SOUTH PORTLAND—After opening the 2013 season with inspirational, dramatic wins over the two teams who played in last year’s Class B state final, the Yarmouth boys’ lacrosse squad was bound and determined to avoid a letdown Saturday afternoon at South Portland.
Indeed, there was no letdown to be found.
Only more triumph.
And further indication that the Clippers might be on their way back to the promised land.
Yarmouth never trailed against a Red Riots’ team coming off a near upset of three-time defending Class A champion Scarborough, going ahead to stay on senior Ian Edgecomb’s goal midway through the first period and never looking back.
The Clippers’ offense was a model of consistency, scoring four goals in the first, second and third periods and adding three more in the fourth and their special teams, defense and goalies also turned heads en route to a 15-4 triumph.
Yarmouth got three goals each from Edgecomb, senior Ethan Cyr, junior Brady Neujahr and sophomore Henry Oliva and improved to 3-0 on the young season, dropping the Red Riots to 3-2 in the process.
“The boys came out fired up and ready to play,” said Clippers coach David Pearl. “We’re fortunate to be starting strong this year. (The boys) showed a lot of discipline. The game got sloppy at times, but they reigned it in. It shows they’re starting to understand. We prepared for every game the same way. We came in here expecting to play a good team and we did. You can’t look past any team in lacrosse. It’s an emotional game.”
Both South Portland and Yarmouth have turned heads in the early going this spring.
Not much (outside of the city of South Portland) was expected of the Red Riots after a 4-9 season in 2012, but this team believes it’s as good as anyone and has made its presence felt. After opening with a thrilling 8-7 home win over visiting Marshwood, South Portland downed visiting Gorham (12-7). The Red Riots then rallied from a two-goal deficit to upset host Cheverus, the defending Eastern A champion, 13-10, before giving three-time reigning state champion Scarborough a mighty scare Monday before falling just short, 9-8.
After reigning as the premier team in the state for most of the period between 2003 and 2010, the Clippers were upset by Gardiner in the 2011 semifinals and dropped an agonizing one-goal decision to rival North Yarmouth Academy in last year’s regional final. This year’s team won’t be satisfied with anything short of a trip to states and already has two very impressive wins under its belt, 7-6 at NYA in the opener (when Edgecomb scored in the final minute), then 10-9, in overtime (again on an Edgecomb winner) Wednesday at home over two-time defending Class B champion Falmouth.
Yarmouth and South Portland have virtually no history, having met just once before, a 12-2 win for the Clippers at home last season.
Saturday, Yarmouth delivered another knockout performance.
Edgecomb broke the ice with 6:50 to go in the first period, taking a pass from senior Christian Henry before beating South Portland sophomore goalie T-More Hellier for a 1-0 lead.
Oliva then took center stage, finishing a pass from Neujahr at the 5 minute mark, scoring again (from sophomore Brendan Dioli) a little over a minute later and after the Red Riots got an unassisted goal from junior Duncan Preston, scoring unassisted to make it 4-1 Clippers after one period.
Yarmouth continued to pour it on in the second quarter.
Early on, senior Nick Ronan scored from Henry. Edgecomb and Neujahr then added unassisted goals and with 4:47 remaining, Neujahr (from Henry) scored again to give the Clippers a commanding 8-1 advantage at the break.
In the first half, Yarmouth had a 21-6 advantage in shots and won 24 ground balls to just nine for South Portland.
Cyr took over early in the second half, scoring unassisted on a low, skip shot 80 seconds in, then scoring unassisted again with 8:39 to go to push the lead to 10-1.
The hosts ended a 19 minute, 21 second scoring drought with 6:59 left in the third period when sophomore Andrew Whipple scored unassisted, but that only made it a 10-2 game.
Whipple set up junior Thomas Leddy two minutes later, but the Clippers pushed the lead back to nine on a man-up goal from Cyr (assisted by Oliva) and an unassisted tally from senior Quinn Hathcock to make the score 12-3 after three.
Early in the fourth period, sophomore Connor Hoehle replaced Landry in goal and turned heads with three straight saves.
The Yarmouth offense then took over again, as Neujahr (from junior Isaac Dearden) scored with 7:13 to play, sophomore Timothy Pietropaoli registered an unassisted goal three minutes later and with 2:26 left, Dearden set up Edgecomb to cap the Clippers’ scoring.
An unassisted goal from Preston with 1:59 to play brought down the curtain on Yarmouth’s 15-4 triumph.
“I’d say we avoided a letdown,” said Neujahr. “We’ve had a couple in the past few years. We made sure to come out strong and play hard. We were patient. We have a good offense. One person can’t do too much. The middies have to play together with the attackmen. Our teamwork was terrific. We’ve implemented back into our offense. We all work together to get the offense going.”
The Clippers had a balanced attack, featuring seven different goal scorers. Cyr, Edgecomb, Neujahr and Oliva all had three goals, while Hathcock, Pietropaoli and Ronan each tickled the twine once.
Henry set up three goals, Dearden had two assists and Dioli, Neujahr and Oliva each finished with one.
“We want balance to be our theme,” said Pearl. “We want to be hard to cover, share the ball and trust each other. They’re starting to anticipate and work together. It’s very gratifying.”
