Capers back where they belong, win Class B crown, 7-6, over Yarmouth
PORTLAND - A year ago, Cape Elizabeth's seniors became the first class to graduate without adding to the storied boys' lacrosse program's state championship trophy case.
The Class of 2010 wasn't about to do the same.
Saturday afternoon at Fitzpatrick Stadium, the Capers culminated their resurgence by surviving a hard-fought 48-minute battle against two-time defending Class B champion Yarmouth, a school that has usurped them as the premier program in the state in recent years.
Cape Elizabeth had the last laugh on this day, however, getting off to a hot start, fending off a Clippers' surge during the middle periods, then going ahead to stay 22 seconds in the final quarter on junior Timmy Takach's goal.
Takach scored once more midway through the fourth and after the Clippers drew within one with 2:40 to play, the Capers defense and standout junior goalie Jack Roos slammed the door, giving Cape Elizabeth a 7-6 victory, 12-3 record and its first state title since 2005.
Gutsy senior Tommy Foden, playing with an injured shoulder, scored three times and along with fellow All-American and classmate Ben Brewster, tapped into the championship heart of the past and willed the Capers to victory.
"It was huge for us to win," said Foden. "The sports I've played, football and lacrosse, all four years, we got close, but we never won states. I didn't feel like we were a part of anything. At the start of the year, we weren't part of the tradition. We had to make our own tradition. We came together. Now, finally, we're back on top."
Road to the top
Cape Elizabeth appeared to have been usurped as the favorite in Western B when it was humbled, 11-4, at home by Falmouth in the opener, way back on April 16. Instead, the Capers just took a little while to hit their stride. A 10-7 victory at Freeport and a 12-2 home win over NYA was followed by an 8-4 loss at Yarmouth, a game much closer than the final score indicated. After rolling over visiting Greely (14-2) and Lewiston (10-3), Cape Elizabeth fell to 4-3 with a 9-7 setback at Falmouth May 18, but didn't lose again. Victories over host Kennebunk (15-7) and NYA (10-2), visiting York (15-1) and Yarmouth (10-7) and at Waynflete (16-3) gave the Capers the No. 2 seed with a 9-3 record.
The victory over the Clippers pushed Cape Elizabeth over the hump. In that one, the Capers trailed 6-1 at halftime and appeared doomed to play second fiddle to Yarmouth for another year, but behind the heroics of Takach, dominated the defending champs, 9-1 in the second half and never looked back.
"The turning point was the last game against (Yarmouth), coming back from a 6-1 deficit at halftime," Foden said. "It was such an awesome team effort. Everyone contributed. We never looked back from there."
"The biggest difference from this season to last is that this season we beat Yarmouth," Roos added. "That gave us a lot of confidence to know we could overcome."
In the playoffs, Cape Elizabeth had no trouble dispatching No. 3 Waynflete, 15-1, then rallied to upset Falmouth, 7-6, in overtime (sophomore Tim Lavallee had the game-winner), in Wednesday's epic regional final.
Yarmouth, meanwhile, was close to untouchable in 2009 and remained a powerhouse this spring. The Clippers easily defeated visiting NYA (11-4) and host York (17-3) in their first two outings, then got a scare at Falmouth April 30 before holding on for a 7-4 victory. Three days later, Yarmouth held off visiting Cape Elizabeth, 8-4. Easy wins over visiting Brunswick (13-6) and Waynflete (14-2), host Cheverus (13-2) and NYA (19-1) followed. On May 21, the Clippers met up with Falmouth again and broke a late tie to win, 8-6. After romping, 17-4, at Freeport, Yarmouth appeared on the verge of another undefeated regular season, but it suffered the stunning 10-7 defeat at Cape Elizabeth. The Clippers bounced back and defeated visiting Greely, 17-4, to end the year at 11-1 and earn the top seed in Eastern B.
Yarmouth had no trouble with fourth-ranked NYA, 17-7, in the semifinals or No. 2 St. Dom's, 18-5, in the regional final, extending its eight-year home win streak to 73 games in the process.
The Capers and Clippers have seen plenty of each other in recent state finals.
The teams had played in five of the past seven state finals with the Capers winning in 2003 (9-8, in OT) and 2005 (7-6) and Yarmouth triumphing in 2004 (11-6), 2008 (9-4) and last year (12-9). Cape Elizabeth also beat the Clippers in the 1995 semifinals (13-7), 1996 state final (11-10, in OT) and 1997 semifinals (15-7).
The Capers won other MPA-sanctioned championships in 1998 (16-9 over NYA), 1999 (11-3 against Waynflete), 2000 (10-8 over NYA), 2002 (15-7 against Brunswick) and lost in the 2001 (13-10 to NYA) final.
