NYA comes to life, stuns Cape
YARMOUTH—The North Yarmouth Academy boys' lacrosse team entered Wednesday's contest having lost nine straight meetings to perennial powerhouse Cape Elizabeth.
When the Capers shot to a 5-1 lead early in the second quarter, number 10 looked imminent.
Instead, the Panthers, who were still stinging from a one-goal home loss to rival Yarmouth Saturday, roared to life, rallied and might have changed the balance of power in Class B in the process.
A pair of jawdropping individual goals got the comeback started and by halftime, NYA only trailed by one, 5-4.
The Jacob Scammon to Oliver Silverson Show then took centerstage, as the senior duo combined for three third period tallies to put the Panthers on top to stay.
NYA added another goal early in the fourth and turned to its defense to completely fluster its potent rival.
Cape Elizabeth finally stopped a mind-boggling 28 minute, 56 second scoring drought with just over five minutes to play, but couldn't muster another goal and senior Matt Hawkins added an exclamation point goal with 1:37 left.
The Panthers, behind three goals apiece from Hawkins and Silverson, a sensational defensive effort and the emergence of sophomore first-year goalie D.J. Nicholas, enjoyed a 9-6 victory, improving to 2-1 on the young season, dropping the preseason favorite Capers to 1-1.
"This feels very good," said NYA coach Peter Gerrity. "These boys hadn't beaten Cape. Now we know we can play with the best teams in the state."
State game preview?
Cape Elizabeth and NYA have been among the state's elite programs as long as there's been lacrosse at the high school level in Maine and if all goes well, could meet in a state game this June for the first time in 12 years.
The Panthers have been in the state final each of the past two seasons, losing to Falmouth each time (including 7-4 a year ago). NYA opened the 2013 campaign with a painful 7-6 home loss to Yarmouth Saturday (on a goal with under a minute left), then got in the win column Monday, 16-4, at Wells.
The Capers also had their 2012 season ended by the Yachtsmen, 10-9, in the Western B Final, but enter this spring as the favorite, a status they reinforced in the opener, a 19-0 home romp over Lake Region.
The rivalry has been very much in Cape Elizabeth's favor in recent years (please see sidebar, below). After NYA took five of six meetings between 2005 and 2007, the Capers entered Wednesday's contest having won nine straight, including two a year ago (14-2 at Cape Elizabeth and 10-4 in Yarmouth).
Wednesday, the Panthers managed to beat the Capers for the first time since May 14, 2007 (a 14-4 triumph at Cape Elizabeth), but a victory didn't seem likely for most of the first half.
The tone was set 62 seconds in, when Capers senior standout Alex Bornick took a pass from classmate Cam Wilson and beat Nicholas for a quick 1-0 lead.
With 5:50 to go in the first quarter, Bornick scored again, this time from senior Jake Lynch.
A mere 35 seconds later, Wilson set up senior Justin Cary for a goal and Cape Elizabeth had a fast 3-0 advantage.
With 3:46 remaining, the Capers surrendered their first goal of the season, as junior Gabe McGinn was beaten by NYA junior Colton Ackerman, but a little over a minute later, Bornick scored his third goal of the period, unassisted after a nice individual move, and the visitors were seemingly in command, up, 4-1, after 12 minutes of play.
When Wilson scored unassisted with 9:58 to go before halftime, Cape Elizabeth had a 5-1 lead and it appeared another lopsided result was in store.
Instead, the Capers wouldn't score for nearly 29 minutes of game time and for nearly an hour of real time.
The Panthers began to turn things around when senior Jeremy Sylvain scored unassisted after a nice move 7:44 before halftime.
With 5:31 left, Scammon dazzled those in attendance with a double spin move before beating McGinn, cutting the deficit to 5-3.
With 1:14 to go, Hawkins scored his first goal, finishing a feed from senior T.J. Daigler, and just like that, NYA only trailed by one, 5-4, at halftime.
