PORTLAND—Special things always seem to happen when the Cheverus and Scarborough girls’ lacrosse teams do battle.
Saturday afternoon, for the second year in a row, 50 minutes weren’t enough to decide a winner.
The Red Storm, battling gamely without several key players, led most of the way and opened up an 11-8 advantage when junior Sydney Hersey, having the game of her life, scored with 11:54 to play, but Scarborough wouldn’t find the net again in regulation.
The defending Class A champion Stags then saved their best for last and after junior Abby Biegel and senior Sadie Lyons scored in a 22-second span to make things interesting, senior Elyse Caiazzo scored on a rebound with 4:07 to play to forge the seventh tie of the game, 11-11.
Neither squad scored again, so it was on to overtime, where Cheverus found a way to prevail.
After Stags senior Meredith Willard and Hersey traded goals, Cheverus senior standout Alex Logan scored her lone goal to put her team ahead to stay. Junior MaryKate Walsh added one more and the Stags ran out the clock from there on a breathtaking 14-12 victory.
Caiazzo and Willard both scored four times, Lyons added three goals and Cheverus improved to 8-3, dropping Scarborough, which got five goals from Hersey, to 6-5 in the process.
“I have a raging headache, but I enjoyed it,” said Stags coach Mallory Pelkey. “It’s awesome. These are the games I like coaching and watching. It’s never fun to be winning or losing by a lot. These are the teams we want to play. It’s always a good game against Scarborough. We were very composed. We really came together. We were positive. We kept fighting back. We have a habit of having to fight back, but somehow, we came out on top.”
Scarborough won Class A in 2010, 2011 and 2012, while Cheverus captured the title for the first time last spring.
Both teams are eager to get back to the top this season and while each has shown glimpses of greatness, both have been up-and-down.
The Red Storm got their season off to a fast start with a 9-7 home win over Yarmouth. Wins at South Portland (15-3) and at home over Windham (12-4) followed, but Scarborough then lost three straight for the first time in eight seasons, falling at Waynflete (12-7), at home to Gorham (14-13) and at Thornton Academy (9-5). After getting back in the win column against visiting Portland (12-5), Scarborough got a huge victory, 13-11, at Marshwood. After losing at home to defending Western A champion Massabesic, 8-5, the Red Storm won at Westbrook Thursday, 16-10.
Cheverus handled host Deering, 14-3, visiting Bonny Eagle, 19-6, host Windham, 11-7, and visiting Portland, 12-3, to start the year, then lost a state final rematch at Massabesic (12-10). After downing visiting Thornton Academy (9-6), the Stags dropped an 11-10 overtime heartbreaker at Marshwood. After a 17-6 romp at Messalonskee, Cheverus fell again in a close one at Gorham Thursday, 9-8, then bounced back Friday by handling visiting McAuley (21-2).
Cheverus won the first meeting between the programs, 14-11, back in 2007, but Scarborough took the next six before the Stags eked out a 9-7 overtime win at the Red Storm last spring (see sidebar, below).
Saturday, the teams went extra time again with the same result, although this time, Cheverus had to rally to prevail.
The Red Storm’s lineup was conspicuous by its many absences at the start of the game. Almost every senior on the roster, including all three captains, did not suit up, forcing Scarborough coach Marcia Wood to get creative in filling holes.
While that appeared to give the Stags a decided advantage, nothing came easily for the hosts.
After Cheverus scored the game’s first goal, Caiazzo, unassisted, four minutes in, Hersey scored her first goal, on a free position to tie the score with 18:11 left in the first half.
A mere 13 seconds later, Red Storm junior Kaitlin Prince won the draw and raced in to score to give her team its first lead.
With 14:12 remaining in the first half, in transition, junior Bailey Adams fed sophomore Abby Corbin for a goal and Scarborough was up, 3-1.
The Stags finally answered with 11:05 left before halftime, when sophomore Anne Veroneau passed up a shot on a free position and instead fed Willard, who beat Red Storm sophomore goalie Regan Mars.
A little over a minute later, Lyons threw a high pass to Willard, who leapt to corral the ball before shooting and scoring to make the score, 3-3.
