Scarborough junior Sam Neugebauer, left, congratulates sophomore Marco Manfra after one of Manfra’s four goals in the Red Storm’s 13-10 home win over South Portland Friday night.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.


Scarborough 13 South Portland 10

SP- 3 3 1 3- 10
S- 3 2 5 3- 13

First quarter
11:02 SP J. Fiorini (unassisted)
10:00 SP Angle (unassisted)
8:56 S Guerette (unassisted)
5:29 S Manfra (Nigro)
5:15 S Manfra (Lagerquist)
24.6 SP Mehlhorn (D. Fiorini) 

Second quarter
11:16 SP Zechman (J. Fiorini) (MAN-UP)
10:40 S Neugebauer (Manfra) (MAN-DOWN)
9:13 S Nigro (unassisted) (MAN-DOWN)
7:32 SP J. Fiorini (unassisted)
4:15 SP Angle (unassisted) 

Third quarter
10:23 S Nigro (unassisted)
8:27 S Manfra (unassisted)
5:59 SP Zechman (Adams) (MAN-UP)
3:55 S Nigro (unassisted)
3:11 S Nigro (unassisted)
1.7 S Nigro (unassisted) 

Fourth quarter
10:18 S Neugebauer (Cusson)
9:20 S Guerette (Neugebauer)
8:34 S Manfra (unassisted)
5:29 SP Angle (J. Fiorini) (MAN-UP)
2:39 SP Adams (J. Fiorini)
15.9 SP Angle (Mehlhorn) 

SP-Angle 4, J. Fiorini, Zechman 2, Adams, Mehlhorn 1
S- Nigro 5, Manfra 4, Guerette, Neugebauer 2

SP- J. Fiorini 3, Adams, D. Fiorini, Mehlhorn 1
S- Cusson, Lagerquist, Manfra, Neugebauer, Nigro 1

Faceoffs (South Portland, 13-11)
SP- Tierney 13 of 24
S- Nigro 7 of 13, Granzier 3 of 8, Lagerquist 1 of 3

Ground balls (Scarborough, 44-36)
SP- Mezzanotte 8, Mehlhorn 5, Tierney 4, Adams, Zechman 3 J. Fiorini, Myers, Vose-Gimble, Watson 2, Campbell, Ellis, D. Fiorini, Milton, Nappi 1
S- Nigro 7, Murray 6, Lagerquist 5, Blaisdell, Granzier, Joy, Manfra, Neugebauer 3, Guerette, Hayward, Jacob, Stolz 2, McDonnell, Quirk, Thibault 1

SP- 21
S- 17

SP- 33
S- 40

Shots on cage
SP- 21
S- 27

SP (Watson) 14 
S (Joy) 11

SCARBOROUGH—Six days after suffering a surprising home loss to Gorham in the season opener, Scarborough’s boys’ lacrosse team has hit its stride.

Friday evening at the Kippy Mitchell Sports Complex, the Red Storm hosted two-time defending regional champion South Portland in an early season test and passed with flying colors.

Thanks to a terrific defensive effort and the heroics of senior Cam Nigro.

There was almost no separation in the first half, as the teams were tied, 3-3, after one period and the Red Riots held a 6-5 advantage at the break, thanks to a go-ahead goal from junior Jake Angle.

Scarborough would come to life in a five-goal third period, allowing just one South Portland tally. Nigro was unstoppable, scoring four times and the Red Storm opened up a 10-7 advantage.

Fourth period goals from junior Sam Neugebauer, junior Marc Guerette and sophomore Marco Manfra effectively ended the competitive phase of the contest and while the Red Riots scored three goals late, Scarborough prevailed, 13-10.

The Red Storm improved to 2-1, handed South Portland a loss in its opener and served notice that if it continues to improve, a return to championship glory could be the end result.

“It puts a win in the win column and it shows the kids the level they can play at,” said Scarborough coach Joe Hezlep. “Even against Gorham, we were really close. You need to be able to string things together in lacrosse to get results. We were doing one or two things well, then missing the third or fourth and it didn’t result in a goal or a quality shot. Tonight, we got shots on cage.”

Early barometer

Scarborough entered the game having won 13 of 15 all-time meetings, but last season, host South Portland enjoyed a 14-4 victory en route to a second straight regional title. The Red Riots then lost to Brunswick in the Class A state game, 13-9, to fall short of a repeat championship.

Scarborough was ousted by Thornton Academy in last year’s semifinals and opened 2016 with a 9-8 double-overtime home loss to Gorham, but bounced back to win at Biddeford, 10-3.

South Portland graduated several top players from last year’s team, but returned Syracuse University-bound senior standout Jack Fiorini and believes it will develop into a championship-caliber squad by June.

Friday evening, with the mercury reading an unseasonably warm and wonderful 63 at the start, the rivalry added another memorable chapter, but the Red Storm managed to stay undefeated all-time versus the Red Riots.

