Capers stun Red Storm in battle of unbeatens
SCARBOROUGH—The Cape Elizabeth girls' lacrosse team learned its lesson well.
Tuesday evening, the Capers shot to an 8-2 first half lead against visiting Greely, but almost gave it all back, holding on for dear life in an 8-7 triumph.
Fast forward to Saturday, in a highly anticipated showdown between two of the best teams in the state, Cape Elizabeth enjoyed a 6-2 halftime lead at two-time defending Class A state champion Scarborough, but this time, the Capers didn't sit on their advantage, scoring three times in the first five minutes of the second half and never looking back en route to a surprising 11-5 victory.
Cape Elizabeth got four goals each from junior standouts Talley Perkins and Lauren Steidl and senior goalie Elin Sonesson never let the Red Storm entertain comeback hopes as the Capers improved to 7-0, dropping Scarborough to 6-1 , as its two-year, 18-game win streak came to a crashing halt.
"I'm at a loss for words," said Cape Elizabeth first-year coach Jeff Perkins, following the win. "It's not necessarily what I expected. We had our work cut out for us. I told the girls I believed in them, to go play Cape Elizabeth lacrosse and see what happens."
Scarborough lost at home to Yarmouth in its third game a year ago, then won 12 in a row, capped by a 13-11 victory over Brunswick for a second successive Class A crown. This spring, the Red Storm has once again risen to the occasion, defeating McAuley (13-0), Bonny Eagle (16-3), Yarmouth (12-5) and South Portland (11-4) before running into a trio of tests this week.
Monday, Scarborough got pushed for the first time, finding itself tied with visiting Massabesic early in the second half before going on to win, 8-5.
Thursday night, in the rain, the Red Storm jumped to a 5-0 lead at Cheverus, but the Stags came back and Scarborough was down 10-8 late before rallying for a stirring 11-10 triumph.
Cape Elizabeth made it to the Western B Final last year before dropping a one-goal heartbreaker to Waynflete. This season, the Capers have been even better, opening with a 19-8 home win over Greely, then downing host Freeport (15-7), visiting Gorham (16-8), host York (16-8), visiting Yarmouth (14-6) and holding on for Tuesday's 8-7 win over Greely.
The teams hadn't met since June 3, 2009, a 15-12 win for Scarborough at Cape Elizabeth.
Saturday, the Capers never trailed and left the Red Storm shaking its head as they downed their neighbor for the first time since the 2005 West Region quarterfinals (16-8).
Just 1 minute, 29 seconds in, Steidl scored and Cape Elizabeth had a 1-0 lead.
Scarborough drew even when senior Mary Scott took a pass from classmate Maggie Smith and beat Sonesson at the 22:23 mark, but with 15:55 to go before halftime, Perkins scored unassisted and the Capers were ahead to stay.
Twenty-three seconds later, Cape Elizabeth sophomore Hannah Newhall got in on the fun, beating Red Storm junior Meg Kirsch to push the lead to 3-1.
The Smith-to-Scott tandem struck again with 6:44 left in the half, but Scarborough wouldn't score again for over 12 minutes and the Capers went on a big run to seize control.
With 5:20 remaining, sophomore Liz Robinson scored unassisted. At the 3:50 mark, Perkins scored an unassisted goal. With 1:32 left, Steidl, after a pretty individual move, beat Kirsch and it was 6-2 Cape Elizabeth.
In the waning seconds, Red Storm senior Kelsey Howard had a chance to answer and give her team some momentum heading into the break, but her free position bid was denied by Sonesson.
Coach Perkins remembered full well what happened Tuesday night, but didn't mention it to his players at halftime.
"Wednesday when we practiced, we talked about it for two minutes, then locked it away and said we wouldn't talk about it again, so actually, we didn't talk about it at halftime," he said. "I said we have to come out as hard as we did in the first half and play 50 good minutes. They responded."
Did they ever.
Just 52 seconds in, after Perkins hit the post with a shot, Steidl grabbed the rebound and finished. Junior Bella Robinson set up Steidl for a goal at the 23:09 mark and with 20:50 left, Bella Robinson passed to Steidl for yet another goal and a commanding 9-2 advantage.
Three straight draw wins by Steidl helped spark the offense.
"I try to start out by winning it to myself," Steidl said. "I've taken the draw against Kelsey in pickup games. I knew what she was going to do. I knew if I put it toward Talley or Hannah Newhall, that was the way to go. Getting it to my strong teammates worked for us."
