Scarborough handles Marshwood to reach another regional final
SCARBOROUGH—It might take the Scarborough boys' lacrosse team a little while to get cranking, but once the Red Storm kicks it into gear, good luck to anyone standing in its way.
Saturday afternoon at the Kippy Mitchell Sports Complex, top-ranked Scarborough, the three-time defending Class A state champion, welcomed No. 5 Marshwood in a Western Class A semifinal and due in part to a strong effort from Hawks freshman goalie Erik Jennings, only led, 2-0, after the first period.
Then, the unstoppable Storm ensued.
The Red Storm erupted for five second period goals to take a 7-1 lead to halftime, then scored five more in the third quarter to end all doubt. A pair of goals from sophomore Nathan Howard in the first 70 seconds of the final stanza produced a mercy rule running clock and Scarborough cruised to a 14-2 victory.
Howard led all scorers with three goals, senior Jurien Garrison and junior Cam Loiselle both scored twice and senior standout John Wheeler had two goals and five assists as the Red Storm improved to 12-1, ended Marshwood's season at 8-6 and advanced to its eighth straight Western Class A Final, where it will host No. 3 Kennebunk (11-3) Wednesday at 5 p.m.
"Our passing and catching hasn't always been great this year, but we were able to do it very well," said Scarborough coach Joe Hezlep. "We put passes together and finished plays."
Beat goes on
Scarborough equalled a program-best with 11 wins in the regular season (matching the 2006, 2007, 2011 and 2012 teams), but it was tested on several occasions.
The Red Storm opened with easy home wins over Westbrook (17-3) and Bonny Eagle (16-0), before romping at Biddeford (15-1). Scarborough then almost let a 6-0 lead slip away before edging visiting South Portland on a late goal, 9-8. After an 8-5 home loss to North Yarmouth Academy, Scarborough handled host Deering (16-3), visiting Portland (15-2), host Gorham (14-3) and visiting Kennebunk (5-4). Next came a seismic victory, 10-7, at Yarmouth, a win which marked the first time the Red Storm had ever beaten the longtime powerhouse Clippers. Scarborough followed that with a 12-5 victory at Marshwood, then closed with a 10-6 win at Thornton Academy to lock up the top seed in the region.
Marshwood was 7-5 in the regular season, also losing to South Portland, Deering, Kennebunk and Cheverus.
Coming into play Saturday, the teams had met three previous times in the postseason, with the Hawks prevailing in the 2002 preliminary round (16-4) and the 2004 quarterfinals (8-6) and the Red Storm winning two years ago in the semifinals, 12-3.
This time, Scarborough left no doubt, although it was touch-and-go for awhile.
The Red Storm went on top to stay when junior Andrew Farrington finished a feed from junior Christian Neelon 2 minutes, 37 seconds in, but the second goal took some time, as Wheeler hit the post and Garrison was denied in close.
With 4:41 left in the first, Wheeler scored his first goal, assisted by Neelon, and it was 2-0 after one.
Jennings made five saves in the stanza.
"(Their goalie) made really good saves," Hezlep said. "The looks were open. We just weren't taking them. We were slow to take advantage of getting the ball in the middle."
Scarborough began opening it up in the second quarter, as Wheeler scored (from Loiselle) with 9:25 left before halftime, junior Matt Murphy (from Garrison) tickled the twine at 8:53 and with 7 minutes to go, Wheeler set up Garrison for a goal and a 5-0 advantage.
After a Farrington shot hit the post, the Hawks finally broke through, as senior Matt Scremin found senior Terence O'Brien for a goal with 4:55 left in the half.
The Red Storm answered, playing two men up, as Loiselle scored on a rebound with 2:13 to play and with 1:21 remaining, Wheeler found Neelon for a goal and a 7-1 halftime lead.
In addition to its scoring prowess, the unheralded Scarborough defense forced 12 Marshwood turnovers in the first 24 minutes.
The Red Storm would steadily build its lead in quarter number three.
Off a win on the faceoff to start the second half, Wheeler passed to senior Dalton Finley for a goal 12 seconds in. Garrison (from Neelon) made it 9-1 with 10:23 left in the stanza.
The Hawks scored their second and final goal when sophomore Drew Hale spotted junior Sam Woodman, who finished with 8:39 left, but Scarborough closed the period hot, getting tallies from junior Austin Doody (assisted by Loiselle), Howard (unassisted) and Loiselle (from Wheeler) to make it 12-2.
Just 55 seconds into the fourth, Howard took a pass from Wheeler and finished and after Scarborough won the ensuing faceoff, Howard scored once more, unassisted, to keep the clock running.
Hezlep was able to get several bench players into the game and the Red Storm put the finishing touches on its 14-2 triumph.
"(Our continued success) speaks to the hard work the kids do to remain competitive and play at a level that gives them an opportunity to win," Hezlep said.
Nine different Scarborough players scored goals. Howard led the way with three, while Garrison, Loiselle and Wheeler each had two. Doody, Farrington, Finley, Murphy and Neelon had one goal apiece. Wheeler also had five assists and is nearing the 300 point mark for his tremendous career. Loiselle and Neelon both had two assists and Farrington and Garrison each finished with one. Senior goalie Davey Pearson wasn't tested often, but made six saves. Wheeler had a game-high nine ground balls, Finley snared six, while Garrison, Loiselle, Neelon and senior Nate McLellan all collected three. The Red Storm won 11 of 20 faceoffs.
Marshwood got a goal apiece from O'Brien and Woodman. Hale and Scremin each had one assist. Jennings made 15 saves.
Regional final showdown
Scarborough joins the Yarmouth girls as the only program in the state to make it to eight straight regional finals since the Maine Principals' Association split lacrosse into two classes in 2006.
Wednesday afternoon, the Red Storm will have its hands full with a Kennebunk squad coming off a come-from-behind upset win at No. 2 South Portland Saturday night.
The Rams and Red Storm met in last year's regional final (a 6-3 Scarborough win). They also squared off in the 1996 Division II quarterfinals (a 15-12 Kennebunk win in the first year of the Scarborough varsity program) and the 2009 semifinals (a 13-5 Red Storm victory). The Rams are moving back to Class B next school year, so this will be the final Scarborough-Kennebunk playoff tilt.
It promises to be memorable.
"Kennebunk has a terrific goalie, poles who can make plays, an attack that scores a lot of points and their midfielders do a good job getting up and down the field," Hezlep said. "Their defense has the ability to make you make bad passes. We need to play our game and work to get solid shots. We just need to do what we do at a high level."
The Scarborough-Kennebunk winner will face either Brunswick (12-1) or Cheverus (12-2) in the Class A state final Saturday at 10 a.m., at Fitzpatrick Stadium.