Cape girls avenge loss, close regular season with win at Yarmouth
YARMOUTH—Three weeks ago, the Cape Elizabeth girls' lacrosse suffered a stunning home loss to Yarmouth.
Thursday, the Capers had a shot at revenge and while it didn't come easily, they got it and closed the regular season in style.
Proving the first game was no fluke, the host Clippers hung tough throughout, leading early, 2-1, then tying the game at 5-5, 6-6 and 9-9.
Ultimately, however, Cape Elizabeth senior Lauren Steidl was the difference, scoring five times in the second half alone and seven times in the game to help the Capers go ahead to stay.
Steidl also won several clutch draws down the stretch and Cape Elizabeth went on to a 14-12 victory, its ninth in 12 games this spring, as they dropped Yarmouth, which got seven goals from its dynamic junior, Grace O'Donnell, to 5-7.
"It was a great way to close the regular season," said the Princeton University-bound Steidl. "We were fired up for this one. We knew what they were capable of. We wanted to beat them so badly. They're the most athletic team we'll see. We knew it would be up and down and we were up for the challenge."
State game preview?
It's not that far-fetched to suggest that Cape Elizabeth and Yarmouth could square off on the Fitzpatrick Stadium turf with a Class B state championship at stake June 15. After all, the teams almost met in the state game last season, but each lost in overtime of their respective regional finals.
So far, this year, each squad has experienced inspirational victories and frustrating defeats.
The Capers looked unstoppable at the start of the season, opening with an emphatic 18-5 victory at Falmouth. The Capers then pulled away to beat visiting Freeport, 13-4 and won a crossover game at Gorham, 13-7, but a home showdown with nemesis Waynflete resulted in a 10-8 home defeat, a game Cape Elizabeth never led. After bouncing back with a 17-5 win at Wells, the Capers were stunned at home by Yarmouth (8-7). After rallying to beat visiting three-time defending Class A champion Scarborough (10-8), Cape Elizabeth lost to Waynflete for the 21st straight time (8-4, in Portland), again never leading the Flyers. The Capers bounced back to handle visiting Greely (14-9), host Fryeburg (15-3) and visiting Falmouth (17-10).
The Clippers lost at Falmouth in the opener, 16-7, then fell at home to Waynflete, 17-5, before coming to life with a stirring, come-from-behind 8-7 victory at Scarborough. After losing at home to Falmouth (11-8), Yarmouth romped over visiting rival North Yarmouth Academy (16-4), handled host Wells (17-10) and shocked host Cape Elizabeth, 8-7. A 12-8 home loss to Gorham followed. After dominating host Fryeburg, 21-3, the Clippers fell at home to York, 12-9, then lost at Waynflete, 16-10.
While Yarmouth's 8-7 win at Cape Elizabeth earlier this month was a surprise to many, it continued the Clippers' recent dominance over the Capers (please see sidebar, below). Until Cape Elizabeth prevailed in last year's meeting, 14-6, the Capers hadn't beaten Yarmouth this century and had lost 11 straight to the Clippers.
Thursday, in a game played amid the most sweltering conditions of the spring, both teams had a chance to win and secure a home playoff game, so something had to give.
Ultimately, Cape Elizabeth's firepower proved to be the difference.
It took only 46 seconds for the Capers to break the ice as senior standout Talley Perkins (who will play at Boston University next year) scored on a free position.
Yarmouth then got two quick goals to take its lone lead, as O'Donnell, in transition, found senior Alex Lucas for the tying score and with 20:17 to play in the first half, O'Donnell scored unassisted, beating Cape Elizabeth sophomore goalie Kate Bosworth.
The Capers drew even a mere 25 seconds later, as junior Abby McInerney scored unassisted and with 18:43 left in the half, explosive junior Hannah Newhall scored an unassisted goal.
Cape Elizabeth pushed its lead to 5-2, as Steidl, seconds after being robbed by Yarmouth junior goalie Jordan Brown, scored on a free position and did it again with 13:28 left in the half, forcing Clippers coach Dorothy Holt to call timeout.
It worked as Yarmouth rallied.
With 11:11 showing, O'Donnell scored unassisted. After Bosworth stopped senior Olivia Conrad on a free position, senior Julia Kameisha scored unassisted and with 7:21 left before halftime, Kameisha fed Lucas with a pretty pass and Lucas finished to tie the score, 5-5.
Brown momentarily kept the game deadlocked when she denied both McInerney and Perkins on free positions, but with 4:02 to go in the half, Newhall scored unassisted to put the Capers back on top.
The Clippers again bounced back and made it a 6-6 contest when sophomore Emma Torres converted a free position with 2:22 to go, but 1:09 left, Perkins scored a free position goal which gave Cape Elizabeth a slim 7-6 halftime advantage.
In the first 25 minutes, most statistical categories were almost dead even, meaning someone had to take over in the second half.
That someone was Steidl.
After Steidl won the draw to start the second half, she raced in for a goal with 16 seconds elapsed to make it 8-6.
Steidl won the next draw as well and finishing unassisted, giving her two goals in 11 seconds and the Capers a 9-6 lead.
"We came out with more fire," Steidl said. "I was kind of out of breath after the second one. We knew we had to come out strong. I thought I had to come out 10 times as fast. That's what I was thinking."
"I think Lauren felt it and got into the groove," Cape Elizabeth coach Jeff Perkins said. "When that groove is going, it's pretty neat to watch. It was great to see."
While Cape Elizabeth had delivered a punch to start the half, Yarmouth again roared back.
After Talley Perkins was sent off for two minutes after receiving a yellow card, O'Donnell scored on a rebound man-up, then assisted Lucas for a man-up goal in a 26 second span to cut the deficit to one.
Then, with 20:38 left in regulation, O'Donnell beat Bosworth on a free position and the game was tied anew, 9-9.
