Scarborough bests Brunswick again for Class A title
PORTLAND—The seniors on the Scarborough girls' lacrosse team weren't about to settle for anything shy of a Class A state championship Saturday afternoon at Fitzpatrick Stadium.
And with the game on the line in a near carbon copy of last year's contest, the Red Storm's experience and refuse-to-lose mentality carried the day.
Scarborough trailed talented Brunswick, 8-7, with 16:28 to play, but coming out of a timeout, needing to the turn the tide, the Red Storm scored three times in just over three minutes to regain control.
Senior Mary Scott tied the game, classmate Kelsey Howard put Scarborough ahead and Scott added another goal to make it 10-8.
After senior Anne Kelly drew Brunswick within 10-9 with 7:47 to go, the Red Storm got some breathing room courtesy an unexpected source, senior Kat Gadbois, whose unassisted tally with 3:18 remaining proved to be the coup de grace.
Scarborough ran out the clock from there and won its third successive Class A title and its fourth in seven seasons, 11-9, over the Dragons.
The Red Storm got four goals from Scott, three apiece from Howard and senior Laura Przybylowicz and finished the season 15-1, ending Brunswick's year at 13-2 in the process.
"The seniors wouldn't lose," said Scarborough coach Marcia Wood. "I didn't know how the game would go, but in the back of my head, I just couldn't see the seniors losing."
Brunswick and Scarborough have been the two best teams in Class A since the sport divided into two classes in 2006.
The teams met in the state final that first year and the Red Storm sprung a monumental upset, 13-12, in "sudden victory" overtime.
The Dragons lost again in the state final in 2007, to Massabesic, but downed Kennebunk in both 2008 and 2009 to win it all.
Scarborough got back to the state game in 2010 and held off Mt. Ararat, 11-7.
Last spring, the Red Storm and Brunswick met again and Scarborough held on for a 13-11 triumph.
This season, the Dragons were their usual dominant self, losing just once in 12 outings (please see sidebar) to earn the top seed in Eastern A. Brunswick then avenged its lone loss with a 9-5 semifinal round victory over Mt. Ararat and Thursday, defeated Cheverus for the second successive season in the Eastern A Final, 13-8.
Scarborough, meanwhile, came into the season as the favorite and didn't disappoint, losing only to Western B power Cape Elizabeth, a setback that in retrospect was helpful.
"It's what we needed," said Wood. "We needed to know what we needed to work on and that we weren't invincible. We were pretty close, but we weren't invincible."
The Red Storm earned the top seed in Western A and turned up their game more than anyone this postseason, never giving hope to eighth-ranked Bonny Eagle in the quarterfinals, 17-2, No. 4 Kennebunk in the semis, 16-6, or third-seeded Marshwood in the regional final, 13-3.
Saturday's contest, like the prior two state finals between the powers, was close, but once more Scarborough was the last team standing.
Brunswick, bolstered by the desire to give longtime coach Beth Caputi a third championship in her final game at the helm, started fast.
After sophomore Jen Machin had a bid denied by Red Storm junior goalie Meg Kirsch, Machin set up Kelly for a goal with 21:15 to go in the first half to break the ice.
Scarborough's offense then roared to life.
After Scott had a shot saved by Dragons senior goalie Molly Herman, Scott took a pass from senior Maggie Smith and tied the score with a goal at the 15:49 mark.
Just 44 seconds later, a Przybylowicz free position goal gave the Red Storm its first lead.
Przybylowicz (from Smith) scored again at 13:28 and 44 seconds later, Howard converted unassisted to make it 4-1 Scarborough.
As expected, Brunswick hung tough, scoring three times in just over two minutes to draw even.
The comeback began with a goal from senior Suzannah Smith (set up by classmate Corinne O'Connor at 9:36). Fifty-one seconds later, junior Dakota Foster scored unassisted. Then, at the 7:29 mark, Smith ran around the cage, blew past a defender and beat Kirsch to tie the score, 4-4.
After Maggie Smith was denied by Herman, the Red Storm retook the lead, 5-4, when Scott set up Howard for a goal with 4:43 to play in the half.
Przybylowicz (from Scott) struck again 32 seconds later and with 47.3 seconds remaining, Scott (from Smith) converted to push the lead right back to three.
With 31.4 seconds left, a Kelly free position allowed the Dragons to cut the deficit to 7-5 at the break.
Virtually every statistical category was even in the first half, with the exception of draws, where Howard and Przybylowicz were dominating to the tune of 9-4.
