Fast start leads Cape past Falmouth in Act I
CAPE ELIZABETH—When the Cape Elizabeth and Falmouth boys' lacrosse juggernauts square off, what's usually remembered is what happens in the waning moments, not the early ones, but Tuesday evening at Hannaford Field, in the first of two, perhaps three meetings between the rivals this spring, the Capers grabbed a hold of the contest long before halftime and never looked back.
It took the high-powered Yachtsmen offense over 19 minutes to score and by they time they did, Cape Elizabeth had what amounted to insurmountable 5-0 lead.
Falmouth did have its opportunities to rally, pulling within 6-3 at halftime, then twice cutting its deficit to two in the third period, but the Capers, like champions do, came up huge when it mattered most, closing the third on a 3-0 run and after the Yachtsmen made it 10-7 in the fourth quarter, tacking on two more scores to produce a 12-7 triumph.
Cape Elizabeth got three goals apiece from junior Noah Haversat and freshman Owen Thoreck and a pair from both juniors Andrew Kelly and Griffin Thoreck and most importantly of all 16 faceoff wins in 22 opportunities from unheralded senior James Monroe-Chausse as it improved to 6-0 and handed Falmouth its first loss in six outings.
"It was really nice to come out and be good in the first quarter, something we weren't able to do in our previous games for the most part," said longtime Capers coach Ben Raymond.
While Cape Elizabeth and Falmouth have combined to win the past four Class B state championships, the powerhouses have produced some memorable lacrosse when they've shared the same field.
Since the Yachtsmen first broke through against the Capers at the start of the 2010 season, the teams had split a dozen games, four of which went to overtime (see sidebar, below).
Last year, while Cape Elizabeth swept three meetings, the margin was razor thin. After prevailing in overtime at Falmouth, 11-10, the Capers scored the game's final five goals to win at home, 9-6. The regional final trumped both of those games as 48 minutes again weren't enough and overtime was necessary. Ultimately, Cape Elizabeth eked out a 9-8 win on Cam Wilson's goal, ending the Yachtsmen's two-year title reign, then went on to down Yarmouth in the state final.
Both teams have been up to their usual tricks to start 2013.
Falmouth crushed visiting Kennebunk (15-2), host North Yarmouth Academy (12-4), visiting Fryeburg (16-2) and host Freeport (17-4), then was finally tested Saturday at Cheverus, where it managed to prevail, 12-10.
Cape Elizabeth began its title defense with an easy 15-1 home victory over Waynflete, then made a statement with a 10-6 win at Yarmouth in a state final rematch. An 8-4 home victory over Kennebunk and an 18-1 romp at Wells followed. Saturday, the Capers went to four-time Class A champion Scarborough for a crossover test and passed it, 10-5.
Tuesday, Cape Elizabeth came ready to play and never trailed.
It did take several minutes for a goal to be scored, as Falmouth couldn't find its offensive rhythm, thanks in part to Capers sophomore goalie Alex Narvaez robbing both senior David Criscione and senior Brad Gilbert.
The Capers broke the ice with 4:14 left in the first quarter, as sophomore R.J. Sarka scored unassisted.
Cape Elizabeth never looked back from there and extended its lead to 3-0 after one quarter, thanks to a pair of unassisted strikes (at 2:29 and 42.2 seconds) from Owen Thoreck, who is quickly developing a reputation for scoring clutch goals against top-notch competition.
"We dug ourselves a big hole that first quarter," lamented Falmouth coach Mike LeBel. "Cape came out ready. They had a great game plan and they executed. Those kids really buy into it over there. They buy in and they execute. We didn't execute our game plan. We had a decent game plan going in, but we didn't execute or match their intensity. They definitely outplayed us. It wasn't something we did incorrectly. They just played better than we did."
When Haversat (unassisted) and Kelly (from senior Jack Drinan) scored early in the second quarter, the Capers were on the verge of breaking away, but the Yachtsmen finally hit their stride.
Falmouth's first goal, after 19 minutes, 9 seconds of game action, came courtesy junior Bryce Kuhn, who finished a feed from junior C.J. Leighton.
Cape Elizabeth answered on an unassisted goal from senior defender Tom Feenstra, who still thinks offense first. Feenstra raced in and fired a shot past Falmouth senior goalie Nick Beaulieu.
