In a familiar sight, Cape Elizabeth’s boys’ lacrosse team celebrates an overtime win after senior Phil Tarling’s goal beat defending Class A champion Thornton Academy Monday, 8-7.

Ben McCanna / Press Herald photos.

More photos below.


Cape Elizabeth 8 Thornton Academy 7 (OT)

TA- 1 2 3 1 0- 7
CE- 0 2 4 1 1- 8

First quarter
10:41 TA Labreck (unassisted)

Second quarter
10:05 CE McEvoy (unassisted)
8:43 CE McEvoy (S. Dresser)
8:13 TA Bolduc (Labreck)
6:58 TA S. Edborg (Labreck)

Third quarter
10:41 CE Campbell (Tarling)
10:23 TA Levasseur (unassisted)
5:23 TA Tanis (Labreck)
5:14 CE D. Lathrop (unassisted)
3:19 CE Martin (Tarling)
2:11 TA Labreck (unassisted)
1:14 CE McEvoy (Simopoulos)

Fourth quarter
6:13 CE Martin (unassisted)
3.6 TA Tanis (unassisted)

3:27 CE Tarling (S. Dresser)

TA- Labreck, Tanis 2, Bolduc, Edborg, Levasseur 1
CE- McEvoy 3, Martin 2, Campbell, D. Lathrop, Tarling 1

TA- Labreck 3
CE- S. Dresser, Tarling 2, Simopoulos 1

Faceoffs (Cape Elizabeth, 14-3)
TA- Edborg 1 of 13, Older 1 of 3, Arsenault 1 of 1
CE- D. Lathrop 14 of 17

Ground balls:
TA- 25
CE- 37

TA- 23
CE- 25

TA- 25
CE- 35

Shots on cage:
TA- 19
CE- 18

TA (Patry) 10
CE (J. Dresser) 12

CAPE ELIZABETH—Now it’s just getting ridiculous.

And unbelievable.

And amazing.

Cape Elizabeth’s boys’ lacrosse team has made overtime its playground this spring and after vanquishing Scarborough and Yarmouth in extra time, the Capers earned their biggest overtime victory yet Monday night.

A victory three days in the making and a win that might just guarantee Cape Elizabeth will get to play multiple playoff games at Hannaford Field.

Hosting Thornton Academy in a rematch of last year’s lopsided Class A South Final, the Capers earned some sweet revenge, but it took an awfully long time to do so.

The defending Class A champion Golden Trojans took a 1-0 lead on senior standout C.J. Labreck’s goal way back on Friday evening, before a lightning storm forced the game to be delayed until Monday, when it was resumed with 59 seconds to go in the first period.

Both teams’ offenses showed life in the second quarter, as sophomore Archie McEvoy scored twice for Cape Elizabeth, while Thornton Academy got tallies from junior Colby Bolduc and junior Samuel Edborg to take a 3-2 halftime advantage.

After freshman Colin Campbell drew the Capers even early in the third quarter, seniors Thomas Levasseur and Gavin Tanis found the net for a 5-3 Golden Trojans’ lead, but Cape Elizabeth rallied behind goals from senior faceoff specialist extraordinaire Devon Lathrop and senior Nick Martin to tie it up.

After Labreck and McEvoy traded goals, the game went to the fourth period deadlocked, 6-6, and with 6:13 to play, Martin scored unassisted to put the Capers on the brink of victory.

But Cape Elizabeth can’t simply win a game in 48 minutes.

Not this spring.

With just 3.6 seconds remaining in regulation, Tanis bulled his way through the defense and finished to force overtime.

There, for the third straight game, the Capers found a way to score the final goal, as after Lathrop won the faceoff and out of a timeout, senior Phil Tarling tickled the twine to give Cape Elizabeth a dramatic 8-7 victory.

The Capers beat Thornton Academy for the first time since 2001, improved to 4-0 on the season, ended the Golden Trojans’ two-year win streak at 16 games and in the process, dropped them to 2-1 on the year.

“It’s not hard to get up for TA,” Tarling said. “They pushed us really hard last year and we remembered that. We needed a big win against a team like this. We knew we had to play our best to beat them. It’s games like these where we get pushed to the limit and find out what we’re made of. We knew how big a game this was. We stayed calm and worked our tails off.”

New rivalry

Last spring, Cape Elizabeth and Thornton Academy played in a countable game for the first time in 17 years and the Golden Trojans made a powerful statement en route to their first championship.

In the regular season, host Thornton Academy edged Cape Elizabeth, 11-10, in a double-overtime classic. The teams met again in the Class A South Final and a 6-1 first quarter onslaught led the Golden Trojans to a surprisingly emphatic 15-6 victory.

Thornton Academy went on to beat Falmouth in the state game and this season, the Golden Trojans hadn’t been tested, as they easily dispatched host Gorham (16-3) and Deering (10-0).

