Cape Elizabeth’s boys’ lacrosse team rushes the field to celebrate its 6-5 win over Falmouth in Wednesday’s Class B South Final. The Capers avenged last year’s ouster and will play for the state title Saturday versus Yarmouth.
Joe Carpine / 365digitalphotography.com photos.
More photos below.
F- 1 0 2 2- 5
CE- 1 3 2 0- 6
10:22 CE Perkins (O. Thoreck)
5:53 F H. Farnham (Russell)
8:21 CE Perkins (unassisted)
5:34 CE C. Thoreck (Raymond)
55.0 CE Carroll (Raymond)
7:54 CE Raymond (unassisted)
5:03 CE O. Thoreck (Brydson)
4:27 F Scribner (G. Fitzgerald)
3:01 F T. Fitzgerald (unassisted)
11:10 F Mainella (Hickey)
8:41 F N. Farnham (Arrants)
F- H. Farnham, N. Farnham, T. Fitzgerald, Mainella, Scribner 1
CE- Perkins 2, Carroll, Raymond, C. Thoreck, O. Thoreck 1
F- Arrants, G. Fitzgerald, Hickey, Russell 1
CE- Raymond 2, Brydson, O. Thoreck 1
Faceoffs (Falmouth, 8-7)
F- Pierce 8 of 15
CE- Spencer 7 of 15
Ground balls (Falmouth, 42-28)
F- Hickey, Pierce, Reed, Zinn 5, Mainella 4, Arrants, G. Fitzgerald 3, Russell, Scribner, Wyman 2, Chapman, H. Farnham, T. Fitzgerald, Masciangelo, Spiegel, Tucker 1
CE- Ekedahl 5, Spidle, C. Thoreck 4, O. Thoreck 3, Boeschenstein, Brydson, Hare, Perkins 2, Avantaggio, Price, Spencer, Weatherbie 1
Shots on cage:
F (Tucker) 8
CE (Price) 11
CAPE ELIZABETH—It came down to the final second.
Of course it did.
The Game of the Year, Act III, proved to be everything it was billed to be Wednesday evening at Hannaford Field when the state’s two best boys’ lacrosse teams squared off for the right to play in Saturday’s Class B state final.
The host Capers of Cape Elizabeth, one year removed from a stunning home loss in the regional final, got another shot at defending Class B champion Falmouth and while they never trailed, the Capers couldn’t secure the victory until the final horn sounded.
To no one’s surprise, both defenses excelled throughout and the first period saw just one goal apiece, as Cape Elizabeth junior Tate Perkins and Yachtsmen senior Henry Farnham did the honors.
Farnham’s goal came with 5:53 to go in the opening frame and it would be a long, long time before Falmouth tickled the twine again.
The Capers went on top to stay when Perkins scored unassisted with 8:21 to play in the first half and when senior Connor Thoreck and junior Ben Carroll added goals, the lead was 4-1 at the break.
Scores from junior Finn Raymond and senior Owen Thoreck pushed Cape Elizabeth’s advantage to 6-1 with just over five minutes left in the third quarter, but anyone familiar with this rivalry of late had to know that the Yachtsmen were far from finished.
And sure enough, just as it has in the previous three meetings, Falmouth made things interesting, as senior Jack Scribner ended a 25-plus-minute drought and moments later, freshman Tom Fitzgerald added a goal to pull the visitors within 6-3 heading for a dramatic final period.
The Capers weren’t able to score the rest of the night and found themselves holding on for dear life when junior Lou Mainella scored with 11:10 on the clock and junior Nick Farnham added a goal with 8:41 to play.
But despite ample opportunities, this time, the Yachtsmen weren’t able to complete their dramatic comeback.
Cape Elizabeth senior goalie Sam Price came up huge in his biggest spot to date and he and his teammates got a little bit of luck too, as with 1:31 to play, Scribner ripped a shot off the crossbar and playing man-down as time expired, the Capers could only watch, cringe and ultimately exhale as Nick Farnham’s bid sailed inches wide, allowing the state’s proudest and most accomplished program to move on with a palpitating 6-5 victory.
Perkins led a balanced offense with two goals, Price stopped 11 shots and Cape Elizabeth won its 13th game in a row, improved to 13-1, ended Falmouth’s stellar season at 12-2 and advanced to play in the Class B state final where it will meet Yarmouth (9-6) Saturday at a time to be announced.
“We knew (Falmouth) wouldn’t quit no matter what,” said Capers coach Ben Raymond. “That team is why we are where we are. They push us to get better every day. We know we’ll play them three times and we plan for that. The first game of the year, we just kind of play. The second game, we throw a few new things in, but we save out best for the third time.”
All eyes have been on Cape Elizabeth and Falmouth since the season began and over 12 regular season games and one playoff contest, the Capers and Yachtsmen did nothing to suggest they weren’t the state’s two finest teams who would have to go through the other to be crowned champion.
