CAPE ELIZABETH—It didn’t take the Cape Elizabeth boys’ lacrosse team long to round into the form expected of it prior to the season.

After a surprising loss at North Yarmouth Academy, in which the Capers uncharacteristically failed to score for a huge swath of time, while letting up several easy goals, the resurgence began Monday with a palpitating come-from-behind overtime win at Falmouth. Next came a home win over Waynflete and Saturday evening at Hannaford Field, Cape Elizabeth knocked Yarmouth from the ranks of the unbeaten.

Reasserting its claim as the team to beat in the process.

The Capers dominated the first half, shot to a 4-0 lead and forced the Clippers into 16 turnovers as they enjoyed a 6-2 advantage at the break.

While Cape Elizabeth’s offense slowed in the second half, its defense remained staunch and the Capers went on to a 7-5 victory, their third in a row and third in six days.

Cape Elizabeth got two goals apiece from seniors Jake Lynch and Cam Wilson and stymied the Clippers’ attack throughout as it improved to 4-1, handing Yarmouth its first defeat in four outings this spring and its seventh in a row in this series.

“It’s a big win,” Lynch said. “It was a big week for us. Three huge wins. The NYA game really took us off guard, but beating Falmouth, who dashed our playoff chances, on their turf for the first time, was incredible. We had momentum coming in. We wanted to protect ou turf.”

Taste of mid-June

Cape Elizabeth and Yarmouth have met several times in the state final over the years, most recently in 2010. There’s a chance that could happen again next month, but neither team will have an easy time getting out of its region.

Both have impressed to date, most notably the Clippers, who opened with a 7-6 victory at North Yarmouth Academy, then edged two-time defending Class B champion Falmouth in an overtime thriller, 10-9, Last Saturday, Yarmouth went to South Portland and romped, 15-4, then spent a week preparing for this showdown.

The Capers opened the 2013 campaign with a 19-0 blanking of visiting Lake Region, but couldn’t hold a 5-1 lead at North Yarmouth Academy and were upset, 9-6, scoring just one goal in the game’s final 34 minutes. Cape Elizabeth bounced back nicely Monday, however, with its 11-10 OT win at Falmouth, on sophomore Griffin Thoreck’s game-winner.

“It was definitely a big win for us,” said Capers coach Ben Raymond. “Even though it’s pretty early, it’s great we fought back. Even if we didn’t win and we lost in overtime, it would have been OK. It gave the team confidence.”

Wednesday brought a less dramatic 16-9 home triumph over Waynflete.

The Cape Elizabeth-Yarmouth rivalry has been as good as any this century.

Entering Saturday’s game, since the start of the 2002 season, each team had defeated the other 13 times (see below), including three wins apiece in state finals featuring the tandem.

The Capers entered Saturday’s game having beaten the Clippers six straight times (including twice a year ago, 12-8, on the road and 10-5 at home). Yarmouth hadn’t won at Cape Elizabeth since the 2008 season, which was the first year of Hannaford Field. Since then, the Clippers’ visits have resulted in nightmare losses.

Saturday produced another.

Neither team scored for over five minutes to start the game. The Capers because they couldn’t solve Yarmouth senior goalie Sam Landry and the Clippers because they couldn’t hold on to the ball.

Finally, with 6:55 to play in the first quarter, Cape Elizabeth went on top to stay when Wilson scored unassisted.

Three minutes later, Lynch got in the scoring column, finishing a feed from Wilson in transition.

With 2:09 left in the first, senior Justin Cary scored unassisted and the Capers were in command after one quarter, 3-0.

“I think we were on our heels,” said Yarmouth coach David Pearl. “We spotted them four goals. You could see how aggressive Cape Elizabeth is. We practiced for it, but nothing simulates their pressure. They took it to us.”

