KENNEBUNK— The de facto regional final proved to produce a familiar and painful result for the Scarborough girls’ lacrosse team.
Wednesday afternoon, arguably the two finest teams in Western A met two rounds earlier than they should have, but had to due to the vagaries of the Heal Points system.
The defending regional champion Kennebunk Rams fell behind 6-2 in the first half, but turned up their game dramatically late in the first half, then controlled play for much of the second as they got five goals from senior standout Jamie Spang and pulled away to advance, 13-9.
The Rams will visit top-ranked and unbeaten Gorham Saturday in the regional semifinals.
“It feels so good,” said Spang. “I didn’t want this to be our last game. It’s sad that this had to be the quarterfinal game. I’d say we’re the two top teams in Class A. This is the caliber of what last year’s final was. It was a good game.”
Last spring, Kennebunk rallied past host Scarborough for an overtime victory in the regional final before losing to Brunswick in the state game.
This year, the Rams and Red Storm were clearly the best teams in the region. On May 29, Scarborough rolled past visiting Kennebunk 13-9, but that win did little to help the Red Storm in the Heals. Despite finishing the year 9-3, Scarborough wound up fifth in Western A, while the 9-3 Rams were fourth, necessitating Wednesday’s showdown.
Kennebunk fell behind 5-0 in the regular season meeting, but got the jump in the playoff game as Spang scored two unassisted goals in the first five minutes.
Then, the Red Storm threatened to run away and hide.
The visitors got on the board with 19:15 left in the first when junior standout Lindsay Hagerman scored on a free position. Not quite two minutes later, junior star Ellie Morin (who again sparkled all over the field) scored an unassisted goal to tie the game.
With 17:01 to go in the half, Hagerman set up sophomore Meghan Quirk, whose shot eluded Rams senior goalie Taylor Vaughan, and Scarborough was up 3-2. Quirk scored again (from freshman Laura Przybylowicz) at the 15:29 mark. Morin then added a free position goal and with 10:32 left before halftime, senior Lauren Blaisdell (assisted by Przybylowicz) scored for a 6-2 lead.
The hosts would regroup.
With 7:40 to go in the half, senior Meghan Smith caught a difficult pass from freshman Alison Bush, then one-timed a shot past Red Storm junior goalie Marina Sterrer to end a 13 minute, 1 second drought.
Senior Maggie Lavoie (from sophomore Camille Auger) and Spang (unassisted) then scored in a 39-second span to make it a one-goal game. With just under a minute to play in the half, junior Brooke Worcester (from Auger) scored to make it a brand new contest, 6-6, at the break.
“We knew what it felt like to be down and when they went up by four, we all dug deep,” Spang said. “We’ve focused on this game for the past week.”
Scarborough had a 15-9 edge in shots, a 7-6 advantage in draws and a commanding 28-13 bulge in ground balls, but found itself even.
Scarborough took its final lead, 2 minutes, 30 seconds into the second half when Morin set up senior Megan Cowie for a goal.
The hosts then got three in a row as Smith scored unassisted to tie it and Spang scored back-to-back on free positions to make it 9-7.
Undaunted, the Red Storm rallied, tying the game on a pair of free positions from Hagerman, the last with 13:29 to play, but Scarborough wouldn’t score again.
The hosts took the lead for good when Smith scored unassisted with 10:49 to play. After that goal, Scarborough coach Marcia Wood replaced Sterrer with freshman Kesley Howard.
Howard stopped the first shot she faced, but Lavoie grabbed the rebound and fired it home for an 11-9 lead with 10:11 to play. With 8:23 left, Lavoie scored on a free position to give Kennebunk its biggest lead, 12-9. The Rams then put it away with 4:17 to go when sophomore Emily Kessel scored an unassisted goal on a rebound.
Kennebunk was able to run out most of the rest of the clock and celebrated its 13-9 triumph.
“These guys weren’t ready to go home,” said Rams coach Annie Barker. “We worked on getting the ball to the shooter. That was our focus. We practice killing time at the end. It’s not easy.”
The Rams won eight of the 11 second half draws and had a 14-10 edge overall. Kennebunk grabbed 21 second half ground balls (to 20 for the Red Storm) in the second half and outshot the visitors 17-9 in the final 25 minutes (and had a 26-24 edge for the game). The Rams turned the ball over 22 times and forced 19.
“We knew the last time when you put the stats on the paper, they won a ton of draws,” Barker said. “That was our game plan. We worked all week on that. We tightened our defense. The girls wanted it.”
Spang led all scorers with five goals. Lavoie and Smith both finished with three. Kessel and Worcester added one apiece. Auger had two assists, while Bush (playing for injured sophomore Taylor Crowley) had one. Vaughan made 10 saves. Senior Jennifer Bryant paced Kennebunk with seven ground balls. Lavoie had six.
For Scarborough, Hagerman finished with three goals and an assist. Morin (one assist) and Quirk both had two tallies. Blaisdell and Cowie both scored once in their swan songs. Przybylowicz had a pair of assists. Morin led everyone with 11 ground balls. Junior Jackie Morin grabbed seven ground balls.
“Last time we played them we got the draws, this time they did,” Wood said. “Last time, we got the ground balls, this time, they did.”
Scarborough finished 9-4, but certainly made its mark this spring.
“We didn’t want it to end like this,” Wood said. “We beat (Kennebunk) in the regular season, that was a high point. We had a great game against Cape, that was a high point. It was a tough schedule. We had three-point games with Yarmouth and NYA. We wanted to perform every game. At times we did, at times we didn’t.”
The Red Storm lose six seniors to graduation, but return Hagerman and both Morins, among many others, and will be right back in the mix.
Kennebunk (10-3), meanwhile, now turns its attention to top-ranked Gorham (which improved to 13-0 Thursday with a 16-8 quarterfinal victory over visiting No. 8 Portland). The teams didn’t play in the regular season.
Kennebunk is confident, but not overly so as its quest for a first-ever state championship continues.
“Gorham has great shooters,” Barker said. “I’m hoping we can finish the job. Our defense is very strong right now.”
“Every team we played in Tier I we didn’t take lightly,” Spang added. “We have to do that against Tier II teams. I don’t think we’ll be overconfident. I feel like our team this year is as good, if not better than last year. Our seniors would love to win states. Hopefully the third time’s the charm.”
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mhoffer.