Cheverus then took advantage of a yellow card on Prince, taking a 4-3 lead with 8:27 to go in the half, as Lyons raced in and finished unassisted.
The lead lasted for all of 71 seconds as Prince, seconds after returning to action, got the ball and ran in and beat Stags junior goalie Hope Correia to tie it.
Following the goal, Wood replaced Mars with freshman Sami Shoebottom, the hockey hero.
The Red Storm kept the pressure on offensively and went back on top when Prince finished an Adams feed, but with 5:15 remaining int he half, Willard converted a free position to re-tie the game, 5-5.
Back came Scarborough, as sophomore Emma Smith scored unassisted and after a strong Red Storm defensive effort in the waning seconds, they took a 6-5 lead to the break.
Scarborough held a 9-3 advantage in draws in the first 25 minutes and outshot the hosts, 11-10, but wasn’t able to open up a bigger lead.
The back-and-forth action continued in the second half.
Just 87 seconds in, Lyons got some breathing room, raced in and beat Shoebottom to make it 6-6.
Lyons, who missed last year’s title run with a knee injury, is becoming a bigger part of the offense by the day.
“I just see a lane and go,” Lyons said. “I wasn’t going to be denied. I just kind of play. I don’t really think about it. The team makes it so much easier. They’re so supportive and positive. It’s a lot of fun. I was bummed I couldn’t play last year when we won states.”
“Sadie has really taken on her role,” Caiazzo said. “We’re really happy she came back.”
“Sadie helps us so much,” Pelkey added. “She’s aggressive. You don’t want her coming at you.”
Adams answered with an unassisted tally and with 22:21 to play, Adams set up Hersey to make it 8-6 Red Storm, but after a nice spin move, Caiazzo finished unassisted and with 20:10 showing, Caiazzo scored unassisted again to make it 8-8.
“We see the path and we go for it,” said Caiazzo. “It worked well for Meredith and other people, including me.”
Scarborough then appeared to receive a fatal blow with 19:36 remaining, when Prince, after colliding with Caiazzo, was given her second yellow card and was disqualified from the contest.
Undaunted, the Red Storm tried to win it for their sidelined teammate, who became the squad’s most vocal cheerleader.
With 17:35 to play, Smith put Scarborough back on top with a free position tally.
Three minutes later, Adams set up Hersey for a goal, forcing Pelkey to call timeout.
It didn’t work, as Hersey scored again, unassisted, with 11:54 to go and the Red Storm opened up an 11-8 advantage.
But there’s are reasons Cheverus is the defending champion and its ability to erase a three-goal deficit is one of them.
The rally began with 11:04 to go when Biegel scored on a free position.
Pelkey replaced Correia with freshman Becca Archer and the Stags kept the pressure on, as Lyons scored unassisted with 10:42 remaining and just like that, the hosts were only down one, 11-10.
Cheverus had a chance to draw even when Adams was given a yellow card, but Willard missed a shot wide.
Then, with 6:21 showing, on a free position, Caiazzo passed to Willard, but her shot was denied by Shoebottom.
With 4:17 left, Caiazzo was robbed by Shoebottom, but Caiazzo got the rebound and buried it to tie the score, 11-11.
After the teams traded several turnovers, the Stags had a chance to win it at the end of regulation, but Willard couldn’t hold on to a pass in front and it was on to overtime.
In high school girls’ lacrosse, teams play two three-minute overtimes to completion, then, if the score remains deadlocked, go on to “sudden victory,” which wouldn’t be necessary in this one.
Logan, who had been dominated by Prince, then Smith in the draw circle during regulation, turned the tables in overtime.
Logan won the opening draw and then set the stage for Willard to score an unassisted goal with 2:24 left to put Cheverus on top, 12-11, its first lead since 4-3.
Logan won another draw, but the hosts turned the ball over and the Red Storm capitalized, as one final time, Adams set up Hersey for a goal with 45.3 seconds remaining in the first OT, ending a 14 minute, 9 second drought and tying the score for the final time, 12-12.
“Sydney played the best I’ve seen her play,” Wood said.
Logan won the ensuing draw and saw a sliver of daylight. Despite being hampered by a leg injury, Logan had enough of a burst to race in and beat Shoebottom and put the Stags ahead to stay, 13-12, with 20.9 seconds to go.
