South Portland boys overcome slow start to beat Scarborough

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South Portland senior Jack Tierney (6) is congratulated by freshman Nick Tolan after scoring a goal during the Red Riots’ 15-3 home win over Scarborough Wednesday night.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.


South Portland 15 Scarborough 3

S- 2 0 1 0- 3
SP- 3 4 2 6- 15

First quarter
11:35 S DaRosa (unassisted)
10:45 S Stratis (Granzier)
6:48 SP Fiorini (unassisted)
4:59 SP Mayone (Tierney)
3:15 SP Fiorini (unassisted)

Second quarter
11:03 SP Cronin (unassisted)
8:59 SP Mehlhorn (unassisted)
8:19 SP Mehlhorn (unassisted)
3:21 SP Tierney (unassisted)

Third quarter 
8:58 SP Fiorini (Mehlhorn)
8:13 S DaRosa (Granzier)
7:34 SP Doucette (Fiorini)

Fourth quarter
11:06 SP Fiorini (unassisted)
6:42 SP Fiorini (Tierney)
5:29 SP Backman (Tierney) (MAN-UP)
4:03 SP Schifano (Fiorini)
2:32 SP Tierney (unassisted)
1:47 SP Backman (Tierney) (MAN-UP)

S- DaRosa 2, Stratis 1
SP- Fiorini 5, Backman, Mehlhorn, Tierney 2, Cronin, Doucette, Mayone, Schifano 1

S- Granzier 2
SP- Tierney 4, Fiorini 2, Mehlhorn 1

Faceoffs (South Portland, 15-6)
S- Quartararo 6 of 21
SP- Doan 15 of 21

Ground balls:
S- 33
SP- 48

S- 19
SP- 23  

S- 25
SP- 46  

Shots on cage
S- 16
SP- 25

S (Hughes) 10
SP (Watson) 13  

SOUTH PORTLAND—Four days after an epic overtime win over Brunswick, South Portland’s boys’ lacrosse team might have been poised for an letdown when it took the field Wednesday evening at Martin Memorial Field.

Until it saw the jerseys reading “Scarborough” on the other side.

The Red Riots did get off to a slow start, but eventually got their offense going as they stayed undefeated on the season.

The Red Storm, the reigning Class A South champions, grabbed a quick 2-0 lead on goals from senior Josh DaRosa and sophomore Tommy Stratis, but South Portland junior goalie Quinn Watson slammed the door from there and by the end of the first quarter, the Red Riots had the lead, thanks to goals from junior David Fiorini, sophomore Harrison Mayone and Fiorini again.

South Portland shut Scarborough out in the second period, and behind unassisted goals from senior Charlie Cronin, junior Cooper Mehlhorn, Mehlhorn again and senior Jack Tierney, took a 7-2 advantage into the half.

After Fiorini started the second half scoring, DaRosa snapped a 26-minute, 32-second scoring drought, but a goal from junior Logan Doucette made it 9-3 South Portland after three quarters.

The Red Riots then pulled away in the fourth period, as Fiorini scored twice, sophomore Bram Backman did the same and Tierney and senior Aidan Schifano tickled the twine as well as South Portland went on to a 15-3 victory.

Fiorini led all scorers with five goals as the Red Riots improved to 4-0, beat the Red Storm in consecutive seasons for the first time in program history and dropped Scarborough to 1-3 in the process.

“Playing Scarborough, we always come out a little nervous, but after Brunswick, we carried that emotion through,” Fiorini said. “Usually teams have letdowns, but we want to prove to everybody that we’re way better than people think.” 

Flipped script

The Red Storm have historically dominated the Red Riots, entering play Friday having taken 15 of 18 all-time meetings (see sidebar below), but the rivals have split the last four encounters with South Portland’s palpitating 14-13 home overtime triumph a year ago (on Jake Angell’s winner) the most recent.