When Cary set up Wilson for a goal after a turnover 3 minutes, 4 seconds into the second period, Cape Elizabeth was on the verge of breaking it open, up, 4-0, but Yarmouth’s offense finally awakened with 7:39 to play before halftime when, after a nice individual effort, Clippers emerging star sophomore Joe Oliva beat Capers junior goalie Gabe McGinn to snap a 16:21 scoring drought.

Cape Elizabeth got the goal right back, as 24 seconds later, after senior Adam Haversat corralled a contested a ground ball, he fed Lynch for a goal and a 5-1 lead.

Playing man-up, the Clippers pulled back within three as junior Isaak Dearden found senior Nick Ronan for a goal, but Yarmouth couldn’t draw closer and with 2:56 to play in the half, Thoreck scored unassisted to make it 6-2, an advantage that remained into the break (although Cary hit the post late).

The Clippers managed just five first half shots and had turned the ball over 16 times.

Eight saves from Landry kept his team alive.

The second half began like the first, with a long stretch of scoreless play.

Finally, with 5:16 to play in the third quarter, Yarmouth junior Brady Neujahr took a pass from sophomore Brendan Dioli and beat McGinn to pull the Clippers back within three, 6-3.

Again, the Capers responded, courtesy an unlikely source.

After a turnover, senior Brandon Negele came up with a ground ball, raced into Yarmouth territory and when no defender picked him up, Negele went one-one-one with Landry and beat him for a rare goal.

“I got the chance and saw the guys not sliding, so I thought, ‘Why not take the shot?'” Negele said. “I beat him low. It felt good.”

“Brandon’s goal was great,” Raymond said. “He tells me every single day that ‘Boomtown!’ is his play. He runs down, throws it as hard as he can and yells, “Boomtown!’ I didn’t hear him yell, ‘Boomtown!” today.”

Cape Elizabeth wouldn’t score again, but its defense protected the lead.

In the fourth period, the Clippers scored twice and both were somewhat fluky goals.

First, with 8:55 to play, playing man-down, Landry heaved the ball all the way down the field. McGinn snared it, but was hit and lost the ball, which landed right at the feet of Oliva in front of the goal. Oliva easily scored to make it a 7-4 game.

Then, with 5:02 to go, Oliva was the beneficiary of another lucky bounce as he collected a deflected pass before scoring to make it a two-goal contest, 7-5.

“We got lucky bounces, but we worked for those,” Pearl said.

Yarmouth had a chance to really make things interesting when it played man-up for 30 seconds, but the Clippers couldn’t release a shot.

With 1:55 to go, Ronan shot just wide and a Cape Elizabeth player was closest to the ball when it went out of bounds, giving the hosts possession.

They ran more than a minute off the clock before sophomore Noah Haversat attempted a shot which Landry saved.

“Our man-up group was in on offense the last two minutes of the Waynflete game to work on keeping the ball in the box, which I think kind of paid off tonight,” Raymond said. “We kept it in for a minute, then we took a shot a little earlier than I would have liked.”

Yarmouth could do nothing with the waning seconds and the Capers soon celebrated their 7-5 win.

“We weren’t going to let Yarmouth go undefeated this year,” Negele said. “We run a pretty unique defense that you can’t pick apart. Our D-middies and long poles are outstanding. It’s a tight group this year. Losing to NYA after beating them so many years in a row really drove us. We’ve been digging in practice. We know what we want this year. Monday was a big game for the seniors. We’ve been knocked off on that field years in a row in the Western B Final. Those two games really set the tone for us.”

“We pressured them a lot,” said Lynch. “We didn’t let them move the ball. We went at them hard and didn’t let them get shots off they wanted.”

“It’s been a great week,” Raymond added. “It’s great to play three times where the kids got up and knew they’d play big games. They enjoyed it.”

Balance was the theme for the Cape Elizabeth offense, as Lynch and Wilson both scored twice and Cary, Negele and Thoreck each had one goal. Cary, Adam Haversat and Wilson all had an assist.

