Cape Elizabeth senior RJ Sarka, left, is congratulated by juniors Owen Thoreck and Connor Thoreck after scoring the final goal of the Capers’ 14-6 win over Yarmouth Friday night.
Chris Lambert photos.
More photos below.
Y- 2 1 2 1- 6
CE- 1 2 3 8- 14
9:39 Y Jacobs (unassisted)
7:57 CE Pillsbury (Sarka)
1:11 Y Newberg (unassisted)
9:39 CE O. Thoreck (Bottomley)
8:57 Y Chappell (M. Beatty)
4:21 CE Sarka (unassisted)
8:26 CE Sarka (C. Thoreck)
7:19 CE O. Thoreck (Bottomley)
5:56 CE Raymond (unassisted)
4:44 Y Conrad (M. Beatty) (MAN-UP)
2:13 Y A. Beatty (M. Beatty)
11:14 CE O. Thoreck (Pillsbury) (MAN-UP)
10:38 CE Pillsbury (unassisted)
8:59 CE O. Thoreck (unassisted)
7:28 CE Pillsbury (unassisted)
7:00 CE Sarka (unassisted)
6:11 Y Conrad (M. Beatty) (MAN-UP)
1:46 CE Sarka (O. Thoreck)
1:06 CE Bottomley (unassisted) (MAN-UP)
21.5 CE C. Thoreck (Pillsbury) (MAN-UP)
Y- Conrad 2, A. Beatty, Chappell, Jacobs, Newberg 1
CE- Sarka, O. Thoreck 4, Pillsbury 3, Bottomley, Raymond, C. Thoreck 1
Y- M. Beatty 4
CE- Bottomley, Pillsbury 2, Sarka, C. Thoreck, O. Thoreck 1
Faceoffs (Yarmouth, 16-7)
Y- Tillotson 14 of 21, Conrad 2 of 2
CE- Ekedahl 7 of 23
Ground balls (Cape Elizabeth, 32-26)
Y- Tillotson 10, A. Beatty, M. Beatty, Conrad, Mallett, Pidden 2, Barton, Chappell, Grant, Jacobs, May, Newberg 1
CE- O. Thoreck 6, Raymond 5, Hare 4, Bottomley, Pillsbury 3, Avantagio, Brett, Ekedahl, Sarka 2, Narvaez, Pappas, Perkins 1
Shots on cage:
Y (Harke) 3
CE (Narvaez) 1
CAPE ELIZABETH—Even on an evening where Yarmouth’s boys’ lacrosse team brought energy and emotion and played well for three quarters, the Clippers were still left in a fog by three-time defending Class B champion Cape Elizabeth.
Against the backdrop of an otherworldly glow hanging over the field, brought about by a thick pea soup, Yarmouth trailed by a mere goal, 6-5, with 12 minutes to play, but for the second time in two showdowns between the teams this spring, the Capers ran away and hid in the fourth period.
The Clippers had early leads of 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2, but Cape Elizabeth tied the score on an unassisted goal from senior RJ Sarka late in the second quarter and went ahead to stay 3 minutes, 34 seconds into the second half when Sarka scored again. Goals from junior Owen Thoreck and sophomore Finn Raymond extended the lead to three, but Yarmouth made things interesting thanks to goals from seniors Walter Conrad and Andrew Beatty.
The Capers quickly ended the competitive phase in the final stanza, as Thoreck, senior Riley Pillsbury, Thoreck, Pillsbury again and Sarka all scored in a five-minute span.
Yarmouth got a goal back from Conrad, but Sarka, senior J Bottomley and Sarka again tickled the twine to help Cape Elizabeth pull away for a 14-6 victory.
Sarka and Thoreck both scored four times and Bottomley added three goals as the Capers remained perfect at 11-0, wrapped up the top seed in Class B South, beat the Clippers for the 17th straight time and dropped Yarmouth to 7-4 in the process.
“More than any other year, we’ve been in close games,” said longtime Cape Elizabeth coach Ben Raymond. “Whether we should have been in close games doesn’t really matter, but it’s helped us learn what to do in pressure situations. At the end of the game tonight, we kept possession. We were patient tonight. Close games have helped us value possession more.”