In the second half, Scarborough would lead most of the way, but Brunswick made things interesting to the very end.
A free position goal from O'Connor 63 seconds into the second half pulled the Dragons within one.
After Herman robbed Smith at the other end, Brunswick drew even with 21:24 remaining when junior Lillian Kjellman scored through a screen.
The Red Storm appeared to go back on top at the 20:32 mark, but Howard's goal was waved off due to a dangerous follow-through, which earned Howard a yellow card and two minutes on the sidelines to boot.
When Suzannah Smith, in a carbon copy of her earlier goal, raced around the crease and left a defender in her wake before finishing with 16:28 to play, the Dragons had an 8-7 advantage, their first since 1-0, and suddenly were smelling upset.
Wood then called timeout. During the break, a familiar voice from the Brunswick cheering section shouted, 'Win or lose, there will be a parade.' It turned out to be former governor and current U.S. Senate candidate Angus King, father of Molly Herman.
Unaffected, Scarborough came out and righted its ship.
"It was just to kind of compose them," Wood said. "I knew they were getting frustrated. It wasn't really to tell them anything other than to take a deep breath and relax. We stressed leaving it all on the field and playing their hearts out."
It took only 36 seconds for the two-time champs to answer as Przybylowicz found Scott for the tying goal.
"Me and Laura always see each other really well," Scott said. "We like to bring it around the goal, do crease rolls, draw defenders. We did our play and it worked well. She passed it to me and I got it in. (The timeout) was just clearing our thoughts. We had tons of time left. We just had to pull it together."
"I knew (Brunswick would) come out strong and want to get revenge from last year," said Howard. "They're always a good team. We were more nervous going into the game. When the game starts, I just let the game take over. I look for my teammates and they look for me. I think we got a little frantic when they went up. When coach called timeout, we took a breather, stepped back, cooled down, looked at the situation and came back and played Scarborough lacrosse again.
"We stopped and regrouped and went back out collected," added senior defender Shauni Cowan. "It was just a momentum shift."
After Maggie Smith had a shot turned aside by Herman, Howard eluded a defender and finished with 13:29 remaining to finally put the Red Storm on top to stay, 9-8.
"I was just looking for cracks in their defense," said Howard. "I ran around, looked for a hole, found a hole and took it in."
With 12:27 left, Scott gave Scarborough a little breathing room with an unassisted goal, but with 7:47 on the clock, senior Caroline Wild set up Kelly for a goal and the Red Storm lead was down to one, 10-9, with an abundance of time still to play.
Scarborough won the ensuing draw, but turned the ball over. After Brunswick gave it back, the Red Storm committed another turnover and this one almost cost it dearly as O'Connor had a bid at tying the game.
Kirsch made the save, however, and with 4:39 left, Scarborough was still on top.
Then, an unlikely source, Gadbois, helped clinch it.
With the Red Storm milking the clock, Gadbois saw a seam and ran to goal, firing a shot past Herman to make it 11-9.
"They were saying, 'She can't go left,'" Gadbois said. "I don't usually. I just ran in and finished. I felt like it was some breathing room, but you never know with them, because they have people who can score like we do."
Her teammates were certainly impressed.
"Every goal matters, whether you're up by one, down by three," said Cowan. "In a state game, everything matters. For Kat to get that goal was huge. I'm so glad she got it. She worked hard and placed it where the ball needed to be."
"It was a really important goal," said Howard. "She has a wicked hard shot. She took it far out and made it in. It was really important for us. It made us excited. It gave us that extra little breathing room to work the ball around more and take time off the clock."
"To be honest, when she was going to goal, I got nervous," Wood added. "She's not our top shooter. She got it and I told her, 'You're lucky!'"
The Dragons called timeout hoping to devise a rally, but Brunswick wouldn't get the ball again. Howard won the game's final draw and Scarborough managed to run out the clock and got to celebrate its 11-9 triumph.
"It's the most incredible feeling," said Howard. "We played as hard as we could. We left it all on the field."
"It's amazing," said Gadbois. "It was tough, but we made it. We pulled through and got where we wanted to be. (Brunswick's) a great team. One of the best we've played all year. They definitely gave us a challenge. We played our game and worked hard so we deserved to win. We're a really close team. We work together. We like each other and work well. We always manage to pull it out in the end."