“We got possession, moved the ball around and got the open look,” Lynch said. “We had success dodging from the side and found the open man. I think balance is a secret to our success. Our offense works well together. We know how to find each other. (Senior attack Alex) Bornick and Cary have success dodging from behind and Griffin gets it done up top. In my case, when Justin dodges, it leaves me for the goal.”

“Where we had a mismatch tonight was mostly with Cam,” Raymond said. “The kids are improving in identifying the mismatch and going where it is. They don’t worry about who dodges all the time, but what the result it. We don’t always dodge to score. We want the defense to move. Jake played really well. All three senior attackmen played well. Having a bunch of seniors out there pays off. They value their time on the field a little more because they’re starting to realize that the end’s in sight. Justin, Alex and Jake help us value possessions.”

McGinn made three saves. The Capers turned the ball over 24 times, but had a 42-16 shots advantage (23-8 on frame)

Haversat also had a game-high 11 ground balls and came up huge time and again as he continues to play the role of captain superbly.

“(Adam) did a nice job with faceoffs,” said Raymond. “He’s one of our top takeaway guys. A lot of ground balls come from him putting the ball on the ground. Plus, he intercepted about four passes. He has one of the best sticks on the team. He runs incredibly well. He’s a big part of what we do on defense and what we do on our clears.”

Yarmouth was led by Oliva, who was the game’s high scorer with three goals. Neujahr and Ronan also tickled the twine. Dearden and Dioli had assists. Senior Ethan Cyr won all seven of his faceoffs, helping the Clippers to a 9-6 advantage for the game. Junior Thomas Lord had a team-high seven ground balls, while Oliva collected six. Senior Drew Grout had a stellar defensive effort, holding the prolific Bornick to zero goals or assists.

“Drew Grout basically handled Bornick,” Pearl said. “He was a non-factor.”

Landry dazzled with 16 saves.

“I think Sam’s the best goalie in the state,” said Pearl. “He not only made saves, but he settled down with the clear. I’m very proud of the game he played.”

Yarmouth was ultimately doomed by its 31 turnovers (nearly twice the number of shots the Clippers managed in the game).

“I’m proud of the way we finally responded, but it was just too little, too late,” Pearl said. I think it was a combination of having the week off and them coming out aggressively. Cape’s defense is very good and very aggressive. Our guys didn’t respond. We turned the ball over unforced. We threw the ball away. We did a lot of things we normally don’t do. We talked about getting back to fundamentals. If you can’t pass, catch and win a ground ball, it’s hard to do the things required to win.”

More tests to come

Yarmouth (currently third in the Eastern Class B Heal Points standings behind Gardiner and NYA) won’t have long to lick its wounds, but the schedule eases dramatically in coming days. The Clippers go to Freeport Tuesday, host Lake Region Thursday and visit Portland Saturday. After hosting Fryeburg, Yarmouth then runs the gauntlet again, closing with home games versus NYA and three-time defending Class A champion Scarborough, going to Falmouth, then finishing up at home versus Cape Elizabeth May 30.

“We need to get better every day,” Pearl said. “You can see we have a lot of potential. We’re leaving here knowing we have things we need to work on and I know we’ll work hard. We know we have work to do. (The top teams are) all so close. The matchups are great.”

The Capers are at Greely and Cheverus next week. Home games versus Falmouth, Kennebunk and NYA and trips to Fryeburg and Yarmouth finish the schedule.

Cape Elizabeth (second at the moment to Greely in the Western B Heals) isn’t at its hoped-for championship level yet, but the Capers, to their rivals’ dismay, are getting there.

“It’s definitely early in the season,” Negele said. “We work hard every day. We have great coaching. We have an excellent team. Everyone has the same goals.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Yarmouth senior Drew Grout defends Cape Elizabeth senior Alex Bornick.

Yarmouth junior Brady Neujahr unleashes a shot.

