Cape boys keep rolling, win at Greely
CUMBERLAND—Cape Elizabeth's boys' lacrosse team was far from at its best Tuesday afternoon, which always seems to happen when it travels to Greely, but these champion Capers did what they had to do to stay undefeated on the 2014 season.
While Cape Elizabeth had its moments of sloppiness, it produced a balanced offense, as seven different players tickled the twine, and once again put forth a dominating defensive effort, blanking the Rangers in the second half.
The Capers only held a 5-4 lead at halftime, but goals from junior Noah Haversat, freshman Owen Thoreck and junior Griffin Thoreck helped open things up and Cape Elizabeth improved to 8-0 and dropped Greely to 5-3 with an 8-4 victory,
"I'm pleasantly surprised, but we're stepping up in every way possible," said Griffin Thoreck.
Despite losing some great players to graduation, Cape Elizabeth has been just as dominant (arguably even more so) this spring than it was last year en route to a championship. The Capers opened with an easy 15-1 home victory over Waynflete, then made a statement with a 10-6 win at Yarmouth in a state final rematch. An 8-4 home victory over Kennebunk and an 18-1 romp at Wells followed. Cape Elizabeth then passed three big tests in a row in flying colors: winning at four-time Class A champion Scarborough, 10-5, handling visiting Falmouth in the rivals' first meeting of the year, 12-8, then dominating visiting Brunswick Friday, 16-2.
Greely came into the season hopeful that it would join the top echelon of contenders and has shown glimpses of excellence. After opening with a 22-3 romp at Lake Region, the Rangers downed visiting North Yarmouth Academy, 4-1. A 9-5 home loss to Yarmouth followed, but Greely bounced back to win at York (13-3), at home over Western A contender Thornton Academy (7-6) and at longtime power Kennebunk (9-6). Saturday, the Rangers suffered their second loss, 12-6, at Messalonskee, in a game played at Colby College in Waterville.
Cape Elizabeth has owned Greely over the years (please see below), with one memorable exception. On May 30, 2008, the Rangers beat the visiting Capers in overtime, 7-6, for their lone win in the series.
Since then, however, entering Tuesday's contest, Cape Elizabeth had taken eight in a row, by a composite 102-34 margin. Last spring, also at Greely, the Capers prevailed in a turnover-plagued game, 8-4.
Tuesday, Cape Elizabeth did it again.
Turnovers were prevalent in the early minutes before the Capers broke the ice when senior Danny Brett, an unexpected candidate, weaved through the defense for an unassisted goal and a 1-0 lead with 8:03 to play in the first period.
"I thought maybe I'd throw the fake, but I went right in," Brett said. "I'm usually the guy doing the dirty work, not scoring the goals."
The Rangers tied the game with 6:51 to go in the first, when senior Gwynn Zambello set up junior Tim Adams for a goal.
The visitors responded 71 seconds later, as Owen Thoreck finished a feed from junior Ben Shea, beating Greely senior goalie Griffin Doree.
With 4:54 left in the first, the Rangers pulled even again, as Zambello set up junior Mitch Mullin for a shot which eluded Cape Elizabeth sophomore goalie Alex Narvaez.
With 3:35 to go, the Capers took the lead for good, when senior Jack Drinan fed sophomore R.J. Sarka.
After Mullin hit the post with his team playing man-up, Cape Elizabeth made it 4-2 on an unassisted goal from Shea, who eluded a defender before beating Doree.
In the first quarter, both teams turned the ball over eight times, but the Capers made the most of their opportunities.
The game would remain tight heading into halftime.
After Doree denied junior Andrew Kelly, Shea, Owen Thoreck and Shea, Shea hit the post.
Finally, with 6:10 left before the half, Kelly scored unassisted to make the score 5-2.
Back came the Rangers, as Mullin found Adams in transition for a goal and after Doree robbed Cape Elizabeth freshman Connor Thoreck at one end, Mullin finished a feed from junior Gabe Belisle man-up to cut the deficit to 5-4 with 3:28 to play in the half.
Little did anyone suspect that Greely's offensive production was done for the day.
Narvaez preserved the lead heading into the break. robbing Mullin twice.
The Capers would put the game away in the second half, but couldn't exhale until the final horn.
Doree kept the Rangers' upset hopes alive by denying Kelly once and Shea twice before Haversat, unassisted, pushed the Cape Elizabeth lead to 6-4 with 8:12 left in the third.
After Narvaez made a save on an Adams bid, the Capers transitioned the other way and senior Caelan Houle set up Owen Thoreck for a goal and a 7-4 advantage.
After Doree robbed Kelly and Owen Thoreck and Drinan hit the post, Narvaez came up big by turning aside a Mullin bid and Cape Elizabeth took a three-goal lead to the final stanza.