“I saw a lane and I just took it,” Logan said. “I just took a left-handed shot.”
Logan won another draw, Caiazzo got the ground ball and as time wound down, Walsh got around a defender and managed to shoot and score with under a second showing for a pivotal tally and a 14-12 lead.
“MaryKate is stepping it up,” Pelkey said. “They did a good job shutting down our bigger players and that’s when someone else has to step up.”
Logan won one more draw to begin the second portion of overtime.
“(Scarborough’s) very strong taking draws,” Logan said. “I had to change it up a little bit and change my technique.”
“It all comes down to draws and possession,” Pelkey said. “You have to win those possessions.”
Cheverus’ focus then changed from offense to milking the clock.
Something the Stags did in expert fashion.
Cheverus managed to drain almost all of the remaining three minutes and after 104 minutes of back-and-forth, thrilling lacrosse, was able to celebrate a 14-12 victory.
“We’ve been in overtime before,” Lyons said. “We knew what we needed to do.”
“It was a battle today,” said Logan. “They’re a great team. We knew we’d have to be ready. We went into it like we were playing their regular team. Scarborough’s Scarborough. We practice stalling, but it’s really about trust and spreading out and believing that they’ll catch it and that you’ll catch it and you’ll get away from the defense.”
“This is incredibly big,” Caiazzo said. “This proves we’re heading to a good place. These are the best games. They’re the most fun. We came together. We knew we could do it. We stayed hungry and gave all we had. We used our mistakes earlier in the game to make us a better team. We really, really wanted it. We came out with a lot of emotion. We don’t really practice overtime, so (the Marshwood) game gave us an idea what overtime would be like. We were here last year too. We wanted it to happen again. We work on killing the clock a lot. Alex, Meredith and I incorporate everyone on the team.”
“I actually said to the girls, ‘You know what? The last couple games we lost helped get us to this point,'” Pelkey added. “This was a huge game. Getting that experience in other games, winning or losing, was important. Our harder schedule came toward the middle and end of the season. We came through today. We’ve bonded so much more this season. We have so many new girls. We’re learning how to win as a team.”
The Stags’ offense featured four goals each from Caiazzo and Willard, three from Lyons and one apiece from Biegel, Logan and Walsh. Lyons added two assists, while Veroneau had one.
Cheverus had a 38-26 advantage on ground balls, as Caiazzo led all players with eight, Lyons grabbed seven and Logan finished with six. Correia made three saves before being replaced.
The Stags had a 22-19 edge in shots (19-15 on cage), but their most impressive stat was only committing a dozen turnovers in 56 nervewracking minutes.
Scarborough was paced by Hersey’s breakout performance of five goals. Prince scored three times before departing. Smith added two goals, while Adams and Corbin each had one. Adams assisted on four goals. Smith led the team with seven ground balls, while Prince had five. Mars made one save and Shoebottom finished with four.
The Red Storm had a 15-14 edge in draws, but didn’t win any in overtime. Scarborough only committed 11 turnovers.
“The girls stepped up and I’m very proud of them,” Wood said. “I thought we were going to get blown out. Not that we couldn’t do it, but we’re so young. We actually had eight players out today. Kaitlin carding out was tough because she was dominating.
“It’s anyone’s game in overtime. It’s a crapshoot. It’s who gets the draw and who gets a look. We had a communication lapse or two and they scored. Everything else was earned. We knew they’d attack. Sadie came up big today with goals that I haven’t seen her do. We do practice going out and pressuring, but it’s tough to do when they’re tired.”
If Cheverus and Scarborough were to meet again, it would be at Fitzpatrick Stadium for the Class A championship June 21.
The Red Storm (currently fifth in Western A, but that’s due in large part to a score being recorded inaccurately) closes at home versus Biddeford Monday.
Wherever Scarborough winds up, it better be taken seriously.
“I’m excited and re-motivated for playoffs,” Wood said. “We have Biddeford, then we have some time to heal our wounds. I have no idea where we’ll end up. I’d love to stay out of fourth (place), but I have a feeling that’s where we’ll end up. It’s anyone’s game. I’m not worried about it. We’ll be ready no matter what.”
