With junior Sam Neugebauer leaping the highest, Scarborough’s boys’ lacrosse team celebrates Saturday’s 18-10 win over Brunswick in the Class A state final. The Red Storm set a new record for goals scored in a state game and won the championship for the seventh time.
Chris Lambert photos.
More photos below.
B- 2 3 2 3- 10
S- 5 5 5 3- 18
11:06 S Neugebauer (unassisted)
10:38 B Gramins (Cyr)
9:48 S Thibault (unassisted)
7:30 B Cyr (Dorr)
6:33 S Nigro (unassisted)
5:28 S Thibault (unassisted)
3:42 S Thibault (unassisted)
11:06 S Guerette (unassisted)
9:28 B Dorr (C. Glover) (MAN-UP)
7:56 S Manfra (Nigro) (MAN-UP)
6:47 S Neugebauer (unassisted)
4:38 S Manfra (unassisted)
2:10 B Gramins (Palizay)
1:09 B C. Glover (unassisted) (MAN-UP)
14.4 S Neugebauer (Nigro)
10:55 B Gramins (Cyr)
9:31 S Manfra (Guerette)
6:44 S Thibault (unassisted)
5:46 S Guerette (unassisted)
3:25 S Granzier (unassisted)
2:10 B A. Glover (unassisted) (MAN-UP)
56.6 S Guerette (unassisted)
11:18 S Manfra (unassisted)
10:21 B Dorr (unassisted)
8:58 B Palizay (unassisted)
6:53 S Neugebauer (unassisted)
6:16 B Cyr (Palizay)
5:02 S Nigro (Thibault)
B- Gramins 3, Cyr, Dorr 2, A. Glover, C. Glover, Palizay 1
S- Manfra, Neugebauer, Thibault 4, Guerette 3, Nigro 2, Granzier 1
B- Palizay 2, Cyr, Dorr, C. Glover 1
S- Nigro 2, Guerette, Thibault 1
Faceoffs (Scarborough, 20-11)
B- Jensen 8 of 24, Foushee 2 of 4, Palizay 0 of 2, Burtis 1 of 1
S- Nigro 10 of 16, Jepson 9 of 13, Granzier 1 of 1, Lagerquist 0 of 1
Ground balls (Scarborough, 42-37)
B- C. Glover 7, Jensen 6, Doherty 5, A. Glover 3, Cyr, Foushee, Granholm, Hillis 2, Carlton, Clark, Dorr, Eno, Gramins, Holt, Ouellette, Palizay 1
S- Nigro 10, Lagerquist 7, Neugebauer 6, Guerette, Jepsen, Joy, Murray, Thibault 3, Hayward 2, Blaisdell, Tanner 1
Shots on cage
B (Ouellette) 15
S (Joy) 8
PORTLAND—Shoot, score and shoot some more.
That was the philosophy of the Scarborough boys’ lacrosse team Saturday evening at Fitzpatrick Stadium and it paid major dividends.
Championship dividends, in fact.
The Red Storm, after spending two interminable years away from the pinnacle, got back to what they feel is their rightful place by rolling over the defending champion Brunswick Dragons in a record-setting goal-fest of a Class A state final.
Scarborough set the tone by taking its first of 54 shots just 27 seconds into the contest and while junior Sam Neugebauer’s bid hit the post, it only took 27 more seconds for Neugebauer to produce the game’s first tally.
The Red Storm managed to unleash 20 shots in the first quarter alone, more than many teams take in a full game, and five of them found the mark, as junior Cam Thibault scored three times and senior Cam Nigro added another, for a 5-2 lead.
Scarborough scored five more goals in the second period to open up a 10-5 halftime advantage, as Neugebauer and sophomore Marco Manfra scored twice each and junior Marc Guerette also tickled the twine.
The Dragons, who nearly started over from scratch this spring after the core of last year’s squad graduated, only to make it back to the big stage for the third year in a row, tried to rally, as sophomore Max Gramins scored early in the third period, but Manfra, Thibault, Guerette and freshman Andrew Granzier answered to essentially end the competitive phase of the contest.
Guerette scored once more to make it 15-7 Red Storm heading to the fourth, where they only scored three times, with Manfra, Neugebauer and Nigro doing the honors, and went on to a decisive and most impressive 18-10 victory.