With 2:53 left in the half, Kuhn scored unassisted and with 1:01 showing, playing man-up, the Yachtsmen pulled within three, as senior standout IV Stucker found Leighton for a goal.
As time expired in the half, the Capers were called for a penalty, giving Falmouth a chance to draw even closer when the second half started.
In the first 24 minutes, Monroe-Chausse beat Yachtsmen senior faceoff specialist Tyler Jordan on eight of 11 opportunities, but LeBel argued there was good reason.
"(Tyler's) been nicked up," LeBel said. "His thumb's really beat up and it really hurts him. We ask a lot out of him. It's like being in a wrestling match and it takes a lot out of you."
Cape Elizabeth forced a dozen turnovers and had a 16-14 shots advantage.
The visitors weren't initially able to convert on their man-up opportunity to start the second half, as Gilbert shot just wide, but after Narvaez stopped a Leighton shot, senior Joe Dancoes pounced on the rebound and sent it into the net to make the score 6-4.
Undaunted, Griffin Thoreck restored a three-goal advantage when he scored unassisted with 10:30 left in the third.
Back came Falmouth again, as Jordan scored unassisted with 8:49 showing to make it 7-5, but the visitors never would get any closer.
With 5:28 to go, Haversat scored unassisted. A minute later, junior Ben Shea threw a pretty pass to Kelly, who finished. Then, as time expired, Haversat scored unassisted again (just before the horn sounded) and Cape Elizabeth took a 10-5 lead the fourth.
There's Stucker finally got in on the fun, scoring man-up with 10:48 to play, then firing a rocket through traffic which Narvaez didn't have a chance to stop 53 seconds later, pulling the Yachtsmen within three, 10-7.
The Capers stemmed the tide when Griffin Thoreck scored unassisted with 9:12 remaining.
After Leighton's man-up bid was denied by Narvaez, Cape Elizabeth scored its final goal of the night when the Thoreck brothers played nice and shared the ball, as Griffin set up Owen for the clincher with 3:54 to play.
"It's great to see (Owen) step into a scoring role," Griffin Thoreck said. "Having an effective attackman who can dodge and pass is great for the team. We're glad to have him."
With just under 3 seconds left, Leighton found Kuhn for a cosmetic goal and that brought the curtain down on the Capers' impressive 12-8 triumph.
"It's hopefully one of three and it feels good to get the first one," Griffin Thoreck said. "It helped to get up early. We kept our foot on the gas pedal and kept scoring goals. We kept pressing. They're a good team. It got a little sketchy at points, but we kept it going. We love these tests. Nothing's more fun than a night game and having good competition and coming out on top."
"Obviously, we want to win," Monroe-Chausse said. I was pumped up all day during school and tried to keep it in during the game. I wanted to stay in a strong, winning mindset. I expected more holes on defense this year, but guys have really stepped up. Tom Feenstra changed from attack. Noah has really stepped up. It's a great group of guys."
"We played well at the beginning, but unfortunately we had a lapse in the second quarter," Raymond added. "They've got quality players up and down. I'd say I don't know how concerned either team was with this game. We're concerned with how we play. Yes, there are a lot of Heal Points and it's important and we want to win every game we play, but it's hard when in theory you know you're going to play a team three times in a year. If this is the best game we play against them, it won't be a good thing.
"What we have is a really good group of guys who all have strengths and all have weaknesses and it's finding out who we can put on the field at the right times. What I"m most impressed with is making better decisions. We were up and down the field at the start, 100 miles an hour. Now, we're taking time to find the open man. In the fourth quarter, I think we held the ball. We were smart and patient. Those are things I'm impressed with."
As it's been all season, Cape Elizabeth's offensive brilliance resided in its balance as Haversat and Owen Thoreck both tickled the twine on three occasions, Kelly and Griffin Thoreck each scored twice and Feenstra and Sarka had one goal apiece. Drinan, Shea and Griffin Thoreck had assists. Narvaez made 10 saves and the Capers defense did yeoman's work slowing Stucker.
