South Portland falls in girls' lacrosse prelim; Five other squads dreaming of a championship
If the opening act was any indication, the next week-plus will be very interesting for local boys' and girls' lacrosse teams and their fans.
Tuesday night, at a rainy Fitzpatrick Stadium, the South Portland girls took part in their first playoff game in five seasons, nearly capping a dramatic rally before losing 9-8 to host Portland in a Western A preliminary round contest.
Thursday (too late for print), Scarborough went to Kennebunk for a quarterfinal that should have been a regional final. Saturday, Cape Elizabeth goes to Wells for a Western B semifinal tilt.
On the boys' side, defending Class A champion Scarborough opened Thursday at home against Cheverus in the quarterfinals. That same day, South Portland traveled to Thornton Academy for a compelling quarterfinal. Saturday, defending Western B champ Cape Elizabeth begins its title quest when it hosts a semifinal round game against either Waynflete or York.
Oh so close
South Portland went 4-8 during the regular season and garnered the No. 10 playoff seed thanks in large part to a season-ending 7-6 home win over Noble. The Red Riots lost 7-6 at Portland on May 19.
The rivals had no prior playoff history.
South Portland got the jump and grabbed its only lead, 1-0, when senior Anna Rerrick scored unassisted just 2 minutes, 16 seconds in. Portland junior standout Nancy McAdam then made her presence felt, scoring three unassisted goals in a 3 minute, 17 second span to put Portland ahead to stay, 3-1. With 5:58 left in the first half, Portland's promising freshman, Rachel Allen, got on the scoreboard (assisted by McAdam) to make it 4-1, but with 2:08 to go before halftime, South Portland made it a 4-2 game when junior Kate Lagios scored unassisted.
The visitors started strong again in the second half when Lagios (from Rerrick) scored just 27 seconds in to make it 4-3, but again the Bulldogs got three straight goals for a 7-3 advantage. An unassisted goal by South Portland senior Erika Waterhouse was answered by an unassisted tally from McAdam and it was 8-4 with 12:14 to play.
With 8:30 left, senior Cassie Lyons scored on a free position and the Red Riots were back within three, 8-5. Just 38 seconds later, however, Allen scored unassisted to make it 9-5 and the hosts appeared home free.
Not so fast.
Rerrick sparked the late surge with an unassisted goal with 4:41 to play. Just 21 seconds later, Rerrick scored again and it was 9-7. When senior Kim Loeffel scored with 1:26 remaining, South Portland was suddenly within a goal, 9-8. The Red Riots would get a final possession with a chance to force overtime, but Portland junior Mariah Callender came up big, stealing the ball with 17.4 seconds to go. The Bulldogs then ran out the clock and celebrated their 9-8 win.
South Portland (which was led by three goals and an assist from Rerrick) took pride from its valiant effort down the stretch.
"We almost pulled it out," said first-year Red Riots coach Bill Fenton. "We ran out of time. These girls never quit. They stuck it out and they did it all year. They kept raising the bar. They got better and better. I'm really proud of what they've done and how they came together as a team. It's the first time in five years that we made the playoffs. I'm very happy with our year.
"In the first half I think we might have been a little congested. In the second half, we spread it out a little bit and that helped. Portland has a good team. McAdam's phenomenal. She takes the ball to the net and knows what to do when she gets there."
The Red Riots will be hard hit by graduation, but hope to make a return trip to the postseason in 2010.
"We're losing seven to graduation," Fenton said. "I'll only have three seniors next year. We'll have a young team, but we'll be ready."
Elsewhere, Scarborough avoided a prelim, but drew the most undesirable quarterfinal round game imaginable Thursday afternoon. Last year, the Red Storm lost in overtime to Kennebunk in the regional final. Scarborough got a measure of revenge with a 13-9 home win May 29 and hoped to earn another dose in the regional final, but instead, despite their stellar 9-3 mark against a brutal schedule, the Red Storm learned that they drew the No. 5 seed in Western Class A and not only had to play No. 4 Kennebunk (9-3) in the quarterfinals, but had to go on the road to do so.
"It's hard to explain to the team why we are fifth when we beat Kennebunk and we could beat the other three top teams," said Scarborough coach Marcia Wood. "We'll just have to win on the road the way we did in 2006 when we won states."
If the Red Storm were able to win at Kennebunk, they would either visit top-ranked Gorham (12-0) or host No. 8 Portland (7-6) in the semifinals Saturday. Scarborough didn't face the Rams or Bulldogs this year. The Red Storm have never played Gorham in the playoffs. They've met Portland on three prior occasions, winning two, including a 16-1 romp in last year's quarterfinals.
In Western B, Cape Elizabeth went 7-5 and earned the No. 3 seed. They play at No. 2 Wells (10-2) in Saturday's semifinal round. The Capers and Warriors didn't meet this season. They have no prior playoff history.
The regional finals for both Western A and B will be played Wednesday of next week on the field of the higher remaining seed. The Class A girls' state final is Saturday, June 20 at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. The game begins at 12:30 p.m. The Class B girls' final is also June 20 in Portland, starting at 5:30 p.m.
Scarborough hopes to repeat
On the boys' side, the Scarborough Red Storm are hoping to win their third Class A championship in four seasons, but it certainly won't be easy.
Scarborough wound up 9-3 this year, but finished a distant second behind Portland in the Western A Heals. The Red Storm hosted No. 7 Cheverus (5-8) in the quarterfinals Thursday. Scarborough was a 12-4 winner at the Stags on May 20. The teams have never met in the playoffs.
If, as expected, the Red Storm moved on, they will host No. 3 Bonny Eagle (10-2) or No. 6 Kennebunk (6-6) in the semifinals Saturday. Scarborough downed the Rams 8-3 on May 27 and didn't play the Scots this season. The Red Storm have never met either team in the postseason.
South Portland enjoyed a solid campaign, going 7-5 and earning the No. 5 seed, which sent the Red Riots to No. 4 Thornton Academy (8-4) for Thursday's quarterfinal. Way back on May 1, the Golden Trojans won 6-3 at South Portland. The teams met in the 2006 (a 20-15 Red Riots' win) and 2007 (15-9 South Portland triumph) quarterfinals.
If the Red Riots were able to advance, they'd go to No. 1 Portland (11-1) Saturday for the semifinals. The teams didn't meet this year in the regular season and have no playoff history.
The Western A Final is Wednesday on the field of the higher remaining seed. The Class A state game is Saturday, June 20 at Fitzpatrick Stadium, starting at 10 a.m.
In Western B, perennial powerhouse Cape Elizabeth quietly put together an impressive 10-2 year, losing only to Portland and defending Class B champion Yarmouth. The Capers earned the top seed for the playoffs and will host either No. 4 Waynflete (7-5) or No. 5 York (5-7) in Saturday's semifinal.
Cape Elizabeth didn't meet either team this year. The Capers eliminated the Flyers four previous times from the playoffs, including last season's 15-3 semifinal romp. Cape Elizabeth ousted York 13-5 two years ago in the quarterfinals.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com.