The Capers lost their opener at home to Falmouth by a goal, then won 11 games in a row to earn the top seed in Class B South (see sidebar, below, for links to previous game stories). Cape Elizabeth then dominated No. 4 Wells, 18-2, in Saturday’s semifinal round.
The Yachtsmen stumbled just once, at home to Cape Elizabeth, and as the No. 2 seed, rolled past No. 3 York Saturday in their semifinal, 16-4.
The Capers’ schedule proved to be a little tougher in the calculations of the Heal Points standings and as a result, Cape Elizabeth got to host Falmouth for the fifth straight year in the regional final.
Last spring, the Yachtsmen, just 15 days removed from a humiliating eight-goal home loss to the Capers on Senior Night, shocked Cape Elizabeth at Hannaford Field, riding a late charge to a stunning 7-5 victory, which propelled Falmouth to its third state championship.
That cut the Capers’ lead in the all-time postseason series to 5-3.
This time around, offense was at a premium, neither team gave an inch and it took all 2,880 seconds before Cape Elizabeth emerged as a single goal better than its rival.
The hosts got an early break when Yachtsmen junior defensive standout Brendan Hickey was called for a delay of game and while the Capers didn’t score on the ensuing 30-second man-up, they got the ball moving so quickly that before Hickey could return and get settled, Owen Thoreck fed Perkins for a shot which eluded Falmouth senior goalie Liam Tucker for a 1-0 lead with 10:22 to play in the opening stanza.
“My coaches have a good system,” Perkins said. “They put me in good places to score. My teammates fed me well.”
The Yachtsmen then went on the attack and after Price made his first save, on a bid from senior Devin Russell, Russell set up Henry Farnham for a goal with 5:53 on the clock to tie the score, 1-1.
Late in the period, both goalies came up big, as Price denied senior Nate Arrants and Tucker robbed Perkins, sending the game to the second quarter still deadlocked.
The first three-plus-minutes of the new period were more of the same, as Arrants was again robbed by Price, Owen Thoreck hit the post and Falmouth killed a penalty.
Finally, with 8:21 on the first half clock, after Capers senior defensive standout Ben Ekedahl forced a turnover, Perkins got the ball, found a seam in the defense and raced in before beating Tucker for a 2-1 lead.
Cape Elizabeth would stay on top the rest of the way.
Perkins’ goal awakened the offense and the Capers would score twice more before the break.
First, Price preserved the lead by denying a shot from Nick Farnham.
Then, with 5:34 remaining before halftime, Raymond set up Connor Thoreck for a bounce shot which found the net, making it a 3-1 game.
After Cape Elizabeth senior Jeb Boeschenstein just missed, Scribner had a great look in front, but Price denied the shot.
Later in the half, Price robbed Nick Farnham again.
With 55 seconds to go, the Capers extended their lead as the Raymond and Carroll connection produced a goal.
Finn Raymond, the son of the team’s head coach, Ben Raymond, got the ball to Ben Carroll, son of longtime assistant Charlie Carroll, and as they’ve practiced since they started playing together before they could walk, the tandem produced a goal and a 4-1 lead.
“We were having some success after the first quarter and got some good looks,” Ben Raymond said. “We got some outside shots and we shot better in the second quarter. We worked all week on shooting low or getting Liam to come down early. He’s outstanding high.”
Ekedahl almost gave Cape Elizabeth a highlight reel tally as time wound down, but his bounce shot was just high and the Capers took a three-goal advantage to the break.
In the first 24 minutes, Falmouth had a decided edge in ground balls (22-13) and outshot Cape Elizabeth, 14-10, but seven Price saves kept the hosts on top.
“The difference in the first half was Ben Carroll and Connor Thoreck had two really good bounce shots,” Falmouth’s first-year coach Dave Barton said. “Take those away and it’s 2-1 and Price made a couple saves on the doorstep too.”
The Capers opened things up a little more in the third quarter, but couldn’t deliver the knockout blow.
After Tucker robbed Perkins in front and Scribner hit the post, Finn Raymond just missed after a nice spin move, but with 7:54 to go in the frame, Raymond got another chance as he pounced on a loose ball in front and beat Tucker to make it 5-1.
When junior Jacob Brydson set up Owen Thoreck for a goal with 5:03 showing, it looked like Cape Elizabeth was about to salt away the victory, but the Yachtsmen had plenty of time to rally and make things very tense for the home team.
After a timeout by Barton, Falmouth finally responded and with 4:27 to go, ended a 25-minute, 26-second drought when Scribner took a pass up top from senior George Fitzgerald and whistled a rocket past Price to end the Capers’ 5-0 run and cut the deficit to 6-2.