From the start of the 2004 season heading into the 2010 Class B state final, Yarmouth beat Cape Elizabeth in 14 of 17 meetings.
Since that aforementioned state game, it’s been all Capers, who stretched their win streak against the Clippers to 16 April 27 in Yarmouth, when they pulled away in the fourth quarter to prevail, 15-5, in a game that was closer than the final score indicated.
That was part of a perfect start to the year for Cape Elizabeth, which opened with an 18-8 home win over Waynflete. After beating the Clippers, the Capers blanked visiting Scarborough 10-0, held on for dear life to win at Kennebunk, 10-9, pulled away in the second half for a 12-6 victory at Greely, then held off Falmouth’s furious rally to edge the visiting Yachtsmen, 11-9. After surviving another close call on the road, 9-8, at two-time defending Western A champion South Portland, Cape Elizabeth dominated host Wells (18-5), visiting Lake Region (21-0) and visiting NYA (16-2).
Yarmouth, the three-time defending Eastern B champion, has overcome injuries and some tough losses to position itself well for another run to the state game. The Clippers defeated visiting York in their opener, 14-3, then, after losing at home to Cape Elizabeth, fell at home to defending Class A champion Brunswick (11-7), before bouncing back with a 16-10 victory at Greely. After falling again at home, 12-7, to Falmouth, Yarmouth hit its stride, winning at North Yarmouth Academy, 12-5, at Class A South power Scarborough, 16-11, at home over Lake Region (19-2), at Waynflete (18-10) and Tuesday at home over Kennebunk in a thriller, 15-13.
Friday, Yarmouth was seeking its first win over Cape Elizabeth since May 3, 2010 (8-4) and its first victory on the Capers’ turf since May 16, 2008 (9-3), but on a 56-degree, foggy evening, Cape Elizabeth does what it always does to the Clippers of late, flustering them anew.
Yarmouth held the ball much of the first period and led most of the way.
Junior Bill Jacobs opened the scoring 2 minutes, 21 seconds in with an unassisted tally for a 1-0 Clippers advantage.
The Capers drew even with 7:57 to go in the first quarter, as Sarka fed Pillsbury for a shot which eluded Yarmouth freshman goalie Liam Harke.
After Harke robbed Bottomley and Thoreck had a goal waved off for a crease violation, the Clippers went back on top, 2-1, when junior Anders Newberg bounced a shot past Cape Elizabeth senior goalie Alex Narvaez.
As time wound down in the first, Harke robbed Thoreck to preserve the lead heading to the second period.
There, the Capers hung tough as Yarmouth wasn’t able to build on its strong start.
With 9:39 to play in the half, Bottomley set up Thoreck for the tying goal.
“It takes a bit for me to get going and read the offense and find the looks and figure out where I can dodge,” Thoreck said.
The Clippers went back ahead one final time, 42 seconds later, when senior Matthew Beatty passed up top to sophomore Silas Chappell, who rifled a shot into the net to make it 3-2.
After Narvaez made his lone save of the game, denying a blast from Jacobs, Cape Elizabeth drew even with 4:21 remaining, as Sarka scored for the first time, unassisted.
The score remained 3-3 at halftime, where Yarmouth (which won seven of eight faceoffs) felt it should have had the lead, but didn’t due in large part to 13 turnovers.
“We should have been ahead, but the unforced errors we made really hurt us,” lamented Clippers coach David Pearl. “We didn’t get the lead we should have. We had a lot of missed passes and dropped balls. We felt like if we had the ball on offense, we could score, but the time of possession was in their favor and that’s because of our mistakes.”
The tide swung toward the hosts in the third quarter.
Junior Connor Thoreck set up Sarka for a goal with 8:26 remaining and the Capers went on top to stay, 4-3.
With 7:19 left, Owen Thoreck took a pass from Bottomley and finished.
Then, with 5:56 showing, Finn Raymond raced in untouched and beat Harke to make it 6-3.
“It was hard to see the ball, so we talked about that at halftime,” Ben Raymond said. “We said, ‘Look, you have to keep shooting’ and we had to shorten our passes. We did that.”
But just when the Clippers appeared doomed, they rose off the deck and rallied.
Playing man-up, Yarmouth snapped a 16 minute, 13 second scoring drought, as Beatty set up Conrad with 4:44 remaining to cut the deficit to 6-4.
