TA hands South Portland another tough home loss

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Thornton Academy freshman goalie Ean Patry prepares to deny South Portland freshman Mitchell Adams during the Golden Trojans’ 11-5 win Tuesday evening.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Thornton Academy 11 South Portland 5

TA- 3 0 4 4- 11
SP- 1 0 3 1- 5

First quarter
11:41 TA Edborg (LeBlanc)
9:08 SP Angell (Adams)
4:20 TA LeBlanc (Katz)
1:44 TA Wiggan (Edborg) 

Second quarter
No scoring 

Third quarter
9:44 TA Cadorette (Edborg)
8:09 SP Mehlhorn (unassisted)
6:54 SP Adams (Mehlhorn)
3:41 TA Giroux (Ruff)
3:31 TA Cadorette (unassisted)
3:23 TA Edborg (Cadorette)
1:07 SP D. Fiorini (J. Fiorini) 

Fourth quarter
7:17 TA Ruff (unassisted)
4:51 TA Edborg (unassisted)
4:12 SP J. Fiorini (Mehlhorn)
59.7 TA Labreck (unassisted)
36.1 TA Masteller (unassisted) 

Goals:
TA- Edborg 3, Cadorette 2, Giorux, Labreck, LeBlanc, Masteller, Ruff, Wiggan 1
SP- Adams, Angell, D. Fiorini, J. Fiorini, Mehlhorn 1

Assists:
TA- Edborg, LeBlanc 2, Katz, Ruff 1
SP- Mehlhorn 2, Adams, J. Fiorini 1

Faceoffs (10-10)
TA- LeBlanc 5 of 9, Pike 5 of 6, Labreck 0 of 4, Masteller 0 of 1
SP- Tierny 8 of 13, Mezzanotte 2 of 7

Ground balls (South Portland, 43-39)
TA- Pike 7, LeBlanc 5, Edborg, Giorux, Lynn, Masteller 4, Wiggan 3, Cadorette, E. Patry, I. Patry 2, Katz, Labreck 1
SP- Mezzanotte 7, J. Fiorini 6, Zechman 5, D. Fiorini 4, Angell, Mehlhorn, Nappi, Tierny 3, Adams, Milton, Watson 2, Ellis, Myers, Vose-Gimble 1

Turnovers:
TA- 29
SP- 26

Shots:
TA- 23
SP- 27

Shots on cage
TA- 18
SP- 14

Saves:
TA (E. Patry) 9
SP (Watson) 7 

SOUTH PORTLAND—Martin Memorial Field has been the site of some agonizing losses for Thornton Academy’s boys’ lacrosse team the past few seasons, so the Golden Trojans were more than happy to derail the seeming resurgence of the two-time defending regional champion South Portland Red Riots Tuesday evening.

South Portland was coming off an impressive win at Westbrook last week and a near-upset three-time defending Class B champion Cape Elizabeth Saturday, but just when it appeared the Red Riots were primed to surge back up the standings, they proved unable to meet the challenge.

South Portland forged an early 1-1 tie when freshman Mitchell Adams set up junior Jake Angell, but the Red Riots wouldn’t score again for nearly 25 minutes.

Thornton Academy couldn’t exactly take advantage of South Portland’s struggles, only managing to lead, 3-1, at halftime, and 4-1 early in the second half.

The Red Riots then pulled within a goal when freshman Cooper Mehlhorn scored unassisted and Mehlhorn set up Adams in transition, but after senior standout Jack Fiorini was denied by Golden Trojans freshman goalie Ean Patry, Thornton Academy scored three straight goals to open up a 7-3 lead heading for the fourth quarter.

There, the Golden Trojans squashed South Portland’s comeback hopes with four more goals and went on to an 11-5 victory.

Thornton Academy got goals from eight different players, held Fiorini to just one goal and improved to 5-2, dropping the Red Riots to 3-5 in the process.

