For two seasons, the Cheverus boys’ lacrosse team found a way to escape a fight-to-the-finish playoff test against Brunswick, but this spring, the third time was a charm for the Dragons, not the Stags.
Last Wednesday evening in Brunswick, the teams, who don’t square off in the regular season, produced their third successive one-goal playoff thriller in the Eastern Class A Final.
Cheverus prevailed in 2012 (9-8, in overtime, in the semifinals) and 2013 (10-9, in the regional final) and entered the contest on a six-game win streak.
The third-ranked Stags did take an early 1-0 lead over the top-seeded Dragons, but Brunswick controlled play much of the first half and was up, 5-2, at halftime.
While Cheverus made a run in the second half, it never drew closer than one and went down to a 9-8 defeat.
“It was certainly disappointing, but we gave it a good fight,” said Stags coach Bill Bodwell. “We were down three goals last year too, so we had that knowledge that we could come back. We scored six goals in the third quarter last year, but not this time. We could only get within a goal.”
Nick Schleh, the Stags’ top goal scorer this season, capped his transcendent spring with four goals.
Cheverus finished 10-5, the third straight season the Stags have boasted double digit wins.
“It was a very good season,” said Bodwell. “Beating Scarborough was fun for the guys. We gave Falmouth, who, at the time, I thought was the best team in the state, a good game too.”
The Stags graduate 10 seniors, including the heart of their defense, but return Schleh, SMAA Player of the Year Tom Lawson (the team’s leading scorer), James Kane and freshman goalie Sean Walsh (the son of the late University of Maine men’s hockey coach), which makes up a strong nucleus for a team seeking to get back to the top in 2015.
“We’ll have to put together a new defense, but I think we’ll be tough,” said Bodwell. “(Class A champion) South Portland will take a (graduation) hit, Scarborough loses a ton. Thornton Academy may be the favorite in the West. Brunswick doesn’t lose much, so we’ll have to keep up with them next year.”