That proved to be the spark the Yachtsmen needed and after Price denied senior Devin Russell, Tom Fitzgerald scored an unassisted goal with 3:01 remaining.
“Any team gets frustrated with a drought like that,” Barton said. “The seniors put too much time into it to roll over and go away and we battled back.”
Late in the quarter, Price saved a shot by Nick Farnham and Tucker kept his team’s hopes alive by denying Connor Thoreck.
Falmouth kept pushing in the fourth quarter and almost extended the game.
Just 50 seconds into the final stanza, after a Cape Elizabeth turnover, Hickey lobbed a pass ahead to Mainella, who beat Price and the deficit was just two.
After Scribner barely missed on a shot, the Yachtsmen made it a one-goal game with 8:41 remaining, as Arrants set up Nick Farnham.
All the momentum was with the visitors, who were no strangers to coming back and winning on the Capers’ turf, but despite ample chances, neither team would score the rest of the way.
Price kept his team on top by denying Henry Farnham with 7:53 to go.
After Tucker stopped a Boeschenstein shot, he robbed Boeschenstein again.
With 5:16 on the clock, Russell shot just wide.
With 4:13 to play, Scribner had a shot saved.
Falmouth took a penalty with 3:58 to go, but Cape Elizabeth only had one look, a Perkins shot, which was snared by Tucker.
The Yachtsmen got their next chance with 1:31 remaining and Scribner unleashed a blast that appeared destined to tie the score, but it hit the crossbar and rolled all the way back across midfield before Falmouth regained possession (Hickey was hurt on the play and wouldn’t return).
“They had a good look,” Raymond said. “Jack hit the post and it bounced all the way. We had the same kind of thing last year.”
The Yachtsmen gave the ball away, but after a Capers’ timeout, Falmouth got the break it needed, as Owen Thoreck was called for a tripping penalty with 32.2 seconds on the clock, meaning Falmouth would be man-up the rest of regulation.
The Yachtsmen set up and their first chance went to Scribner, but he shot wide with 20 seconds to go.
Then, as time wound down, the visitors moved the ball back up top to Scribner and he fired a perfect pass to Nick Farnham in great position. With a mere second to go, Farnham fired a blast that Price had no chance to save, but good fortune was on Cape Elizabeth’s side and at 8:43 p.m., after 48 grueling and palpitating minutes and a season’s worth of who’s-better debate, the ball sailed just wide and the Capers got to exult over a 6-5 victory.
“We expected a run from them and we just hoped we could counter,” Perkins said. “When you have a team of some of the best lacrosse players in the state thinking about it for a year, it went into everything we’d do. Every rep in the weight room was about winning this game. (Last year) put that motivation for us to get the win.”
“It was nervewracking, especially the last 30 seconds there,” Price said. “It was the loudest I’ve ever heard it on this field. They have some great shooters. Last year, we were in a similar situation and we couldn’t get shots to fall. It went the other way this year. I’d say I made some good saves, but I knew they’d make a run. We had to hold on.”
“It feels really good,” Owen Thoreck said. “Last year hit me really hard. I sat in the locker room for two hours after that loss, wondering what I could do better. I used that pain and it helped me improve as a player.
“I’ve missed this feeling. This was my last game to ever play on this field. I hadn’t slept in a long time thinking about this game. That was difficult at the end. Unfortunately, I took the penalty and I felt bad, but I had confidence in our man-down. They do their work every day. It showed. That last shot gave me a scare. Sammy didn’t know what happened until he saw (senior defender) Gavin (Spidle) put his hands up. From there, we were all pretty psyched.”
“(Falmouth) only scored one man-up goal against us this year,” Raymond added. “That’s really good individual defense. Charlie watched film and worked with the guys on what Falmouth would do. They threw in a new wrinkle, but our kids adjusted.
“Last year motivated us quite a bit. Anytime you lose in your last game, that motivates you. I think we were the better team last year, but we didn’t play well at the end. We have a lot of guys who played important roles in that game last year.”
Perkins was the only player in the game to score twice and he led Cape Elizabeth’s attack. Carroll, Raymond, Connor Thoreck and Owen Thoreck also had goals.
Raymond had two assists, while Brydson and Owen Thoreck had one apiece.
Price had his best game to date, making 11 critical saves.
“Our defense played well,” Price said. “The boys in front of me, the only shots they let up are from outside and my job is to save those.”
Ekedahl had a team-high five ground balls and helped pace a typically strong defensive effort.
“We played basically the same defense tonight that we have,” Owen Thoreck said. “Our defense is stellar. Give credit to them. Every year, we know both teams will come out and compete and give their best. We try not to let our nerves get to us. We were able to execute when we needed to. Coming out on top is amazing.”
