For the second straight June, Brunswick’s boys’ lacrosse team celebrated an overtime victory in the state final. Saturday, the defending Class A champion Dragons beat Greely, 14-13, in a Class B state game thrill ride that was decided by Max Gramins’ game-winner.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.
B- 7 3 1 2 1- 14
G- 3 3 5 2 0- 13
11:01 B McDiarmid (Glover)
8:48 B Gramins (unassisted)
8:30 G Coyle (Lawrence)
7:14 B Glover (unassisted)
3:30 G Wetmore (unassisted)
3:13 B Eno (unassisted)
2:46 B Glover (unassisted)
2:24 G Wetmore (unassisted)
1:34 B Girardin (unassisted)
0.8 B McDiarmid (Girardin)
11:13 G O’Keefe (Lawrence)
7:50 G Lawrence (O’Keefe)
6:53 B Glover (unassisted)
2:46 B Glover (unassisted)
1:59 B Gramins (unassisted)
4.8 G Fraser (unassisted)
11:38 G Fraser (Lawrence)
9:58 G Lawrence (unassisted)
8:54 G Fraser (Lawrence)
5:39 G Coyle (O’Keefe)
2:30 B Girardin (unassisted)
1:41 G Wetmore (unassisted)
10:57 G O’Keefe (Wetmore)
9:07 B Glover (unassisted)
6:00 G Lawrence (Schumacher)
3:43 B Eno (unassisted)
54.7 B Gramins (Eno)
B- Glover 5, Gramins 3, Eno, Girardin, McDiarmid 2
G- Fraser, Lawrence, Wetmore 3, Coyle, O’Keefe 2
B- Eno, Girardin, Glover 1
G- Lawrence 4, O’Keefe 2, Schumacher, Wetmore 1
Faceoffs (Greely, 23-8)
B- Burtis 8 of 31
G- J. Williams 23 of 28, C. Williams 0 of 2, Colesworthy 0 of 1
Shots on cage
B (Pendergast) 22
G (Gagnon) 11
PORTLAND—Be it Class A or Class B, that old Brunswick Dragons overtime magic is alive and well.
One year after outlasting Scarborough in the highest-scoring Class A state championship game ever contested, the Dragons needed more than 48 minutes to prevail again Saturday morning at Fitzpatrick Stadium when they squared off with resurgent, valiant Greely in a Class B title tilt that had to be seen to be believed.
As was the case in the teams’ regular season encounter last month, Brunswick, the No. 2 seed in Class B, got off to a fast start against the top-ranked Rangers, only to see Greely roar back and take the lead.
But this time, it was the Dragons who had the last laugh.
Two goals apiece from junior standout Aiden Glover and sophomore Jack McDiarmid helped Brunswick race out to a 7-3 lead after one quarter, but the Rangers, playing in their first state game in 22 years, cut the deficit to two before two goals from Glover and another from senior Max Gramins made it 10-5.
The Rangers, who got a goal just before halftime from sophomore Ethan Fraser, who scored the OT game-winner in the teams’ first meeting, then roared to life in the third quarter, as junior Jackson Williams dominated the faceoff circle, sparking a four-goals-in-six-minutes surge which resulted in a 10-10 tie when senior Tim Coyle scored with 5:39 to go in the frame.
The Dragons went back on top on an unassisted tally from junior Nate Girardin, but Greely sophomore standout Schuyler Wetmore tied the contest heading for the fourth period.
There, Greely went on top for the first time, when senior Devlin O’Keefe scored 63 seconds in, but Glover tied the game, 12-12, with 9:07 to play.
With 6 minutes remaining, Rangers sophomore Andrew Lawrence put his team ahead again, but with 3:43 remaining, senior Andrew Eno brought Brunswick even again.
With Dragons senior goalie Connor Pendergast and Greely sophomore keeper Sawyer Gagnon coming up big, neither team scored again and the contest went to overtime.