“We had two big steps forward against Westbrook and Cape, but tonight was a gigantic step backwards,” said South Portland coach Tom Fiorini. 

Much at stake

With the end of the regular season only a couple weeks away, Tuesday’s meeting was a prime opportunity for the winner to garner Heal Points and possibly move up the standings.

Both teams have been up and down this spring, but both show promise.

South Portland lost at Scarborough in the opener, 13-10, and after winning at Biddeford, 15-2, fell at Falmouth, 21-10, and at home to Cheverus (11-4). The Red Riots righted the ship with a 25-2 home romp over Marshwood, then gained confidence with a 14-8 victory at Westbrook. Saturday’s 9-8 home loss to three-time defending Class B champion Cape Elizabeth was a heartbreaker, but it also showed South Portland could play with anyone.

Thornton Academy downed visiting Cheverus (11-6) and Marshwood (26-3), then won at Waynflete, 10-6. After a 14-11 loss at Scarborough, the Golden Trojans were upset at home by Deering, 9-7, but bounced back with a 14-3 win at Portland.

Entering play Tuesday, since the start of the 2002 season, South Portland held an 11-5 lead in the series, including a 4-0 all-time mark in the postseason. Each of the past two years, the Red Riots beat the Golden Trojans in the regional final (12-11 on Duncan Preston’s goal with a second left in the “Martin Memorial Miracle” in 2014 and 12-4 a year ago) and they had won five straight against Thornton Academy overall.

Tuesday, the Golden Trojans managed to beat South Portland for the first time since May 9, 2012 (5-3).

Thornton Academy got off to a hot start when sophomore Wyatt LeBlanc set up sophomore Noah Edborg for a shot which beat South Portland freshman goalie Quinn Watson just 19 seconds in.

The Red Riots answered when Adams fed Angell with 9:08 to go in the first period, but 11 first quarter turnovers prevented South Portland from generating any more offense and the Golden Trojans went ahead to stay with 4:20 left in the period, when LeBlanc finished senior Charlie Katz’s pass.

With 1:44 to go, Edborg assisted senior Ethan Wiggan for a 3-1 lead.

The Red Riots’ frustrations continued in the second period, but while the hosts couldn’t score, Thornton Academy didn’t either.

South Portland won all six first half faceoffs and had an advantage in ground balls and shots, but had nothing to show for it.

“We’d like to have the second quarter back,” said Thornton Academy coach Ryan Hersey. “We held on to the ball and didn’t run our plays. It was a ping-pong match in the middle.”

The Golden Trojans compounded matters with 7:44 to play in the third quarter when Edborg set up junior Cam Cadorette for a goal which snapped a 16 minute drought and stretched the lead to 4-1.

The Red Riots finally ended a 24:59 drought of their own with 8:09 remaining in the third, when Mehlhorn scored unassisted.

South Portland drew closer a little over a minute later when, in transition, Mehlhorn fed Adams to cut the deficit to 4-3.

With all the momentum on their side, the Red Riots had a great look to tie it, but Fiorini was robbed by Patry and they would never draw even.

Thornton Academy then got some breathing room, as it scored three times in 18 seconds.

Senior Greg Ruff set up junior John Giroux with 3:41 left in the quarter.

Ten seconds later, Cadorette scored unassisted.

Tom Fiorini called timeout, but it didn’t help, as the Golden Trojans won the ensuing faceoff and LeBlanc fed Edborg to make it 7-3.

South Portland got a goal back with 1:07 remaining in the stanza, as Jack Fiorini set up his younger brother, freshman David Fiorini, but the visitors would put it away in the fourth period.

With 7:17 to play, Ruff dodged around a defender and finished for an 8-4 lead.

With 4:51 left, Edborg’s unassisted goal gave Thornton Academy its biggest lead.

Thirty-nine seconds later, Mehlhorn set up Jack Fiorini for his lone goal, but after Patry saved a Fiorini blast to hold the fort, freshman C.J. Labreck and senior Justin Masteller both scored unassisted in the final minute to slam the door on the Golden Trojans’ 11-5 triumph.