There, the Capers' defense put it away.
Narvaez came up huge early in the frame, denying both Adams and Mullin.
Then, with 7:36 remaining, Shea threw a pretty pass to Griffin Thoreck, who finished for an 8-4 advantage.
Greely had an opportunity to answer as it went two-men up, but Mullin's shot was saved by Narvaez.
One last good look by the hosts, from senior Calvin Stroud, was saved by Narvaez and Cape Elizabeth, which pitched a shutout the final 27 minutes, 28 seconds, went on to an 8-4 triumph.
"Afternoon games are different for us," Griffin Thoreck said. "It was one of the first hot games. We played well in the second half, so we're happy to come out with the win. In the first half, we were a little late on our slides and we gave up some lazy, uncontested goals. We had a good talk at halftime and played better defense in the second half. We all had success dodging. We were able to pick our heads up and find the open man."
"We knew they had one guy who was really their shooter and we locked him off," Brett said. "Once we did that, our ride was great forcing turnovers. We came out this year with a chip on our shoulders. Everyone's opinion was that we wouldn't be as good. We graduated our three best defenseman, two attackers and middie and didn't have our starting goalie. We wanted to come out and prove it's not a one-year thing. We wanted to come out and dominate and I think we've done that so far."
"It's never easy here," Cape Elizabeth coach Ben Raymond added. "We had great balance. The goals we did score, there was a lot of individual effort. There weren't as many assisted goals as we'd like to have, but that was due to their defense. They did a nice job. We try to pressure the ball defensively. They had a hard time handling that pressure. It creates some offensive opportunities for them, which they did a good job with early. We got a little over-aggressive at times."
Owen Thoreck had two goals, while Brett, Haversat, Kelly, Sarka, Shea and Griffin Thoreck each tickled the twine once. Shea also had two assists, while Drinan and Houle also set up a goal.
Narvaez stopped 10 shots.
"He's fantastic," Brett said. "Alex has really stepped up this year. I don't think he's gotten enough credit. He stops guys on the doorstep. We all get energy from that."
Cape Elizabeth won the game largely by virtue of its special teams.
For starters, senior James Monroe-Chausse won 12 of 15 faceoffs.
"James plays a huge role on our team right now," Griffin Thoreck said. "Possession is the biggest key and he gives us that and that enables us to win."
The Capers enjoyed a 48-31 advantage on ground balls, as senior Tom Feenstra had a game-high nine and Haversat and Houle both collected five.
Cape Elizabeth committed 24 turnovers, but forced 28 and had a 37-16 shots advantage (26-14 on frame).
For Greely, it was a story of an opportunity missed.
"We did alright," said Rangers coach Mike Storey. "We just didn't put a full four quarters together offensively. We got away from our game plan a little bit. I think we did it to ourselves. We made some mental mistakes and a let the moment get away from us. We didn't remain patient."
The Rangers got two goals apiece from Adams and Mullin, two assists from Zambello and one assist apiece from Belisle and Mullin. Doree and junior Harry Shain shared team-high honors in ground balls with four and Doree stole the show with 18 saves.
"Doree is great," Griffin Thoreck said. "He has quick hands. He saw the ball right out of our sticks. He's probably the best player on their team. I give him praise. He played very well."
"Griffin has been really consistent for us," Storey said. "He's having a great year. He steps up for us when we need him. The defense did a good job forcing Cape to take shots they didn't want to take."
Eyeing the playoffs
Greely is a shoo-in to make the playoffs, but the Rangers hope to finish strong and perhaps even make a run at Falmouth for the number two spot in Western Class B (Greely's currently third). After hosting Freeport Friday, the Rangers visit Falmouth Wednesday of next week. A trip to NYA and a home tilt versus Kennebunk closes the regular season.
"We hope to keep improving," Storey said. "We're taking big steps in the right direction. We're gaining more experience in these games. That will help us. Guys will have more confidence in those moments. We'll keep working hard. It only matters where you are come June."
As for the top-ranked Capers, they figure to stay perfect Friday when they go York. They'll then get a chance to meet the only team to beat them over the past two seasons, NYA, when the Panthers visit Tuesday of next week. A home game versus Yarmouth and a trip to Falmouth closes the regular season.
Cape Elizabeth appears to be on the verge of another title, but this group knows it still has a long way to go.
"We need to execute more on offense and not have defensive lapses," said Griffin Thoreck. "That's what will decide games late in the season."
"We can't drop the ball on offense and we can't have unforced errors," Brett said. "We can't take penalties. If we eliminate the stupid penalties, we'll be a lot better."
"I was really excited when we beat Brunswick Friday, but today, we may still be undefeated, but we didn't play as well as we did last week," Raymond added. "We played really, really well against Brunswick. I don't know if we can play better than that."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.
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