In addition to the offense awakening, the Panthers' rally was keyed by dominance in the faceoff circle (courtesy senior Eliott Wellenbach), a big advantage on ground balls and increased defensive pressure from the likes of seniors Ben Claytor and Aidan McLaughlin and juniors Forrest Chicoine, Jackson Cohan-Smith and Wesley Bright.
"Most of it was D.J.," McLaughlin said. "He played out of his mind. I trust him. He sees the ball well. I think we finally slowed down their offense. They had some good fastbreaks in the first quarter. We slowed them down and our offense got going."
NYA almost tied the score early in the third quarter, but Sylvain was denied point blank by McGinn.
Nicholas then made his presence felt, stopping back-to-back Bornick bids to keep the deficit at a goal.
With 6:26 to play in the stanza, Nicholas cleared the ball far ahead to Scammon, who spotted Silverson, who was all alone in front and beat McGinn to tie the score.
With 2:35 left, Hawkins passed to a fastbreaking Scammon, who again found an open Silverson and Silverson scored to put the Panthers ahead for the first time and on top to stay.
As time wound down in the quarter, the duo hooked up one final time, as Scammon found Silverson, who again beat McGinn, this time with just 6.8 seconds showing, and the Panthers had completely turned it around to lead, 7-5.
"We realized we could score and we started to score," said Silverson. "We turned it around and started playing the way we know we can play. The way we should play. We started playing NYA lacrosse instead of somebody else's. When we play together, we win. We've got a creative transition game. Scammon's a big part of it. He's one of our fastest guys. He's always looking to draw and dump. He set me up on all three. They were easy goals. The kind I like."
"We try to not play one-on-one and dodge and score from wherever," Gerrity said. "We try to move the ball and attack weak spots and make them recover."
The game was far from over, but NYA continued to put the clamps on the Cape Elizabeth offense.
With 9:39 to go, Silverson returned the favor, assisting a goal, this one by Hawkins, and the Panthers had an 8-5 advantage.
Desperately trying to answer, the Capers had their chances, but Bornick hit the post and a shot from sophomore Griffin Thoreck was turned aside by Nicholas.
Finally, with 5:02 left in the game, Cape Elizabeth ended its protracted drought as Thoreck (from sophomore Ben Shea) scored man-up to cut the deficit to 8-6.
Two minutes later, Cary had a chance to make it a one-goal game, but Nicholas, one final time, came up with the big save.
After milking over a minute off the clock, the Panthers delivered the coup de grace, as Daigler set up Hawkins for a ninth goal.
Wellenbach won one final faceoff and NYA was able to finish off the inspirational 9-6 victory.
"That's a big win," Nicholas said. "We work really hard and we just wanted to focus on the big games and see if we could we win. We did it."
"We hadn't beaten Cape in a few years, so we really wanted this one," McLaughlin said.
"It's huge for our confidence," said Silverson. "Cape's one of the best teams in the state. If we can beat them, it shows we can play with anybody. We know we'll be running with (Cape and Falmouth and Yarmouth) all year."
Hawkins and Silverson paced the offense with three goals each. Ackerman, Scammon and Sylvain also scored.
Scammon had three assists, Daigler a pair and Silverson one.
Nicholas finished with eight saves, all of them huge.
"I'm still learning, but once the game starts, I forget about being a beginner and I just play," said Nicholas. "It comes naturally. I have to thank my defenders. They did an amazing job with the stickchecks. I saw the ball well from the outside. The close ones, I just hoped they'd hit me. Playing goalie, it's all about how confident you are, so it's a big win for me."
"It's great to see D.J. get a win," Silverson said. "He's so new to the game. He's a great athlete."
"D.J. was in the right spot every time," Gerrity said. "(Cape) has some great shooters and D.J. was excellent up high. they were trying to stick it in the corners, but his stick got there."
Wellenbach won 12 of 19 faceoffs to help NYA control the ball. The Panthers also had a 48-32 advantage in ground balls (Bright had nine, Daigler, Scammon and Wellenbach five each and Claytor and McLaughlin four apiece).
