was really big,” Raymond said. “It worked in our favor that they were content to hold the ball. That gave us time to organize. We gave the guys freedom to press out on man down. We’re already a man down, so we might as well take some chances. We got a good stick-check in and fought for the loose ball. Getting the ground ball was important.”
In Maine high school boys’ lacrosse, teams play as many four minute, “sudden victory” overtimes as needed to determine a winner.
Only one would be necessary, but it took awhile for resolution.
The Capers started with the ball, but turned it over as Yachtsmen senior defender Markus Foley came up with a ground ball. Haversat then forced a turnover, the Capers regained possession and the penalty expired.
Bornick looked to give the visitors the win, but his shot went just wide. He got the ball back, but had his shot blocked. The ball then came free in front, where Cary pounced and scored easily, but the goal was waved off as Cary was ruled to be in the goalie’s crease.
Play continued as Falmouth transitioned to offense.
Sophomore C.J. Leighton had a shot to win it, but McGinn made the save.
The Yachtsmen then got a break as Fay intercepted a pass. The ball came loose, but junior David Criscione kept possession and LeBel called timeout.
The hosts got a good look out of the break, but Gilbert’s shot was just wide.
Haversat then forced another turnover and this time, the Capers ended it.
After a Wilson shot went high, Cape Elizabeth settled the ball and Thoreck entered from the sideline. He found a spot out front, Bornick spotted him and with 16.8 seconds left, Thoreck unleashed a shot that Nash couldn’t stop.
“Griffin has a flair for the dramatic,” Raymond said. “Absolutely. They paid a lot of attention to him. They got a short stick on him and shut him off. He’s got the hardest shot on our team and he can put it in the right spot. That was a beautiful goal. He didn’t do most of the work necessarily on that goal. Alex did most of the work, drew the slide and Griffin put himself in the right spot and didn’t hesitate. It shows a lot of maturity on his part. It was more of a team goal.”
As the clock read 9:05 p.m., after 115 minutes of riveting lacrosse, the Capers finally were able to exult in their 11-10 triumph.
“It definitely feels awesome,” said Thoreck, who also beat Scarborough in the preseason with an overtime goal. “It’s something I’ll remember for awhile. I caught it, did the best I could to get it on goal and made it count. When I saw it go in, I just wanted to get over to Gabe as fast as I could. He’d kept us in there. We definitely refused to lose. We wanted to do it for the seniors. The bench kept cheering us on. Everyone supported each other.”
“It’s a adrenaline rush the whole time,” Wilson said. “We were down, something sparked a comeback and it grew like wildfire. We got in the mood where we thought no one can stop us and built off that. We got a nice overtime goal. We had more mental stability than last time and that got us going. In the first half, we were losing ground balls and lost every faceoff. Adam Haversat starting winning faceoffs and (Sophomore) Noah Haversat starting getting ground balls on faceoffs. It started in the middle of the field and it ended in goals.”
“We all wanted this so badly, it’s incredible,” Haversat said. “We tried a new defense that obviously didn’t work since they went up 8-3, so we changed back to our base defense. Our offense played an amazing fourth quarter. Gabe stepped it up incredibly in the goal. Brandon had the GB that started it. We knew after the NYA game that this was a huge game. We knew we needed to be fit for this team. I.V. and Fay are quick. We had to stay with them. Now we have the motivation to keep going.”
Raymond had plenty of praise to bestow.
“We hadn’t won on this field, so it’s big for our guys,” he said. “It meant an awful lot to our seniors. We were pretty upset after the NYA game. Every possession is really, really important. I don’t think we missed many shots in the second half. It was good shooting. Gabe made some really good saves in the second half. We didn’t have as much possession, but we had good possessions. I don’t think we turned the ball over on our own on offense. We got good shots. We backed up the shots. Adam and our wing players, Cam and Noah, did an outstanding job on the faceoffs. We didn’t win many in the first half. We weren’t getting beat on them in the second half. Adam tied (Jordan) off and Cam and Noah got loose balls, so we weren’t giving up fastbreaks. The defense overall was outstanding. They worked hard and pressured quite a bit.”
Five different players scored for Cape Elizabeth, as Bornick and Cary both had four goals and Lynch, Thoreck and Wilson all added one. Bornick also had two assists, while Thoreck and Wilson each had one.
Wilson had a team-high dozen ground balls, while Haversat collected nine.