Manfra, Neugebauer and Thibault all scored four times and Guerette added three goals as Scarborough, which saved its best lacrosse for last this season, finished 12-3, won its seventh Class A crown in 11 years and ended Brunswick’s season at 12-3 in the process.
“It’s really nice to be here,” said Red Storm coach Joe Hezlep, who has guided the program to six of its seven championships. “We had a special group that was able to put things together. They kept grinding and working on the things they needed to and here we are.”
Scarborough lost to Thornton Academy in the semifinals each of the past two seasons and entered 2016 full of question marks, but only got better as the year progressed. The Red Storm opened with a double-overtime home loss to Gorham and also fell at three-time defending Class B champion Cape Elizabeth and at home against now four-time Class B North champion Yarmouth, but closed with three successive victories to lock up the top seed in Class A South.
Scarborough’s season turned after it lost at Cape Elizabeth April 30, in a game which wasn’t just a loss, but an embarrassing 10-0 whitewashing.
“At that point, we knew it was a turning point for us,” Thibault said. “We knew from then on, we had to buckle down and that’s what we did. We bonded all year. We focused on us. We did our jobs. That made us successful.”
“That was a turning point,” Nigro said. “Props to Cape. They’re an awesome team. Once we hit that point, we definitely turned around and stepped up our game. Our chemistry on offense got better.”
“I honestly think (the turning point) might have been the Cape game,” Hezlep added. “They really exploited the things we weren’t doing well and we were able to focus on those and turn those negatives into positives.”
After earning a quarterfinal round bye, Scarborough, which didn’t play a countable game for almost three weeks, ended No. 5 South Portland’s two-year regional title reign in surprisingly decisive fashion, 16-4, then, Wednesday, the Red Storm held off No. 3 Gorham, 12-8, in the regional final.
Despite its new look this spring, Brunswick still managed to win its first six games and extend its win streak to 22 before losing at Kennebunk. The Dragons also lost at Messalonskee, but still wound up first in Class A North.
Brunswick squeaked past No. 4 Cheverus, 10-9, in the semifinals, then ousted No. 6 Windham, 19-10, in the regional final.
Since boys’ lacrosse went to two classes in 2006, either Scarborough or Brunswick has appeared in every state game, but the teams only met once on the big stage, an 8-6 Red Storm victory in 2008, Hezlep’s first season.
The Dragons have been longtime contenders under coach Don Glover, first reaching the state final in 2002 (losing, 15-7, to Cape Elizabeth), then winning the title for the first time in 2007 (12-9 over Portland). Losses to Scarborough (8-6) in 2008 and Portland (9-3) followed, then Brunswick didn’t get back until 2014, when it lost, 10-8, to South Portland. Last year, the Dragons didn’t lose a game and capped their magical season with a 13-9 victory over the Red Riots in the state final.
The Red Storm won their first championship in 2006, dominating Lewiston, 14-2. After beating Brunswick in 2008, Scarborough won four straight titles between 2010 and 2013, downing Portland (8-6), Lewiston (6-4), Cheverus (9-4) and Cheverus again (15-4) in that span.
Saturday evening, in the final act of the 2015-16 school year and 2016 spring sports season, Brunswick and Scarborough met for the first time in a countable game since the 2008 state game and as was the case eight years ago, the Red Storm did what they needed to do to return to glory, producing record-setting offense in the process.
Nigro began a game-long theme by winning the opening faceoff and Neugebauer had a good look, but his shot was just off the mark and ricocheted off the post. Neugebauer would bury his second chance, however, and with 11:06 to go in the first period, he beat Dragons senior goalie Logan Ouellette to make it 1-0.
Brunswick answered with 10:38 remaining in the frame, as Gramins finished senior Jameson Cyr’s feed, but 50 seconds later, Thibault fought his way through the defense and finished for a 2-1 lead.
Again the Dragons tied the score, as after Red Storm junior goalie Dom Joy denied Gramins and Brunswick was off target on four shots man-up, Cyr made it 2-2 with 7:30 to go, as he finished a pass from junior Josh Dorr.
Fifty-seven seconds later, Scarborough went ahead to stay.
Nigro did the honors, matching Thibault’s tenacity and fighting through the defense to finish for a 3-2 advantage.
“We knew Brunswick is an awesome team,” Nigro said. “We had to come out firing. We knew we had to come out and score. We executed.”
