PORTLAND – In lacrosse, sometimes the best defense is a good offense.
Scarborough followed that to the letter Saturday night to take the Class A boys’ lacrosse state championship away from previously unbeaten Portland.
Nick Neugebauer scored three goals to lead the Red Storm to an 8-6 victory at Fitzpatrick Stadium.
“I thought we actually played pretty well,” Portland Coach Eric Begonia said. “The difference was I thought their offense played a little bit better, possessing the ball for longer periods.”
The tactical move enabled the Red Storm to limit the Bulldogs to their lowest score of the season, nearly 10 goals below their average.
“We felt if we played 50 percent offense, 50 percent defense, Portland would win by 10,” Scarborough Coach Joe Hezlep said. “Our game plan was to keep the ball away from Portland and just have the ball.”
The game was played two days after Garrett Cormier, who played for Portland last season, died in an automobile accident.
“We have a lot of high-character, leadership guys,” Begonia said. “I told them we took a big life punch in the face, and if there was anybody who was equipped to handle this kind of adversity on a day like this and would have to perform, it seemed they were prepared to do that. I thought they played very respectable under the circumstances.”
Scarborough’s approach worked to perfection in the first half.
“(Neugebauer) was a defensive middie all his life,” Hezlep said. “He had nine goals coming into the game, but he’s a senior captain and he stepped up when it counts.”
The Bulldogs, who were limited to three shots on goal in the second quarter, ended a drought of more than 19 minutes when Jason Knight scored with 7.3 seconds left in the first half.
Caleb Kenney, who had 10 goals when Portland ended the regular season with a 16-12 victory against Scarborough, scored three goals over a six-minute span of the third quarter to make it 5-5.
“In the second half, we came out and got into some penalty trouble and they came back,” said Hezlep. “They’re an outstanding offensive team, and you saw how quickly they came back.”
The Red Storm (11-4) regained the lead when John Blaisdell put in a shot from the right side with 1:05 left in the third quarter.
Scarborough took a 7-5 lead when Neugebauer scored on another shot from the perimeter.
“I just waited for the opportunity, and I shot when it was there,” he said.
The Bulldogs (14-1) closed within a goal when Bronson Guimond scored from Knight with less than five minutes left.
A minute later, Tennessee Peters scored his second goal of game to clinch it.
“Midway through the season we had no clue we even were going to be here,” Neugebauer said. “We came together as a team the last few weeks, and the last game here really pushed us. We wanted this one.”
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: