Cape holds off SP for pivotal boys' lax win

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Cape Elizabeth senior Finn Raymond (26) is congratulated by his teammates after scoring a first half goal during the Capers’ 10-8 home win over South Portland Friday.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Cape Elizabeth 10 South Portland 8

SP- 1 3 3 1- 8
CE- 1 4 2 3- 10

First quarter
10:56 CE Lathrop (Brydson)
37.5 SP Schifano (Fiorini)

Second quarter
8:56 CE Tarling (unassisted)
8:11 CE Raymond (Brydson)
7:07 CE Carroll (unassisted)
6:22 CE S. Dresser (unassisted)
3:38 SP Tierney (Mehlhorn)
1:32 SP Mehlhorn (Fiorini)
16.8 SP Stevens (Mehlhorn)

Third quarter
11:42 SP Tierney (Mehlhorn) (THREE MEN-UP)
8:23 CE Tarling (unassisted)
7:23 CE Lathrop (unassisted)
6:55 SP Mehlhorn (unassisted)
3:58 SP Mehlhorn (unassisted)

Fourth quarter
11:35 SP Mehlhorn (unassisted)
10:20 CE McEvoy (unassisted)
9:16 CE S. Dresser (Raymond) (MAN-UP)
6:43 CE Carroll (Brydson)

Goals:
SP- Mehlhorn 4, Tierney 2, Schifano, Stevens 1
CE- Carroll, S. Dresser, Lathrop, Tarling 2, McEvoy, Raymond 1

Assists:
SP- Mehlhorn 3, Fiorini 2
CE- Brydson 3, Raymond 1

Faceoffs (South Portland, 13-7)
SP- Doan 13 of 20
CE- Glanville 7 of 19, Raymond 0 of 1

Ground balls:
SP- 35
CE- 32

Turnovers:
SP- 23
CE- 18

Shots:
SP- 26
CE- 29

Shots on cage:
SP- 15
CE- 21

Saves:
SP (Watson) 11
CE (J. Dresser) 7

CAPE ELIZABETH—South Portland’s boys’ lacrosse team gave host Cape Elizabeth everything it could handle Friday evening at Hannaford Field, but the Capers answered every challenge.

And continued their recent stretch of strong play that shows no signs of abating anytime soon.

Cape Elizabeth took an early 1-0 lead on a goal from sophomore Killian Lathrop, but Red Riots junior goalie Quinn Watson kept his team in it with six first quarter saves and late in the frame, senior Aidan Schifano pulled South Portland even.

The Capers then threatened to run away and hide in the second quarter, as seniors Phil Tarling, Finn Raymond and Ben Carroll and junior Sam Dresser all scored for a 5-1 advantage, but the Red Riots closed the half strong, getting tallies from senior Jack Tierney, junior Cooper Mehlhorn and sophomore Alex Stevens to make it a one-goal game at halftime.

When Tierney scored again, on a rarely seen 6-on-3 advantage, just 18 seconds into the second half, South Portland was even, but again, Cape Elizabeth retook the lead, as Tarling and Lathrop scored for a 7-5 advantage.

The pendulum then swung back to the Red Riots, as Mehlhorn scored two pretty individual goals to make it a 7-7 game heading to the fourth period.

There, South Portland took its first lead, as Mehlhorn scored again 25 seconds in, but it only lasted a little over a minute before Capers freshman Archie McEvoy drew the hosts even.

That proved to be the spark, as with 9:16 to go, Cape Elizabeth went on top for good as Dresser scored man-up.

Carroll then added an insurance goal with 6:43 to play and the Capers’ defense did the rest, holding the Red Riots scoreless the final 11:35 of the game before closing out a 10-8 victory.

Cape Elizabeth stayed undefeated all-time against South Portland, won its fourth game in a row, improved to 6-3 and in the process, dropped the Red Riots to 5-3.

“The kids played a great second half,” said longtime Capers coach Ben Raymond, who now has 265 wins with the program. “They really turned it up. They did a great job on ground balls and defensively, we played well enough.”

Collision course

Since boys’ lacrosse went to two classes in 2006, Cape Elizabeth and South Portland had never been in the same class, but this spring, with the sport expanding to a third class, the Capers have moved up to join the Red Riots in Class A South.

Both teams found themselves chasing undefeated Thornton Academy at press time.

The Capers won their 2018 opener, 18-9, at Waynflete, then lost at home to Yarmouth, 7-6, their first defeat at the hands of the Clippers in eight years and their first at home against Yarmouth in a decade. Next, Cape Elizabeth was stunned in double-overtime at Thornton Academy, 11-10. The Capers returned to form with a 13-1 home win over Freeport, then dropped to 2-3 for the first time in program history with a 14-8 loss at Falmouth. Cape Elizabeth has righted the ship since, downing visiting Greely (9-6) and Scarborough (8-2) and winning at York Wednesday, 17-6.