While Scarborough had two countable games under its belt and South Portland had none, it was the visitors who started fast.

Just 58 seconds in, Fiorini got the ball and appeared to be stopped by Red Storm sophomore defenseman Reece Lagerquist, but he managed to snap off a shot which eluded junior goalie Dominic Joy for a 1-0 lead.

“At first, I was like, how did he get that through?” Lagerquist said. “Then I got my head back.”

When junior Jake Angle scored with 10 minutes to play in the first quarter, South Portland was up, 2-0, but Scarborough would settle down.

The hosts got on the board with 8:56 remaining in the frame, as Guerette scored unassisted after a nice move.

Joy then rose to the occasion, twice robbing Fiorini and with 5:29 left, Nigro set up Manfra to tie the score.

Fourteen seconds later, after a faceoff win, Lagerquist got the ball to Manfra, who finished to put the Red Storm on top for the first time, 3-2.

The Red Riots remained frustrated, as Fiorini hit the post and freshman Mitchell Adams was robbed by Joy.

Finally, with 24.6 seconds left in the first, on a fastbreak, freshman David Fiorini set up freshman Cooper Mehlhorn for a goal which snapped a 9 minute, 36 seconds drought and forged a 3-3 tie after one period.

Prior to the start of the second quarter, Scarborough appeared to be in big trouble when freshman Andrew Granzier’s stick was ruled to be illegal. The stick was removed from the game and Granzier was sent off for three minutes with an unreleasable penalty.

South Portland had a chance to open up a healthy lead and while Jack Fiorini set up junior Finn Zechman for a goal 44 seconds into the penalty, that’s all the Red Riots would muster.

With 10:40 left in the half, after a turnover, Manfra fed Neugebauer for a goal to tie the score for the third time.

With 9:13 showing, Nigro scored another man-down goal and the Red Storm had a 5-4 lead.

“It’s tough for a freshman to get a three-minute stick penalty, but we like playing short-handed,” Hezlep said. “Our defense really made them work for shots. When that happens, the more passes you have to throw, the more likely you’ll drop one.” 

After Angle hit the post, Jack Fiorini tied the score, firing a shot past Joy while falling to the ground with 7:32 to go.

With 4:17 left, Angle scored to give South Portland a 6-5 advantage, which lasted until halftime.

In the first 24 minutes, the Red Riots got strong play from sophomore Jack Tierney, who won nine of 11 faceoffs, but they were hindered by 11 turnovers.

Scarborough had an edge in ground balls (20-19) and shots (21-19) and got five clutch saves from Joy.

The home team would seize control in the third quarter.

Just 97 seconds in, after a turnover, Nigro hinted as a huge frame to come with an unassisted goal to tie the game.

With 8:27 left in the third, Manfra collected a ground ball, then fired past Red Riots freshman goalie Quinn Watson to put the Red Storm ahead, 7-6.

After an Angle goal was waved off for a crease violation, Zechman finished a feed from Adams for a two-man-up tally to tie the game for the last time.

With 3:55 remaining in the quarter, Nigro scored unassisted and Scarborough had the lead for good.

Forty-four seconds later, Nigro scored unassisted again for a 9-7 lead.

After Neugebauer hit the post at one end and Joy robbed Adams at the other, Nigro fittingly capped a third quarter to remember by scoring unassisted, through the five-hole, his fourth goal of the period, with just 1.7 seconds showing and the Red Storm had a 10-7 advantage with 12 minutes to go.

“The first part of the game, we just had to settle down and figure out their defense, because they didn’t let us pass the ball,” Nigro said. “We knew if we beat the first guy, we’d get a good look. We had to get inside and get good looks and that’s what happened.”

“(Nigro) stopped running into trouble,” Hezlep said. “He’s a glutton for punishment. He tries to run through brick walls. His teammates did a better job creating space. When he’s out of harm’s way, he creates matchup problems.”

Joy continued to frustrate South Portland, and Jack Fiorini in particular, early in the fourth when he denied his bid to pull the Red Riots closer.

Then, with 10:18 left, in transition, sophomore Drew Cusson set up Neugebauer for a backbreaking goal and 58 seconds later, Neugebauer set up Guerette for a goal to make it 12-7.

With 8:34 to go, Manfra scored Scarborough’s final goal of the night, unassisted.

Down the stretch, South Portland made things interesting, but couldn’t pull off an improbable comeback.

With 5:29 to play, the Red Riots ended a 12:30 drought and the Red Storm’s 6-0 run when Jack Fiorini set up Angle for a man-up goal.

With 2:39 left, Jack Fiorini set up Adams for a goal.

Then, with 15.9 seconds showing, Angle (from Mehlhorn) beat Joy, but South Portland would draw no closer and Scarborough went on to a 13-10 victory.

