Boys' lax teams all title-worthy
After exciting regular seasons, the Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough and South Portland boys' lacrosse teams have turned their attention to stealing postseason glory.
The Red Storm, seeded third in Western A, got things going Wednesday when they defeated No. 6 Bonny Eagle, 9-6, in the quarterfinal round. Scarborough's victory sets up a delicious semifinal round date at No. 2 South Portland Saturday afternoon (1 p.m.).
In Western B, perennial powerhouse Cape Elizabeth, which closed as strong as any team in the state, takes a 9-3 record and the No. 2 seed into the playoffs. The Capers host No. 3 Waynflete in the semifinals Saturday at 4 p.m.
Scarborough has won two Class A titles since 2006, but came back to the pack a bit in 2010 with a younger squad. Regardless, the Red Storm hinted that they're a team to reckon with when they took undefeated Portland to the wire before falling, 16-12, in the finale, which left them 7-5 and third in the region.
"We have to take out of (the Portland game) that we can play," said Scarborough coach Joe Hezlep. "We just have to put four quarters together. We kept battling and we'll take this as a positive experience. We have to have had the toughest schedule. We cut our teeth. Now it's time to get to work. It should be fun."
Wednesday, the Red Storm (seventh in the latest coaches' poll) hosted a Bonny Eagle squad they beat, 14-5, at home back on May 12. The teams had no prior playoff history.
Scarborough rolled to an 8-2 lead, was up 8-3 at halftime and things only got interesting in the waning seconds as the Red Storm improved to 8-5 behind two goals apiece from senior Tennessee Peters, junior Peter Moore, sophomore John Blaisdell and freshman John Wheeler. Senior Matt Mayo added a goal and two assists.
"We got through it," Hezlep said. "It was sloppy on both sides, but we played pretty good defense."
South Portland earned a bye into the semifinals and had time to prepare for Scarborough. The Red Riots posted a program-best 10-2 regular season mark, but lost, 15-13, at Kennebunk in the regular season finale last Wednesday to fall to the No. 2 spot.
"I still say although Kennebunk's a good team, I think we're the better team," said South Portland coach Tom Fiorini. "Having homefield for one game will be nice, but we were counting on two. I'm not happy with the Heal Points system. How can a team that's 10-2 not have homefield advantage? It's a little frustrating. It's the best regular season we've ever produced."
The Red Riots jump-started their season with a come-from-behind 8-7 home win over Scarborough in the opener on April 17. The teams have met three previous times in the playoffs with the Red Storm winning each time (5-4, in OT, in the 2001 second round, 13-7, in the 2006 semifinals, and 17-6, in the 2007 semis).
"I think it's a great matchup for us," Hezlep said. "We play to the level of our competition. In this situation, it should help us. (South Portland) beat us. When we get up to play, we play well. Letting the first game slip away was tough. We have to do a better job settling the ball this time. We can score. We can't give them the opportunity to move the ball with their athletes."
"This is a good team and I still say we'll go deep," Fiorini said.
The winner advances to the Western A Final Wednesday of next week, likely at No. 1 Kennebunk (8-4). South Portland (ninth in the coaches' poll) has never faced the Rams in the playoffs. Scarborough (which lost, 13-11, at home to Kennebunk on April 30) fell to the Rams in the 1996 quarterfinals (15-12) and beat them in the 2008 regional final (10-3) and the 2009 semifinals (13-5).
The Class A state game is Saturday, June 19 at 5:30 p.m., at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.
The proud and storied Cape Elizabeth program hasn't won a state championship since 2005, but that drought might be coming to an end.
The Capers, who lost twice to Falmouth and once to Yarmouth this year, closed the season with five straight wins, including a stunning 10-7 come-from-behind victory over the Clippers. Last Wednesday, Cape Elizabeth dominated from start to finish in a 16-3 win at Waynflete (senior Harper Nelson had five goals and classmate Tommy Foden added four) to finish 9-3.
"We're playing well," said Capers coach Ben Raymond. "We definitely have the attitude that we can do better. I don't think I can look at one moment, but each week we progressed. The kids believe they can play well. We're getting more confident. We're doing what I've been telling them to do all season."
Cape Elizabeth (third behind Yarmouth and Falmouth in the coaches' poll) turns right around and hosts Waynflete in the semifinals. The Capers have won each of the previous five postseason meetings between the teams, including a 14-2 romp in the semifinal round a year ago.
"I think we're ready to take the next step," Raymond said. "More importantly, I think the kids are ready. They're feeling better about how things are going."
A Cape Elizabeth victory Saturday likely sets up a battle at top-ranked Falmouth (10-2) in the regional final Wednesday. The Yachtsmen humbled the host Capers, 11-4, in the season opener, April 16, then, in a much closer affair on May 18, Cape Elizabeth lost on the road, 9-7.
Last year, in the regional final, the only prior playoff meeting between the teams, the Capers eliminated the Yachtsmen, 11-7.
The Class B championship game is Saturday, June 19 in Portland. Start time is 12:30 p.m.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org