Cape overcomes turnovers, Greely, to stay hot
CUMBERLAND—Committing 35 turnovers is usually a recipe for disaster, not victory, but everything seems to be going the Cape Elizabeth boys' lacrosse team's way as the 2013 season hits its midway point.
The Capers had to overcome an earlier-than-normal start time, an unfamiliar playing surface, the absence of a top scorer and a determined foe Tuesday afternoon on the grass field at Greely High School, but the team's next-man-up philosophy carried the day.
With senior scoring threat Alex Bornick watching in street clothes, Cape Elizabeth jumped ahead thanks to some dazzling individual play by senior Cam Wilson and its defense forced 35 Rangers giveaways to keep the lead as the Capers went on to an 8-4 victory.
Wilson scored three goals, senior Max Barber added a pair and junior goalie Gabe McGinn made 10 saves as Cape Elizabeth improved to 5-1 and handed the Rangers their first loss in six outings.
"A win's a win, it looks the same in our record," said Wilson. "Day games are always tough. I just think people were hearing bad things about (Greely). We didn't take them seriously enough and we didn't come out ready to play."
After losing to Falmouth in last year's regional final, 10-9, Cape Elizabeth entered the 2013 season as the favorite. After opening with a 19-0 blanking of visiting Lake Region, the Capers were stunned when they couldn't hold a 5-1 lead at North Yarmouth Academy and were upset, 9-6, scoring just one goal in the game's final 34 minutes. Cape Elizabeth bounced back with an 11-10 OT win at Falmouth, on sophomore Griffin Thoreck's game-winner, then handled visiting Waynflete, 16-9, and previously unbeaten Yarmouth, 7-5.
Greely reached the Western B semifinals last spring, but was no match for Cape Elizabeth, falling, 12-1, to wind up 8-5. The Rangers came into the 2013 campaign feeling good about their chances and while it hasn't always been easy, Greely managed to pass every previous test. The Rangers opened by winning at Freeport, 14-4, then eked out an 11-10 home victory over Waynflete, prevailed by a goal (8-7) at Massabesic and had to go to overtime before escaping host Wells (13-12). Friday, Greely made it five straight with a much easier triumph (11-3) over visiting York.
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 seven in a row, by a composite 94-30 margin. That included playoff wins in 2008 (11-5 in the regional final), 2011 (15-3 in the semifinals) and last spring.
Tuesday, the Capers made it eight straight over the Rangers, but didn't make it easy on themselves.
Only one first period goal was scored as the teams set the tone for a sloppy afternoon by combining for 24 turnovers.
Wilson put Cape Elizabeth on top when he scored unassisted and the visitors carried a 1-0 lead to the second quarter, where the offense picked up somewhat.
Ninety seconds into the new stanza, Wilson scored his second unassisted goal.
Greely finally got on the board with 9:46 left in the first half, when senior Brendan Trelegan finished a feed from senior Brooks Belisle.
The Capers bounced right back a little over a minute later as Barber took a pass from junior Tom Feenstra and beat Rangers junior goalie Griffin Doree.
A third Wilson unassisted goal, this one after a rebound with Cape Elizabeth playing man-up, made it 4-1 with 6:18 to go before halftime.
"It wasn't so much what I was doing," Wilson said. "It was more them not sliding to me at all."
That would be the score at the break.
Greely was hindered by 22 first half turnovers, but was still very much alive.
Feenstra opened the second half scoring and stretched the Capers' lead to 5-1 when he put home his own rebound with 9:35 left in the third, but 31 seconds later, Trelegan took a pass from senior Fred Bower and launched a low shot from about 20 yards out which McGinn couldn't save, making it 5-2.
Again playing man-up, Cape Elizabeth went back ahead by four, 6-2, when Thoreck took a pass from senior Justin Cary and finished at the 7:54 mark, but one minute later, Rangers sophomore Mitchel Mullin put home a rebound and the hosts were only down three, 6-3, a score which carried into the fourth period.
There, the Capers put it away.
With 9:40 left, Cary set up Barber for a goal to make it 7-3.
"(Greely's) a good team," Barber said. "They kept the pressure on, which was good, but our defense came up strong. Alex is a major part of our offense. He does a great job controlling the ball and moving it. That played a role (in our turnovers). We also tried to move the ball too quickly. We had to slow it down and settle. Once our offense gets the ball hot, it's pretty tough to stop regardless of the defense. I had the open look and I took it."
"It was a matter of focus and getting ourselves together," Raymond said. "We got the same looks, the same opportunities we got in every other game. The pass just didn't make it or it was a little low. It just wasn't clicking well today, but Max scored two big goals. He was good on defense, good in transition, good on ground balls. He's smart with the ball."
Neither team scored for nearly nine minutes, but Greely's ballhandling woes continued and the Rangers could never make things truly close.
