PORTLAND—The Scarborough girls’ lacrosse team learned Thursday evening to be careful what it wishes for.
“We were kind of down last week because we wanted more competition,” said Red Storm senior standout Mary Scott. “Now, we’re getting it.”
Scarborough got competition and then some on Deering High’s turf field against a dangerous Cheverus squad that made a stirring playoff run a year ago and is even better this spring.
The Red Storm shot to a 5-0 lead in the game’s first 10 minutes, then everything changed.
In a little over 11 minutes, the Stags scored five times to tie the score and the contest was tight to the very end.
Scarborough held a 7-5 advantage early in the second half, but Cheverus rallied to tie. The Red Storm went up 8-7 before the Stags erupted for three straight goals to seemingly take control, but Scarborough isn’t a two-time defending state champion for a reason.
The Red Storm tapped into that championship heart, tied the game behind a pair of Scott goals, then won it when senior Laura Przybylowicz scored with 1:05 remaining.
Scarborough got five goals from Scott, three from senior Maggie Smith and two from Przybylowicz and it prevailed, 11-10, to improve to 6-0 on the season, dropping the valiant Stags to 4-3 in the process.
“We were worried, but we knew we had to keep it together,” Scott said. “Four minutes is a lot in lacrosse. We knew we could come back. Momentum is really important in lacrosse. We got it finally and we were able to finish it.”
Scarborough has been the best team in Class A two years running and began the 2012 campaign with decisive wins over McAuley (13-0), Bonny Eagle (16-3), Yarmouth (12-5) and South Portland (11-4). Monday, the Red Storm got pushed for the first time, finding itself tied with visiting Massabesic early in the second half before going on to win, 8-5.
Cheverus shocked the world last spring by somehow making the playoffs despite a 3-9 regular season record, before stunning Messalonskee and Cony to reach the Eastern A Final, where it was finally ousted by Brunswick. The Stags dropped their opener at Massabesic, 12-9, but bounced back and defeated McAuley (14-5), North Yarmouth Academy (13-8), Portland (10-3) and Deering (15-10) before falling at Marshwood Monday, 7-5.
Cheverus beat Scarborough in the schools’ first meeting, 14-11, in 2007, but the Red Storm had won each of the past five (please see sidebar), including a 15-7 win in Scarborough a year ago.
This time around, the Red Storm appeared poised for a blowout win early, but it had to scratch and claw for 50 minutes to survive.
Smith broke the ice 2 minutes, 3 second in, when she took a pass from Przybylowicz and beat Stags freshman goalie Hope Correia. A little over a minute later, Scott scored unassisted to make it 2-0.
Goals from senior Kelsey Howard (assisted by Smith) and Scott (from Smith) in a 45-second span, forced Cheverus coach Jamie Chamberlain to call timeout, but it didn’t stop the onslaught as Przybylowicz scored from Scott with 15:22 left in the first half for a 5-0 lead.
The Stags showed some life when sophomore Elyse Caiazzo took a pass from classmate Alex Logan and scored at 12:53. Caiazzo (unassisted) and sophomore Meredith Willard (unassisted) quickly followed with goals and just like that, Cheverus was back within two.
With 5:12 to play before halftime, Logan scored on a free position and 59 seconds later, Willard (from senior Sarah LaQuerre) scored to tie things up.
“We tell (the girls) to keep working hard for 50 minutes,” said Chamberlain, who coached at Scarborough once upon a time. “The defense really stepped up. That’s certainly not a team you want to give a five goal lead. We played with fire there. It was great to see the girls respond and make adjustments and move forward a little bit.”
Caiazzo appeared to give the Stags the lead when she apparently scored 2:11 before halftime, but the goal was waved off due to dangerous propelling of her stick.
With 42 seconds left, Scott put the visitors back on top with an unassisted tally.
The game stayed tight in the second half.
With 21:18 left in regulation, Scott set up Smith for a goal, making it 7 -5 Red Storm, but Willard scored unassisted 25 seconds later and with 16:53 to go in regulation, Caiazzo set up LaQuerre for a goal which tied the game, 7-7.
An unassisted goal from Smith at 14:57 restored a one-goal lead for Scarborough, but with 9:26 remaining and Smith on the bench serving time for a yellow card, Caiazzo scored unassisted to tie the score for a third time, 8-8.
This time, Cheverus managed to go ahead.
Just seconds after a Logan bid was saved by Red Storm junior goalie Meg Kirsch, Logan scored unassisted and with 6:39 to play, the Stags were on top.
