Cape Elizabeth junior Connor Thoreck, left, senior R.J. Sarka and sophomore Tate Perkins celebrate a goal during the Capers’ 15-5 win at Yarmouth Wednesday night. Cape Elizabeth has now beaten the Clippers 16 straight times.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.


Cape Elizabeth 15 Yarmouth 5

CE- 3 3 1 8- 15
Y- 2 1 1 1- 5

First quarter
10:55 CE C. Thoreck (unassisted)
9:55 Y Jacobs (unassisted)
9:16 Y M. Beatty (Venden) (MAN-UP)
4:05 CE Sarka (unassisted) (MAN-UP)
2:37 CE C. Thoreck (unassisted) (TWO MEN-UP) 

Second quarter
8:24 Y Jacobs (M. Beatty)
4:13 CE Sarka (O. Thoreck) (MAN-UP)
28.9 CE O. Thoreck (unassisted)
18.5 CE Bottomley (Perkins) 

Third quarter
10:39 CE Sarka (unassisted)
4:35 Y Chappell (Grant) 

Fourth quarter
11:34 CE Pillsbury (unassisted)
6:59 CE C. Thoreck (unassisted)
6:44 CE O. Thoreck (unassisted)
5:09 CE O. Thoreck (Carroll)
4:16 CE O. Thoreck (unassisted)
2:59 Y Jacobs (unassisted)
1:07 CE Pillsbury (unassisted) (MAN-UP)
17.4 CE Sarka (C. Thoreck)
2.8 CE Pillsbury (unassisted)

CE- Sarka, O. Thoreck 4, Pillsbury, C. Thoreck 3, Bottomley 1
Y- Jacobs 3, M. Beatty, Chappell 1

CE- Carroll, Perkins, C. Thoreck, O. Thoreck 1
Y- Grant, Venden 1

Faceoffs (Yarmouth, 16-7)
CE- Raymond 7 of 23
Y- Tillotson 16 of 23

Ground balls (Yarmouth, 43-28)
CE- Raymond 6, Narvaez, Sarka, C. Thoreck, O. Thoreck 3, Avantagio, Hare, Perkins, Pillsbury 2, Bottomley, Hartel 1
Y- Tillotson 11, M. Beatty, Jacobs 6, Grant 4, Conrad, Newberg, Venden 3, Chappell, Leblanc, May 2, Moore 1

CE- 14
Y- 20

CE- 25
Y- 27

Shots on cage:
CE- 23
Y- 16

CE (Narvaez) 11 
Y (Libby) 8  

YARMOUTH—Whether the calendar reads April, May or June, Cape Elizabeth’s boys’ lacrosse juggernaut continues to have its way with rival Yarmouth. 

Wednesday evening, on Yarmouth’s turf field, the Capers showed vulnerability at times, but gradually pulled away from the Clippers in the teams’ first of two guaranteed, and if history is any indication, three likely meetings this spring.

Yarmouth took an early 2-1 lead behind goals from junior Bill Jacobs and senior Matthew Beatty, but Cape Elizabeth’s untested defense found its form and shut the Clippers down for nearly 11 minutes.

Jacobs tied the score, 3-3, with 8:24 remaining in the second period, but that would be Yarmouth’s highwater mark, as Capers senior R.J. Sarka put his team ahead to stay and in a 10-second span with under 30 seconds to go before halftime, junior Owen Thoreck and senior J Bottomley turned momentum for good with rapid fire goals to make it 6-3 Cape Elizabeth at the break.

Each team scored once in the third period and then, as they did on the same field a year ago, the Capers erupted in the fourth quarter to win by a lopsided margin, as they tickled the twine eight times en route to an emphatic 15-5 victory.

Sarka and Thoreck had four goals apiece, senior Riley Pillsbury and junior Connor Thoreck each added three, senior goalie Alex Narvaez made 11 key saves and Cape Elizabeth improved to 2-0 on the young season, dropping the Clippers to 1-1 in the process.

“The guys are always excited to play here,” said longtime Capers coach Ben Raymond, who earned his 234th career victory. “They know what’s at stake in these games. We’re not playing for just tonight, but down the road. Not just homefield, but finding out what the other team can do.” 

Same old story

The new season features Cape Elizabeth and Yarmouth once again (along with Falmouth) riding high in the role of favorite for Class B supremacy.

