Brunswick lax teams split crossover tilts
YARMOUTH — The Brunswick boys' and girls' lacrosse teams traveled south Saturday for a pair of highly-anticipated crossover contests.
In the morning, the Dragons girls' squad, the two-time defending Class A state champion, paid a visit to one-time rival North Yarmouth Academy, the two-time reigning Eastern B champion, and eked out a palpitating 14-13 victory.
Earlier in the decade, Brunswick and NYA were no strangers, meeting four years in a row in the playoffs, highlighted by the Dragons' 14-13, come-from-behind OT win in the 2003 regional final. In that one, Brunswick standout Jenna McCabe (ironically, now an NYA assistant) went nearly the length of the field to tie the score as time expired in regulation and the Dragons went on to win.
Saturday's rainy affair finished with the same score and almost went extra time as well, but the squads were able to cram all the excitement into a 50-minute span.
NYA got a goal as time expired in the first half to lead, 8-6, and twice went up by three goals (9-6 and 11-8) in the second half before Brunswick rallied.
Junior Jacki Kelly scored once and senior Leila Mills twice to make it 11-11 with 16:55 to go.
"We didn't fold when we were down by three goals," Beth Caputi said. "Honestly, it's probably been three years since we were behind by that much."
NYA took the lead once more, 12-11, but with 10:53 to go, Mills scored to tie the game. Then, 34 seconds later, senior Sarah Croston (from junior Maggie Caputi) scored and Brunswick was ahead to stay. When Mills scored with 4:45 to go, the Dragons appeared home free, but Panthers senior standout Courtney Dumont (unassisted) answered with 2:18 left, making it 14-13 and setting up a frantic finish.
The Dragons got possession and run the clock under a minute before the Panthers had one final chance. They'd get a couple good looks at the goal (including a Dumont rocket that went just wide), but a last-ditch shot went wide and Brunswick was able to run out the clock and celebrate a 14-13 victory, its 36th in a row.
Mills led the way for Brunswick with five goals and one assist. Kelly added three.
"Hopefully this means we can do (crossovers) some more," said Dragons coach Beth Caputi. "We know (NYA) well. We scrimmage them every year. It was fun for us to be competitive for 50 minutes and to come out on top.
"The last little bit there freaked me out a little bit, but the girls kind of sucked it up and buckled down. The defense stepped it up in the second half. It was fun to see some young kids step up. I feel like our team came alive emotionally in the second half."
The Dragons (6-0) had showdown at rival Mt. Ararat Wednesday and play to host to up-and-coming Falmouth in another crossover Friday.
Brunswick is still a work in progress, but can make the argument that it might be the best team in the state, regardless of class.
"I think we're seeing things we can make adjustments to," Caputi said. "We need to work on locking up in the midfield. Falmouth will be a nice challenge for us. We have a nice stretch of competitive games."
A little over an hour later, down Route 1 at Yarmouth High, the Brunswick boys (who entered the game 3-0), Class A finalists a year ago, paid visit to the two-time defending Class B state champion Yarmouth Clippers. The Dragons were doomed by a slow start and suffered their first loss of the year, 13-6.
Earlier this decade, the Clippers and Dragons met during the regular season and also squared off three times in the playoffs, with Brunswick winning, 11-5, in the 2002 regional final and Yarmouth triumphing, 13-3, in the 2004 regional final, and 17-3 in the 2005 semifinals.
Since then, the powers had not met in a countable game. Saturday, the Clippers quickly demonstrated that aimed to end the competitive phase of the game early, taking a quick 4-0 lead.
Brunswick was shellshocked.
"We started in kind of a sluggish slump there," said Dragons coach Don Glover. "You definitely can't do that with a Yarmouth team that plays aggressively from the opening whistle. I feel like we paid them too much respect. They're a very good program, but in high school athletics, if you mentally take yourself out of it from the beginning, it's tough to turn it around."
The visitors finally got on the board with 51.8 seconds to go in the first, when junior Sam Franco scored unassisted, but Yarmouth scored four more before the break and led, 8-1, at halftime. The Clippers pushed their lead to as many as 10, 11-1, before taking an 11-2 advantage into the fourth quarter.
There, Brunswick finally showed its mettle.
Senior Nick Kressbach scored unassisted to make it 11-3. After senior David Dietz scored an unassisted goal for the hosts, senior Peter Morrell (unassisted) and senior Zach McMillan (on a rebound) found the net to make it 12-5. With 3:17 remaining, senior Steven Petrovek scored an unassisted goal for Yarmouth, then, with 29.2 ticks left, Kressbach scored again to account for the 13-6 final score.
The Dragons got three goals from Kressbach and one each from Franco, McMillan (one assist) and Morrell.
"The fourth quarter was better," Glover said. "We didn't get into a rhythm until later. We know what our strengths and weaknesses are. We made a few adjustments. We were on our heels a little bit at the opening whistle. We just played our game at the end. We preach to the boys to get better. This was a getting-better day."
Despite the loss, Glover was happy to have had the opportunity to meet the premier program in the state.
"We've been trying to get a schedule with crossovers for four-plus years," Glover said. "We used to be back and forth with Yarmouth, then the league split. This is where we want to be. No disrespect to (our conference), but all the teams need games of this caliber."
The Dragons (3-1 and fifth in the latest coaches' poll) were back in action Tuesday at Mt. Blue. Thursday, they went to Lewiston. Brunswick has another crossover game next Saturday when it hosts up-and-coming Falmouth.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com