Beatty then set up his twin brother, senior Andrew Beatty, with 2:13 left and the Clippers were only down by a goal, 6-5.
And then, the bottom fell out for the visitors as Cape Elizabeth saved its best for last.
Forty-six seconds into the fourth period, Pillsbury set up Owen Thoreck for a man-up goal and a little breathing room.
With 10:38 to go, Pillsbury spun around a defender and beat Harke to make it 8-5.
Owen Thoreck then collected a loose ball at midfield and raced in untouched before finishing with 8:59 to play for the biggest lead of the night to that point.
“You have to work as hard as you can because it’s about the little things,” Thoreck said. “It’s about getting the ground balls first.”
With 7:28 remaining, Pillsbury scored unassisted and 28 seconds later, Sarka did the same to effectively end the competitive phase of the contest.
With 6:11 to play, Yarmouth scored its final goal, as Conrad took a pass from Matthew Beatty and scored man-up, but with 1:46 to go, Owen Thoreck assisted a Sarka goal, 40 seconds later, Bottomley scored man-up and with 21.5 seconds showing, Pillsbury passed to Connor Thoreck for a goal to bring the curtain down on the Capers’ 14-6 triumph.
“We’ve always been a second half team,” Sarka said. “We didn’t execute in the first half and had trouble holding on to the ball, but we really brought it in the second half. We clarified where the looks were and went over what we wanted to do. We try to keep an even keel the entire game. A lot of times we play teams that are fired up at halftime and that motivates us to come out and show them what’s up in the second half. We cherish the opportunity to play exciting games. Teams bringing their best brings out our best and it makes for fun, exciting games and we love it.”
“We’re fairly deep at some positions and that helps us go in the second half,” Ben Raymond said. “We were pretty fresh at the end of the game. They had longer offensive possessions at the beginning, so that kept our offense fresh. It takes our kids a little while to figure some things out and find the matchups we want to go against. We were more specific in the second half on where we dodged from and who we wanted to have dodging. We tried to isolate matchups that looked good in the first half in our favor, but maybe we didn’t connect on that last pass.”
Sarka and Owen Thoreck led the offensive charge with four goals apiece and Pillsbury scored three times. Bottomley, Finn Raymond and Connor Thoreck also tickled the twine. Bottomley and Pillsbury had two assists apiece and Sarka, Connor Thoreck and Owen Thoreck each finished with one.
“One of the nice things about our team is we have a lot of offensive kids who can dodge well and can feed well,” Ben Raymond said. “It doesn’t have to be one person. Most of Owen’s goals tonight came off assists. J did a great job getting the ball in certain spots. He’s probably the guy with the best vision on the field. Even if his pass doesn’t end up in an assist, the next pass does. He reads things really well. Connor had the D pole on him, so RJ had more of a chance to go to goal. If RJ had the pole, Connor would have had three or four goals. That’s the benefit of having big, strong, fast, athletic kids who can shoot.”
Narvaez finished with one save and Owen Thoreck had a team-high six ground balls, as Cape Elizabeth wound up with a 32-26 advantage in that category. The Capers only turned the ball over 11 times and enjoyed a 33-14 shots advantage (17-7 on cage).
Yarmouth’s offense featured two goals from Conrad and one apiece from Andrew Beatty, Chappell, Jacobs and Newberg. Matthew Beatty had four assists.
Harke made three saves.
The Clippers got a game-high 10 ground balls from senior Ricky Tillotson, who also helped his team win 16 of 23 faceoffs.
Yarmouth was ultimately doomed by 23 turnovers.
“I think we’ll focus on the fact that it’s not about them, it’s about us,” Pearl said. “We struggled tonight in some facets of the game that we’ve been working on. Teams sometimes click and sometimes they don’t. We’ll take what we learned here and rededicate ourselves. Cape’s undeniably a very good team. They’re the gold standard, but we feel like we can beat them.”
If Cape Elizabeth and Yarmouth square off again this spring, it will come June 18 at Fitzpatrick Stadium in the state final. If that happens, it would be the fourth year in a row and the 10th time in 14 seasons that matchup would occur.
First things first, however.