Cape Elizabeth also entered the game undefeated, but the Capers had gone about it in far more dramatic fashion.

After opening with a 17-6 home win over defending Class C champion Waynflete, Cape Elizabeth needed overtime to edge Scarborough, 7-6, on senior Nick Martin’s winner, then rallied to tie visiting Yarmouth in the final second of regulation before beating the Clippers, 8-7, on McEvoy’s goal last Tuesday.

The game began back on Friday night and after 11 minutes of the first quarter, the Golden Trojans held a 1-0 lead on a Labreck unassisted goal 79 seconds in, but a downpour turned into a thunderstorm and the game was postponed and moved to Monday and per Maine Principals’ Association rules, since it was still in the first half, it picked up where it left off.

Monday’s conditions were much better (54 degrees and sunny as opposed to 42 degrees and pouring) and with big Heal Points and potential homefield advantage implications on the line, the teams put on a show.

One which deserved (and received) an encore.

Thornton Academy had possession when the game resumed and ran down the final 59.2 seconds of the first quarter, but couldn’t build on its 1-0 lead, as Cape Elizabeth junior goalie Jack Dresser turned aside a shot from Bolduc just before the horn.

“It was no different for us since we weren’t starting with the ball, but they had three days to plan their first offensive possession,” said Capers coach Ben Raymond. “They held for the last shot of the quarter. We expected that.”

The Capers weren’t able to get good looks in the first quarter, but managed to get some offense going in the second.

With 10:05 left in the first half, McEvoy got around a defender, then fired a shot past Golden Trojans senior goalie Ean Patry to tie it.

McEvoy scored again with 8:43 on the clock, finishing a feed from senior Sam Dresser for a 2-1 lead.

“We had to feel out their zone (defense),” Tarling said. “Coach gave us different sets to run. A team with athletic, fast defenders is tough. It took a little bit to get used to it. Everyone’s really stepped up. We’re young, but the boys know what they have to do.”

“It was a weird situation to start and it got really sloppy,” Raymond said. “Both teams had the ball on the ground, then it cleaned up.”

A mere 30 seconds later, Thornton Academy scored for the first time in over 72 hours, as Labreck threw a pass to Bolduc, who spun and shot in one motion, beating Jack Dresser to tie it, 2-2.

With 6:58 to go before halftime, in transition, Labreck set up Edborg for the lead and neither team could score again before the break, allowing the Golden Trojans to hold a 3-2 advantage.

In the first half, the Capers held a 19-9 edge in shots, but five Patry saves allowed Thornton Academy to protect the lead.

Cape Elizabeth drew even with 10:41 to play in the third quarter, when Clifford took a pass from Tarling and while falling, shot the ball past Patry to make it 3-3.

The tie lasted all of 18 seconds, as Labreck fired a shot which Jack Dresser saved, but Levasseur was there to knock home the rebound to put Thornton Academy back on top.

With 5:23 remaining in the third, Labreck set up Tanis for a goal and the Golden Trojans appeared primed to open it up, leading, 5-3, but the hosts would answer.

Off the ensuing faceoff, Lathrop, who missed all of last year with a knee injury and has been sidelined multiple games this season as well, scooped up the ball, ran in and finished his shot to cut the deficit to one.

“It feels good to be back,” Lathrop said. “I’m not sitting on the bench anymore scratching my head. I just did my normal thing. I’ve been practicing my clamps all winter.”

“We feel confident in how Devon’s doing with faceoffs,” Raymond said. “It’s great to have him back. He does a great job. We told him when you get it, if you go forward, just go. His best bet was to go right to goal.”

The tying goal came with 3:19 on the clock, as Tarling fed Martin for a shot which Patry couldn’t save, making the score 5-5.

Again, the Golden Trojans countered, as Labreck finished unassisted with 2:11 to go, but 53 seconds later, in transition, McEvoy finished a feed from sophomore Gavin Simopoulos to make it 6-6, a score which stood into the fourth period.

Patry preserved the tie, denying Lathrop after another faceoff win and Sam Dresser after a nice move, but with 6:13 to go in regulation, Martin finished unassisted for a 7-6 Cape Elizabeth advantage.

The Capers looked to hold on, but after Jack Dresser saved a bid by Tanis, Thornton Academy got one final opportunity and with just 3.6 seconds left, Tanis fought his way through the defense and shot past Dresser to make it 7-7.

The Golden Trojans appeared to have all the momentum going to overtime, but Cape Elizabeth had been there before and didn’t panic.

And sure enough, Lathrop won the faceoff, with junior Andrew Carroll getting the ball and after he lost it, Martin collected it, allowing the Capers to call timeout.

“I was just focusing on the next faceoff,” Lathrop said. “That’s my one job, to win faceoffs. Last season motivated me. I was motivated to beat these guys.”

