Cape Elizabeth still perfect after win at Yarmouth
YARMOUTH—Despite winning virtually every faceoff and enjoying several man-up opportunities, the Cape Elizabeth boys' lacrosse team let host Yarmouth hang around Saturday night and it almost cost the Capers dearly.
But with the game on the line, junior Alex Bornick sparkled, scoring seven goals, including three in the fourth quarter as Cape Elizabeth was able to fight off the Clippers' valiant effort and improve to 5-0 with a 12-8 victory.
Bornick got plenty of help from his teammates, including junior Adam Haversat, who won 15 of 17 faceoffs, and senior goalie Will Goduti, who made four key second half saves, as the Capers dropped Yarmouth to 2-2 on the year in the first of two (possibly three) meetings this spring between the longtime rivals.
"Today, we came out strong and possessed the ball a lot," said Bornick. "I know when we get close games like that, it pushes us to go harder. That's what we did."
Cape Elizabeth, as always, entered the 2012 season on the short list of title favorites.
The Capers fell two goals shy of the opportunity to defend a championship last spring, losing, 11-9, at eventual Class B champ Falmouth in the Western B Final. Cape Elizabeth avenged that loss this spring with an 8-6 home victory over the Yachtsmen. The Capers (who opened with a 20-0 blanking at Lake Region) then defeated visiting North Yarmouth Academy (14-2) and host Waynflete (15-5).
Yarmouth is looking to bounce back in 2012 after going 6-7 a year ago, a season which ended with a 7-6 overtime loss to Gardiner in the Eastern B semifinals. The Clippers edged visiting rival NYA, 11-9, in their first game. After a 14-7 loss at Falmouth, Yarmouth downed visiting South Portland, 12-2, last Saturday, but hadn't played since.
Cape Elizabeth-Yarmouth has been the state's best boys' lacrosse rivalry for a decade (please see sidebar).
The teams met in the 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009 and 2010 state finals, with each squad taking the title on three occasions.
Over the past decade, since the start of the 2002 season, the Clippers held a 13-11 edge. Yarmouth won seven in a row from 2007-2010, but Cape Elizabeth had captured the previous four encounters (including 13-2 and 6-2 victories a year ago) entering Saturday night's showdown.
It didn't come easily, but the Capers were able to stretch that streak to five.
Yarmouth won the game's first faceoff, but Cape Elizabeth soon took possession and began testing Clippers senior goalie Alex Kurtz, who stood tall.
Finally, with 7:19 to play in the opening quarter, the Capers took the lead when senior Brian Brett fed classmate Timmy Lavallee for a man-up goal. Lavallee got the pass in close and Kurtz had no chance to make the save.
It wouldn't be the last time Cape Elizabeth had an extra attacker, but it would be the final occasion the Capers would score a goal in that manner.
The hosts rallied to tie with 2:49 to go in the first when senior Bart Gallagher scored unassisted, but 30 seconds later, senior Thomas Bottomley beat Kurtz through a screen and Cape Elizabeth had the lead for good, 2-1.
Bornick was first heard from with 25.6 seconds remaining when he took a pass from Lavallee and scored to make it 3-1 Capers after 12 minutes of action.
Yarmouth was flat in the first quarter, but first-year coach David Pearl didn't feel it was because of the week-long layoff.
"I don't think I'm going to blame coming out flat on a week without competition, because I think we've shown we're very good at coming out flat," Pearl said. "We've come out flat consistently."
Cape Elizabeth would retain a two-goal lead through the second period, but had ample opportunities to break the game open.
Bornick scored unassisted just 10 seconds in to make the score 4-1, but the Clippers came back as senior Anders Overhaug scored unassisted at the 6:41 mark and sophomore Max Watson added an unassisted goal with 5:12 left, cutting the deficit to 4-3.
With 3:37 showing, Brett scored unassisted and the Capers had a 5-3 lead at halftime, but after Bottomley and Haversat won 8 of 10 faceoffs and it had six man-up situations, Cape Elizabeth had to feel that it squandered a chance to enjoy a healthier advantage.
"It was frustrating," said Bornick. "This wasn't an ideal day. We made some mistakes."
Capers coach Ben Raymond focused more on what Yarmouth didn't allow his team to do.
"We had some really good early opportunities and (Kurtz) made some very good saves," Raymond said. "We were in tight. We had some on the doorstep. He did a great job of keeping them in it. Their penalties helped us. Even if we didn't score, they weren't coming down and scoring."
When Bornick (from senior Ian McInerney, in transition) and freshman Griffin Thoreck (from Lavallee) scored early in the third period, it looked like Cape Elizabeth was finally going to open it up, but to their credit, the Clippers never buckled.
With 4:42 to play in the third quarter, Overhaug stemmed the tide with an unassisted goal, but a mere 17 seconds later, after yet another faceoff win, Haversat set up Bornick for a fastbreak goal and Cape Elizabeth took an 8-4 lead to the final period, where Yarmouth came out strong.
With 11:17 to play, Gallagher set up junior Nick Ronan for a goal. Fifty-eight seconds later, senior Sam Torres got in the scoring column, fighting through three defenders before beating Goduti and just like that, the score was 8-6.
Moments later, the Clippers had a great chance to make it a one-goal game when they went a man-up, but the Capers killed the penalty, then added to their lead when sophomore Justin Cary fed Bornick for another transition goal.
With 6:26 to go, Ronan took a pass from Overhaug and made a nice move before beating Goduti to again cut the deficit to two, 9-7.
After Cape Elizabeth won the ensuing faceoff, it turned the ball over and Yarmouth raced down with a chance to make it a one-goal game.
The Clippers never got a shot off, however, as they gave the ball right back and the Capers transitioned for a critical score.