If the Clippers had gotten the lead, the end result could have been different, but Yarmouth never could and the Capers scored four straight goals to take command.
With 19:48 to go, Yarmouth sophomore Sarah Meyer was given a yellow card and Cape Elizabeth took advantage.
After Perkins was denied by Brown, who missed four games after suffering a concussion in the first game against the Capers, Perkins' younger sister, freshman Maisie, got the ball and passed to McInerney, who finished to put Cape Elizabeth ahead to stay, 10-9, with 19:25 to go.
After four scoreless minutes, Steidl again scored unassisted and she added an unassisted goal with 13:51 left and a free position strike with 12:03 showing to push the Capers' lead to 13-9.
After Bosworth denied Yarmouth junior Molly Maguire in close and a Kameisha free position resulted in a turnover, the hosts finally ended a 15 minute drought when O'Donnell scored on a free position with 5:38 to play.
Cape Elizabeth never let the Clippers string goals together, however, and with 4:22 left to play, after draining over a minute off the clock, McInerney set up Newhall for a breakbreaking goal and a 14-10 lead.
Yarmouth's strong junior defender Julia Primeau was given a dubious yellow card with 3:24 left, but the Clippers managed to score while being down a player, as O'Donnell struck unassisted with 3:01 remaining, giving the hosts flickering hope, despite the 14-11 deficit.
With 58.9 seconds to play, O'Donnell scored her final goal of the game to cut the Capers' lead to two and when sophomore Lane Simsarian won the ensuing draw, Yarmouth had a chance to make it a one-goal game, but the Clippers turned the ball over, Cape Elizabeth senior Jane Coffrin scooped up the loose ball and the Capers were finally able to run out the clock on their 14-12 victory.
"Yarmouth's so athletic," said Jeff Perkins. "I got caught watching how pretty their transition is. They'll be a great team for years and years. I have nothing but incredible praise for them and how they play the game. They caught us off guard last time with their style of play. We were more prepared this time. They still did a great job trapping us and getting turnovers. We were able to control some draws in the second half and that made the difference. It took every bit of everyone we have to get it done tonight.
"I thought it was a good regular season for us. Certain teams we matched up better than we did against others. There's a lot of great teams out there. It's great to see how many good teams are out there. The parity is phenomenal."
Steidl simply sparkled, scoring seven times.
"Everyone did a really good challenging and that created space," Steidl said. "Everyone was moving."
Newhall added three goals, while McInerney and Talley Perkins both had two goals. Perkins' effort was admirable considering she suffered a shoulder injury in practice Wednesday.
"Talley's just a warrior," said Jeff Perkins, her coach and father. "She told me there's no way she wasn't playing. She got some key ground balls."
McInerney and Maisie Perkins both had an assist. Bosworth made five saves.
Steidl won 13 of 23 draws, while Newhall went 3 of 5, giving the Capers a 16-12 advantage in that crucial category.
"We knew winning the draws would be so key," Steidl said. "Both teams are dominant on offense. We worked on that a lot since we last saw them, getting a first step on the other players on the draw. (Junior) Liz (Robinson), Hallah, Talley, they would box out and get the ball."
Talley Perkins had a game-high 10 ground balls, while Steidl collected seven and senior Emily Spidle added six.
Cape Elizabeth committed 19 turnovers, but forced 20, and outshot Yarmouth, 21-18 (19-17 on cage).
O'Donnell stole the show for the Clippers, scoring seven times and adding two assists and a team-high eight ground balls.
"Grace was a scoring machine today," said Holt. "She comes up big. She gets ground balls and comes out of nowhere and uses her toughness. She's shown poise."
"Grace is so great," Steidl said. "I have a lot of respect for her. She's really big all over the field. She hustles so much. You have to give her credit."
Lucas had three goals, Kameisha a goal and an assist and Torres also had a goal. Brown made five saves in her return.
"It's great to have Jordy back," Holt said.
Yarmouth had come close, but fell just short.
"We just couldn't quite get over the hump today," Holt said. "We had turnovers at inopportune times. Cape is one of the top teams in the state. They have an amazing group of girls and we kept up with them. The first time wasn't a fluke. We're showing people who we are. We're coming together at the right time. We handled the heat well. Both teams deserve credit for playing in the heat."
Countdown to a championship
Both teams will be idle until June 8, for the semifinal round of the playoffs.
It appears Yarmouth will be the No. 3 seed in Eastern B behind Gardiner and Freeport and will have a chance to avenge last year's heartbreaking playoff loss when they go to the defending regional champion Falcons. The Clippers and Falcons didn't play in the regular season. Yarmouth is eager for the challenge.
"These girls deserve some nice wins," Holt said. "(Playoffs) should be fun. We're excited."
Cape Elizabeth, meanwhile, wasn't sure at press time where it would finish. The unofficial Western B Heal Points standings have the Capers second, slightly ahead of Greely, but Perkins believes Cape Elizabeth will wind up third and have to go Greely for a semifinal. The Capers won the regular season meeting, but know that before they can even entertain the thought of getting a highly desired regional final shot at Waynflete, that they'll have to produce a strong 50 minutes in their semifinal.
"I think we just miss out on finishing second," Perkins said. "We'll have to go to Greely. Greely's incredibly athletic. They play on a smaller grass field. I think it will be a battle right to the end. I don't even know who Waynflete is right now. We have to get through Greely. I think if we get healthy, we'll make a run. I feel like we're playing good lacrosse at the right time. It's how you finish. We hope we have three games to play and three games to win and everybody will get what they want."
"Looking back, we had some tough losses, but now it's just looking ahead," Steidl said. "We have to keep playing like this. I think we've gained confidence as the season's gone on. I can't wait for the playoffs."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.
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