“Nigro, ‘Neuge’ and Thibault have done an amazing job of finding ways to get their hands free that they weren’t doing earlier in the year,” Hezlep said.
This time, the Dragons didn’t respond and with 5:28 left in the first, Thibault scored unassisted and with 3:42 left, he did so again to make it 5-2.
“We saw a few things we thought we could attack early in our offensive sets, based on the way they rotate defensively,” Hezlep said. “It’s something we haven’t done much of, but our offense did a terrific job understanding what we were talking about, taking the looks when they were there and if not, pulling it out and waiting for the next one. When we subbed off during a faceoff, we looked to attack during the substitution. Less guys on the field, it’s easier to score. They have guys who can flat-out score, so we knew we had to continue to push.”
In the first 12 minutes, the Red Storm had 20 shots and won six of eight faceoffs, but Brunswick wasn’t finished.
After Guerette extended the lead with an unassisted goal 54 seconds into the second period, Dorr responded (from junior Christian Glover, man-up) with 9:28 to go before halftime, but the Dragons took a pair of penalties and with 7:56 left in the half, Manfra scored two-men up as Nigro got the assist.
Unassisted goals from Neugebauer at 6:47 and Manfra on a rebound at 4:38 stretched the lead to 9-3.
Brunswick battled back, as Gramins (from junior Ben Palizay) scored with 2:10 left and Glover (unassisted) scored man-up with 1:09 remaining, but Scarborough wrested momentum back with 14.4 seconds to go, as Nigro fed Neugebauer, who made a difficult catch in traffic before beating Ouellette for a 10-5 halftime advantage.
In the first half, the Red Storm won nine of 16 faceoffs and had a commanding 29-16 shots advantage (16-8 on cage).
Scarborough’s potent and balanced offense continued to do its thing in the third quarter.
After Gramins cut into the deficit 1 minute, 5 seconds into the second half, Joy came up big twice, denying Gramins and freshman Aiden Glover.
The Red Storm then pulled away.
With 9:31 left in the third, in transition, Guerette set up Manfra to restore the lead to five.
After a Joy save on Dorr, Thibault scored unassisted at the other end with 6:44 remaining to make it 12-6.
Scarborough wasn’t close to satisfied, as Guerette scored unassisted 58 seconds later and with 3:25 left, Granzier put home a rebound to make the score, 14-6.
Aiden Glover got a goal back for the Dragons, man-up, with 2:10 left, but with 56.6 seconds to go in the frame, Guerette’s unassisted tally gave the Red Storm a comfortable 15-7 advantage.
Manfra started the final stanza by scoring unassisted 42 seconds in.
Dorr countered with an unassisted goal with 10:21 left and Palizay scored unassisted with 8:58 showing, but Neugebauer scored his final goal (unassisted) with 6:53 left to make it 17-9.
Brunswick’s final goal came with 6:16 to play, as Palizay set up Cyr, but the Red Storm would have the last laugh, as Thibault set up Nigro with 5:02 to play.
“Nigro is the only one in this group who even saw a Western Maine Final,” said Hezlep. “He practiced with us (in 2013), but didn’t dress. I said to Nigro (who lost in the soccer and hockey state finals this year), ‘One out of three ain’t bad.’ As long as it’s my one.”
Scarborough defense shut the door from there and at 8:04 p.m., the celebration began as the Red Storm’s 18-10 victory became official.
“It’s great,” Nigro said. “Especially this year. I lost two previous state games, one here for soccer, so it’s a great way to end my high school career. We had nothing to lose and we left it all out here. Every chance we had on offense, we took. Deep down, I hoped we’d get here. I knew we had it in us. We weren’t even a team to watch in the preseason. We defied some odds and earned it. My freshman year was the last of four years in a row. We had some big shoes to fill and we didn’t win until this year.”
“It’s huge to win it,” Thibault said. “We all worked hard all season. We knew this was a goal. To win here, with a whole team effort, is amazing. We knew we had to play our game and we did that really well. It just worked out to shoot so much. We’re a really athletic team. Our whole team works together well.”
“At halftime, I felt good, but not great, I knew we had to continue to go,” Hezlep added. “Even up eight, it wasn’t a settled feeling. I’ve seen them enough to know what they’re capable of doing.”
