The girls’ lacrosse playoffs got underway Wednesday when South Portland went to Thornton Academy in the Western A quarterfinal round.
The sixth-ranked Red Riots were eliminated, 8-4, and wound up 7-6, their best record in six years.
Top-ranked Scarborough begins its quest for its first state title since 2006 Saturday at 1 p.m., when it hosts recent nemesis Kennebunk, the No. 4 seed, in the semifinals.
In Western B, Cape Elizabeth wound up third and will go to No. 2 Falmouth Saturday afternoon for the semifinal round.
South Portland won four of its final five games to wind up 7-5 and earn the seventh and final Western A playoff spot. The Red Riots didn’t play No. 2 Thornton Academy in the regular season and had no playoff history with the Golden Trojans prior to Wednesday.
South Portland’s bid for a first playoff win in seven seasons wasn’t to be.
The Red Riots actually went up 2-0 early on Thornton Academy, but the Golden Trojans held a 5-2 lead at the half. South Portland drew within two goals twice in the second stanza, but it never got closer and saw its season end at 7-6 with the 8-4 setback.
Senior Kate Lagios, junior Nikki LaPlante, senior Hannah Noll and junior Rebecca Roberts scored goals. LaPlante added an assist. Freshman goalie phenom Iris SanGiovanni stopped 14 shots
“It was a tough one,” said Red Riots coach Bill Fenton. “(Thornton Academy) controlled the tempo of the game. We had chances, but we couldn’t bury them. They stalled at the end. They have a good team. My freshman goalie was incredible. She kept it close.
“I’m so proud of what these girls accomplished. We’ve become a competitive team. The key was the girls really coming together. It was much more of a team effort than before. The scoring was spread around quite a bit.”
South Portland bids adieu to Lagios, Noll and defender Jill Tuttle, but returns several key players in 2011, including SanGiovanni, LaPlante and junior center and draw specialist Victoria Brookings.
“We should be in good shape next year,” said Fenton. “We’d much rather play a tougher schedule next year. We plan to be more competitive.”
After losing to Kennebunk in each of the past two postseasons, Scarborough was eager to see the Rams (who advanced and improved to 9-4 with a 7-4 quarterfinal round win over Massabesic Wednesday) again in the semifinals.
“We try not to talk too much about the undefeated thing,” said Scarborough coach Marcia Wood. “We want to win a state championship. We need to stay focused and keep our eye on the prize.”
If the Red Storm can make it to the regional final for the fourth time in five years, they would host No. 3 Gorham (11-2) or No. 2 Thornton Academy (11-2) Wednesday of next week. Scarborough won, 13-5, May 21 at the Golden Trojans, then held off the visiting Rams, 17-15, the next day. The Red Storm last faced Thornton Academy in the 2007 quarterfinals (an 11-3 win). They have no playoff history with Gorham.
The dark horse
Cape Elizabeth quietly put together an 8-4 campaign (winning five of its final six games) and wound up third in Western B.
“We had a good season and reached our goal of returning to the playoffs,” said Capers coach Kurt Chapin. “We’ve grown up a lot over the season and I am proud of my freshmen and sophomores for stepping up to the challenge. (Sophomore) Elin Sonneson has been solid in goal and we will rely on her for some big games in the playoffs. Our defense has had some up-and-down games, but they have come together here at the end and will be tough. (Freshmen) Talley Perkins and Lauren Steidl have made huge strides in the midfield and will be asked to control our transition game. Our attack was a great surprise this year and offensively we had three girls with 30 or more goals. We hope that balance in scoring will be an advantage to us in the playoffs.”
Back on April 29, Falmouth had to rally to force overtime, then held off the Capers, 11-8. The last playoff meeting between the rivals came in the 2004 preliminary round (a 16-6 Cape Elizabeth win). The Capers also eliminated the Yachtsmen in the 2002 preliminary round (14-2).
“Falmouth is a good team and we feel we match up well with them,” Chapin said. “In the first meeting, we had jitters and had way too many turnovers in the first half. We calmed down in the second half and had several chances to put the game away and didn’t. We will do our best to keep the game close and control the pace of the game.”
If the Capers can spring the upset, they’ll likely earn a date at two-time defending state champion Waynflete (10-2) in the regional final next Wednesday. On May 10, the Flyers won, 11-7, at Cape Elizabeth. Waynflete has won all five previous playoff meetings, including each of the past three seasons. Last year, in the regional final, the Capers hung tough most of the way before falling, 9-5.
Looking ahead, Fitzpatrick Stadium will host the state championship games again this year, on Saturday, June 19. Class B begins at 10 a.m. The Class A game starts at 3 p.m.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Scarborough senior Lindsay Hagerman is one of many potent scoring options for a team seeking the Class A championship in the days to come.