Three lax teams reach regional finals; Scarborough boys' reign ends
(Ed. Note: For the complete Scarborough-Thornton Academy and South Portland-Gorham boys' and Cape Elizabeth-Falmouth, Cape Elizabeth-Waynflete and Scarborough-Thornton Academy girls' game stories, with photos and box scores, see theforecaster.net)
Forecaster Country boys' and girls' lacrosse teams ran the gamut of emotions last week as three stayed alive in their quest for a state championship.
Cape Elizabeth's boys continued their undefeated season and reached the Western Class B Final yet again. South Portland made history by reaching the Western A Final for the first time, but the Red Riots didn't find nemesis Scarborough awaiting it, as the Red Storm were upset in the semifinals, bringing their four-year state championship run to a close.
Cape Elizabeth's girls made perhaps the biggest noise, finally slaying the Waynflete dragon to reach the Western B Final for the fourth year in a row. Scarborough, which had eliminated South Portland in the quarterfinals, hoped to get back to the Western A Final, but went cold at Thornton Academy and lost in the semifinals.
Two for the show
Cape Elizabeth's boys' program is the most storied in the state, but the Capers haven't gone back-to-back since 2002 and 2003. As of press time, they were two wins from doing so.
After a 12-0 regular season, its first perfect mark since 2002, top-ranked Cape Elizabeth earned a bye into Saturday's Western B semifinal round where it hosted No. 4 Greely and made quick work of the Rangers, romping, 19-1. Ben Shea had eight goals, while Owen Thoreck finished with four and Griffin Thoreck added three.
The Capers hosted No. 2 Falmouth (10-3) in the Western B Final Wednesday night (see theforecaster.net for game story). Cape Elizabeth took a five-game win streak against the Yachtsmen into the showdown, which included 12-8 and 12-10 victories this spring. The teams were meeting in the regional final for the sixth year in a row. The Capers held a 3-2 edge, which included last year's epic 9-8 overtime triumph.
If Cape Elizabeth makes it back to the state final, it will play either Yarmouth (9-5) or Freeport (9-5) Saturday at 3 p.m., at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. The Capers didn't play the Falcons this season and the teams have no playoff history. Cape Elizabeth beat Yarmouth twice this year: 10-6 and 9-4. The Capers downed the Clippers in last year's state game, 7-4, improving to 4-3 all-time against Yarmouth in the postseason.
South Portland went 11-1 in the regular season, losing only at Scarborough in the finale, and wound up first in Western A, a seeding which came with a bye into the semifinals.
Saturday, the Red Riots hosted No. 4 Gorham, a team they didn't face in the regular season, and got off to a slow start, thanks in large part to Rams freshman goalie Carter Landry (20 saves). South Portland did open up a 6-3 lead at halftime, then dominated the second half and pulled away to advance, 16-3, behind four goals from Duncan Preston, three apiece from Jack Fiorini and Andrew Whipple and 16 saves from goalie T-Moe Hellier.
The victory punched South Portland's first ticket to a regional final.
"It means a lot for this to be the South Portland team to live up to the talk," Preston said.
"It's a huge step for the program," said Red Riots coach Tom Fiorini. "We've been to this game many times. It's the fourth one for me. To get over this hump feels incredible. These kids played great and they're back after the Scarborough meltdown."
South Portland faced a tough test in Wednesday's regional final, as it hosted red-hot No. 3 seed Thornton Academy (11-3). The Red Riots beat the Golden Trojans, 12-6, in the regular season and had won the three prior playoff meetings between the schools, but with Thornton Academy coming off an impressive win at Scarborough (more on that in a moment), South Portland knew a first trip to the state final wouldn't come easily.
"We have to play our game right from the very start," Preston said. "Right from the very first faceoff we have to play South Portland lacrosse. That's great defense leading to great offense and putting the ball in the cage."
"Absolutely we wanted to play Scarborough again, but it doesn't matter who we're playing," Fiorini said. "We'll go out and do our job and play lacrosse. It doesn't matter who's on the other side of the field. That's not important. TA will come in here ready to play."
If the Red Riots make it to the Class A Final Saturday at 5:30 p.m., in Portland, they will meet either Brunswick (12-2) or Cheverus (10-4). South Portland was a 15-10 home winner over the Stags on April 28. The Red Riots didn't face the Dragons.
Scarborough had turned back every challenge for four seasons, but after a 9-3 campaign and a 16-1 home romp over No. 7 Bonny Eagle in the quarterfinals (Cam Loiselle and Christian Neelon both had four goals), the second-ranked Red Storm had no answers for Thornton Academy Saturday in the semifinals.
The Golden Trojans took a 4-0 lead after one period and extended it to 7-1 by halftime, as Scarborough didn't score until the game was 19 minutes, 26 seconds old. The Red Storm never could make a second half run and Thornton Academy went on to a 13-4 victory. Scarborough got two goals from Neelon.