McGinn made nine saves, while Haversat had one.
The Capers enjoyed a 34-29 advantage in shots (24-20 on cage) and most impressively, only turned the ball over 19 times in nearly 52 pressure-packed minutes.
For Falmouth, Fay stole the show with six goals. Stucker had two and Gilbert and Samaras each tickled the twine once. Gilbert and Kuhn had two assists apiece, while Fay, Samaras and Stucker each finished with one. Nash made 13 saves.
“Their attackers were quick and got off nice shots,” LeBel said. “Things were broken with our defense, but Will played really well in the cage and made nice saves.”
The Yachtsmen (more to the point, Jordan) won 17 of 23 faceoffs. They also finished with a 61-42 ground balls advantage (Jordan led the way with 12, Fay had nine, Foley, Kuhn and Stucker six apiece).
Falmouth did commit 24 turnovers and once again discovered that “sudden victory” was really “sudden death.”
“The thing that stings the most is that we had a five-goal lead and we weren’t able to hold onto it,” said LeBel, who is now 60-20 in regulation as the Yachtsmen’s coach, but just 1-6 in overtime. “That’s a representation of our inexperience. I guess we just don’t have it. We’re gaining it. Hopefully by tournament time, we’ll be ready.
“I knew the game wasn’t over at 8-3, but (the guys) may have. There was way too much time. It comes down to Ben being very effective at making halftime adjustments and identifying our weakness, exploiting them and we just couldn’t stop it. He makes those adjustments better than I do.”
Jubilation and heartache aside, Monday night was a triumph for the sport as a unique rivalry lived up to billing and then some.
“Because (Falmouth’s) in our region, it makes a bigger difference,” Raymond said. “Yarmouth-Cape was a huge rivalry for a long, long time. Us and NYA, especially when (current Cape Elizabeth athletic director and father of Monday’s hero) Jeff (Thoreck) was the coach, those were fun games, because he’d coached with us. Mike has done an amazing job putting Falmouth as the top team every single year. He has one returning starter. He has athletes. They all want to play.”
The teams square off against May 15 in Cape Elizabeth, with a third meeting likely to occur June 12, in what would be a fifth successive regional final encounter.
Both teams still have plenty of work to do in the interim, however, and both will be tested.
Falmouth goes to Lake Region Wednesday, then plays host to NYA Monday. Wells, Deering and Greely are also on the schedule before the Yachtsmen get a chance to avenge this loss.
“We have to have look at what we did right and what we did wrong and fix it,” said LeBel. “I think it’s all fixable. I think it will take some time, but it’s not something we can’t improve. With this group, I think it needs to be a different approach. We’re playing against ourselves more so than the other team. We’re more focused on improving and trying to reach a certain level by the end of the regular season.”
Cape Elizabeth is home with Waynflete Wednesday (game time has been bumped up to 5 p.m.), then hosts undefeated Yarmouth Saturday evening. Games at improved Greely and reigning Eastern A champion Cheverus also precede the Falmouth rematch.
“We have to stay positive and work hard in practice,” Thoreck said. “That pays off in games. We have to keep working on fundamentals like passing and catching. Ground balls are so key in every game. Hopefully we meet again in the playoffs on our field.”
“This program has always had the highest expectations,” said Wilson. “Nothing’s acceptable but perfection. We don’t strive for being the best in the conference or even the best in the state. We want to be the best in the Northeast, the best in the country. Good is never good enough.”
“Yarmouth will have a great idea of what we do,” Raymond added. “They saw us play NYA. They were here tonight. They’ve been playing really well. They’re solid all-around.”
Falmouth junior Tyler Jordan and Cape Elizabeth senior Adam Haversat engage in a faceoff early in the game. Jordan got the better of Haversat and the Yachtsmen finished with a 17-6 advantage.
Cape Elizabeth senior Justin Cary fires a shot. Cary had four goals, including a pair in the fourth period which tied the score.
Falmouth junior I.V. Stucker fires a point blank shot as Cape Elizabeth junior goalie Gabe McGinn looks to make a save.
@ 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
Cape Elizabeth senior Alex Bornick unleashes a shot during the Capers’ palpitating 11-10 overtime win at Falmouth Monday night. Bornick assisted on Griffin Thoreck’s winner as Cape Elizabeth prevailed on the Yachtsmen’s turf field for the first time and avenged last year’s playoff loss in the process.
More photos below.