Each team would get a chance in the three-minute, “sudden victory” session, but after Brunswick gave the ball away, Eno made the defensive play of his life, knocking the ball away from Gagnon, scooping it up and feeding Gramins, who three days after scoring the overtime winner in a semifinal round win over Yarmouth, joined Josh Dorr, last year’s hero, in program lore, by bringing an end to the contest, scoring to give the Dragons a scintillating 14-13 victory.
Glover scored five goals, Gramins added three and Pendergast made 22 huge saves as Brunswick finished 12-3, ended the finest season in Greely history at 11-4 and won the program’s fourth state title, the Dragons’ first in Class B.
“This is awesome,” said longtime Brunswick coach Don Glover. “It’s as good as it gets. You want to win as a coach and overtime adds stress, but it also adds to the sport. The fan base was exceptional. (These games are) what we need for the sport.”
Brunswick has an impressive June pedigree, while Greely was new to the championship game setting.
The Rangers had never played in a state game in the Maine Principals’ Association-sanctioned era, but did win a Division II championship back in 1996 (see sidebar, below, for previous results).
The Dragons, meanwhile, had played in eight title tilts, including each of the past four years, winning three championships (in 2007, 2015 and 2017).
Brunswick won Class A a year ago, in an overtime epic over Scarborough, and dropped down to Class B (which is where its enrollment places it) this spring when the sport went to three classes. The Dragons took on their toughest schedule to date and won nine of 12 games, losing only to South Portland (in overtime), Greely (in overtime) and by three goals at Class A North champion Falmouth.
As the No. 2 seed in Class B, Brunswick had no trouble with No. 7 Mt. Ararat in the quarterfinals, 20-4. Wednesday’s semifinal round against third-ranked Yarmouth was a vastly different story, as the Dragons played catch-up most of the night before pulling even with six seconds to go and winning it 33 seconds into overtime on Gramins’ goal, 14-13.
Greely, meanwhile, started with a home loss to Yarmouth and was 3-2 after a setback at Cape Elizabeth, but the Rangers won six of their final seven games, highlighted by overtime wins at Brunswick and Yarmouth. Greely closed with a loss to Cape Elizabeth, but still earned the top seed in Class B.
After handling No. 9 Gardiner, 19-5, in the quarterfinals, Greely dispatched No. 4 Messalonskee, 16-11, in Wednesday’s semifinals.
In the teams’ regular season meeting May 11, the visiting Rangers rallied from an 11-5 halftime deficit to force overtime on senior Ben Kennedy’s late score, before Fraser scored in overtime for an improbable, confidence-building 15-14 victory.
Prior to Saturday, the squads had never met in the postseason.
Saturday morning, under sunny, 76 degree skies, in front of a vocal crowd, both teams showed flashes of brilliance before the Dragons made the biggest play of the game at the end.
Williams won the opening faceoff and Greely had a great opportunity to score first, but just 14 seconds in, Pendergast set the tone by denying Wetmore.
Brunswick then went on offense and 59 seconds into the game, Glover fed McDiarmid for a goal and a 1-0 lead.
After Pendergast robbed Wetmore and Fraser, Gramins scored for the first time with 8:48 remaining in the quarter to double the advantage.
After a Williams faceoff win, the Rangers got on the board, as Lawrence set up Coyle for a goal.
Glover countered with an unassisted tally with 7:14 on the clock to make it 3-1.
Greely got within one again, as Wetmore scored unassisted with 3:30 remaining in the first, but 17 seconds later, Eno scored unassisted, then, with 2:46 to go, Glover fired a shot through traffic past Gagnon for a 5-2 lead.
Wetmore scored unassisted goal with 2:24 remaining, but Brunswick would close strong, getting an unassisted strike from junior Nate Girardin 50 seconds later and with under a second on the clock, Girardin fed McDiarmid for a goal and a 7-3 advantage.
To no one’s surprise, Greely battled back early in the second period.
