YARMOUTH—Despite losing several standouts to graduation and having to play a challenging schedule in the first half of the 2010 season, the two-time defending Class B state champion Yarmouth Clippers boys’ lacrosse team continues to have no peer.
The Clippers, who have already downed top rivals Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth and North Yarmouth Academy, welcomed old friend Brunswick to town Saturday afternoon for a rare crossover matchup. Yarmouth never allowed the defending Eastern A champions to get comfortable, racing to an 8-1 halftime and cruising to a decisive 13-6 triumph behind five goals from senior Evan Henry.
The Clippers demonstrated their smothering defense and offensive wizardry and improved to 5-0 on the year with their 25th successive triumph and 68th straight at home, dropping the Dragons to 3-1 in the process.
“(Brunswick’s) a great team, a great program,” said Yarmouth coach Craig Curry, who has yet to lose a home game in his seven seasons. “They know how to win games. They came down here to win and we showed up in the first half and took it to them.”
Brunswick has played in the past three state title games, winning the 2007 Class A championship and losing to Scarborough in 2008 and Portland last year. So far in 2010, the Dragons have had their way with Mt. Ararat (5-3), Cony (14-1) and Edward Little (9-4).
Yarmouth, meanwhile, passed its first four tests, winning 11-4 over visiting NYA, 17-3 at York, 7-4 at Falmouth and 8-4 over Cape Elizabeth at home Monday night, in a rematch of last year’s Class B Final.
Earlier this decade, the Clippers and Dragons met during the regular season and also squared off three times in the playoffs, with Brunswick winning, 11-5, in the 2002 regional final and Yarmouth triumphing, 13-3, in the 2004 regional final, and 17-3 in the 2005 semifinals.
Since then, the powers had not met in a countable game.
Saturday, the Clippers quickly demonstrated that aimed to end the competitive phase of the game early.
Just 1 minute, 33 seconds in, Henry made a pretty one-handed catch of a pass from senior Colby Shields, then beat Dragons senior goalie Jeremy Diaz with a shot for a quick 1-0 lead. With 4:38 to play in the opening quarter, Henry scored unassisted to make it 2-0. Thirty-four seconds later, prolific senior scorer Steven Petrovek got into the fun, taking a pass from junior Matt Murphy and finding the net. Then, with 2:27 left, Henry scored unassisted again for a 4-0 advantage.
Brunswick was shell-shocked.
“We started in kind of a sluggish slump there,” said Dragons coach Don Glover. “You definitely can’t do that with a Yarmouth team that plays aggressively from the opening whistle. I feel like we paid them too much respect. They’re a very good program, but in high school athletics, if you mentally take yourself out of it from the beginning, it’s tough to turn it around.”
The visitors finally got on the board with 51.8 seconds to go in the first, when junior Sam Franco scored unassisted.
In the opening 12 minutes, the Clippers had a 16-6 advantage in shots on goal, won four of six faceoffs and forced six Dragons turnovers.
Yarmouth kept the good times rolling in the second period and pushed the game out of reach by halftime.
First, Henry assisted on a goal by sophomore Sam Torres. With 8:57 remaining in the half, junior Mike McCormack scored an unassisted goal to make it 6-1. Murphy (from Henry) and Henry (from Shields) followed with tallies and it was 8-1 Clippers at the break.
When Murphy (from Petrovek), Shields (from Henry, playing a man-up) and Henry (unassisted) scored in the third to make it 11-1, it looked like running time was imminent, but Brunswick closed strong.
In the final minute of the quarter, senior Zach McMillan set up senior Nick Kressbach for a goal to pull the Dragons within 11-2 heading for the fourth.
There, Kressbach scored unassisted to make it 11-3. After senior David Dietz scored an unassisted goal for the hosts, senior Peter Morrell (unassisted) and McMillan (on a rebound) found the net to make it 12-5. With 3:17 remaining, Petrovek scored an unassisted goal for Yarmouth, then, with 29.2 ticks left, Kressbach scored again to account for the 13-6 final score.
“I knew (Brunswick) had a great reputation as a bit of a dynasty,” Henry said. “I knew it would be a great game. We got up early and they didn’t really come back until the end. We’ve always had motivation. Our mentality is that we want to win. This team’s a lot younger. We don’t have the senior leadership as much as we did last year. We have a lot of younger guys who are stepping up, in the midfield especially.”
Henry finished with five goals and three assists.
“When we dodged, they stayed upfield and we had an open man,” Henry said. “When they dodged down the right side, my guy stood up and I had an open shot or could pass it into the crease.”
Murphy and Petrovek both had two goals and an assist. Dietz, McCormack, Shields (two assists) and Torres all tickled the twine once.
“We understood our offense and what we wanted to achieve,” Curry said. “What I was really pleased with today is that it went beyond Steven and Evan. We’re getting balance. The other boys are finding their games. We know we won’t go far with only two kids. It was a step-out day for a few other guys.”
Senior Cam Woodworth made four saves. Sophomore Alex Kurtz came on in the fourth period and stopped two shots. The Clippers finished with a 39-22 advantage in shots (18-12 in shots on goal), a 47-44 edge in ground balls (Dietz corralled 12 of them) and won 13 of 22 faceoffs. Each team had 28 turnovers.
The Dragons got three goals from Kressbach and one each from Franco, McMillan (one assist) and Morrell. Diaz stopped five shots. Franco, Kressbach and Morrell all had six ground balls.
“The fourth quarter was better,” Glover said. “We didn’t get into a rhythm until later. We know what our strengths and weaknesses are. We made a few adjustments. We were on our heels a little bit at the opening whistle. We just played our game at the end.”
Despite the loss, Glover was happy to have had the opportunity to meet the premier program in the state.
“We’ve been trying to get a schedule with crossovers for four-plus years,” Glover said. “We used to be back and forth with Yarmouth, then the league split. This is where we want to be. No disrespect to (our conference), but all the teams need games of this caliber.
“Hats off to Craig. Yarmouth’s a great team. Great kids. They have a great lacrosse IQ. We came here kind of envious and respectful of them. We tried not to preach too much about their personnel and accomplishments and tried to focus on our game.
“Once we played Brunswick lacrosse, we felt good and got more aggressive. We preach to the boys to get better. This was a getting-better day.”
The Dragons are back in action Tuesday at Mt. Blue. Thursday, they go to Lewiston. Brunswick has another crossover game next Saturday when it hosts up-and-coming Falmouth.
The Clippers will look to stay perfect and protect their home turf Tuesday at home versus Waynflete. They go to Cheverus for another crossover game next Saturday. Rematches still loom with Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth and NYA.
“The next game’s always the hardest game to play,” Curry said. “With our schedule, there’s no real off days. We have good, competitive games.”
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org