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The prospect of another all-Forecaster Country Class B boys’ lacrosse state championship game was still in play at the start of the week.
For the seventh time since 2003, North Yarmouth Academy and Yarmouth squared off in a regional final Wednesday.
The Clippers earned the No. 3 seed in Eastern B and had no trouble with either visiting No. 6 Oak Hill (18-4) in the quarterfinals or second-ranked Gardiner (10-0) in the semis.
Against Oak Hill, Yarmouth left little doubt and rolled to the win behind four goals apiece from Bart Gallagher and Christian Henry. Max Watson added three tallies.
At the Tigers, the Clippers easily avenged last year’s stunning upset loss, going up 5-0 at halftime before putting it away in the second half. Anders Overhaug scored twice in the first half. Watson ended up with three goals. Alex Kurtz made five saves to preserve Yarmouth’s first playoff shutout since the 2008 semifinals (16-0 over Lincoln Academy).
“Gardiner was a well-coached and physical team,” said Clippers first-year coach David Pearl. “They played hard and you could see why they had such a successful season. Give our boys credit for coming out strong and playing one of their best games of the season. They finally put four good quarters of play together. We were most proud of our defense, which played their best game of the season. Drew (Grout), Tommy (Lord) and Henry (Oliva) were able to push out aggressively and put the ball on the ground. The biggest difference in this game was our defense.”
The Panthers earned the fourth seed in the region and defeated No. 5 Maranacook/Winthrop 16-5 and upset top-ranked St. Dom’s, 7-6.
Against the Saints, Jacob Scammon put the Panthers on top 1-0 early on a rocket from 20 yards, but St. Dom’s came back to lead 2-1 at the end of the first quarter. NYA’s lethal combination of Forrest Milburn and Oliver Silverson went to work in the second. Milburn ripped a pair of unassisted tallies five minutes apart to put NYA back on top and Silverson tacked on another in the final minute of the half for the first two-goal lead for either side. T.J. Daigler got into the action early in the third, converting a feed from Milburn for a three-goal advantage. Daigler’s second goal gave the Panthers a 6-3 lead heading for the fourth. There, the Saints managed to rally and tie the game, setting the stage for Matt Hawkins to be the hero.
With 4:12 to play, Hawkins struck, putting NYA up, 7-6, and that proved to be the difference.
“I could tell, the kid that had been playing me the first three quarters, he was watching the ball when it went behind the net,” Hawkins said. “When I saw the ball move back, I realized I had my chance to cut. I knew the ball was coming to me, I knew the goalie was a lefty, so I knew I had to go off-stick, which is usually near side for me, but it was opposite this time. I just put it where I thought it would go in.”
“We’ve been waiting for Matt to shoot hard from the outside,” NYA coach Peter Gerrity said. “(St. Dom’s) is so much better than last year. That was a hell of a game. That was fun.”
Dating to 1998, when the Maine Principals’ Association began sanctioning boys’ lacrosse, NYA and Yarmouth have met 12 times in June with the Clippers holding an 8-4 lead. The most recent meeting was a 17-7 Yarmouth triumph in the 2010 semifinals.
The Clippers expected a battle Wednesday.
“For NYA, we are going to have to do better on faceoffs,” said Pearl. “It starts with the faceoffs and this has been a struggle all season. We have been working hard on faceoffs in practice and have really improved. We have lost a number of key players because of injuries and so there are a couple of guys who will need to step up in this game. We were obviously very disappointed in our loss to NYA earlier in the season. It was probably the low point in our season because we felt like we did not play our best game. We committed a lot of unforced errors and did not capitalize on their 11 minutes of penalties. They’re a well-coached team and this is an intense rivalry. The players all know each other and stakes are high. This is shaping up to be another classic showdown and nothing is more exciting.”
The winner will draw either Cape Elizabeth (12-1) or defending champion Falmouth (12-1) in the Class B Final Saturday at 12:30 p.m., at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.
The Panthers and Clippers both lost twice in the regular season to both the Capers and Yachtsmen.
Speaking of Falmouth, it was closing in another title at press time, but an enormous obstacle stood in the way.
The Yachtsmen, the top seed in Western B, had little trouble with No. 4 York in Saturday’s semifinal, cruising, 13-1, behind four goals from Mitch Tapley, three from Charlie Fay and a pair from Cooleen.
“York played really, really well,” said Falmouth coach Mike LeBel. “Like everyone we play, they came out emotionally charged up and played us well for a quarter-and-a-half. We were impatient at the beginning and didn’t get the looks we wanted. We got more patient, passed the ball around the perimeter, got better shots and wore them down. (Senior goalie) Cam (Bell) came up big in the first half to help keep us in it.”
The Yachtsmen hosted No. 2 Cape Elizabeth in the Western B Final Wednesday evening (see theforecaster.net for game story and photos). The rivals split in the regular season, each winning at home (the Capers, 8-6, and the Yachtsmen, 14-12).
The teams have met each of the past three years in the regional final with Cape Elizabeth taking the 2009 and 2010 meetings before Falmouth finally got over the hump a season ago.
The regional final promised to be a classic.
“We’re up for the challenge,” LeBel said. “After scrimmaging John Fay’s men’s team (Monday) we’re 100 times better off. I’m cautiously optimistic because I know what Cape is capable of. I have the utmost respect for (coach) Ben (Raymond) and for their kids. It’s going to be fun. No matter who wins, they’ll deserve it and I think they’ll go on to win the state championship.”
Greely’s year came to an end at 8-5 after Saturday’s 12-1 loss at Cape Elizabeth. The third-ranked Rangers got a goal from Brendan Trelegan in defeat and played well for first-year coach Mike Storey.
“The season presented itself with several challenges and growing pains,” Storey said. “We fell short in games to four very respectable teams and got wins over good opponents. More importantly, the guys adapted well to a new system and stayed focused on improving with each lesson learned. The senior class did a great job leading this team through the season and into the playoffs. Playing Cape at Cape was one of the more difficult situations for any team to face come playoff time.”
Sun Journal staff writer Justin Pelletier contributed to this story.