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South Portland senior Mary Cronin, left, is mobbed by her teammates after scoring the winning goal in double overtime to give the Red Riots an 11-10 win at Gorham in last week’s Class A South quarterfinal. South Portland reached the semifinals for the first time in program history, but lost to defending state champion Marshwood, 14-3.
The most decorated boys’ lacrosse teams in their respective classes, Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough, were on the verge of more hardware at press time, as the Capers prepared to host the Class B South Final and the Red Storm were the home team in the Class A South Final.
Cape Elizabeth’s boys’ team has returned to the level where it’s the program by which every other aspires to be.
The three-time defending Class B champions went 12-0 in the regular season, earned the top seed in Class B South and earned a bye into Saturday’s semifinal round where it pulled away to beat No. 4 Waynflete, 15-8. R.J. Sarka had five goals and Connor Thoreck finished with four.
The Capers hosted No. 2 Falmouth (10-3) in the regional final Wednesday, marking the eighth straight season the rivals have met in that round (Cape Elizabeth improved to 5-2 all-time in playoff meetings against the Yachtsmen with a 12-4 victory last year). In the regular season, the Capers held on for an 11-9 home win over the Yachtsmen and closed with a 13-5 victory at Falmouth.
If Cape Elizabeth advanced to the Class B state final Saturday at 12:30 p.m., at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland, it would either again face Yarmouth (10-4) or upstart Maranacook/Winthrop (9-5).
The Capers have never faced Maranacook/Winthrop. They have a ton of history with the Clippers, including beating them in the past three state games (last year’s final was 7-5). Cape Elizabeth is 6-3 all-time in the postseason against Yarmouth and swept the Clippers this spring, winning 15-5 at Yarmouth April 27 and 14-6 at home a month later.
Scarborough’s boys’ team won Class A every year between 2010 and 2013, but lost to Thornton Academy in the semifinals each of the past two seasons as South Portland claimed the regional title.
This spring, the Red Storm started with a triple-overtime home loss to Gorham and lost three other games, but won eight and that was enough to earn the top seed in a balanced Class A South. After earning a bye into the semifinals, Scarborough hosted No. 5 South Portland Saturday.
The Red Riots were coming off an impressive 11-8 win at No. 4 Thornton Academy in the quarterfinals. South Portland stayed undefeated all-time against the Golden Trojans in the playoffs thanks to three goals apiece from Jack Fiorini and Cooper Mehlhorn.
The Red Riots were no match for Scarborough, however, as the Red Storm raced to a 6-0 lead after one period and rolled to a surprisingly decisive 16-4 triumph. Sam Neugebauer had six goals to lead the way. Cam Thibault added three and Cam Nigro finished with two goals and two assists.
“We got up on them pretty big, pretty early,” said Scarborough coach Joe Hezlep. “It wasn’t any one glaring thing. We just executed at a higher level than we have all year. We had a lot of time off, but scrimmaging against Cape Elizabeth and Falmouth helped.”
The Red Riots saw their two-year regional title reign come to an end at 8-6.
The Red Storm went on to host No. 3 Gorham (12-2) in the regional final Wednesday. The Rams won the regular season meeting (9-8, in three overtimes) back on April 18. Scarborough won the two prior playoff encounters: 7-3 in the 2005 West Region preliminary round and 14-6 in the 2008 Western A semifinals.
“We’ll have to play the way we did against South Portland,” Hezlep said. “I don’t have any players who have played in a regional final.”
If the Red Storm advance to their seventh state final in 11 years (they’ve never lost), they would meet either defending state champion Brunswick (11-2) or Windham (10-4) Saturday at 5:30 p.m. at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.
Scarborough beat the visiting Eagles, 8-5, on May 20. The teams have no playoff history. Scarborough and Brunswick didn’t meet this year. The teams played in the 2008 Class A Final, which the Red Storm won, 8-6.
Scarborough and South Portland’s girls’ teams were both eliminated last week.
The Red Riots, coming off a 7-5 regular season, earned the No. 5 seed in Class A South, then accomplished something no South Portland team had ever managed, winning a quarterfinal round playoff game.
In absolutely thrilling fashion, no less.
The Red Riots trailed most of the way at No. 4 Gorham, but hung tough thanks to six goals from senior standout Maddie Hasson. Still down one with time winding down, Jena Leckie scored the program’s biggest goal (to that point) with 3.7 seconds remaining to make it 10-10 and force overtime. A first three-minute, “sudden victory” OT didn’t resolve anything, but early in the second, Hasson set up classmate Mary Cronin for the biggest goal in the program’s 17-year varsity history, which produced an 11-10 win.
“Me and Maddie, we look out for each other and we watch for feeds and we make different cuts for each other – obviously, everyone else is working with us,” Cronin said. “She got the ball, I made a cut, she gave me the feed and I was right the crease and just shot it in. I was ready for a really competitive game, and I think [both teams] brought our all. I’m just really happy we came out on top.”
“I told (the girls) at one point, ‘This is why I’m going gray,’” South Portland coach Leslie Dyer said. “I’m 31-years-old and I have gray hair all over.
“The goal was just fast movement. We knew we had to swing that ball fast, that’s the only thing that would break that defense. When the game’s on the line, I want the ball on Mary’s or Maddie’s stick. And the girls know that. They’re amazing players who know how to read the field. Mary just got the opportunity.”
South Portland’s magic ran out in the semifinals at top-ranked, defending Class A champion Marshwood, as the Hawks prevailed, 14-3, ending the Red Riots’ season at 8-6. Cronin, Leckie and Molly Walker had the goals.
Scarborough had an up-and-down season, winning its first two games, dropping eight straight, then winning two to earn the No. 7 seed. In last Wednesday’s quarterfinal round, the Red Storm went to No. 2 Massabesic and were eliminated, 15-4, despite three goals from Jamie Sargent, to finish 4-9.
Current Publications sportswriter Adam Birt contributed to this story.