The Clippers (who are currently ranked third behind Camden Hills and Cony in the Class B North Heal Points standings) hope to close with a win Wednesday afternoon when NYA pays a visit.
“We have one more game against our crosstown rival,” Pearl said. “What we need to work on is glaring, but we’re starting to get healthy. Andrew Beatty is back. (Junior) Max Barton has come back. They’re not 100 percent, but we’re coming together. We have a lot of heart. We’ve faced a fair amount of adversity this season. I feel like we’re getting better every day. I love our energy and I love this team.”
The Capers have a huge showdown remaining, when they go to rival Falmouth Tuesday. While Cape Elizabeth has its top seed cemented, the Yachtsmen are battling Kennebunk for the No. 2 seed in Class B South.
“It doesn’t matter that we’re not playing for our seed,” Ben Raymond said. “Anytime we play Falmouth, or when we play Yarmouth, it’s for pride and trying to be the best team in the league and to continue to improve. The game is probably bigger for (Falmouth) because they don’t want to drop to third. If they lose to us and Kennebunk beats Greely, they could drop to three.”
Falmouth will be fired up to face the Capers.
Which is par for the course.
“It’s been difficult without the seniors we lost last year, but we push each other in practice every day,” Owen Thoreck said. “We work hard on ground balls for a half hour, pass for 15 minutes, a half hour. It all starts there. We want homefield advantage because we love the fans coming out and supporting us.”
“We realize the opportunity we have and we’re trying to take advantage,” Sarka said. “As a senior, I’m trying to cherish every day. It’s been a great ride and we’re trying to finish it out the right way.”
“I feel we’re ready for the playoffs,” Ben Raymond added. “The kids have done a great job in practice. The former players have been back from college, livening things up a bit. We’re moving in the right direction. Our close games will help us. Yarmouth has a very good team that we’ll need to be focused for, if we see them again.”
Yarmouth senior Matthew Beatty is defended by Cape Elizabeth junior Tommy Brett.
Yarmouth senior Walter Conrad gets up and close and personal with Cape Elizabeth junior Connor Thoreck.
Yarmouth sophomore Justin Winkle tries to poke the ball away from Cape Elizabeth senior Riley Pillsbury.
Yarmouth senior Walter Conrad tries to get past Cape Elizabeth senior RJ Sarka.
Cape Elizabeth senior RJ Sarka shoots past Yarmouth sophomore Justin Winkle.
Cape Elizabeth 10 @ Yarmouth 6
@ Cape Elizabeth 9 Yarmouth 4
Class B State Final
Cape Elizabeth 6 Yarmouth 3
@ Cape Elizabeth 7 Yarmouth 5
Cape Elizabeth 13 @ Yarmouth 7
Class B State Final
Cape Elizabeth 7 Yarmouth 4
Cape Elizabeth 12 @ Yarmouth 8
@ Cape Elizabeth 10 Yarmouth 5
@ Cape Elizabeth 13 Yarmouth 2
Cape Elizabeth 6 @ Yarmouth 2
@ Yarmouth 8 Cape Elizabeth 4
@ Cape Elizabeth 10 Yarmouth 7
Class B State Final
Cape Elizabeth 7 Yarmouth 6
@ Yarmouth 8 Cape Elizabeth 6
Class B State Final
Yarmouth 12 Cape Elizabeth 9
Yarmouth 9 @ Cape Elizabeth 3
@ Yarmouth 7 Cape Elizabeth 3
Class B State Final
Yarmouth 9 Cape Elizabeth 4
@ Cape Elizabeth 9 Yarmouth 5
@ Yarmouth 8 Cape Elizabeth 7
@ Yarmouth 4 Cape Elizabeth 3
Yarmouth 6 @ Cape Elizabeth 5
@ Cape Elizabeth 8 Yarmouth 6
@ Yarmouth 15 Cape Elizabeth 8
Cape Elizabeth 7 Yarmouth 6
@ Yarmouth 13 Cape Elizabeth 11
Yarmouth 15 @ Cape Elizabeth 7
Yarmouth 11 Cape Elizabeth 6
@ Cape Elizabeth 7 Yarmouth 1
Cape Elizabeth 9 Yarmouth 8 (OT)
Cape Elizabeth 16 @ Yarmouth 6
Cape Elizabeth 15 @ Yarmouth 6