"We wanted to bump down our shorties so we could get our poles on I.V. and Brad Gilbert, because they're both phenomenal players," Cape Elizabeth junior defender Noah Wolfinger said. "We did a good job holding them in check and not letting them play like they have all year. We did a good job talking as a unit. (Seniors) Trevor (Gale), Caelan (Houle) and Tom Feenstra did a great job clearing. I have to give all the props to Alex, he played a phenomenal game."
"The defensive plan on players like (Stucker) is not to give him much space," Raymond said. "He's athletic and really good, but we wanted to have someone with him. I think he's a better threat feeding than he is shooting. Obviously, he's a good shooter as well. We tried to get on his hands a little bit and make him work more. It's stressful for our defense."
Monroe-Chausse was the headliner as he won 16 of his 22 faceoff chances.
"I work hard day in, day out," Monroe-Chausse said. "Today, I was really feeling the ball, no matter what they did. I spent most of last season on the bench because I was injured. To come back this year and start and play this role for my team was awesome."
Monroe-Chausse's effort was appreciated.
"Anytime I can get off the field, that's something I look forward to," Wolfinger said. "He won almost every faceoff. That was a way for us to keep the direction of game going the way we wanted."
"(James) did a great job on faceoffs," Raymond said. "Everybody's been saying he was going up against one of the best guys in the state. Now, people watching know that they're going up against one of the best guys in the state. J-Mo's done a great job in all our games. He's getting better and better as we go forward. He's picking up ground balls and making good decisions and that's really important."
The Capers more than doubled up the Yachtsmen on ground balls, 46-22, as Haversat had a game-high nine and Monroe-Chausse gobbled up seven.
Shots wound up 30-30, but Cape Elizabeth had a slight edge on frame (20-18). The Capers turned the ball over 20 times, but forced 19 Falmouth giveaways.
For the Yachtsmen, Kuhn had three goals, Stucker two and Dancoes, Jordan and Leighton one apiece. Leighton assisted on two goals, while Stucker helped out on another. Criscione had a team-high five ground balls and Beaulieu made eight saves.
"They switched up a little bit on us, gave us different looks defensively and forced us to put the ball on kids' sticks who don't handle it as much, but those kids should be used to it, they're all upperclassmen," LeBel said. "We should be prepared for pressure like that and we didn't handle it well."
The rivals will meet again in the regular season finale June 6 at Falmouth, but both will be tested in the meantime.
The Yachtsmen (second in the Western B Heal Points standings at press time0 play host to Scarborough Saturday and visit Yarmouth Tuesday. Home games versus Wells and Greely and a trip to Kennebunk also await.
Falmouth needs to clean up its game, but is confident it can do so.
"We'll probably have to come here (for the playoffs), but I don't mind coming over here," said LeBel, who was joined after the game by members of the Colby College coaching staff, on which he served this past season. "We'll come up with a game plan. We're fortunate this wasn't the tournament. We'll take a look at the tape, we'll go over a few things and we'll come up with something. We'll work on it, we'll drill it and we'll be ready."
The top-ranked Capers have another big game upcoming Friday when they renew acquaintances with one-time rival Brunswick, at Hannaford Field. After going to Greely and York, Cape Elizabeth also hosts NYA and Yarmouth before going to Falmouth.
"Our crossovers this year are outstanding," Raymond said. "We have a really good schedule this year. We know our kids will get up for Brunswick. So will they. Like the old days."
No matter what the pundits expected, the Capers have to be viewed as the title favorite again.
"We're rolling now," Griffin Thoreck said. "Hopefully, we'll keep on going."
"We lost a lot of good players last year, All-Americans and all-state players, but we're doing what we can to play our game," Wolfinger said. "We're not as talented, but we're playing well as a unit."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.
Recent Cape Elizabeth-Falmouth meetings
@ Cape Elizabeth 6 Falmouth 3
Western B Final
@ Cape Elizabeth 11 Falmouth 7
Cape Elizabeth 12 @ Falmouth 5
Cape Elizabeth 8 @ Falmouth 4
Cape Elizabeth 10 @ Falmouth 3
@ Cape Elizabeth 8 Falmouth 3
Cape Elizabeth 12 @ Falmouth 2
@ Cape Elizabeth 13 Falmouth 4
Cape Elizabeth 13 @ Falmouth 2