Scarborough would lose again in overtime in its final game last spring, an 18-17 setback to Brunswick in the Class A state game, after which longtime coach Joe Hezlep stepped down. Hezlep was replaced this season by former assistant Zach Barrett, who earned a win in his first game, 13-5 over visiting Cheverus. The Red Storm then fell at Brunswick in a state game rematch, 16-8, and at home to powerhouse Falmouth in the rain, 14-4.

South Portland, which was ousted by Thornton Academy in last year’s Class A South semifinals, has shown early signs that it might be the team to beat in the region this spring. The Red Riots defeated host Deering (14-10) and Cheverus (14-12), then edged visiting Brunswick in an overtime thriller Saturday, 10-9, as Cronin played the hero.

Wednesday, under summer-like conditions (86 degrees for a 6:30 p.m. start), South Portland needed the better part of a quarter to get going, but once it did, Scarborough had no chance.

The Red Storm scored on their first shot, as DaRosa scored unassisted just 25 seconds in for a 1-0 lead.

With 10:45 to go in the first period, junior Andrew Granzier set up Stratis to make it 2-0.

That would prove to be Scarborough’s highwater mark.

After Watson made a pair of saves to keep the deficit at two, Fiorini scored for the first time, unassisted, with 6:48 left in the frame.

With 4:59 to go, Mayone finished a feed from Tierney, beating Red Storm senior goalie Ben Hughes, to tie it.

Then, with 3:15 left, Fiorini finished unassisted in highlight reel fashion, over the shoulder, to put the Red Riots on top for good.

“It’s something I practice,” Fiorini said. “It’s more being in the moment. It just happened.” 

With junior Josh Doan taking over in the faceoff circle, South Portland had the lion’s share of possession in the second period and it soon extended its lead.

Just 57 seconds in, Cronin scored unassisted.

With 8:59 on the clock, Mehlhorn scored for the first time, unassisted, over his shoulder, for a 5-2 advantage. 

Forty second later, Mehlhorn did it again, this time after scooping up a ground ball.

With 3:21 on the clock, Tierney added an unassisted goal and the lead was 7-2 at the break.

“A lot of guys can score,” Fiorini said. “Coach (Tom Fiorini) told us to slow it down and we’d get our shots. We did that and started to click.” 

In the first half, Doan won six of 10 faceoffs, Watson made seven saves and the Red Riots had a 12-9 advantage in shots on frame.

Fiorini scored for the third time with 8:58 left in the third period, off a pass from Mehlhorn.

Scarborough finally rediscovered its offense 45 seconds later, when Granzier set up DaRosa to end the interminable drought.

With 7:35 left in the third, Doucette finished a feed from Fiorini to put South Portland up, 9-3, a lead the Red Riots would take to the final stanza.

There, they ran away and hid.

Just 54 seconds in, Fiorini scored unassisted.

With 6:42 left, Fiorini scored his final goal, off a pass from Tierney in transition.

With 5:29 on the clock, Backman scored his first goal, man-up, from Tierney.

With 4:03 to play, Fiorini set up Schifano for a 10-goal advantage.

Tierney added an unassisted tally with 2:32 to play and 45 seconds later, again man-up, Tierney set up Backman for the game’s final goal, which brought the curtain down on South Portland’s 15-3 triumph.

“Beating Scarborough means a lot,” said David Fiorini. “Since I was four, I watched Scarborough and South Portland play and we almost always came out on the losing end. I just want to beat them and when we do, it’s amazing. I want to keep doing it.”

“It felt like we were a little flat-footed and not paying attention, but we were able to wake up,” Tom Fiorini said. “At the end of the day, seeing Scarborough on the front of a jersey always scares us. Anytime you beat them, it’s a great win because they’re a great program. Always have been, always will be.

“If you told me at the beginning of the season we’d be 4-0 with our schedule, I would have said, ‘I don’t know,’ but here we are.”

David Fiorini led all scorers with five goals and he had a pair of assists to boot.

“We knew (senior) Reece (Lagerquist), who is an incredible defenseman, would be covering Cooper, so we needed David to step up a little more and he showed up,” Tom Fiorini said. 

Backman, Mehlhorn and Tierney added two goals apiece, while Cronin, Doucette, Mayone and Schifano had one each.