“It’s become a big rivalry and it was a beautiful day for lacrosse,” Nigro said. “It’s always fun to play a team like this. It doesn’t get much better. It’s a big step, to beat a good team like this. We were focused and prepared better. It shows we can go a long way. After Gorham, the captains and coaches talked with the boys. We took that as a wakeup call and prepared for this one. If we mess around and take games lightly, we’ll lose, but if we come out like this, we’ll win.”

The offense was paced by five goals from Nigro and four from Manfra. Guerette and Neugebauer tickled the twine twice apiece. Cusson, Lagerquist, Manfra, Neugebauer and Nigro all had one assist.

Joy impressed with 11 crucial saves.

“(Dom) kept us in it,” Lagerquist said. “He made a ton of doorstep saves.”

“That’s definitely the best Dom’s played,” Hezlep said. “When our defense did what it was supposed to, forcing tougher shots, he shined and made saves he should not have.” 

Lagerquist, seniors Colin Hayward and Wyatt Tanner, junior Eric Murray and sophomores Ryan McDonnell and Eric Quirk helped Joy with a terrific defensive effort.

“We know (Jack’s) a great player,” Lagerquist said. “We pressed out a little more adjacent, but we wanted to just play our game. I’ve played out of state a lot, so I’m used to playing players like that. I was excited for it.”

Hezlep singled out Lagerquist’s play against Jack Fiorini.

“It’s nice when the other team has a 6-5 kid and you can match it,” Hezlep said. “(Reece) did a great job on-ball, doing what we asked. If you do too much, Jack will make you pay every time.” 

Scarborough held a 44-36 advantage in ground balls (Nigro led the way with seven, while Murray had six and Lagerquist five), outshot South Portland, 40-33 (27-21 on frame), and committed just 17 turnovers.

South Portland’s offense was led by Angle, who had four goals. Jack Fiorini and Zechman both scored twice and Adams and Mehlhorn had one goal each. Jack Fiorini had three assists, while Adams, David Fiorini and Mehlhorn had one apiece. Watson made 14 saves in his debut.

The Red Riots held a 13-11 edge in faceoffs, thanks to Tierney’s play in the circle. Senior Nick Mezzanotte had a game-high eight ground balls.

“The pressure got to us a little bit,” said South Portland coach Tom Fiorini. “We had chances to finish. I tell my kids to shoot low, but the one time I begged them to shoot high, I couldn’t get them to do it. They’re three games in and we’re one. It was a factor. I had five freshmen on the field and Jack’s trying as hard as he can to do what he can.”

Century mark

South Portland looks to get in the win column Tuesday at Biddeford. The Red Riots then face a daunting crossover challenge Saturday of next week when they go to Class B South powerhouse Falmouth.

“This was a good learning experience,” Tom Fiorini said. “The freshmen got great game experience. Biddeford is playing much better. They’re picking up their game. We’ll fight through that, then we have Falmouth and Cheverus. We don’t get a rest. I have a huge learning curve and I don’t have a schedule that gives us a learning curve. We’ll play the best we can.” 

Scarborough will look to give Hezlep his 100th win with the program Wednesday evening at Westbrook. The Red Storm then go to three-time defending Class B champion Cape Elizabeth Saturday of next week.

“We’re excited about this, but we’re taking it one game at a time,” Lagerquist said. “We need to work on slides and keeping the ball moving.”

“I think we’ll only get better if we play like this and keep this attitude,” Nigro said. “We have to work on passing and catching and talking on offense and defense.”

“We’re improving as we should,” Hezlep added. “Where we are right now feels good. Westbrook has made great improvement. They can score. We have to keep creating opportunities to put the ball in the net. We have to come back Monday and remember what tonight’s level of play was like.”

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

Scarborough senior Eric Murray knocks South Portland freshman Cooper Mehlhorn to the ground.

South Portland senior Jack Fiorini falls to the turf, but manages to score a second quarter goal.

Scarborough senior Sam Nigro fires a shot as South Portland junior Patrick Graff looks on.

Scarborough junior Matthew Blaisdell tries to split South Portland senior Jack Fiorini, left, and junior Finn Zechman.

South Portland sophomore Jack Vose-Gimble shadows Scarborough sophomore Marco Manfra.

South Portland junior Finn Zechman, left, celebrates with senior Jack Fiorini after a goal.

Previous Scarborough-SP meetings

@ South Portland 14 Scarborough 4 

@ Scarborough 14 South Portland 8 

@ Scarborough 9 South Portland 8

Scarborough 10 @ South Portland 1

@ Scarborough 11 South Portland 0

@ South Portland 8 Scarborough 7 (OT)
Western A semifinals
Scarborough 10 @ South Portland 4

@ Scarborough 14 South Portland 5

@ Scarborough 12 South Portland 3
Western A semifinals
@ Scarborough 17 South Portland 6

Scarborough 13 @ South Portland 9
Western A semifinals
@ Scarborough 13 South Portland 7

@ Scarborough 10 South Portland 3

Scarborough 9 @ South Portland 4

South Division Second Round
@ Scarborough 5 South Portland 4 (3 OT)

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