Cape Elizabeth senior Cam Wilson fires a shot on goal.

Cape Elizabeth senior Justin Cary fights his way around Yarmouth junior Matt Woodbury.

Yarmouth senior goalie Sam Landry makes one of his 16 saves.

Cape Elizabeth-Yarmouth recent history

Cape Elizabeth 12 @ Yarmouth 8
@ Cape Elizabeth 10 Yarmouth 5

@ Cape Elizabeth 13 Yarmouth 2
Cape Elizabeth 6 @ Yarmouth 2

@ Yarmouth 8 Cape Elizabeth 4
@ Cape Elizabeth 10 Yarmouth 7
Class B State Final
Cape Elizabeth 7 Yarmouth 6

@ Yarmouth 8 Cape Elizabeth 6
Class B State Final
Yarmouth 12 Cape Elizabeth 9

Yarmouth 9 @ Cape Elizabeth 3
@ Yarmouth 7 Cape Elizabeth 3
Class B State Final
Yarmouth 9 Cape Elizabeth 4

@ Cape Elizabeth 9 Yarmouth 5
@ Yarmouth 8 Cape Elizabeth 7

@ Yarmouth 4 Cape Elizabeth 3
Yarmouth 6 @ Cape Elizabeth 5

@ Cape Elizabeth 8 Yarmouth 6
@ Yarmouth 15 Cape Elizabeth 8
State Final
Cape Elizabeth 7 Yarmouth 6

@ Yarmouth 13 Cape Elizabeth 11
Yarmouth 15 @ Cape Elizabeth 7
State Final
Yarmouth 11 Cape Elizabeth 6

@ Cape Elizabeth 7 Yarmouth 1
State Final
Cape Elizabeth 9 Yarmouth 8 (OT)

Cape Elizabeth 16 @ Yarmouth 6
Cape Elizabeth 15 @ Yarmouth 6

Sidebar Elements

Cape Elizabeth seniors Cam Wilson (23) and Justin Cary celebrate a Wilson goal during the first half of the Capers’ 7-5 home win over Yarmouth Saturday night.

More photos below.


Cape Elizabeth 7 Yarmouth 5

Y- 0 2 1 2- 5
CE- 3 3 1 0- 7

First quarter
6:55 CE Wilson (unassisted)
3:14 CE Lynch (Wilson)
2:09 CE Cary (unassisted)

Second quarter
8:56 CE Wilson (Cary)
7:39 Y Oliva (unassisted)
7:15 CE Lynch (A. Haversat)
6:46 Y Ronan (Dearden) (MAN-UP)
2:56 CE Thoreck (unassisted)

Third quarter
5:16 Y Neujahr (Dioli)
2:47 CE Negele (unassisted)

Fourth quarter
8:55 Y Oliva (unassisted) (MAN-DOWN)
5:02 Y Oliva (unassisted)

Y- Oliva 3, Neujahr, Ronan 1
CE- Lynch, Wilson 2, Cary, Negele, Thoreck 1

Y- Dearden, Dioli
CE- Cary, A. Haversat, Wilson

Faceoffs (Yarmouth, 9-6)
Y- Cyr 7 of 7, Porter 2 of 8
CE- Drinan 6 of 13, A. Haversat 0 of 1, Thoreck 0 of 1

Ground balls (45-45)
Y- Lord 7, J. Oliva 6, Hathcock 5, Cyr, Landry, Masse, H. Oliva 4, Henry 3, Dioli, Grout 2, Dearden, Edgecomb, Neujahr, Woodbury 1
CE- A. Haversat 11, Negele 5, Barber, Bornick, Cary 4, Lynch, Thoreck 3, Alexander, Brett, Drinan, Wilson 2, Gale, N. Haversat, McGinn 1

Y- 31
CE- 24

Y- 16
CE- 42

Shots on cage:
Y- 8
CE- 23

Y (Landry) 16
CE (McGinn) 3