YARMOUTH — South Portland passed another milestone in what some day will likely be remembered as an inspiring era of the school’s boys’ lacrosse program.
The Red Riots scored 10 straight goals to overcome a 3-0 deficit Friday night and post a 10-7 win over Yarmouth.
Thomas Leddy scored five goals, Jack Fiorini had three goals and an assist, and Duncan Preston scored twice as the Red Riots (7-0) earned their first-ever win over the tradition-rich Clippers (6-2). South Portland is ranked No. 1 in the Western Class A Heal point standings; Yarmouth is No. 1 in Eastern Class B.
“It’s a big night for us,” South Portland Coach Tom Fiorini said. “This is a big feather in this program’s hat. We knew this was a test to get ready for that run into the playoffs. I can’t get any prouder of them.”
Yarmouth built an early lead as Max Watson (two goals, one assist), Brady Neujahr (three goals, one assist) and Brendan Dioli capped clever dodging to score in a span of 2 minutes, 26 seconds.
That prompted a South Portland timeout with 7:18 left in the first quarter.
“On offense, we noticed they were riding our guys up and taking the one-on-one shots, and on defense we saw that they weren’t sliding, really,” Fiorini said. “So we made two quick adjustments.”
The Red Riots controlled the ball for much of the next 26 minutes, putting pressure on Yarmouth keeper Connor Hoehle (17 saves) and holding the Clippers scoreless until Neujahr beat T-Moe Hellier (10 saves) with 2:26 left in the third quarter to make it 10-4.
Equally impressive was the Riots’ play in their own half of the field, led by Josh Allen, Trent Lloyd-Reese and Nick Mezzanotte down low and midfielders Preston and Jordan Susi.
Yarmouth showed plenty of fight in the fourth quarter, getting goals from Joseph Oliva, Neujahr and Watson to cut the deficit to 10-7.
“If we played like we did in the first and fourth quarters, the outcome could have been different,” Yarmouth Coach David Pearl said. “We had a difficult time adjusting to how well they cut off-ball.
“The measure of this team is how they respond, and I know they will.”
Leddy pointed to the Riots’ conditioning as a key to their success.
“When we’re not tired and we know the other team is, we have that mental toughness that we developed from those workouts,” he said. “It’s great to prove that we can come out and play with the best of them.”
Allen cited the Riots’ true inspiration.
“We’re really trying to (play this season) for T-Moe’s dad, who passed away last year,” Allen said in reference to Ted Hellier, who helped introduce the game to many of the Riots. He died of cancer shortly after last season. “That’s what motivates us to try so hard.”
It shows in their play.
“You can see it’s a family,” Pearl said. “We feel it’s that same way here, and that’s what sustained our program over the years. They have that quintessential sense of team that we all as coaches seek.”