Just 47 seconds in, Lawrence set up O’Keefe to make it 7-4.
After Gagnon denied Gramins and Girardin, O’Keefe fed Lawrence for a transition goal with 7:50 to play in the half, pulling the Rangers within two.
After Pendergast made a save on a Fraser shot which could have made it a one-goal contest, the Dragons settled down and went back ahead by three, as Glover scored unassisted with 6:53 to play before halftime.
After Pendergast denied Wetmore and robbed Fraser, Glover scored unassisted with 2:46 left and 47 seconds later, Gramins weaved through the defense and scored to put Brunswick up by five, 10-5.
Greely got a little momentum back when Fraser scored on a rebound of an O’Keefe bid that Pendergast saved with 4.8 seconds showing, but the Dragons took a four-goal lead to the second half.
In the first 24 minutes, the Rangers had an 11-7 edge in faceoffs and a 22-18 shots advantage, but 10 Pendergast saves helped Brunswick hold the lead.
Greely then completely controlled the majority of the third quarter, keeping the ball for over seven minutes before the Dragons got to go on offense again.
And by then, the game was tied.
Williams won the faceoff to start the second half, the ball came to Lawrence and Lawrence set up Fraser for a goal 22 seconds in to cut the deficit to 10-7.
Pendergast momentarily held the Rangers at bay, as he saved shots by junior Will Schumacher and Fraser, but with 9:58 to go, Lawrence scored unassisted.
A little over a minute later, with 8:54 remaining, Lawrence set up Fraser for a goal which pulled Greely within 10-9, the closest it had been since the score was 2-1.
The Rangers then peppered Pendergast, seeking the equalizer, but Kennedy shot high, Coyle missed wide, Kennedy shot high and Wetmore and Coyle missed wide.
Then, with 5:39 to play in the frame, O’Keefe passed to Coyle, who solved Pendergast, and the game was deadlocked, 10-10.
With 4:35 remaining, the Dragons finally got the ball and appeared to retake the lead, but a goal from Eno was waved off as Brunswick had too many players on the field.
After Pendergast robbed Fraser to keep the score tied, the Dragons retook the lead, 11-10, with 2:39 to go, as Girardin scored unassisted.
Again, the lead didn’t last, as Wetmore scored unassisted with 1:41 on the clock to make it 11-11, a score that would hold going to the fourth quarter.
Where nothing was resolved.
After Pendergast stymied Wetmore in close, the Rangers finally managed to take the lead with 10:57 to play, as Wetmore set up O’Keefe for the go-ahead goal.
Coyle nearly doubled the lead, but Pendergast made the save and with 9:07 left in regulation, Glover, while falling, managed to fire a shot past Gagnon to tie the score again, 12-12.
Glover then looked to put the Dragons on top, but Gagnon made the save and after Pendergast denied both Wetmore and Coyle, Greely went ahead for what proved to be the final time, as Schumacher set up Lawrence with exactly 6 minutes remaining, making the score 13-12.
After Pendergast saved a shot from Williams after a faceoff win, Brunswick sought the equalizer.
Initially, Gagnon held the Dragons off, saving shots by Glover and Eno before Glover shot wide.
Then, with 3:43 left, Eno scored unassisted and the game was tied for the fourth and final time, 13-13.
The remainder of regulation saw each team have chances to win it, but fall short.
First, Pendergast denied Coyle.
Then, after a Brunswick turnover, Rangers senior Andrew Echkhardt missed wide and Pendergast denied O’Keefe.
After a Greely timeout, with 1:50 showing, Pendergast robbed O’Keefe.
Gagnon saved a shot from Glover 23 seconds later and Greely got one more chance to end it.
With 12.8 seconds left, Fraser tried to beat the Dragons for the second time this spring, but Pendergast made the save, getting a piece of the ball then picking it up just before it went over the line.
