SCARBOROUGH—To suggest that Friday evening’s boys’ lacrosse contest between the host Red Storm of Scarborough and North Yarmouth Academy was penalty filled wouldn’t even begin to do it justice.
Plagued is a much more apt description.
While there were moments of enjoyable lacrosse, the contest was consistently interrupted by referee’s whistles and flags as a mind-boggling 40 penalties were issued (27 to the home team) and four players (three for Scarborough, one for NYA) were ejected from the game, which took over two hours to complete.
Somehow, the Panthers managed to overcome a sluggish start and two scoreless periods to improve to 4-3 on the season with an 8-6 victory, thanks to 13 saves from senior goalie Taylor Norton and three goals from senior Phil Champoux (the last being the backbreaker, on a fastbreak).
The Red Storm are now 4-4.
“A win’s a win at this point, but that was something else,” said NYA coach Chris Carpentier. “Something I’ve never seen before and I hope to never see it again.”
NYA and Scarborough are two of the more successful programs in the state. Both have won two state championships and each reached the regional final a year ago. Both got off to slow starts in 2010, but each have shown glimpses of greatness and could be very dangerous by the time the playoffs roll around.
The Panthers lost three of their first four, 11-5 at Yarmouth, 12-2 at Cape Elizabeth and 12-9 at home to Falmouth. NYA did enjoy a 10-7 victory at Greely and rode a two-game win streak (16-1 over Oak Hill and 19-6 over Freeport) into Friday’s contest.
The Red Storm opened the year with an 8-7 overtime loss at South Portland. After bouncing back with an OT victory (by the same score) at home over Cheverus, Scarborough rolled at Noble, 18-4. Losses to Kennebunk (13-11) and Falmouth (4-3) were sandwiched around a 6-4 triumph at Thornton Academy. Wednesaday, the Red Storm had their way with visiting Bonny Eagle, 14-5.
The teams last met May 5 of last year (an 11-8 Scarborough home victory).
This one got underway amid a flurry of turnovers and just a few penalties, but no goals were scored in the game’s opening 12 minutes.
Finally, 38 seconds into the second quarter, NYA broke the ice when Champoux took a pass from junior Matt Kibler and beat Red Storm goalie Brett Leighton. Just 38 seconds later, junior Finn Hadlock set up classmate Tim Millett for a strike and it was 2-0.
When Kibler scored unassisted 7:28 before halftime, the Panthers had a 3-0 advantage, but with 6:44 remaining, the hosts finally got on the board when senior standout Matt Mayo (from sophomore Josh Powers) got the better of Norton.
NYA’s man-up unit produced two goals in a 13-second span to make it 5-1. First, Kibler set up Champoux with 4:53 to play in the half. Then, with 4:40 to go, Hadlock passed to Millett for a goal and it appeared as if the more disciplined Panthers were in control.
Scarborough would rally, however, getting unassisted goals from senior Tennessee Peters and Powers, but with 10 seconds left in the half, freshman Isaac Lipton scored unassisted for the visitors and they took a 6-3 advantage into the break.
NYA had a 33-19 advantage in shots in the first half, but just 18 were on net and only six of those got past Leighton.
As was the case in the first period, the third featured nary a goal as the teams combined for 18 goals and myriad penalties. The Red Storm had more shots, but Norton made five saves. The Panthers were consistently playing a man-up, but threw the ball away with regularity.
“Our man-up looked good in the first half, then it was non-existent,” Carpentier said.
The hosts had one last rush in them and made things interesting in the fourth period when senior Nick Neugebauer scored unassisted and Mayo followed with a man-up goal (from junior Peter Moore). The score would remain 6-5 for a long time, but Scarborough never could gain the equalizer.
With 5:08 to play, the Panthers snapped a 19 minute, 2 second drought and got a measure of breathing room when junior Dylan Seely scored unassisted. Off the ensuing faceoff win, Hadlock raced in and fed Champoux for another goal and suddenly, NYA was up, 8-5.
“Those goals were a huge relief,” Norton said. “It gave us a little cushion.”
“There was just motivation at that point,” Carpentier added. “The kids played hard and they played respectful, which I was glad to see.”
With 3:49 to play, sophomore Andrew Jones scored for the Red Storm to make it 8-6, but they could draw no closer. The only action the rest of the way was the consistent march to the penalty box and the Panthers held on for the 8-6 victory.
“It’s a big win for us,” Carpentier said. “We need (Heal Points) in a bad way.”
Champoux led all scorers with three goals. Millett added a pair and Kibler (two assists), Lipton and Seely all had one goal. Hadlock finished with three assists. Norton made 13 key saves.
“I felt I saw the ball well,” Norton said. “I think we’re starting to click. We need to keep staying positive and working hard.”
Scarborough had the advantage in most statistical categories, but found itself playing man-down much of the game.
“I’ve never seen a game like this at any level,” said Red Storm coach Joe Hezlep. “I’m speechless. We can’t play lacrosse 6-on-3. We didn’t put many shots on cage. We have to find a way to win and find our identity. That’s what we haven’t done yet.”
Scarborough got two goals from Mayo and one apiece from Jones, Neugebauer, Peters and Powers. Moore and Powers had assists. Leighton made 13 saves.
The Red Storm had a 10-6 edge in faceoffs, 34-32 advantage in shots (NYA had 21 on goal to 19 for Scarborough) and forced 39 turnovers (while giving the ball away 34 times). The Red Storm also had 56 ground balls (Neugebauer, Powers and freshman John Wheeler all had a team-high seven) to 55 for the Panthers (who were paced by nine from Hadlock and eight from senior Brandon Barrett).
Scarborough (third behind Kennebunk and South Portland in the latest Western Class A Heal Points standings) hopes to bounce back Wednesday at Windham. The Red Storm host Gorham and Massabesic before closing the season at defending Class A champion Portland.
NYA (third behind Yarmouth and St. Dom’s in Eastern B) has a huge week ahead. The Panthers host two-time defending Class B champ Yarmouth Tuesday and Cape Elizabeth Friday.
“We have some big games coming up,” Norton said. “We have to play well and play our game.”
“We’ll be on our field against them, which is a good thing,” Carpentier added.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org