Yarmouth's other championship came in 2006 (8-5 over Kennebunk).
Saturday, Cape Elizabeth didn't wait until the second half to exert its will and by game's end was back on top.
Two minutes in, Lavallee put the Capers on top with an unassisted goal. After the Clippers failed on a couple man-up opportunities, they drew even with 4:53 to play in the first period when senior Colby Shields scored unassisted.
Cape Elizabeth went right back on top, 2-1, 33 seconds later when Foden scored his first goal in a most unconventional manner, with his foot.
Last in the quarter, junior Teddy Smith's bid to extend the lead hit the post and Roos kept the Capers on top with a nice save on Yarmouth senior Mike Johnson's shot.
Then, with less than a second remaining, junior Wes Richards raced in on a fastbreak after a turnover and beat Clippers senior goalie Cam Woodworth to make it 3-1.
"We were a little sluggish, out of sorts," said Yarmouth coach Craig Curry. "They got transition goals on us. We made some errors and they took advantage."
Yarmouth settled down in the second quarter and returned to form.
With 8:22 to go before halftime, senior Evan Henry took a pass from Shields and beat Roos man-up. Two minutes later, Johnson scored an unassisted goal to tie the score. Roos denied Clippers junior Kyle Groves, sophomore Eric Canfield and Shields to keep the game deadlocked before Foden (from junior Wilson Laprade) scored with 34 seconds to go to put Cape Elizabeth back on top, 4-3, at the half.
"When we had good possessions and got shots off, a lot of them would go in," Foden said. "We tried to identify their slide package. They came from the opposite side. We went off of that. The people whose man was sliding would curl to the crease."
"For the most part, we stayed within our game plan," Raymond said. "(Yarmouth) did a great job defensively of changing things, putting more pressure on the ball. Our kids adjusted."
The Capers had a solid edge in groundballs and saves in the first 24 minutes, but five penalties gave Yarmouth chances to hang tough.
Early in the third period, another Cape Elizabeth penalty allowed the man-up Clippers to tie the score as Shields (from Henry scored). With 5:40 left, Yarmouth took its first and only lead when standout senior Steven Petrovek finally got enough room to launch a rocket that Roos couldn't snare. A minute later, Johnson had a bid to extend the Clippers' lead, but Roos stood tall.
With 1:41 left in the third, Foden (from Lavallee) beat Woodworth and it was anyone's game, tied 5-5, entering the final stanza.
There, the Capers' championship will and heart wouldn't be denied.
Just 22 seconds in, Takach put Cape Elizabeth ahead to stay with an unassisted goal.
"I just got an opening, got a great look and shot," Takach said.
After a long possession at the other end, Johnson unleashed a shot that Roos saved. Moments later, he stopped Shields and Petrovek back-to-back to keep it a 6-5 contest.
With 5:54 remaining, Nelson stole the show with a series of individual moves that almost faked Yarmouth's defenders out of their cleats before feeding Takach for an insurance goal.
Still, the Clippers had plenty of time to rally.
Playing two-men up with 2:40 to go, Petrovek scored his second goal of the game and the final goal of his illustrious career to make it 7-6.
Yarmouth won the ensuing faceoff, then began target practice.
First, Shields shot wide. Petrovek then took two shots, but both were high. With just under a minute to play, Shields tried again, but his bid was wide. With 36.8 seconds left, Johnson fired wide.
"(Yarmouth) had the ball for probably the last three minutes of the game and had some clear shots," Raymond said. "Ben was our free guy sliding, he wasn't guarding anybody. He was playing centerfield and that was big for us. (Junior) Brad (Dickenson) did a great job at the end on Henry, pushing him to the side and not getting beat."
In an eerie throwback to the 2005 title game, it all came down to one final look for the Clippers, but they never did get off another shot as a turnover was gobbled up by Brewster, the Capers ran down the time and at 2:16 p.m., they were back atop the boys' lacrosse world.
"It's the best feeling I've ever felt," Takach said. "Everyone worked hard. Roos came up big countless times. We stayed together and played as a team and got the job done. (The end) was tough to watch. You just hope they don't score. Yarmouth's a great team. You have to play solid all around or they'll take advantage. We were solid."
"It's an unbelievable feeling," Brewster said. "We know the proud tradition of Cape lacrosse. We wanted to win a championship. It's such a great team. It's the best feeling in the world.
"A lot of it's our seniors. We've worked so hard together. We had such a commitment to our program. The alumni came back and talked to us about Cape lacrosse. We were young at the beginning of the year and now we're experienced. I get to graduate as a champion. It's the best feeling ever."