While NYA turned the ball over 32 times and was outshot, 25-21 (shots on cage were even, 14-14), it did enough to win.
"The kids got back into it," Gerrity said. "I'm not sure it was anything anyone said. We didn't feel like ourselves in the first, throwing the ball away and not getting close to running our offense or playing defense as a team. They put it back together. It made for a much more fun game in the second half. The guys knew what to do, they just weren't doing it. They weren't playing good man-to-man defense and the slides were too late. We talked about it and they went and did it right."
Cape Elizabeth was paced by Bornick's three goals, all of which came in the first 9:23 of the game. Cary, Thoreck and Wilson also tickled the twine. Wilson had two assists, while Lynch and Shea each added one. Senior Adam Haversat had a team-high six ground balls. McGinn finished with five saves.
The Capers were doomed by their long drought and 27 turnovers.
"We got off to a great start," said Cape Elizabeth coach Ben Raymond. "We had great transition and moved the ball well. Things were easy at the beginning. I'm sure it got into our guys' heads. Their goalie played really well in the second half. He made a bunch of saves. Their defense played much better in the second half. We had trouble beating them one-on-one. Guys who could beat their man in the first half, couldn't do that in the second half, so we didn't get anywhere near the same looks we got in the first half. Then, we panicked a little bit and threw the ball away. Maybe that had to do with their pressure and us feeling more pressure."
The schedule remains daunting for both teams.
Cape Elizabeth's next test is a visit to Falmouth Monday night, for another chapter of what's become, over the past three seasons, the state's best rivalry. The Capers also host regional rival Waynflete and longtime rival Yarmouth next week.
They expect to respond from this loss.
"Our focus isn't really with April," Raymond said. "We don't care about being the best team right now. We want to be the best team at the end of the season. We'll get there. I think a lot of our guys thought they would have very few losses this season and they weren't thinking this would be one of them. It's a great opportunity to get back to what we need to do, focusing on little things offensively and defensively. We need to get better."
NYA goes to three-time defending Class A state champion Scarborough for an interclass showdown Saturday afternoon. After playing at Fryeburg Monday, the Panthers play at Falmouth May 6.
This team's confidence is sky-high and even bigger things are likely in store.
"We're getting there," McLaughlin said. "Now we know we can beat anyone. Scarborough will be a tough game, but if we can play with Cape, we can play with them. We can play with anyone. We're looking to win. Transition game and possession on offense and slides on defense are what we need to work on and we'll be there."
"We have two more tests upcoming and we have a very strong schedule," Gerrity said. "We can still get better at everything. Defense, we have to get the last bits and pieces of the guys working together. Getting second slides and recovering better. Offense, we have to work through every option."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.
Cape Elizabeth-NYA recent history
@ Cape Elizabeth 14 NYA 2
Cape Elizabeth 10 @ NYA 4
@ Cape Elizabeth 17 NYA 2
Cape Elizabeth 15 @ NYA 2
@ Cape Elizabeth 12 NYA 2
Cape Elizabeth 10 @ NYA 2
Cape Elizabeth 11 @ NYA 9
Cape Elizabeth 15 @ NYA 7
@ Cape Elizabeth 10 NYA 6
@ NYA 12 Cape Elizabeth 4
NYA 14 @ Cape Elizabeth 4
@ NYA 9 Cape Elizabeth 4
NYA 4 @ Cape Elizabeth 3
NYA 7 @ Cape Elizabeth 6
Cape Elizabeth 11 @ NYA 5 (game played at Bowdoin College)
Cape Elizabeth 11 @ NYA 2
@ Cape Elizabeth 12 NYA 8
Cape Elizabeth 13 @ NYA 10
@ Cape Elizabeth 11 NYA 10 (OT)
@ Cape Elizabeth 20 NYA 9
Cape Elizabeth 13 @ NYA 8
NYA 13 Cape Elizabeth 10
Cape Elizabeth 10 NYA 8
Cape Elizabeth 10 NYA 8
Cape Elizabeth 16 NYA 9