"It feels absolutely amazing," Scott said. "I've never been happier. I was already extremely happy we made it this far. Taking it all, there's no better way to end my senior year. This entire season has been extremely competitive. We've learned to deal with the pressure. We have 13 seniors, but we're familiar with pressure. You learn to play smart. Both teams were equally matched. Brunswick's a great team. We both wanted it badly. We just had to fight for it to the last second. It's absolutely incredible. I was crying tears of joy at the end. I'm so sad it's over. Our coaches are amazing. So much love and support on and off the field. It's been an incredible experience."
The Red Storm's fantastic foursome produced 10 of the team's 11 goals and all six assists. Scott led the way with four goals and two assists. Przybylowicz had three goals and one assist, Howard added three goals and Smith assisted on three.
"We spread the wealth," said Wood.
Then, there was Gadbois, who scored just once, but what a huge tally it proved to be.
Kirsch made three saves.
Scarborough won 15 of 22 draws, as Howard went 13 of 18 and Przybylowicz split her four attempts.
The Red Storm had a 31-20 advantage in ground balls. The team was paced by five each from Przybylowicz and Scott. Smith and junior Sarah Martens each collected four, while senior Breanna Goode and junior Jess Meader came up with three apiece.
"I love these tight games because you can justify everyone's play," said Wood. "Like Sarah Martens diving to save a ball. We needed that. There were big plays. Sarah getting a draw control. If she didn't get that draw control, we may not have won. Everything matters. That's what you want in a state game. (Junior) Avery Pietras got two interceptions at the end. She may not have scored a goal or had an assist, but those plays mattered. You want those girls who may not have stood out during the season to make big plays."
Scarborough only committed 12 turnovers and had a 20-17 shots advantage (16-12 on cage).
The Red Storm's unheralded defense also came up huge.
"We played as a team and were on our game," said Cowan. "It's not about one person and our defense showed that. There aren't words to describe it. This doesn't happen. People don't go to states three years in a row and win every time. I'm beyond thrilled. We played well. I'm so happy. We've been determined from the start. Since we were freshmen, even in seventh grade. This year we wanted to do it for the seventh graders we were. As long as you're motivated, it's possible."
"(Bre Goode had a hell of game, getting ground balls," said Wood. "Shauni was stellar as usual. (Junior) Ashley Ronzo had a lot of hustle plays in the midfield and a lot of transitions."
For Brunswick, Kelly and Smith scored three times each. Foster, Kjellman and O'Connor had one goal apiece. Machin, O'Connor and Wild all had one assist. Herman stopped five shots. Foster went 5 of 14 on draws, Smith 2 of 8. Herman was the team leader in ground balls with five. The Dragons only turned the ball over a dozen times.
"It was a repeat of last year," Caputi said. "It was very similar. They were more effective in their stall. They were more patient at the end. We have a couple girls who are new to the game. We had unfortunate turnovers. It was a great game. I'm very proud. We had a very competitive season and there are so many teams who don't ever get talked about. We had some awesome battles this year and it prepared us well for a team like Scarborough. We play a different brand of lacrosse in the KVAC. It's not as flashy or as beautiful as some other teams. I think we did a great job for having some inexperienced girls in the field. We're a young, young team after our eight seniors and Dakota. I played 12 girls today. Nobody came in off the bench. Scarborough with Kelsey and Maggie, they just have great poise. I think they're great. That showed toward the end of the game with them hanging on the ball and not giving us an extra opportunity."
Caputi said after the game that four kids (who are playing lacrosse at four different schools) and a new business are where she now plans to focus her attention, but that she's most appreciative of her time at Brunswick.
"This is our sixth time here in seven years," Caputi said. "I'd like to have more state championships, but it's been a total honor to get out on this field and play really good teams. Back in the day, when we were all one group, we got to play Waynflete in a championship game. There are a lot of great coaches. I'll miss the collegiality of the coaches. It's been fun. I have a great group of kids, all the way through. I've been really lucky. Brunswick has such a great commitment to athletics."
"I had no idea that it was possibly Beth's last game," said Wood. "When I heard that, I knew those girls would be trying to do a lot for her."
Not to be forgotten
Scarborough's 13 seniors took a strong program to an elite level over the past three seasons and an overwhelming amount of triumph will be their legacy.
"It's very bittersweet," Wood said. "I absolutely adore these seniors. I just adore them. It'll be hard. They'll always be part of our family."
With almost all of the team's offense graduating, the Red Storm will face more of a challenge in 2013, but rest assured, this program will reload and not rebuild.
"I'm looking forward to next year," Wood said. "I'm looking forward to not having a target on our back and getting back into teaching. This year was less teaching and more just playing and being consistent. I'm looking forward to teaching some younger girls and getting them ready."