“Their goalkeeper stood tall and made some amazing saves,” said Rangers coach Mike Storey. “I give him all the credit in the world. That one rolled on the line and was probably a quarter-inch from going in. We had our opportunities.”
Then, with just 2.1 seconds showing, sophomore Chandler Coombs tried to give Brunswick the win with a long shot, but Gagnon stopped it and it was on to overtime.
After Williams was nearly unbeatable in the faceoff circle for the entire second half, Dragons senior Max Burtis won the faceoff to start OT and Don Glover called a timeout, hoping to draw up a play to end it.
It didn’t happen, as Brunswick turned the ball over.
The Rangers then got the ball in the offensive zone and looked for the winner, but O’Keefe’s bounce shot went over the cage and after Wetmore kept possession alive with a ground ball, Pendergast made a clutch save on an O’Keefe shot.
The Dragons tried to end it at the other end, but again turned the ball over.
Only this time, it proved to be in their favor.
The ball came to Gagnon, out of the cage, who looked to clear it, but out of nowhere swooped Eno to knocked the ball away and pounce on it.
With Gagnon running pell-mell back into the cage, Eno could have attempted a shot to win it, but instead, he hesitated, then passed to Gramins who had a better look.
Gramins then settled himself and at 11:58 a.m., fired the ball past Gagnon and into the net to end it.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Gramins said. “It could have been anyone scoring. It just happened to be me. I was breaking up field because I thought they were going to clear it. Eno snuck behind the goalie and got a good check on it. The ball popped out. I thought he’d take it to the net, but the defense got settled and the goalie got back in. One guy sort of slid and I thought he’d let it rip, but it came to me and I let it rip and it worked out. That one was for the team.”
“I saw the goalie make a move and I went for the ball,” Eno said. “Then, I saw a two-on-three and I knew one of (the defenders) had to slide. If no one did, I’d rip a shot. I saw someone move and I gave it to Max and he sent us to the Promised Land. It’s unbelievable. It was nervewracking all the way through. We had to pull through no matter what.”
“I was trailing the play and I knew Max would put it in,” said Aiden Glover. “Andrew gave a great pass to him and he put it in. It’s so awesome. I’m so happy.”
“It was just hustle,” Don Glover added. “We have athletes. We lost a possession, but instead of sulking, Eno jumped on the backside. A lot of kids would pick it up and shoot, but instead, he looked and drew the slide and fed Max, who finished it. We rode his hot hand.”
Brunswick 14 Greely 13.
“This was our goal today and nothing would stop us,” said Gramins. “There were some doubts, but we have faith in the coaching staff. They kept us motivated. We prepared for June and it all worked out.”
“It’s amazing, I can’t even explain it,” Pendergast said. “We’re all brothers. We all play together as one unit. I was pretty confident we’d pull it out.”
“I credit Greely 100 percent,” Aiden Glover said. “They battled back. They’re well coached. Their goalie was crazy-good. Their faceoff guy was incredible. We didn’t want to lose like we did at home. The bench kept us in it. We had fun. We’ve been there before, so we were confident.”
“I’ve coached for 24 years and I’m learning to savor them all,” Don Glover added, about championships. “Like my children, I love them equally. I’m a blessed man, that’s for sure, but I’m follicly challenged and my hair is turning white.
“This was a tactical game, emotion back-and-forth, lead changes, both teams playing with desire. It was the same game we had with them in the regular season. We jumped out quick and they countered. Their faceoff crew was exceptional. We played some zone and rested a little bit in the third. They have a great group of young athletes who are very skilled.”
Glover was the game’s top scorer with five goals. Gramins added three, including the biggest one of his young life. Eno, Girardin and McDiarmid all finished with two goals.
Eno, Girardin and Glover all had one assist.
Pendergast was sensational from start to finish and his 22 saves played a major role in the victory.
“As soon as I focus, it’s like second nature, honestly,” Pendergast said. “There were a lot of balls coming at me, but I like the pressure.”