Raymond credited a season-long growth period for getting the Capers to the finish line.
"It definitely feels good, especially because of the team and how much we improved through the year,' Raymond said. "I think the coaches were more confident than the kids when we started out that we could win a state championship. We've played very, very well offensively and defensively the last few games.
"Today, we had a lot of penalties, but we stayed out of the box at the end. It was important to get off to a good start. (Assistant coach Charlie) Carroll talked about (Yarmouth) knowing what we can do in the second half if we're down, but making it tougher on them if we're up with them knowing what's coming. The second and third quarters weren't great. Due to some penalties, we didn't have possession time, but I felt good going into the fourth."
Foden (who will play football at Division II Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo., next year) led the way offensively with three goals and admitted afterwards that he was going on sheer guts after hurting his shoulder in the regional final against Falmouth.
"I was in a bunch of pain, but it wasn't a factor," he said. "You gotta do what you gotta do for the team. I'm a captain. I had to lead and I had to play."
"(Tommy) was so determined today," Raymond added. "He certainly wasn't 100 percent. Maybe 80 percent in that one shoulder, but he was probably 120 percent everywhere else. He might have winced a couple times, but he didn't slow down. Once he figured out what he could do, he did it very well."
Takach continued to emerge as one of the state's special players with a two-goal effort. Lavallee and Richards also scored. Laprade and Nelson added assists.
Then, there was Roos, who stopped 10 shots, all of them crucial.
"It's nice to finally take one home," Roos said. "I was really just focused on saving the ball at (the end). When we started this year off, we had a really young team. The first game we weren't quite ready. We've grown into a team. We've stressed teamwork. That's helped us overcome and get to this point."
"Jack's the best goalie in the state by far," Foden said.
"We sure appreciate Jack," added Raymond. "He's started in this game three years in a row. He's been our only goalie. The defense has complete confidence in him. They can play the defense they want to play. They can sag in and give up some outside shots because we're confident that Jack will make the save."
Cape Elizabeth (thanks in large part to Takach) won 11 of 15 faceoffs.
"Having Brewster and (senior Matt Donovan) on my side makes things so much easier," Takach said. "They're so good at getting ground balls."
The Capers also boasted a 37-29 advantage in ground balls. Brewster had a game-high eight, while Lavallee and Takach both had seven and Foden grabbed five.
"We mixed up our looks," said Brewster, who will attend Bowdoin College in the fall, where he'll play soccer and lacrosse. "Our whole defense stepped up. The end of the game was pretty scary, but I believed in us the whole time. We've come together so much the past couple months. I never thought they were going to score."
Brewster got plenty of praise afterwards.
"Brewster leads (the defense)," Roos said. "He holds it together."
"Brewster's been incredible,' Raymond added. "He's been the best leader we've had in awhile, across the board. Getting younger kids involved, getting early to practice. He wins every sprint. He works really hard to learn the game. He's just a great defender. He's a great soccer player and that translates very well. He teaches really well. He's a huge reason our defense is so good. He makes everything happen."
Over the past eight seasons, Yarmouth has now won four state titles, has fallen a goal short of the crown on three other occasions and suffered a one-goal loss in the regional final in 2007.
That's a pretty dazzling resume.
"It was a great game," Curry said. "Some days you get the bear and some days the bear gets you. We couldn't separate. To their credit, they didn't allow it to happen."
Petrovek and Shields (one assist) both had two goals, Henry (one assist) and Johnson had one goal each. Woodworth made seven saves in his swan song. Junior Josh Britten and Petrovek both had a team-high four groundballs. Yarmouth outshot Cape Elizabeth, 35-20, and forced 22 turnovers, while giving the ball away 20 times.
The Clippers finished 13-2.
"The seniors pulled the team together," Curry said. "The body of work was wonderful. We're a great team, it just didn't work out for us today."
As always, Yarmouth will be back in the hunt, even hungrier, in 2011.
"We lose some special kids, like we do every year, right down to the kids you don't see on the field, but we'll be back," Curry said.
For years, talk of boys' lacrosse began and ended with Cape Elizabeth. There's a chance that might be the case again going forward as the Capers seek to win back-to-back titles for the first time since 2002-2003.
"We have a lot of returning players and we'll be looking good," Takach said.
"I would love nothing more than to repeat," Roos said. "We'll be even more confident next year to get back here."
"We have a great sophomore class and we have Jack back," Raymond added. "That's big to start with. We lose some firepower on attack and Ben and Luke (Morin) on defense, that'll be hard, but we have the kids who have experienced this and that goes a long way toward getting something going."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com