Tierney had four assists and Mehlhorn added one.

Watson finished with 13 saves, many of them coming when the game was still close.

“At the beginning, (Quinn) didn’t see the ball well, then he settled down,” Tom Fiorini said. “He did a great job.”

Doan won 15 of 21 faceoffs, the Red Riots had a 48-33 ground ball advantage (Mehlhorn had a game-high nine, while senior Tyler Campbell collected seven and Cronin and Doan had five apiece), enjoyed a 46-25 edge in shots (25-16 on cage) and overcame 23 turnovers.

For Scarborough, DaRosa scored twice, while Stratis had the other goal. Granzier finished with a pair of assists.

Hughes made 10 saves and the Red Storm turned the ball over 19 times.

“We’ve struggled to score goals all year,” Barrett said. “We lost a lot from last year and guys we thought would step up, haven’t yet. I think they will. We have new guys in new roles against tough competition. Last year, we had guys who in transition, would score 90 percent of the time. We picked up a lot of ground balls on defense today, but we didn’t score any goals. That means we had to play a lot of defense and when we play a lot of defense, we’ll get scored on.”

Chasing greatness

Scarborough looks to end its skid next Wednesday, but its task won’t get any easier against visiting Thornton Academy in a rematch of last year’s high-scoring regional final (won by the Red Storm, 20-16). The Golden Trojans already have a win over Cape Elizabeth on their resume and the Capers will be the next team that Scarborough faces after Thornton Academy.

“It’s a tough year for us to go into a tougher schedule,” Barrett said. “We would have relished it in past years, but it’s tough to initiate that this year. We’ll try to keep it positive and keep moving forward and hopefully, we’ll find a breakthrough.”

As for South Portland, two huge road games loom.

Friday, the Red Riots go to undefeated Yarmouth and Wednesday of next week, South Portland is at arguably the state’s best team, Falmouth.

“Other teams know we’re good now and we have to keep it going,” said David Fiorini. “We’ve had good wins, but that’s in the past. We want to improve every day, every game, every quarter. Every game is a new challenge.”

“There’s no rest for the weary with our tough schedule,” Tom Fiorini said. “We have a long way to go and a lot of tough teams in front of us, but we feel good about what’s going on.

“We can still pass and catch a lot better. Our turnovers are still too high. Our man-up still isn’t good. We can still work on ground balls. We still have work to do.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

South Portland senior Charlie Cronin is hounded by Scarborough senior David McKelvy.

Scarborough senior goalie Ben Hughes robs South Portland senior Aidan Schifano.

Scarborough junior Andrew Granzier shoots as South Portland junior Shippen Savidge defends.

South Portland junior goalie Quinn Watson, who made 13 saves, keeps an eye on Scarborough senior Josh DaRosa.

Scarborough senior Eric Quirk defends South Portland junior David Fiorini.

South Portland senior Jack Tierney unleashes a shot.

South Portland juniors David Fiorini (13) and Cooper Mehlhorn celebrate one of Fiorini’s five goals.

Previous Scarborough-SP meetings

@ South Portland 14 Scarborough 13 (OT)

@ Scarborough 13 South Portland 10
Class A South semifinal
@ Scarborough 16 South Portland 4 

@ South Portland 14 Scarborough 4 

@ Scarborough 14 South Portland 8 

@ Scarborough 9 South Portland 8

Scarborough 10 @ South Portland 1

@ Scarborough 11 South Portland 0

@ South Portland 8 Scarborough 7 (OT)
Western A semifinals
Scarborough 10 @ South Portland 4

@ Scarborough 14 South Portland 5

@ Scarborough 12 South Portland 3
Western A semifinals
@ Scarborough 17 South Portland 6

Scarborough 13 @ South Portland 9
Western A semifinals
@ Scarborough 13 South Portland 7

@ Scarborough 10 South Portland 3

Scarborough 9 @ South Portland 4

South Division Second Round
@ Scarborough 5 South Portland 4 (3 OT)

Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.