“The last time we won here was six years ago,” said Hersey. “It’s been a long, long time. My players have never beaten them. It was a good statement. Defensively, we played really well. I’m super-happy we were able to keep Jack contained. I really think our defense executed what we asked them to do in the box. Six-on-six, I was impressed with how we matched up physically.

“I think our faceoffs were huge in the second half. That’s another thing that hasn’t been kind here the past couple years. We got the ball and executed. The slow transitions opened it up.”

Thornton Academy got three goals from Edborg, two from Cadorette and one apiece from Giroux, Labreck, LeBlanc, Masteller, Ruff and Wiggan.. Edborg and LeBlanc both had two assists, while Katz and Ruff had one each. Patry made nine saves. Junior Thomas Pike had a team-high seven ground balls.

The Golden Trojans had an 18-14 advantage in shots on cage and overcame 29 turnovers.

Faceoffs wound up 10-10.

Soul searching

South Portland got goals from Adams, Angell, David Fiorini, Jack Fiorini and Mehlhorn. Mehlhorn had two assists and Adams and Jack Fiorini each had one. Watson made seven saves. Senior defenseman Nick Mezzanotte had a team-high seven ground balls, while Jack Fiorini collected six as the Red Riots held a 43-39 advantage in that statistic and a 27-23 edge in shots.

South Portland turned the ball over 26 times.

“We didn’t properly run our zone offense,” Tom Fiorini said. “You have to move the ball quickly and have good passing and we just didn’t have it. We didn’t move off-ball. We didn’t make the easy pass. We threw the ball away.”

Anybody’s region

Thornton Academy (now third in the Class A South Heal Points standings) has a tough crossover test against visiting Greely Saturday, then goes to Biddeford, hosts Bonny Eagle and Westbrook and closes at Gorham.

“There are four or five teams that could win it in the south and two or three in the north,” Hersey said. “The team that works the hardest and executes the next four weeks will be the one that pays dividends.”

South Portland (fourth in Class A South) is at Deering Friday, hosts Portland Tuesday, then goes to Massabesic and closes at home versus Bonny Eagle.

“We have four must-have games,” Tom Fiorini said. “We’ll have to go out and work hard and get wins to make the playoffs and hopefully we’ll keep getting better and we’ll make noise. Maybe we’ll be the South Portland boys’ basketball of the spring.”

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

Thornton Academy senior Evan Russell and South Portland senior Nick Mezzanotte get up close and personal.

South Portland freshman Jacob Milton scoops up a ground ball.

South Portland senior Jack Fiorini fires a shot.

South Portland junior Jake Angell carries the ball as Thornton Academy sophomore Wyatt LeBlanc gives chase.

Thornton Academy sophomore Cameron Houde tries to keep pace with South Portland freshman Cooper Mehlhorn.

Recent South Portland-Thornton Academy results

2015
South Portland 8 @ Thornton Academy 7 (OT)
Western A Final
@ South Portland 12 Thornton Academy 4 

2014
@ South Portland 12 Thornton Academy 6
Western A Final
@ South Portland 12 Thornton Academy 11 

2013
@ South Portland 10 Thornton Academy 7 

2012
@ Thornton Academy 5 South Portland 3 

2011
@ Thornton Academy 10 South Portland 4 

2010
Thornton Academy 5 @ South Portland 4

2009
Thornton Academy 6 @ South Portland 3
Western A quarterfinals
South Portland 9 @ Thornton Academy 5

2007
Western A quarterfinals 
@ South Portland 15 Thornton Academy 9 

2006
Western A quarterfinals
@ South Portland 20 Thornton Academy 15 

2005
South Portland 13 @ Thornton Academy 9 

2004
@ South Portland 12 Thornton Academy 5 

2003
@ Thornton Academy 7 South Portland 6 (OT) 

2002
@ South Portland 8 Thornton Academy 7 

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