Again, it would be Haversat setting up Bornick, who found himself open in front and was able to beat Kurtz to make it 10-7 and swing momentum back to the side of the visitors.
An unassisted goal from Lavallee with 3:31 to play made it 11-7, but Yarmouth again tightened things up on an unassisted tally from Overhaug at the 2:12 mark.
The Clippers could draw no closer.
After Cape Elizabeth managed to run time off the clock, the ball came to Kurtz, but his clear attempt was snared by Bornick, who came in one-one-one on the goalie and finished.
The goal was Bornick's seventh and it slammed the door on the 12-8 Capers' triumph.
While it wasn't always easy, Cape Elizabeth managed to stay undefeated.
"In our previous games, we've done poorly in the first three quarters, then pulled it out in the end," Bornick said. "When it gets close like that, we can't keep it close."
"We played well at times and we played poorly at times," Raymond said. "We fell asleep from time to time. We just don't play consistently enough. When we played well, the ball was barely on the ground, we made good decisions and shot well. Then, we went the other end of the spectrum."
Bornick, who scored six goals in the win over Waynflete earlier in the week, went one better Saturday, but deflected praise afterwards.
"I can't take credit because the middies got the fastbreaks," Bornick said. "I was just in the right spots to finish. We have good movement offensively. I have to give the credit to the midfielders because they make it happen. I had a good defender on me so I had to work to get open."
"He's scoring a ton of goals," Raymond said. "He had six the other day. Teams focus on Timmy quite a bit. I'd guess the majority of Alex's goals were assisted. He's doing a good job. I'm glad he's a junior."
Lavallee scored twice, while Bottomley, Brett and Thoreck all added a goal. Haversat and Lavallee each had two assists, while Brett, Cary and McInerney all finished with one.
Goduti made eight clutch saves.
"Will did a great job," Bornick said. "Yarmouth had some good shots. He made some great saves. He also made some incredible clears. It starts with him. When we get the ball, he gets it right to a middie who's breaking. We get a fastbreak and it leads to me wide open by the goal."
The faceoff numbers are what stuck out the most on the stat sheet.
Cape Elizabeth won 20 of 24, many of those wins the result of hard work of wing players collecting 50/50 ground balls. Haversat was successful on 15 of his 17 chances, while Bottomley went 5 of 7.
"Adam was incredible on faceoffs and Brian Brett was incredible on ground balls," said Bornick.
"(Adam and Thomas) do a great job," Raymond said. "The guys on the wing do a nice job too, picking up ground balls."
Speaking of which, the Capers grabbed 44 ground balls to 35 for the Clippers. Brett led all players with eight. Bottomley and senior Ned Melanson each had six, Haversat and Lavallee four apiece.
Cape Elizabeth did give the ball away 23 times, but finished with a 41-29 shots advantage (25-16 on cage).
For Yarmouth, Overhaug scored three times, Ronan had two goals and Gallagher, Torres and Watson all tickled the twine once. Gallagher and Overhaug also had one assist each.
Kurtz made 13 saves.
"Alex is a leader on and off the field," Pearl said. "He showed that leadership again today. He made some spectacular saves. If you don't think lacrosse is a fun sport, you should watch Alex Kurtz make saves."
Senior Dennis Erving won 3 of 18 faceoffs. Junior Ethan Cyr went 1 of 6. Overhaug led the team with seven ground balls. Watson collected six, Torres five and Gallagher four. The Clippers committed 20 turnovers.
"Our boys played really well man down for most of the game," said Pearl. "I think we matched up. There were times when the momentum see-sawed back and forth. I'm proud of the boys. We were right there. Obviously, Timmy's a great lacrosse player. We worked hard all week on topside defense, preventing him from coming around. Bornick was working off ball. We have to work better on the backside. Most of his goals were assisted."
Cape Elizabeth came away very impressed with Yarmouth's effort.
"Yarmouth's made a big jump from last year," said Bornick. "Their goalie made some amazing saves."
"Their goalie is very good," said Raymond. "He did a nice job. Overhaug is tough. He's a strong kid. Instead of pushing him, we just swung our sticks at him and he'll go through that every single time."
Long way to go
Both teams have plenty of big tests remaining.
Yarmouth is back in action Tuesday night at home versus winless Freeport. The Clippers also have games next week at Lake Region and at home versus Portland. Yarmouth has a brutal closing four-game stretch, at NYA, at defending Class A state champion Scarborough, at home versus Falmouth, then at Cape Elizabeth to finish, May 30.
The Clippers look to keep improving.
"I think things are coming along," Pearl said. "We see we can play with that team, that we think is the best in the state. They're a great team. I think we match up really well. At times, we've played with the top teams and we're determined we can beat them. We get another chance at both (Cape and Falmouth) and hopefully we get a third chance at one of them. We think we're capable we're beating all these teams. When we step on the field, we think we can win. We're just bound and determined to get better."
As for the Capers, they're home with Greely Tuesday and Cheverus Friday. Cape Elizabeth goes to Falmouth May 16 in a game that will go a long way toward determining homefield advantage for the playoffs. The Capers still have to go to Kennebunk and NYA, as well as host Yarmouth down the stretch.
"We've got a long season ahead of us," said Bornick. "We have to face Falmouth again. We have to keep working from here. If we can get homefield, that would be great. If we keep working hard during practice and stay focused and keep our momentum then I think it's looking good."
"We're doing good things, but we're still working on plenty," Raymond said. "At times in every game, we've played very, very well. We had great fourth quarters against NYA and Waynflete. Third quarter today, I thought we played very well. We played very well the majority of the Falmouth game. Our goal, as always, is to improve. We have improved more in some areas than others. If we beat Falmouth, it'll be fine. We'll have homefield. That's what we're focusing on."