(Ed. Note: For the complete Scarborough-Thornton Academy boys’ and Cape Elizabeth-Waynflete and South Portland-Thornton Academy girls’ game stories, see theforecaster.net)
Three local lacrosse teams found themselves two wins from a championship when the week commenced.
South Portland’s boys were hoping to repeat as the best team in Class A, while Cape Elizabeth’s boys were going for a third successive Class B crown and Scarborough’s girls were looking to return to the pinnacle for the first time since 2012.
Cape Elizabeth and South Portland’s girls and Scarborough’s boys were ousted last week.
Last spring, South Portland’s boys won a championship for the first time. This year’s team has what it takes to repeat, but two potentially enormous hurdles loomed.
The Red Riots, seeded first in Western A, had no trouble with No. 5 Gorham in Saturday’s semifinals, rolling, 16-7, behind two goals and seven assists from Andrew Whipple and three goals apiece from Kam Andrews and Jack Fiorini. South Portland hosted second-ranked Thornton Academy (11-3) in the regional final Wednesday. On May 13, the Red Riots escaped, 8-7, in overtime, in Saco on Chris Mitchell’s goal. Last year in the regional final, South Portland was down two goals with under a minute to play, but rallied for an improbable 12-11 victory when Duncan Preston scored with 1.9 seconds remaining. The Red Riots were 4-0 all-time against the Golden Trojans in the playoffs heading into the regional final.
If South Portland (12-1) advanced to Saturday’s Class A Final at Fitzpatrick Stadium at a time to be announced, it would likely face Brunswick (14-0) in a rematch of last year’s final, won by the Red Riots, 10-8. The Dragons hosted Messalonskee in the Eastern A Final.
Cape Elizabeth has won Class B each of the past two seasons and entered 2015 as the heavy favorite to three-peat, but the Capers did stumble twice, once by a goal in overtime at Brunswick and then in a stunning home loss to rival Falmouth in the regular season finale. Cape Elizabeth still earned the top seed in Western B and dominated No. 5 Kennebunk in the semifinals Saturday, 16-2, as Ben Shea scored six times. The 11-2 Capers hosted No. 2 Falmouth (10-3) in Wednesday’s regional final (see theforecaster.net for game story) for the seventh straight season. The teams split in the regular season (Cape Elizabeth won at the Yachtsmen, 19-11) and the Capers had won four of six prior playoff meetings, including an 11-8 decision a year ago.
If Cape Elizabeth made it to the Class B state game again (also Saturday at Fitzy), it will face Yarmouth (11-3) or North Yarmouth Academy (6-8). The Capers swept the Clippers this year (6-3 at home and 14-5 in Yarmouth) and handled the host Panthers, 18-2. Cape Elizabeth is 6-3 all-time against the Clippers in the playoffs, including last year’s 6-3 state championship game win. The Capers are 5-2 against NYA. The teams’ last showdown came in the 2001 state final (a 13-10 win by the Panthers).
Scarborough almost got to the regional final, but a dramatic rally fell just short in the semifinals at Thornton Academy. The Red Storm, ranked third in Western A, had no trouble versus No. 6 Biddeford in a 19-3 romp in the quarterfinals, but Saturday at the Golden Trojans, they were scoreless for over 25 minutes and fell behind, 8-1. Then, Scarborough erupted and pulled within a goal, 9-8, on a goal from Sam Neugeubauer with just over a minute to play. Thornton Academy then got the next two goals and held on, 11-8.
The Red Storm (who finished 9-5) got four goals from Cam Nigro and two apiece from Braeden Kane and Neugebauer.
“We got close,” Red Storm coach Joe Hezlep said. “We’ve talked all year about never giving up, never being out of the fight. I said at halftime, ‘When you go home and look in the mirror, feel good about yourself. Have fun and let’s finish’ and boy, did they.”
As always, the program loses some terrific seniors, but as always, look for Scarborough to be in the title hunt next spring.
“We lose great leadership, but they set a great example for the kids coming up,” Hezlep said. “We had younger kids play a lot this year, so we’ll try again.”
Scarborough’s girls entered the playoffs unheralded with an 8-4 record and the No. 4 seed, but the Red Storm, who finished the regular season strong, have saved their best for last.
In last week’s Western A quarterfinal, Scarborough handled fifth-ranked Gorham, 16-5. Saturday, the Red Storm went to top-ranked, defending state champion Massabesic and after taking a 5-4 halftime lead, erupted for a stunning 10-4 victory to improve to 10-4, earning a regional final date at No. 2 Marshwood (11-3) Wednesday. On May 19, the Hawks won, 11-6, at Scarborough, but the Red Storm haven’t lost since. Scarborough beat Marshwood in both prior playoff meetings, 13-12, in the 2007 semifinals and 13-3 in the 2012 regional final.
If the Red Storm advanced, they would meet either Messalonskee (13-1) or Portland (9-5) in Saturday’s state final in Portland. Scarborough has no playoff history with the Eagles. The Red Storm beat the host Bulldogs, 17-5, May 7 and have won two of three prior playoff encounters, with a 13-11 quarterfinal round win in 2008 the most recent.
South Portland had a terrific regular season and after earning the No. 6 seed in Western A, went to third-ranked Thornton Academy for the quarterfinals hopeful of springing an upset. The Red Riots grabbed a 3-0 lead, but the Golden Trojans erupted for eight second half goals and ended South Portland’s season at 8-5 with a 9-6 victory. Abby Letourneau had two goals to pace a balanced offense and standout goalie Lily SanGiovanni made six saves in her swan song.
“We played a good game, but I have to give it to TA,” said Red Riots’ first-year coach Leslie Dyer. “We had a nice ride. Better than what I expected. Overall, we had a good season.”
The Red Riots will have to bid adieu to some key contributors, but hope to contend again in 2016.
We lose seven, including Lily, so we’ll be rebuilding,” Dyer said. “We had eight freshmen on varsity this year and we’re gaining some other athletes. We’ll be young, but we’ll have talent. Things are looking up for the program.”
Cape Elizabeth, a surprise state finalist in 2014, was ranked fifth in Western B and had to go to No. 4 Waynflete for the quarterfinals last week. While the Capers were able to snap a 12-year, 24-game losing streak at the hands of the Flyers in the 2014 semifinals, this time around, they could only muster four goals and lost, 6-4, to finish 7-6.
“(Waynflete’s) very smart,” said Capers’ first-year coach Alex Spark. “They play so composed for 50 minutes. They play a great zone. A lot of teams have trouble with that. The shots we did get off were great shots. I just wish we could have done it more. Our girls fought hard until the very end. I’m proud of the way we played.”
While Cape Elizabeth’s season ended in disappointment, the Capers had their moments.
“We know how talented we are,” Spark said. “We showed we could compete with anybody in the state. We have 11 seniors and I knew most of them coming into the program. The underclassmen really looked up to them. They did a great job leading. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Expect the Capers to be right back in the hunt next spring.
“We have a lot to look forward to,” said Spark. “A lot of girls are coming back. I can’t wait for next year.”
Scarborough’s Braeden Kane launches a shot during the Red Storm’s 11-8 loss at Thornton Academy in Saturday’s Western Class A semifinal.
Cape Elizabeth’s Melissa Rudberg keeps her eye on the ball during the Capers’ 6-4 loss at Waynflete in last week’s Western Class B quarterfinal.