One or the other has captured 11 of the last 14 state championships and they’ve played each other in the state game three years running, with the Capers winning each time, including a hard-fought 7-5 triumph a year ago. That win was Cape Elizabeth’s 15th straight over Yarmouth, dating to 2010 (see sidebar, below).

This spring, the Clippers had no trouble in their opener, downing visiting York, 14-3, while the Capers opened with a decisive 18-8 home victory over Waynflete.

Wednesday, Yarmouth hoped to beat Cape Elizabeth for the first time since triumphing, 8-4, at home May 3, 2010, but instead, the Capers won for the sixth straight year on the Clippers’ turf and as was the case a year ago, Cape Elizabeth turned a close game into a runaway late.

Connor Thoreck opened the scoring with an unassisted goal 65 seconds in, but Jacobs whistled a shot past Narvaez with 9:55 to go in the opening stanza and after a slashing penalty on Capers sophomore Finn Raymond, Beatty scored (from sophomore Henry Venden) man-up with 39 seconds later for the hosts’ lone lead of the evening.

After Yarmouth junior goalie Cameron Libby robbed Bottomley to preserve the lead, Raymond took another slashing penalty, but Narvaez made three saves on Beatty shots to keep the score 2-1.

After a slashing penalty on Beatty, Sarka tied the game with an unassisted, man-up goal with 4:05 remaining in the first and a Clippers’ too-many-men-on-the-field penalty set the stage for Connor Thoreck to score another man-up goal with 2:37 showing to put Cape Elizabeth ahead, 3-2.

Yarmouth almost tied the game early in the second stanza, but Jacobs’ shot hit the crossbar.

The Clippers did manage to pull even with 8:24 to go in the half, when Jacobs took a pass from Beatty and beat Narvaez, ending a 10:52 dry spell and making it 3-3.

Late in the half, the Capers seized control.

Playing man-up, Sarka finished a feed from Owen Thoreck with 4:13 to go and Cape Elizabeth was on top to stay.

With time winding down, it looked as if it would be a one-goal game at the break, but instead, the Capers staggered the hosts with two quick tallies.

First, Owen Thoreck finished unassisted with 28.9 seconds showing.

Then, off a Raymond faceoff win, Cape Elizabeth put on a fastbreak clinic, which concluded with sophomore Tate Perkins feeding Bottomley on the doorstep for a goal with 18.5 seconds to go, which gave the Capers a little more breathing room and a 6-3 lead at halftime.

In the first half, Yarmouth senior Ricky Tillotson won nine of 11 faceoffs, the Clippers had a 28-16 advantage in ground balls and a 13-12 edge in shots, yet, to their dismay, they trailed.

“We beat them in ground balls, faceoffs, shooting and time of possession in the first half, but we didn’t capitalize or finish,” lamented Yarmouth coach David Pearl. “We dropped five or six balls in the crease that could have gone in the goal. If you don’t capitalize on those opportunities, they don’t show up again. (The two goals before halftime were) a momentum shift, but we came out feeling like we were still in it.”

Yarmouth went man-up just seconds into the second half, but couldn’t score, as Narvaez denied junior Anders Newberg. 

Sarka then scored unassisted with 10:39 remaining in the third for a 7-3 lead.

“(Those goals before halftime) were huge,” Sarka said. “We carried that momentum into the second half. We wanted to keep it rolling.” 

With 4:35 left in the frame, after a 15:49 scoreless stretch, the Clippers cut the deficit back to three when senior Patrick Grant fed sophomore Silas Chappell for a goal.

Any hopes of a Yarmouth comeback were quickly snuffed out by Cape Elizabeth in the fourth quarter.

Just 26 seconds in, Pillsbury fired a shot which Libby slowed but couldn’t keep out of the goal and the lead was 8-4.

With 6:57 remaining, the onslaught began, as Connor Thoreck scored unassisted and 13 seconds later, Owen, his twin, scored unassisted as well to push the lead to 10-4.

Two more quick goals from Owen Thoreck (from sophomore Ben Carroll with 5:09 to play and unassisted 53 seconds later) were countered by the Clippers’ final tally, a Jacobs unassisted strike with 2:59 to go, which ended yet another long (13:36) dry spell.

Down the stretch, Pillsbury scored unassisted, man-up (on a pass which found its way through to the net), Connor Thoreck set up Sarka for a goal and Pillsbury scored unassisted again to bring the curtain down on the 15-5 victory.

