Yarmouth junior Steven Petrovek beat Cape Elizabeth sophomore goalie Jack Roos in first half action Monday night as the Clippers went on to an 8-6 season-opening win over the Capers in a rematch of last year’s state game. (Jason Veilleux photo)
Yarmouth junior Brodie Woodson kept a close eye on Cape Elizabeth’s senior All-American Mike Holden Monday night. Woodson and the Clippers defense held Holden and the Capers in check most of the way. (Jason Veilleux photo)
YARMOUTH— Whenever the Yarmouth and Cape Elizabeth boys’ lacrosse teams square off, it feels like the postseason.
Monday night, however, on the Clippers home turf, the perennial powerhouses reminded everyone that it was their first game of the year, as turnovers and penalties were prevalent.
But down the stretch, both squads showed glimpses of why they expect to be playing for all the marbles in June and ultimately Yarmouth took advantage of more man-up situations and got a stellar game from junior Cam Woodworth in his debut in goal as it held on for an 8-6 victory.
“I told the boys sometimes you win pretty and sometimes you win ugly,” said Yarmouth coach Craig Curry. “Tonight we won ugly. Both teams were tentative. When we’re out there against them, and I’m sure they feel the same way, we know it’s going to be a great game. It’s going to be one of those moments that begins to define your season. Both of us really wanted to win this one.”
While Cape Elizabeth is the most storied boys’ program in the state, the Capers have been eclipsed by Yarmouth since 2004. The Clippers have won three state titles to Cape Elizabeth’s one in that span, including last season when Yarmouth downed the Capers 9-4 in the final.
Both programs lost talent to graduation, but as always, simply reloaded and in a quirk of the schedule, met in their lone regular season showdown on Opening Night.
Turnovers were the rule and not the exception, especially in the first period, when the Clippers gave it up 11 times to Cape Elizabeth’s eight.
The game was scoreless until the 8:36 mark of the quarter when senior Rob Highland, in what would become a trend, scored (from junior Evan Henry) out front on the man-advantage.
Yarmouth doubled its lead with 3:04 to play in the first when junior Mike Johnson fed classmate Steven Petrovek for a goal. Right after the Clippers killed off a penalty, Johnson transitioned and found Petrovek in stride, who beat Capers’ sophomore goalie Jack Roos with his shot.
With time winding down in the first, Cape Elizabeth finally solved Woodworth, who had five saves in the quarter. Junior Tommy Foden did the honors, demonstrating his speed and elusiveness en route to an unassisted goal which made it 2-1.
While Yarmouth’s offense went cold in the second, the visitors took advantage. With 6:45 to play in the first half, senior Alex Pillsbury scored unassisted to tie the score. Then, a minute and three seconds later, Foden fed senior Jon O’Hearn to put the Capers ahead for the first and only time, 3-2.
Finally, with 1:29 to play in the half, the Clippers snapped a 13 minute, 35 second drought when (on the man-advantage) senior Jake Gallagher set up Johnson for a goal which sent the game to halftime tied at 3-3.
The teams combined for 30 turnovers in the first 24 minutes of play.
The hosts appeared to seize control in the third period, but couldn’t deliver the knockout blow.
Just 41 seconds into the half, junior Evan Henry set up Highland for a man-up goal. With 7:23 to go in the third, Highland scored again, this time from Gallagher. Then, just 35 seconds later, Petrovek stole the ball and raced in for an easy goal into an empty net and Yarmouth was up 6-3.
With 5:10 to play in the quarter, the Capers got their first shot of the second half. Then, with 4:33 left, senior Ben Lydon struck on the two-man advantage, taking a pass from senior Mike Holden to cut the deficit to two, 6-4. The Clippers quickly responded, however, making it 7-4 when Petrovek took a gorgeous pass from senior Peter Erickson (who threaded two defenders) and beat Roos to make it 7-4 after three.
After threatening on several occasions, Cape Elizabeth made things interesting midway through the fourth.
With 6:05 left in regulation, Foden set up Holden for a man-up goal. Just 22 seconds later, after winning a ground ball off the faceoff, junior Ben Brewster found a wide open senior Cam Smith alone behind the Yarmouth defense and Smith beat Woodworth to make it 7-6.
The Clippers managed to run some time off the clock, but the visitors would get a golden opportunity to draw even when Foden broke in on Woodworth, but Foden’s shot was off.
“I wasn’t really thinking at that point to be honest, I was just trying to stop the ball,” Woodworth said. “Luckily, things worked out.”
At the other end, as a Yarmouth penalty expired, Highland gave his team some breathing room with an unassisted goal and it was 8-6 with 3:05 to play.
“We had trouble possessing the ball for a long period of time in the first half,” Highland said. “We worked it around more in the second half and got better looks.”
This time, the Capers couldn’t respond and the Clippers held on for the victory.
“It’s a great way to start,” Highland said. “It was pretty intense. We had a hard time working the ball around, getting the offense ready, but we stuck together as a team and it paid off in the end. We definitely have what it takes.”
“Special teams played a big part both ends,” added Curry. “We were man-down for over eight minutes. They had more penalties, but unfortunately, ours were longer. We held on to the ball and moved it a little quicker.”
Highland led all scorers with four goals. Petrovek added three and Johnson had one for the Clippers.
Gallagher and Henry both had two assists, while Erickson and Johnson each had one.
For the Capers, six different players scored. Foden had a pair of assists. Brewster and Holden each had one.
When the dust settled, Cape Elizabeth had a narrow edge in shots (26-25).
“We did have some very good chances on offense,” said Capers coach Ben Raymond. “That’s something we’ll continue to work on and develop as we go. We need to develop some more off-the-ball movement and continue to work on shooting. We need a little better placement.
“Their goalie played really well at the beginning and made some saves at the end. We played great 6-versus-6 defense. Man-up, they did a great job. There are some things we can change easily.
“It was a great way to start. We’re fairly evenly matched as usual. It was a good game. The kids worked hard. They’re starting to figure things out.”
Roos made six saves. Woodworth stopped 12 shots.
“We had a solid defense,” Woodworth said. “Solid teamwork all around. Slides came when they needed to. Just good all-around defense.”
“Cam had a great debut,” Curry added. “We knew what we had last year. We’re confident coming into this year. This will help his confidence. It’s a big win his first time out.”
Yarmouth had a 9-6 advantage in draws as senior Steven Derrey (who also had a team-high seven ground balls) sparkled.
Cape Elizabeth had an overall 55-46 edge in ground balls. Senior Sether Hanson led the way with 10.
The Clippers wound up with 33 turnovers to the Capers 30. Expect both teams to reduce those numbers dramatically going forward.
Yarmouth is back in action Thursday at Greely.
“We have Greely next on grass,” Curry said. “We’ll see how we can play on grass.”
Cape Elizabeth will seek its first win Friday when it hosts Gorham. Saturday, the Capers are at Freeport.
The only way the rivals will see each other again is if they square off in the Class B Final June 20.
“This is my introduction to the Yarmouth-Cape rivalry,” Woodworth said. “We’d like to see them at states.”
“We hope to see them again,” Raymond said. “That will mean it’s the state final.”
Streak stays alive
The Clippers have now won a mindboggling 57 consecutive home games and have a 60-game unbeaten streak on their turf. Yarmouth’s last home loss was May 14, 2002 (a 16-6 setback to the Capers). The
Clippers tied Kennebunk 9-9 on May 20, 2002.
“We like it here,” Curry said. “It’s a nice advantage. I thought we might lose that advantage with all the other teams getting turf. We lost to Pinkerton (N.H.) in the preseason. All the boys in college knew it.”
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com