“Ben and (junior) Ethan (Avantaggio) did a great job,” Raymond said. “Gavin and (senior) Peyton (Weatherbie) too. (Junior) David Hare was outstanding. Connor Thoreck played most of the game. He rarely came off the field. He did what we needed him to do. Defense isn’t his favorite thing, but he knew it was important for him to be part of transition. They tried to drive the slide from Farnham and get him free, or get Scribner free. If he gets free, he’s a dangerous shooter.”
The Capers overcame 27 turnovers.
Falmouth got goals from Henry Farnham, Nick Farnham, Tom Fitzgerald, Mainella and Scribner.
Arrants, George Fitzgerald, Hickey and Russell had assists.
Tucker made eight saves in his swan song.
Junior Spencer Pierce beat senior Cole Spencer on 8 of 15 faceoffs.
The Yachtsmen won the ground ball battle, 42-28 (Hickey, Pierce, sophomore Riley Reed and junior Emmitt Zinn all had five), and they had a 27-25 edge in shots (16-14 on cage).
Falmouth turned the ball over 23 times.
“The looks were there, it was just stick-work,” Barton lamented . “We had drops and tried to jam it into the crease a couple times. We ran our offense, but Sam had a great game. That’s the best game I’ve ever seen him play. I
“We just ran out of time. We prefer to play from out front, but credit to Cape. They sped it up when they needed to and slowed it down and possessed when they needed to.
“There are no words in the moment to make these guys feel better, but these seniors meant so much to this team. This group had a relentless pursuit of excellence. It’s my dream job. The administration, the community, the families and above all, the kids, have been great. This group puts so much time into it. They’ve been very special.”
Falmouth loses a lot of talent, but returns plenty as well and expects to be right back on the big stage again in 2018.
Likely with the same obstacle standing in its way.
“Playing Cape is the way it should be,” Barton said. “We have guys coming back and so do they. We’ll take some time to reflect and learn from it and get back at it.”
Cape Elizabeth will say the right things heading into Saturday, but it’s hard to remember a team more heavily favored than the Capers will be when they meet Yarmouth, which went .500 during the regular season, before knocking off Erskine Academy, Maranacook/Winthrop and Gardiner to advance.
The Capers have won nine of 12 previous playoff meetings against the Clippers, with a 7-5 win in the 2015 Class B Final the most recent. Cape Elizabeth dominated two regular season encounters, blanking host Yarmouth, 17-0, May 10 and handling the visiting Clippers, 16-4, June 2 in the regular season finale.
The Capers are set to go out Saturday and be coronated, but they’ll take nothing for granted.
“I’m excited to play at Fitzy and to be with my teammates,” Price said. “We’ll try to bring home the ‘ship.””
“We’ll play our same game,” Owen Thoreck said. “We’ve seen Yarmouth twice. We’re not too worried. We’ll keep going and hopefully bring home that ‘ship again.”
“It feels amazing to go to states,” Perkins said. “Last time was my freshman year. Last year was a bitter pill. It’s a good feeling to get a chance to bring the championship back where it should be. They’ll bring their best and we’ll bring our best. They won’t lay down and we’ve got to be ready to go.”
“The guys will understand that it’s a state final and that everything is different and tougher on that day,” Raymond added. “It’s important to get out to a fast start. If we do, things will go well. (Yarmouth has) improved quite a bit. They have a new faceoff guy and they changed their goalie. They have two good poles. (Senior) Bill (Jacobs) is dangerous. They have talent and our kids are aware of that. We’ll be ready to go.”
Cape Elizabeth junior Tate Perkins, left, and senior Owen Thoreck celebrate the game’s first goal, scored by Perkins in the opening quarter.
Falmouth senior Nate Arrants unleashes a shot.
Falmouth junior Nick Farnham looks to pass as Cape Elizabeth junior David Hare keeps watch.
Cape Elizabeth senior Ben Ekedahl races into the offensive zone.
Falmouth senior goalie Liam Tucker skies to corral the ball.
Cape Elizabeth senior Owen Thoreck handles the ball as Falmouth junior Emmitt Zinn defends.
Cape Elizabeth’s captains show off the regional championship plaque.
Cape Elizabeth coach Ben Raymond, right, and longtime assistant Charlie Carroll beam during the awards ceremony.
Class B South Final
Falmouth 7 @ Cape Elizabeth 5
Western B Final
@ Cape Elizabeth 12 Falmouth 4
Western B Final
@ Cape Elizabeth 11 Falmouth 8
Western B Final
@ Cape Elizabeth 9 Falmouth 8 (OT)
Western B Final
@ Falmouth 10 Cape Elizabeth 9
Western B Final
@ Falmouth 11 Cape Elizabeth 9
Western B Final
Cape Elizabeth 7 @ Falmouth 6 (OT)
Western B Final
@ Cape Elizabeth 11 Falmouth 7