With 42.8 seconds remaining, Cary clinched it with an unassisted goal.
An unassisted tally from Bower with 22.1 seconds showing accounted for the 8-4 final score.
"It is a win and it's worth a lot of Heal Points," Raymond said. "It's important to keep them behind us when we only play once. We don't want to come back here. I think it was a little bit of everything. A little of bit of a letdown from the Yarmouth game, a little bit of the field, a little bit of it being a 4-o-clock game. Playing without Alex.
"Their goalie played well, their defense is solid. They did a good job on faceoffs. They worked hard. They got ground balls. They have players who are a threat every time they touch the ball."
Wilson led all scorers with three goals.
"Cam had to do an awful lot," said Raymond. "He was on the field for maybe the entire first half. He got tired and made a couple bad passes, but he kept working."
Barber added a pair of goals. Cary, Feenstra and Thoreck also scored. Cary had two assists and Feenstra set up a goal.
"We've got like 34 players and they're all varsity material," Wilson said. "Even with a big guy like Alex out, we have other guys who can step in."
Wilson had a game-high 12 ground balls, while senior defensive standout Adam Haversat had nine. McGinn made 10 huge saves.
"Gabe made some saves at the end that really helped us out," said Raymond.
Cape Elizabeth won the ground ball battle easily, 55-34, and outshot the Rangers, 28-19 (17-14 on cage).
The Capers also got another splendid defensive effort from a physical and imposing unit which thrives on shutting down the opposition.
"I don't know if we keyed on any one player," Raymond said. "The way we play is not to concern ourselves with matchups, but getting pressure on whoever has the ball."
For Greely, Trelegan had two goals, while Bower and Mullin both tickled the twine once. Belisle and Bower both had one assist. Sophomore Gabe Belisle had a team-high six ground balls. Doree made nine saves.
"Griffin always comes through at the big times,' said Rangers coach Mike Storey. "We're very confident having him there."
Greely simply couldn't overcome its 35 turnovers against an elite team, but it did prove it could play with the Capers.
"I'd say us not taking care of the ball was the difference," said Storey. "There were a lot of errors. (Cape's) a great program and a great team. They have great defensive pressure. They get on your hands. We tried to prepare the guys, but you can't prepare for that pressure. They do a great job covering everybody with their perimeter pressure. That made it frustrating for us. It's a step in the right direction. The guys learned a lot. It's games like this, when they see the best, where they learn."
Now that Greely has measured itself against the best, the Rangers know what they need to improve upon in the season's second half.
Greely is back in action Friday at Kennebunk, in a difficult crossover test. The Rangers then host two-time defending Class B state champion Falmouth Monday. Next week also brings home games versus Freeport and Deering. The regular season schedules closes with games at Waynflete and York.
"It's a long season," Storey said. "We'll keep working hard to be where we need to be. If we tighten up a few things and put a complete game together, we have a chance to be successful."
As for the Capers, they'll look to continue their run of excellence Friday, when they play a crossover game at Eastern A champion Cheverus (that game will be played on Deering High School's Memorial Field turf at 7:30 p.m.). Cape Elizabeth has its second showdown with Falmouth Wednesday of next week and hosts Kennebunk two days later. After traveling to Fryeburg, a home test versus NYA and a visit to Yarmouth close the regular season.
"We got the 'W,' but we have a tough schedule coming up," Barber said. "Falmouth is our focus. We can't overlook Cheverus either."
"Luckily, (the Cheverus game's) at Deering," Raymond said. "No grass. I think the only other grass game we have this year is Fryeburg. We hopefully won't have another grass game again. Ever. It was hard."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.
Recent Cape Elizabeth-Greely meetings
@ Cape Elizabeth 14 Greely 5
Western B semifinals
@ Cape Elizabeth 12 Greely 1
Cape Elizabeth 14 @ Greely 8
Western B semifinals
@ Cape Elizabeth 15 Greely 3
@ Cape Elizabeth 14 Greely 2
@ Cape Elizabeth 14 Greely 6
@ Greely 7 Cape Elizabeth 6 (OT)
Western B Final
Cape Elizabeth 11 @ Greely 5
Cape Elizabeth 16 @ Greely 1
@ Cape Elizabeth 13 Greely 3
Western B semifinals
@ Cape Elizabeth 12 Greely 2
@ Cape Elizabeth 10 Greely 4
Cape Elizabeth 13 @ Greely 5
Western B quarterfinals
@ Cape Elizabeth 12 Greely 2
@ Cape Elizabeth 9 Greely 6
@ Cape Elizabeth 17 Greely 0
Cape Elizabeth 12 @ Greely 4
Cape Elizabeth 12 @ Greely 8
Cape Elizabeth 15 @ Greely 9