“(Beating Yarmouth is) huge,” Sarka said. “I’m sure we’ll see them again, at least once, but never losing here means a lot to me.”

“They had to come out and pressure a little more and their slides were further apart and we were able to run past some guys and did a better job finishing in the fourth quarter,” Ben Raymond said. “The difference was their possessions. They had long possessions in the first half when we didn’t pick up the ground balls or clear when we needed to. That kept our offense from doing much.”

Sarka and Owen Thoreck had four goals apiece, Pillsbury and Connor Thoreck both had three and Bottomley also scored. Carroll, Perkins and both Thoreck brothers added assists.

“It was a little bit of a slow start, then we started to protect the ball more,” Sarka said. “Our shooting was good all game. We shared the load. Everybody had a couple goals and we’re happy with that.”

“One of the keys for us is we have a lot of kids who can finish and they have a good attitude about moving and sharing the ball,” Ben Raymond said. “They make good decisions and find open guys.”

While Cape Elizabeth’s offense is expected to be prolific, the Capers figure to struggle on defense in the early season as departed standouts Jack Drinan, Noah Haversat and Noah Wolfinger have to be replaced.

For one night at least, against a high-powered opponent, Cape Elizabeth rose to the occasion.

“The defense is doing a great job,” Sarka said. “Great improvement every game. We have new guys in their first year, but I’m happy with how they’re playing.”

“Our defense is a work in progress, still trying to figure it out,” Ben Raymond said. “We ran a bunch of people in and out. I’m pleased how they’re coming along. There’s a lot to learn and a lot to replace. Drinan, Haversat, Wolfinger. They were athletic and physical and they could handle the ball. It’ll be tough to replace those guys.”

Narvaez again played big in a big game, making 11 saves.

“(Alex) had some good saves,” Ben Raymond said. “There are a few he’d like to have back. He’s improved by helping those less experienced guys on defense. He’s made great improvement in that area.”

Finn Raymond won seven faceoffs and had a team-high six ground balls.

The Capers had a 23-16 advantage in shots on frame and took good care of the ball, only turning it over 14 times in a hostile environment.

Try, try again

Yarmouth was paced by three goals from Jacobs. Beatty and Chappell had one apiece. Grant and Venden each had one assist. Libby made eight saves. Tillotson won 16 of 23 faceoffs and had a game-high 11 ground balls. Beatty and Jacobs both collected six, while Grant finished with four.

The Clippers had a 27-25 edge in shots, but turned the ball over 20 times and took way too many costly penalties.

Following the game, Pearl looked on the bright side of things.

“I think we were really competitive in the first half,” Pearl said. “That’s how the preseason has been with us. I saw a lot of great things out of this team tonight. I think we’ll show a lot of resilience. We know we can play with (Cape). I look forward to seeing these guys again in a month.”

Next time

Cape Elizabeth will host Yarmouth May 27 and it’s quite possible the teams will meet yet again June 18 at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland in the state final.

In the meantime, both have some serious tests to pass.

Yarmouth hopes to bounce back Saturday at home, but it will have to do so against the other reigning state champion, Class A powerhouse Brunswick, in a crossover battle. Next week brings trips to Greely and North Yarmouth Academy.

“It’s so early in the season,” said Pearl. “It’s only our second game. We have a lot of lacrosse ahead of us. Sometimes you can make too big a deal out of an early season game because it’s a rivalry, but we’re not going to do that.”

Cape Elizabeth has a compelling crossover of its own Saturday, when it hosts Scarborough. The Capers visit Kennebunk and Greely next week.

The pieces appear to be in place for another title run, but there’s still a long way to go.

“We need to keep working,” Sarka said. “There’s a lot to work on. We have keep the intensity up in practice and keep making each other better every day.”

“There’s definitely still room for improvement,” Ben Raymond said.

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

Yarmouth senior Ricky Tillotson tries to protect the ball from Cape Elizabeth sophomores Ethan Avantagio, left, and Finn Raymond after one of his 16 faceoff wins.

Cape Elizabeth senior R.J. Sarka scores one of his four goals.

Yarmouth sophomore Henry Venden unleashes a shot.

Yarmouth senior Matthew Beatty is defended by Cape Elizabeth junior David Hare.

Cape Elizabeth freshman Andrew Hartel keeps an eye on Yarmouth sophomore Henry Venden.

Yarmouth senior Patrick Grant is watched by Cape Elizabeth senior Nikko Pappas and senior goalie Alex Narvaez.

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