“They may have had momentum, but we felt really confident with Devon at the circle and he showed he’s up for the big moments,” Raymond said. “It turned into a big scrum. Andrew got the ball in the air, then Nicky Martin got the ground ball and we got a timeout. Then, we could run a regular offense.”

“We were just trying to get that ground ball,” said Thornton Academy coach Ryan Hersey. “Both teams had the same thing in mind, get the ground ball, call timeout and set up a play.”

It didn’t take long for Cape Elizabeth to end it, as with 3:27 to go in the four-minute, “sudden victory” OT, Sam Dresser got the ball to Tarling in front and Tarling fired a shot past Patry and at 7:46 p.m., the Capers got to engage in a familiar celebration, as they prevailed, 8-7.

“We knew we had to capitalize right away,” Tarling said. “If we gave (the ball) away, we knew they have really big threats who can push down the field and get one anytime. It was a pass in tight. I was just looking for a spot in the net. It feels great. Everyone was excited.”

“We’d been focused on pumping the ball into the crease and (Sam) found Phil in there and Phil caught and finished,” Raymond said. “He does a great job in pressure situations, no matter what sport it is.

“This says the kids have confidence. They don’t get down on themselves. They focus on the next play. We moved the ball really well. We relaxed and when you move the ball quickly, it’s hard for any defense to deal with that. We got them to rotate and had a 2-v-1 on the backside. We got some good looks and we shot fairly well.”

“We got caught sleeping in the middle and (Tarling) was open,” Hersey lamented. “You can’t give up a shot in the middle in the zone. That goal wasn’t on Ean.”

Cape Elizabeth got three goals from McEvoy, two from Martin and one apiece from Campbell, Lathrop and Tarling.

Sam Dresser and Tarling each had two assists, while Simopoulos added one.

Jack Dresser made a dozen saves.

“Jack proves every game he’s the best goalie in the state,” said Tarling. “He’s the backbone of the team and he and our core defense are tremendous. We know they’re not going to give up many (goals).”

Lathrop won 14 of 17 faceoffs, which proved to be a huge difference in the contest.

“Devon is incredible,” Tarling said. “It’s great having him back. He’s a beast. You can count on him to get us possessions throughout the game.”

The Capers had a 37-25 advantage on ground balls (Lathrop collected a game-high eight and Carroll had six), enjoyed a 35-25 shots advantage and overcame 25 turnovers.

For Thornton Academy, which had last lost a game June 14, 2017 (a 20-16 setback at Scarborough in the Class A South Final), got two goals apiece from Labreck and Tanis and one each from Bolduc, Edborg and Levasseur.

Labreck had three assists.

Patry made 10 saves.

Labreck had a team-high six ground balls and freshman Alex St. John grabbed five.

The Golden Trojans had a 19-18 edge in shots on cage and turned the ball over 23 times.

“Our fastbreak has yet to show up this year and that’s frustrating,” Hersey said. “We’re not moving the ball or getting in the right position. That’s been our bread and butter for two years, but it’s a dry piece of bread right now.”

More to come

Thornton Academy remains on the road next Friday, at Massabesic, then plays six of its final eight games in Saco.

“We’ve learned lessons and it’s humbling,” Hersey said. “It’s not a bad thing to not go undefeated. It comes down to are we going to learn from it and will we change things that need to be changed? We just have to have some kids buy into the team effort rather than do a lot of individual stuff. It’s as simple as that.”

Cape Elizabeth plays its first road game, Tuesday at Freeport, then returns to Hannaford Field Friday for another key showdown, versus rival Falmouth.

Don’t be surprised if more than 48 minutes is necessary in that one too.

“We have to stop doing this, but it’s better than losing,” Lathrop said. “We have to start winning games in normal time. It’s stressful, but we don’t break down mentally. We’re on the right track right now. This will motivate us to keep getting better.”

“Confidence is a big thing and hopefully this will help us pushing forward,” said Tarling. “We have a great schedule. These teams are so fun to play against and under the lights, there’s nothing better.”

“It’s great to have a bunch of games in a row this tight and I’m sure we’ll have another one against Falmouth,” Raymond added. “Maybe overtime again.”

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

Cape Elizabeth senior Nick Martin is defended by Thornton Academy junior Samuel Edborg.

Thornton Academy junior Samuel Edborg gets past a defender.

Cape Elizabeth senior Phil Tarling fires the winning goal past Thornton Academy senior goalie Ean Patry in overtime.

Thornton Academy junior Cameron Cote walks away dejectedly as Cape Elizabeth celebrates its winning goal.

Cape Elizabeth freshman Cam Clifford (22) congratulates sophomore Archie McEvoy after one of McEvoy’s three goals.

Recent Cape Elizabeth-Thornton Academy results

@ Thornton Academy 11 Cape Elizabeth 10 (2 OT)
Class A South Final
@ Thornton Academy 15 Cape Elizabeth 6

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