“Connor saved our season and he’s done that all year,” said Aiden Glover. “He’s a phenomenal goalie. I love that kid so much.”
“Connor is the best goalie I’ve ever played against,” Gramins said. “I love it in practice. He’s just amazing.”
“Connor was unreal,” Eno said. “The best game he’s played all season. He had to stand on his head. We relied on our goalie to make saves.”
“Connor was incredible,” Don Glover added. “I can say that having been a goalie. He has exceptional skills. We preach making the saves you should and steal a few. His ‘steal a few’ column gets pretty full. He’s saved us in many games.”
Glover had a team-high five ground balls. Gramins and senior Connor Foye each collected four.
The Dragons only turned the ball over 17 times in nearly 51 high pressure minutes.
For Greely, Fraser, Lawrence and Wetmore all scored three goals, while Coyle and O’Keefe had two goals each.
Lawrence finished with four assists, while O’Keefe had two and Schumacher and Wetmore one apiece.
Gagnon came on strong after the first period and stopped 11 shots.
Williams helped the Rangers win 23 of 31 faceoffs and helped Greely win the ground ball battle, 42-33, as he collected a game-high 11 (Coyle had eight).
“Jackson has been very consistent for us all year,” Storey said. “We believe in him and we believe he’ll get possession for us. He works hard and he has a really good shot at every single faceoff.”
Greely ousthot Brunswick by a nearly 2-to-1 margin (56-30) and had a 35-25 edge in shots on frame.
Despite the big stage and their inexperience in a game of this magnitude, the Rangers only turned the ball over 11 times.
“We knew we started cold and it takes awhile for Sawyer to get warmed up in goal, but we weren’t nervous,” Storey said. “As far as bringing the score back, that was completely how we expected it to go. We just focus on the next thing. We don’t worry about the score. We simply worry about what our next task is.”
Greely, which has long been in the shadow of Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth and Yarmouth, made a special name for itself this spring and with a lot of young talent on the roster, figures to get back to Fitzpatrick Stadium soon and finish what the 2018 squad started.
“The program has come a long way,” Storey said. “The coaches and players have worked really hard to build this program into what we envisioned. It’s taken a long time to get here, but a lot of good kids pushed the program in the right direction.
“We’re still a young group. An experience like this will only help us in the future. We have a strong sophomore class and junior class. We can’t get it back for the seniors, but we’ll come back and work even harder next year.”
Brunswick loses 10 players from this year’s team, but if there’s a program that has mastered the art of reloading, it’s the Dragons.
Brunswick expects to be back on the big stage again in 2019 and it would be foolish to bet against the Dragons celebrating yet another title.
“Hopefully this isn’t the last one,” Pendergast said.
“We have to work hard in the offseason,” Aiden Glover said. “We’ll be ready to get back after it. We’ll want to work our way back here again next year.”
Greely sophomore Schuyler Wetmore and Brunswick freshman Collin MacKinnon fight for the ball.
Brunswick senior Andrew Eno shoots and scores.
Greely senior Devlin O’Keefe goes one-on-one with Brunswick junior goalie Connor Pendergast.
Brunswick senior Henry Doherty reaches for the ball as Greely sophomore Jakob Bernheisel, left, and junior Will Schumacher defend.
Brunswick junior goalie Connor Pendergast prepares to make one of his 22 saves.
Greely sophomore Jakob Bernheisel somehow holds four Brunswick players at bay.
Brunswick junior Aiden Glover is defended by Greely freshman Chase Cornwall.
Brunswick junior Nate Girardin fires a shot.
Brunswick’s captains joyously receive the championship trophy.
Greely senior Tim Coyle, left, senior Ben Kennedy and senior Andrew Eckhardt receive the runner-up plaque.
Brunswick poses with the championship trophy following the game.
Scarborough 8 Brunswick 6
Cape Elizabeth 15 Brunswick 7
1996 Division II
Greely 8 Mt. Blue 7 (OT)