When Willard scored unassisted with 6:12 left, Cheverus appeared primed for a seismic upset, but Scarborough didn’t buckle. Instead, it stayed poised and never panicked.
The Stags won the ensuing draw, but committed a turnover and Smith set up Scott for a goal with 5:24 to play.
Still plenty of time.
Scarborough then got a break with four minutes to go.
On a free position, Willard appeared to score, but a whistle for a shooting space violation prior to the shot negated the goal. Her second bid at a free position was turned aside by Kirsch and the score remained 10-9.
Cheverus then turned the ball over.
After Scott shot wide with 2:07 to play, she got the ball back and with 1:43 left in regulation, Scott scored unassisted and the game was deadlocked.
The Red Storm won the ensuing draw and looked to take the lead, which happened with 1:05 to go when Smith set up Przybylowicz for a shot Correia couldn’t stop.
The game hinged on the ensuing draw, which Scarborough won once more (it took 12 of 23 opportunities in the game). The Red Storm managed to run out the clock and exhaled after holding on, 11-10.
“It was scary there with four minutes left, but we knew if pulled it together and kept our cool, we’d be able to do it,” said Przybylowicz. “I think we came in knowing they’d be a good team, but when we got those five goals, we were like, ‘We’ve got this.’ They had that comeback and we knew we had to do the same thing. We were frantic on offense, but in the final moments, we had to put it back together and get more settled.”
“I think scares like this are good,” said Scarborough coach Marcia Wood. “It can happen if we don’t play our game. We’re not used to it. Everyone brings their ‘A’ game when they play us and we need to bring ours. Sometimes, nothing goes your way and you start to panic. (Cheverus) had all the momentum. I told them to ignore the crowd and their momentum and not to allow their momentum to affect their game. Their defense was great. Their goalie stepped it up and made some key saves. That got their momentum going.”
“We put ourselves in a position to win,” Chamberlain lamented. “Now, we’ve got to finish it out. You can’t give a team like that extra chances. They’re a veteran team and they made us pay at the end. The girls have worked hard. This was a game that was really solid at both ends. We’re a young team and we didn’t back down from the state champions.”
Scott, who broke her stick before the game and had to use assistant coach Stephanie Leonhartt’s stick, led all scorers with five goals. Smith added three, Przybylowicz two and Howard one. Smith had four assists, Scott two and Przybylowicz one.
For Cheverus, Willard continues to emerge as one of the state’s best young players with her four goals. Caiazzo’s right there with her and scored three times. Logan had two goals, LaQuerre one. Caiazzlo, LaQuerre and Logan all had an assist.
Correia had 12 critical saves, including several in a first half stretch which stymied Scarborough and allowed the Stags to get back in the game.
“Hope was terrific in goal,” said Chamberlain. “For a freshman, in a game like this, to step up, I’m happy with that.”
It’s possible Cheverus and Scarborough will meet again June 16 with the Class A state title on the line. If that game would turn out to be anything like this one, it would go down as an instant classic.
First, Cheverus doesn’t get much time to lick its wounds. The Stags (third behind Brunswick and Cony in the Eastern A Heal Points standings) travel to perennial powerhouse Waynflete, which just happens to be 7-0 and first in Western B, Saturday afternoon.
“Hopefully we come out better Saturday,” Chamberlain said. “We don’t want to (fall way behind) again.”
Cheverus goes to Windham Monday and still has tests remaining versus Kennebunk and Thornton Academy at home and at Gorham.
Scarborough (second to Marshwood in Western A) continues to discover that nothing will come easily this spring and that the remaining schedule is fraught with potential potholes.
“This makes us realize we have to keep working hard the entire game,” said Przybylowicz. “We’re a really deep team. We just need to make it a team effort completely.”
“I think we can’t underestimate any team,” Scott said. “We go it in too confident sometimes. We have to appreciate teams like this giving us a scare. I think we just need to appreciate everyone on the team. Everyone on the team is so talented. We need to share that.”
The Red Storm welcomes unbeaten, explosive Cape Elizabeth Saturday. Monday brings a trip to Thornton Academy. Scarborough also has home games left against Gorham, Windham and tough trips to Marshwood and Kennebunk.
“Everything’s going to be tough,” said Wood. “It’s so much more than talent now. It’s heart, hustle and desire. Talent alone won’t get you there.”
@ Scarborough 15 Cheverus 7
Scarborough 23 @ Cheverus 11
Scarborough 14 @ Cheverus 10
Scarborough 12 @ Cheverus 6
Western A semifinals
@ Scarborough 7 Cheverus 2
Cheverus 14 @ Scarborough 11