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PORTLAND—The defending Class A state champion Scarborough boys’ lacrosse team will likely have a very potent offensive attack before all is said and done, but so far in 2011, the Red Storm have relied on an almost impenetrable defense.
After blanking South Portland in the opener, Scarborough held Cheverus scoreless in the first half Saturday amid miserable wet and windy conditions at Fitzpatrick Stadium.
While all good things must end and the Red Storm finally surrendered a goal in the third quarter, the Stags mustered no more and Scarborough improved to 2-0 with a 4-1 victory, dropping Cheverus to 1-2 on the young season.
“Right now, our offense is still finding its personality,” said Scarborough coach Joe Hezlep. “The defense has stayed solid.”
Springtime in Maine
Scarborough arrived a year ahead of schedule in 2010, catching fire and winning its third Class A championship in five seasons in stunning fashion. This year’s team is absolutely loaded and the Red Storm are heavy regional favorites for good reason. An 11-0 home romp over South Portland in the opener simply validated lofty predictions surrounding the team.
Cheverus finished 6-7 a year ago after an Eastern A quarterfinal round loss to Messalonskee. After edging host Biddeford, 6-5, in overtime in the opener, the Stags dropped an agonizing 7-6, double OT decision at South Portland earlier this week.
Saturday’s game was actually scheduled to be played at Cheverus, but in anticipation of bad weather, was moved to Deering High’s Memorial Field. Problem was, there was confusion with the city of Portland, which booked a soccer team at Deering and just minutes prior to game time, everyone on hand was sent over to Fitzy.
A year ago, Scarborough eked out an 8-7 overtime win over visiting Cheverus.
Saturday, the Red Storm beat the Stags for the fourth consecutive time.
Neither team scored in the first period as they got acclimated to the conditions. The squads combined for 17 turnovers and just 11 shots (nine for Scarborough). Cheverus junior goalie Colm Pusey made four clutch saves in the quarter.
In the second, the Red Storm broke the ice when senior Tim Smith took a pass from junior Jon Blaisdell after a turnover and beat Pusey for a 1-0 lead.
Before halftime, sophomore John Wheeler (from Blaisdell) and Blaisdell (from Wheeler) scored to make it 3-0 Scarborough.
With 6:18 to go in the third quarter, after 77 minutes, 42 seconds of shutout lacrosse, the Red Storm and sophomore goalie David Pearson finally surrendered a goal when Stags sophomore Warren Murray scored unassisted.
A little over a minute later, Wheeler set up Blaisdell for a goal and a 4-1 lead, which would prove to be the final margin.
Cheverus had ample chances to rally in the fourth as the Stags went toe-to-toe with the defending champs.
With 7:44 remaining, junior Cam Olson was denied point blank by Pearson. A little over a minute later, senior Stephen Ambrose had a great bid denied by Pearson.
Scarborough’s defense did the rest, putting the clamps on the Stags the rest of the way and the Red Storm held on for the 4-1 triumph.
“It was effective,” Hezlep said. “That’s the word for today. It wasn’t pretty and things didn’t go all that well, but we got the job done. We had more goals. Cheverus has a lot of young guys. They’ll come along.”
Blaisdell scored twice, while Smith and Wheeler had a goal apiece. Blaisdell and Wheeler both had a pair of assists. Pearson stopped six shots.
“(Pearson’s) played great,” said Hezlep. “If he doesn’t make those saves, we would have to pull something out to get a win. He’s playing pretty well.”
For Cheverus, Murray had the lone goal. Pusey made 11 saves.
“We had trouble picking the ball up, trouble passing the ball,” lamented Stags coach Deke Andrew. “(Scarborough) only scored four goals. I have some nice defensemen back there. Guys who have started for three years. The addition of Cam Olson at midfield gives us a big-body threat. We held on to the ball too late. We had a number of opportunities that could have gone in. It could have been a 4-4 game easily.”
Scarborough won five of the eight faceoffs, had a 31-16 shots advantage (15-7 shots on frame), forced 40 turnovers, while giving the ball away 36 times and won 64 ground balls (Blaisdell and senior Peter Moore both had nine, while senior Mark Pearson and junior Andrew Jones each grabbed eight) to 51 for the Stags (Ambrose had a game-high dozen, while Murray had seven and sophomore Brent Green finished with six).
Cheverus looks to even its record Wednesday at Thornton Academy, then has an opportunity to avenge last year’s playoff loss when it hosts Messalonskee Saturday.
“The reality is that it really depends on our first-year players that haven’t played the game and how quickly their stick skills can develop,” Andrew said. “They understand everything else. They do the right things offensively and they do the right things defensively. If they do by the end of the season, we’ll be tough.”
Scarborough hosts Noble Wednesday, then hosts Falmouth in a showdown of two of the best teams in the state Saturday.
“Falmouth will be a good one on our turf,” Hezlep said.
Scarborough junior Kellen Smith looks to turn the corner on Cheverus junior Coleman Walsh.
Scarborough junior Garret Hazelwood cradles the ball while being watched by Cheverus sophomore Jimmy Campbell.
Cheverus senior Stephen Ambrose possesses while being hounded by Scarborough junior Andrew Jones.
Two of the biggest and most athletic players in the region got up close and personal after Scarborough senior Nate Hopkins won possession and was fronted by Cheverus junior Cam Olson
Cheverus sophomore Warren Murray can’t get much breating room thanks to the stifling defense of Scarborough senior Will Lynch. The Red Storm continued their defensive dominance Saturday afternoon, downing the Stags, 4-1.
More photos below.
S- 0 3 1 0- 4
C- 0 0 1 0- 1
6:58 S Smith (Blaisdell)
4:04 S Wheeler (Blaisdell)
1:26 S Blaisdell (Wheeler)
6:18 C Murray
5:02 S Blaisdell (Wheeler)
S: Blaisdell 2, Smith, Wheeler 1
D: Murray 1
S: Blaisdell, Wheeler 2
S (Pearson, 6)
C (Pusey, 11)
Ground balls (Scarborough, 64-51)
S: Blaisdell, P. Moore 9, Jones, M. Pearson 8
C: Ambrose 12, Murray 7, Green 6
Shots on frame