Red Storm keep rolling, rout Rams
SCARBOROUGH—When the four-time Class A state champion Scarborough boys' lacrosse team graduated All-American John Wheeler last summer, many felt that the 2014 Red Storm wouldn't be able to live up to the program's legacy.
While Scarborough doesn't have an offensive standout, at least not yet, what it does have is amazing balance and depth and that was on dizzying display Tuesday evening at the Kippy Mitchell Sports Complex, where the visiting Deering Rams, like everyone else in attendance, could only watch and marvel.
In less than two minutes, the Red Storm had a 2-0 lead. By the midway point of the first quarter, the score was 5-0 and after one period, Scarborough was well on its way, leading, 7-0.
The visitors finally got on the board in the second period, but an unassisted tally from Red Storm senior Cam Loiselle in the waning seconds made it 13-2 at halftime.
Scarborough's offense never let up in the second half and what made it unique was that just about everyone on the roster got in on the fun.
Senior Christian Neelon led the way with five goals, but he got a ton of company as 12 different Red Storm players tickled the twine in all as Scarborough romped, 21-2, improving to 5-0 on the season, extending their win streak to 15 games and dropping Deering to 1-3 in the process.
"We wanted to come out and execute," said Scarborough coach Joe Hezlep. "That's been our mantra since day one. Coming out and doing the things we do. We put a few things together tonight. It's been a struggle for us all season, but we came out and executed all the way through."
Still the one
While graduation took its toll on the program and South Portland has gotten a lot of preseason and early season buzz, for now, the road to the title still goes through Scarborough, which has gotten off to an impressive start.
The Red Storm had no trouble in their first two games, rolling at Marshwood (13-2) and Westbrook (16-7), but the first home game took 48 minutes of regulation, a four-minute overtime, then a second "sudden victory" OT to decide before Scarborough prevailed on senior Brendon Smith's goal, 7-6. Thursday, the Red Storm won at Portland, 14-2 for their 14th win in a row.
Deering has been a playoff regular in recent seasons, but has little experience returning this spring. The Rams were no match for two-time defending Eastern A champion Cheverus in the opener, falling at the Stags, 17-7, but they won their home opener, outscoring Portland, 15-14. Thursday, Deering went to Thornton Academy and lost, 14-7.
Scarborough entered Tuesday's game having beaten Deering seven straight times, by a composite 78-28 margin, including a 16-3 romp last year in Portland.
The Rams last beat the Red Storm, April 26, 2005 (8-4).
Tuesday, form held, as Scarborough again demonstrated that while Wheeler is missed, its collective depth and talent is still overwhelming.
Junior Nate Howard set the tone by winning the opening faceoff and with 10:42 to go in the 12-minute first period, Howard fed Loiselle for the first goal of the game.
Howard won the next faceoff, the ball came to junior Sam Ware and Ware finished unassisted to quickly make it 2-0.
The goals kept coming as Neelon scored his first goal of the game (man-up, from senior Austin Doody), Neelon scored again (unassisted, after winning a ground ball in front of Deering sophomore goalie Lenny Sarem) and Doody scored unassisted to make it 5-0 with 5:52 still to play in the first.
After Ware made it 6-0 with an unassisted goal, the Rams finally mustered their first shot with 1:15 showing, but senior goalie Jordan Flannery made the save.
With 25.8 seconds left, Doody scored an unassisted goal and the Red Storm were fully in command, up, 7-0.
In the first 12 minutes, four different Scarborough players scored, the hosts won seven of eight faceoffs and forced a dozen Deering turnovers.
Flannery was replaced by junior Isaac Rico for the second quarter and Rico gave up Deering's first goal 1:38 in, when senior Sam Hornblower threw a long pass to sophomore Andrew Johnson, who finished.
The Red Storm didn't waver, however, getting consecutive goals from Neelon (the first from Loiselle in transition and the second credited to him after a Rams defender tried to pass the ball back to Sarem, only to see it elude the goalie and go into the net).
"Last year, I was always in the shadows," Neelon said. "This year I'm trying to show that I can do it too. We wanted to come out strong. We had a good practice yesterday. We did drills with passing and catching, fastbreaks, 5-on-4s, 6-on-5s, stuff like that. A lot of our goals were in transition."
"We've looked to Christian a lot," Hezlep said. "He's our one returner on attack. He's getting comfortable. We go to him to start the offense. Other guys do stuff off the ball to get open."