Even down seven, Scarborough couldn't be counted out and the Red Storm began to chip away.
After Smith was denied by Sonesson on a free position, Scarborough got the ball right back and senior Laura Przybylowicz scored unassisted with 19:33 remaining.
With 13:30 to go, Smith set up junior Avery Pietras for a goal and it was 9-4.
After Howard hit the post, then was turned away by Sonesson on a free position, Przybylowicz scored unassisted with 7:24 to play, pulling the Red Storm within 9-5.
The hosts would get no closer.
An unassisted goal by Newhall with 5:16 to play ended the run and pushed the lead back to five. After Scarborough was unable to cause a turnover, a free position goal by Perkins with 2:34 play slammed the door.
"It's kind of my fault," said Red Storm coach Marcia Wood. "We've practiced (pressure defense) in years past, but we didn't practice it yesterday. I knew we'd probably be in that situation at some point where we needed the ball, but I thought it was an easy concept to pressure and get the ball. We'll need to practice and work on it."
Cape Elizabeth went on to the 11-5 victory.
"It feels great," said Steidl. "We worked really hard and I think we really played as a team. We came out here to have fun. Win or lose, we wanted to play good lacrosse. When you get up at the half, you have to keep playing as strong as you did in the first half. That was a rough game we had the other night and I think that fueled the fire today. It gives us so much more momentum for our next games. It's a very big confidence boost. We all trust each other a lot. We weren't scared for this. It was a beautiful day out. It feels great."
"We knew (Scarborough would be) strong," said Talley Perkins. "They're Class A. We were the underdogs. We knew we had nothing to lose. Everyone expected us to lose, so we used that as fuel. Being the underdog is helpful."
"Those first few minutes of the second half gave us some separation," added coach Perkins. "We had some transition turnovers and I think that turned the momentum. We're excited. It'll be a great bus ride home."
Perkins (who has verbally committed to Boston University) and Steidl (bound for Princeton) both had four goals, excelling on the big stage even though the opposition was geared up to stop them.
"We weren't missing passes," said Talley Perkins (who also had seven ground balls in the second half alone). "We really melded today. It feels so awesome when you play as a team and it's not like all the pressure's on Lauren or me. We were a unit. We weren't just one person."
Newhall had two goals and Liz Robinson scored once. Bella Robinson had a pair of assists.
"We saw a couple of things and called a couple plays three or four times, but didn't overuse them," said coach Perkins. "It's a credit to the girls. They were selective and took good shots. Some went in and some didn't, but they were all good shots."
Then, there was Sonesson, who had 13 saves, many of those coming in the second half when Scarborough was trying to rally and seek to switch momentum to its side.
"Our defense was awesome," said Talley Perkins. "Elin played an unbelievable game. She's always there when we need her. The defense was talking and crashing. I think we frustrated Scarborough."
"Elin was terrific, as usual," coach Perkins said. "We lean on her. She's amazing. It's got to be frustrating for other teams when she has games like that."
The Capers had a slight 21-18 edge in shots on cage.
For Scarborough, which hadn't lost since April 30, 2011, it got two goals each from Przybylowicz and Scott and one from Pietras. Smith had three assists. Kirsch made 10 saves. The Red Storm had a 10-8 advantage in the draw circle.
"Cape's very good," said Wood. "Their goalie's phenomenal. They deserved to win. They have finishers. It's not a bad thing to be put in our place. I wish it was a little closer and that we could walk off the field and say we played our best and lost. "
Back to business
Both teams now return to play within their own class and each has a legitimate shot at gaining all-important homefield advantage for the playoffs.
Scarborough (a close second to Marshwood in the Western Class A Heal Points standings) is right back in action Monday at Thornton Academy. Home games versus Gorham and Windham and critical games at Marshwood and Kennebunk also remain.
"I still don't think I've seen our best game," said Wood. "It's OK that we haven't peaked yet. It's a good thing. I hope this is a turning point. Every year you have a game that's a turning point. Hopefully this was it. I hope this loss stings for them. I'd hate to be TA Monday."
Cape Elizabeth (second behind Waynflete, but with a game in hand, in Western B) hosts Freeport Tuesday. The Capers also go to Fryeburg, welcome Wells and York, then have a pivotal showdown at Falmouth May 29.
"We need to keep up this mentality we have and keep playing as a team," said Talley Perkins.
"Falmouth is the big Heal Point game," coach Perkins said. "You have to beat the best to be the best, but it would sure nice to have that No. 1 seed."