The Red Riots defeated host Deering (14-10) and Cheverus (14-12), then edged visiting Brunswick, the defending Class A champion, in an overtime thriller, 10-9, before dominating visiting Scarborough, 15-3. South Portland’s first loss came at Yarmouth, 8-7.  After falling at Falmouth (13-4), the Red Riots bounced back with a 14-4 home win over Kennebunk. 

Entering play Friday, the teams had met just three previous times (see sidebar, below), with Cape Elizabeth taking all three, including a 16-2 home romp last spring.

This time around, the Capers won again, but it was much, much closer.

Cape Elizabeth struck quickly, as junior Jacob Brydson set up Lathrop, who beat Watson for a 1-0 lead just 64 seconds into the contest.

The Capers then went man-up with a chance to double the lead, but Watson denied Brydson.

After another South Portland penalty, Watson saved a shot by Raymond.

Later in the first quarter, Watson stopped a shot by Lathrop, then seconds later by Brydson.

After Cape Elizabeth couldn’t score on a third man-up chance (Watson robbed Tarling in front), the Red Riots pulled even with 37.5 seconds on the clock, as junior David Fiorini passed in front to Schifano, who beat Capers sophomore goalie Jack Dresser to make it 1-1 after one period.

Six saves from Watson kept South Portland in the game, but the hosts would go back on top in the second quarter.

After Jack Dresser saved shots by Mehlhorn and Tierney and Watson denied Raymond, Tarling scored unassisted with 8:56 to go before halftime, ending a 14-minute drought, putting the Capers back in the lead, 2-1.

Forty-five seconds later, Raymond scored (from Brydson) and after Dresser denied Stevens, Carroll scored unassisted with 7:07 left in the half.

Sam Dresser scored for the first time 45 seconds later and Cape Elizabeth was seemingly in control, up, 5-1.

But the Capers couldn’t deliver the knockout blow.

The Red Riots began to creep back in the game with 3:38 to go before halftime, as Mehlhorn assisted on a goal by Tierney, which ended a nine-minute drought.

With 1:32 left, Fiorini assisted on a Mehlhorn goal to cut the deficit to two and after Jack Dresser denied Stevens, Mehlhorn won a ground ball, passed ahead to Stevens and Stevens finished to make the score 5-4 with 16.8 seconds on the clock.

Then, with under a second left, two different Capers were called for 30-second penalties and at the horn, the Cape Elizabeth bench was called for a conduct penalty, bringing with it another 30 seconds.

“The first half, we played really well with the exception of five minutes where little things happened, then they turned bigger and it got a little out of control,” Ben Raymond said. “We’re still trying to mature. We were up 5-1 and if we pushed it to 6-1, it would have started to tip, but they came back.”

In the first half, the Capers had a 17-13 edge in shots, but eight saves from Watson kept South Portland very much in it.

Playing three men-up, the Red Riots needed only 18 seconds to tie things up when the second half began, as Mehlhorn passed to Tierney, who beat Jack Dresser.

After Dresser denied bids from senior Charlie Cronin and Fioirni that could have given South Portland the lead, a Tarling unassisted tally with 8:32 remaining put Cape Elizabeth back on top, 6-5.

Lathrop scored for the second time, unassisted, exactly a minute later, but again, the Red Riots rallied, as Mehlhorn went top shelf with 6:55 on the clock and with 3:58 left, after a steal, Mehlhorn finished in highlight reel fashion to tie the game for the third time, 7-7.

After Brydson hit the crossbar with under a second to go, the game went to the final stanza deadlocked.

Red Riots junior faceoff specialist Josh Doan won possession to start the fourth period and he fed Fiorini, but Fiorini was robbed by Dresser.

South Portland kept at it, however, and with 11:35 left, Mehlhorn weaved his way through the defense before finding the net to finally give the Red Riots the lead.

It didn’t last long.

Seventy-five seconds later, after Cape Elizabeth lost the ball in front of the goal, McEvoy somehow came up with it, then beat Watson to tie the score for the fourth and final time.

“We’ve worked hard in practice on ground balls,” Carroll said. “That was our biggest weakness earlier. Coach has told us since a young age that if we get the ground balls, we’ll see the field. Our whole team has improved.”

Schifano was called for tripping with 9:56 to go and 40 seconds later, the Capers finally grabbed the lead for good, as Raymond set up Sam Dresser for a 9-8 lead.

Watson momentarily kept it a one-goal game by robbing Tarling, but with 6:43 on the clock, Brydson fed Carroll for a long distance rip which got past Watson to make it 10-8.

“Jacob tries to draw a guy so someone can get an open shot,” Carroll said. “It’s all about being in rhythm.”

Cape Elizabeth managed to keep possession for most of the remainder of the game and one final South Portland turnover (its eighth of the quarter) ended all doubt as Cape Elizabeth went on to a 10-8 triumph. 