With 2:57 to play before the half, playing man-up, Deering got its second and final goal of the night as Johnson took a pass from senior Isaac Santerre and finished.
Scarborough closed the half on a 4-0 run, as senior Andrew Farrington scored twice (the first goal from Neelon, the second unassisted) and after Doody hit the post, Loiselle set up Neelon for another transition goal and Loiselle added an unassisted tally with 22.7 seconds showing to make it 13-2 at the break.
The Red Storm had a huge statistical edge in the first half, winning 15 of 17 faceoffs, collecting 40 ground balls to 18 for Deering, forcing 21 turnovers and enjoying a 30-5 advantage in shots.
The offense slowed a bit in the third period, but Scarborough still tickled the twine three times, as senior Chris Cyr finished a feed from junior Braedan Kane (inducing a mercy rule running clock in the process), freshman Sam Neugebauer scored a man-up goal from Howard and senior Pat Daniels scored unassisted to make it 16-2.
The Red Storm didn't let up in the fourth quarter, as Kane set up goals by seniors Sam Dedian and Jacob Gross, junior defender Matt Henderson raced in and scored unassisted, junior defender Anthony Quintiliani did the same and with 1:46 remaining, Cyr scored an unassisted goal to bring the curtain down on the 21-2 demolition.
Neelon outscored Deering by himself, as he had five goals and one assist. Cyr, Doody, Farrington, Loiselle and Ware all had two goals, while Daniels, Dedian, Gross, Henderson, Neugebauer and Quintiliani each added one. Kane didn't score, but had three assists. Howard and Loiselle each finished with two, while Doody had one.
"I feel like last year we were relying on one guy, but now it's three, four, five, six guys," Neelon said.
"We have a lot of guys who can play," said Hezlep. "It's just a matter of them getting comfortable in the role they're in now and executing."
Scarborough had a jawdropping 23-4 advantage on faceoffs, as Howard won 9 of 10, sophomore Camden Jepson went 6 for 6 and senior Matthew Murphy finished 3 of 3.
"Nate had a really good day and Camden has filled in nicely," Hezlep said. "That's a helpful piece."
Ground balls were equally decisive, as the Red Storm collected 66 to 26 for the Rams. Henderson led all players with 11, while Howard snared seven.
Flannery made two saves in his limited time in goal and Rico wound up with one.
Scarborough turned the ball over 23 times, but forced 30 giveaways and finished with a lopsided 51-9 advantage in shots (33-5 on frame).
For Deering, Johnson had both goals, while Hornblower and Santerre had assists. Hornblower also led the team in ground balls with 10. Sophomore Max Hornblower collected five. Sarem made 12 saves.
"We knew Scarborough's good," said Rams coach Jon Dubois. "They pass and catch well. They even had poles coming down and shooting relentlessly at us at the end. They played a good game. What are you going to do? "
Eye on the prize
Deering hopes to bounce back Friday when it hosts Messalonskee in a game that will be pivotal for Eastern A Heal Points. The Rams also host Bonny Eagle Wednesday of next week. Games versus contenders Maranacook and South Portland follow.
"We'll find a way to get better and clean things up," Dubois said. "We better get better in a hurry. We're young. We'll take our lumps until it's our turn."
Scarborough's next three games are all huge tests and the Red Storm will learn much more about themselves by the conclusion of play May 17.
Scarborough is home against defending Class B champion Cape Elizabeth Saturday at 1:30 p.m. The game will double as an Autism Awareness event, with players warming up in special autism themed uniforms. It will mark the first countable game between the neighboring powers since May 30, 2009 (an 8-2 win by the Capers). The Red Storm have never beaten Cape Elizabeth.
"We play (Cape) in the offseason," Neelon said. "We're going in feeling confident. There will be a lot of energy before and during."
"We're slowly improving," Hezlep said. "Execution is a huge thing for us. We have a big one Saturday. Anything we don't do well in that game will result in a goal. We have to execute from one end of the field to the other to have success.
"We're very excited. We play them twice a year, but they don't count. We've never beaten them. They do a lot of things that give us trouble, but we feel like we can do things to put them in tough spots. It will be a great game."
Scarborough then goes to Cheverus Wednesday of next week, before visiting Falmouth May 17.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.
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West Region prelim
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