Landry made seven saves, while Hoehle finished with three.
Yarmouth won 13 of 22 draws, paced by a strong effort from senior William Porter, who went 10 of 17.
“It was great, I just had to win some faceoffs,” Porter said. “The rest of the team did everything else. They were on their game. It felt great to be out there. I felt confident. Ground balls are a challenge on this field. On faceoffs, you can’t see the lines, so that’s another challenge. It was just a great all-around effort.”
“Will was injured at the beginning of the season,” Pearl said. “He faced off for us last year and we’re excited to have him back. He did a great job.”
The Clippers had a 46-29 ground ball advantage, sparked by 10 from Hathcock and six each from Henry and Neujahr.
“We practice sometimes on a grass field,” said Neujahr. “It’s just different. It took awhile, maybe the first quarter. We probably missed a few ground balls, but it wasn’t that bad.”
Yarmouth (which only turned the ball over 15 times) outshot South Portland, 42-16 (28-14 on cage).
South Portland got two goals from Preston and one each from Leddy and Whipple. Whipple also had an assist.
Preston had a team-high eight ground balls.
Hellier made 13 saves.
“Preston is a very good lacrosse player and T-Moe’s a good goalie,” said Pearl. “They’ll do well. There are some good players on that team. The goals they scored were beautiful goals. We had our best guys draped all over them and they still scored.”
The Red Riots committed 14 turnovers.
“(Yarmouth’s) an excellent team,” said South Portland coach Tom Fiorini. “They outplayed us today. My kids gave everything had, but they got outplayed. Right now the best lacrosse is being played in Class B. There’s no getting around it. We were hoping for a more competitive game. The kids maybe underestimated how good (Yarmouth) was. It may have been a little letdown after Cheverus and Scarborough and we have games coming up that we know are big.”
Despite the successive losses, South Portland is still one of the teams to beat in Western A and the schedule is about to ease dramatically. The Red Riots go to Bonny Eagle Wednesday and host Windham Saturday.
“I’m actually pretty excited where we are,” said Fiorini. “The kids are playing well. They don’t let down.”
As for the Clippers, they’re idle for a week before going to Cape Elizabeth Saturday.
“We have to continue working hard all week to get ready,” Neujahr said.
“We just want to keep it rolling the whole year,” Porter said.
“What will keep us focused is that we play Cape Elizabeth, one of our toughest opponents every year,” Pearl added. “They’re our oldest rivalry and it’s at their place. Hannaford Field has not been kind to us. They’ve been the gold standard for many years. Ben Raymond coaches a great team. We’ll start right back with basics for this week. We have a strong plan on what we need to work on. Everybody wants to beat Cape and Yarmouth and NYA and Falmouth. We’re in a very strong division.”
Yarmouth junior Kyle Thomas launches a shot.
Yarmouth senior Ethan Cyr is closely defended by South Portland junior Duncan Preston.
Yarmouth senior Quinn Hathcock scores a third period goal.
South Portland sophomore goalie T-Moe Hellier grabs a loose ball.
Yarmouth senior Ethan Cyr (14) and junior Brady Neujahr celebrate a goal during the Clippers’ 15-4 win at South Portland Saturday.
More photos below.
Y- 4 4 4 3- 15
SP- 1 0 2 1- 4
6:50 Y Edgecomb (Henry)
5:00 Y H. Oliva (Neujahr)
3:44 Y H. Oliva (Dioli)
2:20 SP Preston (unassisted)
1:20 Y H. Oliva (unassisted)
10:32 Y Ronan (Henry)
8:11 Y Edgecomb (unassisted)
6:20 Y Neujahr (unassisted)
4:47 Y Neujahr (Henry)
10:40 Y Cyr (unassisted)
8:39 Y Cyr (unassisted)
6:59 SP Whipple (unassisted)
4:53 SP Leddy (Whipple)
3:49 Y Cyr (H. Oliva) (MAN-UP)
2:31 Y Hathcock (unassisted)
7:13 Y Neujahr (Dearden)
4:07 Y Pietropaoli (unassisted)
2:26 Y Edgecomb (Dearden)
1:59 SP Preston (unassisted)
Y- Cyr, Edgecomb, Neujahr, H. Oliva 3, Hathcock, Pietropaoli, Ronan 1
SP- Preston 2, Leddy, Whipple 1
Y- Henry 3, Dearden 2, Dioli, Neujahr, H. Oliva 1
SP- Whipple 1
Faceoffs (Yarmouth, 13-9)
Y- Porter 10 of 17, Conrad 3 of 3, Cyr 0 of 2
SP- Preston 8 of 14, Susi 2 of 8
Ground balls (Yarmouth, 46-29)
Y- Hathcock 10, Henry, Neujahr 6, Lord 5, Edgecomb, LaMourie 3, Conrad, Dioli, Porter 2, Campbell, Cyr, Dearden, Grout, Landry, H. Oliva, Ronan 1
SP- Preston 8, Hellier 6, Leddy, Mitchell 3, Lloyd-Rees, Neal 2, Allen, Babbdige, Gervais, Susi, Whipple 1
Shots on goal:
Shots on cage
Y- (Landry) 7 (Hoehle) 3
SP- (Hellier) 13