"TA earned this one," said Red Storm coach Joe Hezlep, who, for only the second time in his seven seasons, won't be celebrating a state title. "They've been coming for us. As hard as it is to say, I'm almost glad it's them. They earned it. You can't win them all. I'm very proud of our guys. The scoreboard didn't read the way we wanted it to, but the things they've done and the lives they've affected, that will carry on for years to come."
While the program has lots of shoes to fill heading into 2015, it has plenty or returning talent and even more on the way.
"This may be the most quality minutes-wise we're graduating," Hezlep said. "We have holes to fill, but we have kids who are waiting to go."
On May 4, 2002, with George W. Bush in his second year in the White House, the War on Terror dominating the headlines, the New England Patriots just three months removed from an improbable first Super Bowl title and with gas costing a mere $1.34 a gallon, Cape Elizabeth's girls' lacrosse team won at Waynflete, 10-9.
The Capers wouldn't beat the Flyers again until Saturday, when it downed them for the first time in 25 tries.
Cape Elizabeth lost, 10-5, at home to Waynflete in the regular season finale to fall to 8-4 and the No. 3 seed, but began its playoff run last Wednesday with an impressive 13-6 home win over No. 6 Falmouth in the quarterfinals. In a sign of things to come, Abby McInerney scored four times as the Capers raced to a 7-0 lead and didn't look back.
"We wanted to show everyone in the conference that we were ready to go," McInerney said. "For us seniors, it was really important to send a message to other teams and to ourselves and get our confidence back."
At Waynflete Saturday in the semifinals, Cape Elizabeth had to get off to a good start and did so, grabbing a 4-1 lead, but as expected, the Flyers rallied, tying the game at 5-5, then taking an 8-6 lead, seemingly putting the Capers on the ropes.
But they rallied.
McInerney cut the deficit to 8-7, then freshman Mariah Deschino tied the score with a free position goal.
Cape Elizabeth got the ball for a final chance and out of a timeout, executed a play to perfection, as senior Liz Robinson set up McInerney for a goal with 16 seconds to go and after forcing a turnover in the waning seconds, the Capers had done it, 9-8.
"We ran the time down, then I passed it to Abby and when she scored, my heart literally stopped," Robinson said. "I couldn't believe it happened. We work so well together. We connect so well. We know each other. She's played so well."
"It's just unbelievable," said McInerney, who was in kindergarten the last time Cape Elizabeth beat Waynflete. "I'm just speechless. There are no words to describe it. Three years we've lost to them in Western Maine Finals. To finally beat them is phenomenal."
"It's been a long time since I've been brought to tears, but I'm kind of misty," Cape Elizabeth coach Jeff Perkins added. "When (the girls) came off, they were all saying, '25!, 25!' It's surreal. It's great. It's been a long time. It was awesome. We've never been to able to stem that tide against Waynflete. We were never able to fight back and today we did it. It was a fabulous game to watch. It was a little better because we won for once. It was one of the best games I've ever been associated with."
The Capers advanced to play at top-ranked Kennebunk (10-3) in Wednesday's regional final. Cape Elizabeth got off to a slow start and fell, 14-11, at the Rams May 2. Kennebunk eliminated the Capers in the 2001 quarterfinals and the 2004 and 2005 semifinals.
If Cape Elizabeth is able to reach the Class B Final for the first time Saturday at 10 a.m., it will face either Yarmouth (11-2) or Freeport (11-2). The Capers lost at home to the Clippers, 11-10, on May 20 and didn't play the Falcons. Cape Elizabeth last played Yarmouth in the playoffs in the 1998 state semifinals (an 8-7 loss) and has never met Freeport.
In Western A, No. 3 Scarborough opened with an easy 15-4 win over No. 6 South Portland. Kaitlin Prince's three goals sparked the victory. The Red Riots got three goals from Shae O'Brien, as they finished 6-7.
The Red Storm went to No. 2 Thornton Academy Saturday for the semifinals and raced to leads of 2-0, 4-1 and 5-2, but Scarborough didn't score for over 29 minutes and the Golden Trojans rallied with nine straight goals en route to an 11-6 victory. Prince had two goals, but it wasn't enough as Scarborough's season finished at 8-6.
"We were ready and amped," said Scarborough coach Marcia Wood. "We felt prepared. I honestly don't know what happened. It was one of those games where things didn't go our way. It's a learning experience. This is how it goes. Someone has to lose."
The Red Storm do have ample talent returning and aren't used to falling short two straight seasons, something which could drive next year's squad to great things.
"I had seven seniors and I carried 27 players, so I have quite a few players coming back," Wood said. "Kaitlin and the other girls will be hungry next year."