The Stags, meanwhile, have the inside track on the top seed in Eastern A and have the daunting task of finishing their season at home Wednesday against Waynflete.
“Waynflete will be exciting,” Caiazzo said. “We’re getting where we want to be, but we still have a lot of things to work on.”
“(Beating Scarborough) gives us confidence, but we know we’ll have to keep working hard,” Logan said. “Each year is a new team, but I think we’re looking good and we’re working together and there’s a lot of great chemistry.”
“I always look forward to Waynflete,” Pelkey added. “They’re a great team. They’re talented. They’re athletic. They’re composed. (Coach Cathie Connors is) unreal. I think the girls are looking forward to it. It should be a really good game. We’re getting there. We’re finding out what works and what doesn’t.”
Cheverus senior Elyse Caiazzo seems to turn the Earth on its axis as she races past Scarborough juniors Maddy Dobecki (14) and Miranda Page. Caiazzo had four goals in the Stags’ win.
Scarborough junior Sydney Hersey, who had a breakout performance with five goals, is sandwiched by Cheverus junior Nicole Pineau (8) and sophomore Anne Veroneau.
Scarborough sophomore Abby Corbin races up the field as Cheverus senior Elyse Caiazzo gives chase.
Cheverus senior Alex Logan, who scored the winning goal, is hounded by Scarborough sophomore Emma Smith.
Cheverus senior Sadie Lyons, who had three goals, leaves a Scarborough defender in her wake.
Cheverus junior Nicole Pineau protects the ball.
Scarborough sophomore Emma Smith runs upfield, but can’t shake speedy Cheverus senior Sadie Lyons.
Cheverus junior MaryKate Walsh is defended by Scarborough sophomore Emma Smith.
@ Scarborough 15 Cheverus 7
Scarborough 23 @ Cheverus 11
Scarborough 14 @ Cheverus 10
Scarborough 12 @ Cheverus 6
Western A semifinals
@ Scarborough 7 Cheverus 2
Cheverus 14 @ Scarborough 11
It took six extra minutes, but that made the celebration that much sweeter as Cheverus beat Scarborough in overtime Saturday afternoon, 14-12.
Jason Veilleux photos.
More photos below.
S- 6 5 1 0- 12
C- 5 6 3 0- 14
20:59 C Caiazzo (unassisted)
18:11 S Hersey (free position)
17:58 S Prince (unassisted)
14:12 S Corbin (Adams)
11:05 C Willard (Veroneau)
9:55 C Willard (Lyons)
8:27 C Lyons (unassisted)
7:16 S Adams (unassisted)
6:42 S Prince (Adams)
5:15 C Willard (free position)
3:09 S Smith (unassisted)
23:33 C Lyons (unassisted)
23:06 S Adams (unassisted)
22:21 S Hersey (Adams)
21:31 C Caiazzo (unassisted)
20:10 C Caiazzo (unassisted)
17:35 S Smith (free position)
14:34 S Hersey (Adams)
11:54 S Hersey (unassisted)
11:04 C Biegel (free position)
10:42 C Lyons (unassisted)
4:13 C Caiazzo (Lyons)
2:24 C Willard (unassisted)
45.3 S Hersey (Adams)
20.9 C Logan (unassisted)
0.1 C Walsh (unassisted)
S- Hersey 5, Prince 3, Smith 2, Adams, Corbin 1
C- Caiazzo, Willard 4, Lyons 3, Biegel, Logan, Walsh 1
S- Adams 4
C- Lyons 2, Veroneau 1
Draws (Scarborough, 15-14)
S- Prince 11 of 17, Smith 4 of 12
C- Logan 14 of 29
Ground balls (Cheverus, 38-26)
S- Smith 7, Prince 5, Adams, Brady 3, Corbin, Dobecki, Hersey 2, Page, Sargent 1
C- Caiazzo 8, Lyons 7, Logan 6, Correia, Slattery, Veroneau, Walsh, Willard 3, Pineau 2
Shots on cage:
S (Mars) 1 (Shoebottom) 4
C (Correia) 3 (Archer) 0