SCARBOROUGH – For Scarborough boys lacrosse Head Coach Joe Hezlep, the lone question that emerged after the Red Storm defeated Thornton Academy 8-3 in the Western Maine Class A final last week regarded their physicality. Hezlep knew that state title foe Lewiston was a bigger, faster threat than the Red Storm had encountered in the West all season, and that the Blue Devils were a physical powerhouse that played the same style of hard-nosed lacrosse as Scarborough. Thus, the only missing piece of the puzzle was: how well would the Red Storm respond to that kind of an opponent?

Pretty darned well, as it turned out.

In a state title game in which they never trailed on Saturday, Scarborough jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, survived a Lewiston comeback that saw the Blue Devils rally to tie things up at 4-4 late in the third, then pulled away on two additional goals while playing shutout lacrosse on the defensive end for just under 15 minutes of game time. The 6-4 victory carried the Red Storm to their second consecutive state title, and fourth overall in the past five years.

“I really do feel (like we matched up well with them physically),” Hezlep said. “There were some questions after we watched film, and sometimes it’s hard to judge speed. When the game started and we obviously saw how fast they were right away. But our kids reacted and they went out and made plays.”

In fact for the first 17 minutes, the Red Storm were the only team that made the plays that counted the most. Scarborough jumped out to an early 1-0 lead just 51 seconds into the game as senior midfielder Peter Moore sliced in from the left side and swatted in a quick goal. Nine minutes later, Moore struck again, this time as he faked a pass while cutting up the middle and ripped an overhand shot past Lewiston goalie Jesse Leeman, who – unbeknownst to anyone but his teammates and coach – was playing with a broken hand.

“My goalie broke his hand in warm-ups and has played three games with a broken hand,” said Lewiston Head Coach Bill Dowell. “He just showed me more guts than I have ever seen in a kid.”

Scarborough took a 3-0 lead 4:30 into the second when junior Jonathan Blaisdell slapped in a rebound that dropped to the field turf just in front of the Blue Devils’ cage.

“We just played our game,” Moore said. “We came out fired up in the first half. We played fast; played our game. We couldn’t get our attack to get going that well in the first half, but they came to life in the second half.”

“(Moore’s goals) definitely set the tone,” added Scarborough senior defender Will Lynch. “When we scored those goals, I was trying to tell the other guys that we had to stay hungry. Three-nothing just isn’t enough in lacrosse, especially not in the state championship game. You’ve got the best team in the East and they can score three goals really quickly. We knew we had to stay on top of it the whole time.”

As Lynch predicted, the Blue Devils wouldn’t go away without a fight. Lewiston scored twice in the closing minutes of the half, both times as senior Curtis Robinson swung around the right side of the Scarborough cage and dropped in a shot. After the break, the Red Storm opened the scoring with a goal by Nate Hopkins with 8:29 to go in the third, but had to endure another Devils’ surge as Lewiston added a pair by Sam Cloutier and Ryan Lemelin. The latter of the two came with just 2:24 to go, as Lemelin pulled in a pass from Robinson over the net and went high with the ball to tie it at 4-4.

The Storm didn’t panic, though, and won the next draw, heading back down to the Lewiston end. With 49 seconds left in the third, sophomore sensation John Wheeler cut left and then right against a defender just in front of the net, causing the Blue Devils’ player to fall down. Wheeler did not miss his chance, and went low on his shot for a game-changing 5-4 lead.

“I just tried to fake to the left and that didn’t happen, so I went to the right, and then came back around and I felt him going around my back side,” Wheeler said. “So I just slipped under him and put it past the goalie.”

Scarborough added one more just 1:46 into the fourth as Ryan Pallotta charged in from the sidelines and dumped in a goal to make it 6-4. The Red Storm then played commanding defense and ball control for the remainder, utterly frustrating the Blue Devils’ rare forays into Scarborough territory.

When it was all over, Moore helped his teammates hoist the trophy.

“That’s the best defense that we’ve played all year, there’s no doubt,” he said. “(Lewiston) can play with anybody in the state. But our defense played phenomenal. Our goalie, Davie Pearson, had an unbelievable second half. He led us in the second half. Without him, we wouldn’t be here right now. It was a great game.”

Saturday’s Class A state championship game against Lewiston was
a physical contest, and the action was rough and wild right from
the start. Here, Scarborough junior defender Garret Hazelwood (16)
shoves Lewiston senior midfielder Sam Cloutier (10) as the two
struggle over a ground ball.(Staff photo by Emory Rounds)

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