Scarborough not only scored a new record of goals in a state game (eclipsing Cape Elizabeth’s 16 back in 1998), it showed great balance in doing so, as six different players tickled the twine.
Manfra, Neugebauer and Thibault all had four goals, Guerette scored three, Nigro two and Granzier one.
Nigro had two assists and Guerette and Thibault finished with one apiece.
Joy made eight saves and they all were critical.
“Dom was huge,” Hezlep said. “Those were quality shots from good shooters. We put Dom in more man-down situations than probably any team in the state this year and because of that, he’s had to step up and make big saves.”
The Red Storm had their way in the faceoff circle, winning 20 of 31 chances, as Nigro went 10 of 16 and senior Cam Jepson, who was sidelined earlier this year with injury, was successful on 9 of 13 tries.
“Getting Jepsen back was huge,” said Hezlep. “He’s just getting his legs back under him. He went 8-for-8 last game and he won a lot of faceoffs tonight.”
Scarborough enjoyed a 42-37 edge in ground balls, as Nigro collected a game-high 10 and sophomore defensive standout Reece Lagerquist came up with seven.
The Red Storm committed 19 turnovers, but forced 17, and ousthot Brunswick by a 2-1 margin (54-27), with a 33-18 advantage in shots on cage.
Brunswick’s offense was paced by three goals from Gramins. Cyr and Dorr both scored twice and Aiden Glover, Christian Glover and Palizay had one goal apiece.
Palizay added two assists, while Cyr, Dorr and Christian Glover all had one.
Ouellette made 15 saves.
Christian Glover led the team in ground balls with seven.
“The guys did an awesome job this year,” said Dragons coach Don Glover. “We didn’t think we’d make it so far, but this is a testament to the guys’ determination and their work ethic day in, day out. They’re an exceptional group of kids. Getting here today is just icing on the cake. They deserved it.
“Scarborough did a lot of really good stuff that caught us in awkward situations. Our guys played hard, but they had more depth and took advantage of their opportunities. It was a good show for the fans. A lot of transitions back and forth, good lacrosse. They’re a dodge-initating offense. We knew they’d try a lot of isos. When you replace 19 spots on a roster, there are a lot of kids out there who haven’t been battle-tested. That wears on you a little bit and they capitalized on that.”
Brunswick’s program is perennially one of the state’s strongest and the 2017 Dragons will be in the mix to get back to this game and perhaps win it.
“We have a good portion of kids returning,” Don Glover said. “A bunch of kids are excited about their opportunities. We’ll miss the 10 seniors. It will be tough to replace them, but our focus is more on program than team.
“We always put this as a goal, to play in the last game of the season. It’s about getting to play here. It’s an honor.”
Scarborough graduates Jepsen and Nigro, along with Colin Hayward, Sam Jacob, John Stolz, Wyatt Tanner and Connor Worthing, but will return most of its offensive firepower, some defensive standouts and Joy in goal.
There’s every reason to believe the Red Storm are on the brink of another dynastic run.
“I hope these guys carry it on,” said Nigro, who plans to attend and play lacrosse at Curry College in Milton, Masschusetts next year. “I think they have a bright future. I think they’ll be awesome next year.”
“Losing these great guys will be tough,” said Thibault. “I’ve played multiple sports with these guys. Hopefully we string together a few more. We have to stick together as a group and we’ll be successful.”
“We’ll be looking to continue and make sure we have a tough schedule and put pressure on these guys,” Hezlep added. “The goal is to win it again.”
Scarborough sophomore Marco Manfra scores one of his four goals.
Brunswick junior Josh Dorr shoots and scores one of his two goals.
Scarborough senior Cam Nigro is defended by Brunswick senior Nate Granholm.
Brunswick junior Ben Palizay gives Scarborough freshman Andrew Granzier a shove.
Scarborough junior Sam Neugebauer shoots past Brunswick senior Nate Granholm for one of his four goals Saturday.
Brunswick junior Ben Palizay prepares a shot as Scarborough senior Colin Hayward defends.
Brunswick’s captains receive the runner-up plaque.
Scarborough’s captains receive the championship trophy.
The now seven-time Class A champions show off their new hardware.
Scarborough 8 Brunswick 6
Scarborough 14 Lewiston 2
Scarborough 8 Brunswick 6
Cape Elizabeth 15 Brunswick 7