“The whole season, Coach has told us to settle down and value our possessions and that’s what we did in the fourth quarter,” Carroll said. “Our defense played really well in the fourth quarter. Cooper’s outstanding, but they did a great job marking him. We lost a lot of key players from last year and we’ve moved up a bracket, so it’s tough being inexperienced trying to play like we did last year. Tough games ultimately have made our team better.” 

The Capers had a balanced attack, as six different players scored. Carroll, Sam Dresser, Lathrop and Tarling all had two goals, while McEvoy and Finn Raymond each scored once.

“Each game we have people who are on and people who are off,” Carroll said. “We’re working better as a unit because we don’t have one player who can do it all. We have to work to get our options open. “

“One of the strong points of our offense this year, especially without (injured senior) Tate (Perkins), is we have six guys who can all score,” Ben Raymond said. “They all score in different ways. Jacob’s our best dodger, Ben is our best shooter, Finn can get in the middle any time he wants. Sam and Killian made a difference today. They did a great job. The only ones who played real minutes last year are Tate, Finn, Jacob and Ben. Everybody else is new. It’s a big adjustment.”

Brydson didn’t score, but had three assists. Raymond also had an assist.

Jack Dresser made seven saves.

Carroll had a team-high five ground balls.

Cape Elizabeth had a 29-26 shots advantage (21-15 on cage) and overcame 18 turnovers.

South Portland’s offense was paced by Mehlhorn, who had four goals and three assists.

“Cooper’s a handful,” Ben Raymond said. “(Junior) John (O’Connor) did a very good job against him for the most part.”

“For any other kid, it’s a great season, but it hasn’t been a Cooper-esque season,” said Red Riots coach Tom Fiorini. “Cooper certainly turned that around today.”

Tierney scored twice, while Schifano and Stevens had one goal apiece. David Fiorini didn’t score, but assisted on two goals.

Watson made 11 saves.

Don won 13 of 20 faceoffs and had a game-high six ground balls (the Red Riots finished with a 35-32 advantage). 

South Portland committed 23 turnovers.

“Cape’s a great team, always has been, always will be, but at the end of the day, we have three losses and we’ve beaten ourselves in all three,” Tom Fiorini said. “We just aren’t taking care of the ball. It’s a tough loss. It hurts. It’s frustrating. I know I have inexperienced players, but we’re eight games in and it shouldn’t be a factor.”  

Heal hungry

South Portland (now third in Class A South) has another huge test Wednesday of next week when Thornton Academy pays a visit. Home games with Gorham and Cheverus sandwiched around a trip to Scarborough close the regular season.

“We still have a lot of season ahead of us,” Tom Fiorini said. “Four big games. We have to rebound quick. Winning today would’ve locked us into 2 and a win Wednesday would have locked us into 1, but now a win Wednesday could get us a 2 seed. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.”

Cape Elizabeth (second in the region) looks to avenge an early loss when it plays at Yarmouth in a state game rematch Wednesday.

“I’m so fired up for that,” Carroll said. “I’ve looked forward to that game since the last second of last game. We won’t play them in the state final this year, but it will be like a state final. Now, we have to find a way to make it through the Class A playoffs.”

A home game against Fryeburg Academy and a trip to Greely closes the regular year.

“We have to play like we did in the first quarter tonight for the whole game,” Carroll said. “We can’t let up in the second half.”

“The focus is on how we play,” Ben Raymond said. “We’re going to make the playoffs. We’re way more worried about how we’re playing than the score. Today, we played really well for stretches of time. We just have to be more consistent.”

 Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

South Portland sophomore Alex Stevens hits the ground but beats Cape Elizabeth sophomore goalie Jack Dresser for a first half goal.

Cape Elizabeth senior Finn Raymond beats South Portland junior goalie Quinn Watson for a first half goal.

South Portland junior Cooper Mehlhorn shoots as Cape Elizabeth sophomore Andrew Carroll defends.

Cape Elizabeth senior Finn Raymond goes one-on-one against South Portland junior goalie Quinn Watson.

South Portland junior David Fiorini shoots on Cape Elizabeth sophomore goalie Jack Dresser.

Cape Elizabeth senior Jacob Brydson shoots on South Portland sophomore Bram Backman and junior goalie Quinn Watson.

Cape Elizabeth freshman Archie McEvoy tries to get around South Portland senior Caleb Rowland.

South Portland sophomore Harrison Mayone, left, congratulates junior Cooper Mehlhorn after one of Mehlhorn’s four goals.

Previous Cape Elizabeth-South Portland results

2017
@ Cape Elizabeth 16 South Portland 2

2016
Cape Elizabeth 9 @ South Portland 8 

2009
Cape Elizabeth 18 @ South Portland 3 

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.