Mon, Oct 20, 2014 ●
BathHarpswellTopshamBrunswickCumberlandNorth YarmouthFalmouthFreeportPortlandCape ElizabethScarboroughSouth PortlandChebeague IslandYarmouth

Brunswick girls' lacrosse repeats as Class A champions

Sports

Brunswick girls' lacrosse repeats as Class A champions

PORTLAND — Girls' lacrosse teams in the state of Maine should take note:

It isn't wise to make the Brunswick Dragons feel as if they have something to prove.

The Dragons, who steamrolled through the regular season and the playoffs, finally got a test Saturday afternoon at Fitzpatrick Stadium and for the second year in a row, had all the answers as they defeated Kennebunk again, 13-9, to win back-to-back Class A championships.

Brunswick trailed for all of 45 seconds, then seized control with a five-goal first run. The Rams rallied in the second half, but never got closer than three and the Dragons rode a dream game from Leila Mills (five goals, two assists) to the victory.

"There is nothing like this," Mills said. "It's just an amazing feeling. My team played so hard and we knew we had a lot to prove. No one thought we deserved to be here. Everyone played so hard. We were our biggest competition all year. We scrimmaged each other. We came out and showed everyone today we deserved to be here and to win."

A juggernaut

Brunswick, which lost in the 2003, 2006 and 2007 state games, finally got over the hump last year with a 15-11 victory over Kennebunk in the Class A Final.

This season, the Dragons opened with a 14-4 win at Morse and went on to capture 11 more games, finishing 12-0 with an average margin of victory of 17-7. Brunswick, ranked first in Eastern A, kept the good times rolling in the playoffs with a 15-4 semifinal romp over No. 4 Cony and a 20-8 victory over No. 3 Mt. Ararat in the regional final, which ended the Eagles' season at 10-4.

Kennebunk, meanwhile, faced a much tougher slate, playing at such powers as Cape Elizabeth, North Yarmouth Academy, Scarborough and Waynflete. The Rams posted a 9-3 mark and earned the No. 4 seed in Western A. After holding off No. 5 Scarborough in the quarterfinals (a showdown which should have been the regional final), Kennebunk won at top-ranked Gorham and No. 2 Thornton Academy to advance to its third straight state final in a row and fourth overall.

The Rams are still seeking that elusive championship.

Saturday's contest did begin auspiciously for Kennebunk when Maggie Lavoie scored 1 minute, 25 seconds in, but the Brunswick offense soon took control of the game.

In a sign of things to come, Mills got the Dragons on the board at the 22:50 mark of the first half, taking a pass from Eliza Halmo and beating Rams goalie Taylor Vaughan. Seventeen seconds later, Brunswick was ahead to stay as Mills set up Jacquelyn Kelly for a score.

At the 21:49 mark, Halmo fed Mills again and it was 3-1. Maggie Caputi (from All-American Cecilia Kjellman) scored with 19:27 to go in the half and with 18:22 left, Halmo scored unassisted to put the Dragons ahead 5-1.

"Our defense wasn't communicating at that point," said Kennebunk coach Annie Barker. "Taylor Vaughn was
standing there and just getting balls fired at her. They got a couple
quick goals."

The Rams got a free position goal from Lavoie with 17:26 left in the half to snap Brunswick's run, then, with 13:20 to go, senior All-American Jamie Spang beat Brunswick senior goalie Paige Montgomery on a free position to make it 5-3.

Undaunted, the Dragons embarked on another surge, this one three in a row, to close the half. Mills (from Anna Holmblad), Kjellman (from Mills) and Holmblad (from Kelly) did the honors and Brunswick had a solid, but not quite safe 8-3 advantage at halftime.

The Dragons won eight of 12 first half draws, had a 23-17 advantage in ground balls and a 12-10 edge in shots. Montgomery's five saves helped preserve the lead.

As expected, Kennebunk came out hot in the second half, pulling to within 8-5 after unassisted goals from Spang and Taylor Crowley, but in a 30-second span, Kjellman fed Halmo for a goal and Kelly scored unassisted to push the lead back to five, 10-5, with 15:22 to play.

With 13:57 left, Spang scored a pretty unassisted goal after a spin move, but Mills (from Kjellman) and Kjellman (from Halmo) answered to give Brunswick its biggest lead, 12-6, with 10:46 to play.

"We made sure we didn't lose our composure," Mills said. "We knew they had a knack for coming back. Whenever they started to come back, we made sure to keep our composure and play with intensity at all times."

The Rams had one run left in them as Molly Centore scored unassisted, Brooke Worcester scored after taking a pass from Megan Smith and Lavoie scored on an assist from Jennifer Bryant with 5:16 to go to make it 12-9, but the Dragons got one final goal, fittingly from Mills (unassisted), with 3:52 to play and ran out the clock on their 13-9 victory.

"We knew if they didn't have the ball, they couldn't score," said Brunswick coach Beth Caputi. "That was our
strategy. I think if we'd gone to goal more frequently, we might have
scored more. It's exciting for us to be able to come here and play
against a very good team. We matched up well. For our goaltender and
our defense to be tested was great.  We didn't crumble or get nervous.
Jackie Kelly was all over the field. She's so smart. Her assignment was
to mark Jamie, not to faceguard her. She's just such a pure athlete.

"What's a little frustrating is that we did beat them last year, we had
the same, exact season and a similar team. I feel like this was a more
contested game than last year. My heart goes out to a couple girls on
the Kennebunk team. They worked just as hard as we do. For us, it's
exciting to go back-to-back. We may have a less challenging schedule
than some of the other teams, but we can put together some very good
players."

While Mills led all scorers with five goals, she had plenty of company. Halmo (three assists), Kelly (one assist) and Kjellman (three assists) all had two scores. Caputi and Holmblad (one assist) both had one goal. Ten of the 13 tallies were assisted. Montgomery finished with four saves.

Brunswick won 37 ground balls (Halmo had eight, Kelly seven) to 24 for the Rams (Spang led the way with seven), forced 18 turnovers and outshot Kennebunk, 23-18.

The most important stat was draw controls. The Dragons won 17 of 24.

"They had possession of the ball," Barker lamented. "They won the draws. I couldn't figure
it out. I tried. I switched people up. I don't know what else I could
have done. (Halmo) was deadly in the circle for them. She kept coming
up with the ball. We even tried letting them win it then getting the
ball away in the circle.  They were scrappier than we are and it
showed."

Kennebunk got three goals apiece from Lavoie and Spang and one each from Centore, Crowley and Worcester. Bryant and Smith had assists. Vaughan made four saves. 

The Rams finished 12-4.

"We're proud to make it here," Barker said. "Brunswick's a good, solid team. I
knew their offense was fully back. I knew if we had the ball we could
score goals. It's pretty special to be here year after year after year."

The Dragons, meanwhile, will look to make it five straight regional and three consecutive state titles in 2010. Don't bet against them.

"I hope to be back here next year, definitely," said Mills.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net

Photo: Jason Veilleux
Brunswick's Leila Mills fires one of her five goals past Kennebunk goalie Taylor Vaughan during Saturday's Class A girls' lacrosse final in Portland.

Photo: Jason Veilleux
Brunwick's senior All-American Cecilia Kjellman is closely watched by Kennebunk's Camille Auger during Saturday's game. Kjellman had two goals and three assists.

Photo: Jason Veilleux
Brunswick midfielder Rebekka Miller turns the corner on two Kennebunk defenders during the Dragons' 13-9 triumph.