Cape Elizabeth sophomore Archie McEvoy left, and freshman Colin Campbell celebrate a goal during the Capers’ 16-7 win at South Portland Saturday.

John Ewing / Press Herald photos.

More photos below.


Cape Elizabeth 16 South Portland 7

CE- 5 2 5 4- 16
SP-3 2 2 0- 7

First quarter
10:22 CE S. Dresser (Tarling)
6:29 CE Boudreau (unassisted)
5:29 SP Stevens (Backman)
4:54 CE McEvoy (unassisted)
2:46 SP Stevens (Savidge)
2:40 CE D. Lathrop (unassisted)
1:21 CE S. Dresser (unassisted)
5.4 SP Stevens (Fiorini)

Second quarter
11:13 SP Adams (Fiorini)
3:40 CE Tarling (unassisted)
2:29 CE Campbell (Martin)
1:07 SP Mehlhorn (unassisted)

Third quarter
10:17 CE Tarling (unassisted)
8:07 SP Fiorini (unassisted)
4:35 CE McEvoy (unassisted)
3:50 CE Campbell (Martin)
53.5 SP Mehlhorn (Backman)
37.8 CE Campbell (Martin)
30.4 CE D. Lathrop (unassisted)

Fourth quarter
9:36 CE S. Dresser (McEvoy)
3:19 CE Martin (Tarling)
2:26 CE Offit (unassisted)
1:16 CE Offit (Snyder)

CE- Campbell, S. Dresser 3, D. Lathrop, McEvoy, Offit, Tarling 2, Boudreau, Martin 1
SP- Stevens 3, Mehlhorn 2, Adams, Fiorini 1

CE- Martin 3, Tarling 2, McEvoy, Snyder 1
SP- Backman, Fiorini 2, Savidge 1

Faceoffs (Cape Elizabeth, 15-12)
CE- D. Lathrop 15 of 26, Huffard 0 of 1
SP- Doan 12 of 27

Ground balls:
CE- 39
SP- 25

CE- 16
SP- 19

CE- 39
SP- 31

Shots on cage:
CE- 28
SP- 20

CE (J. Dresser) 13
SP (Watson) 12

SOUTH PORTLAND—Even in a game where it scored 16 goals, Cape Elizabeth boys’ lacrosse team’s ability to master the unheralded aspects of the sport was the biggest reason the Capers remain undefeated on the 2019 season.

Playing dangerous South Portland on the grass at Martin Memorial Field, Cape Elizabeth, a team that historically dislikes playing on any surface that isn’t artificial turf, won the majority of ground balls, got another tremendous effort in the faceoff circle from senior Devon Lathrop, played superb defense on the Red Riots’ top attackmen and got balanced scoring as it pulled away for a decisive victory.

The Capers never trailed, as goals from senior Sam Dresser and freshman Nic Boudreau produced an early lead.

Cape Elizabeth couldn’t put South Portland away early, however, as three goals from junior Alex Stevens kept the Red Riots within two, 5-3, after one quarter.

When freshman Cullen Adams scored early in the second period, it appeared South Portland was on the brink of tying the game, but the Red Riots couldn’t do so and goals from senior Phil Tarling and freshman Colin Campbell opened it back up.

The Capers were up, 7-5, at halftime and clung to an 8-6 lead for much of the third quarter, thanks to some clutch saves from junior goalie Jack Dresser.

Cape Elizabeth then got some breathing room behind goals from sophomore Archie McEvoy and Campbell and after senior Cooper Mehlhorn scored for South Portland, Campbell and Lathrop answered in a game-turning seven-second span late in the frame for a 12-7 advantage.

The Capers then scored four times in the fourth period to put it away and went on to a 16-7 victory.

Campbell and Sam Dresser each scored three goals to lead a balanced attack, as Cape Elizabeth improved to 9-0 on the year, dropping the Red Riots to 5-2 in the process.

“Any win on grass is a good win,” said longtime Capers coach Ben Raymond. “I think we did a really good job today. The kids adapted to the field not being in good shape, as I’m sure not many grass fields are in good shape this year. We’ve practiced on grass most of the week. It was a big focus. It was great to see our guys running through ground balls and not reaching for them.”

Collision course

Cape Elizabeth and South Portland have each stolen their share of headlines this spring.

The Red Riots started with a 17-1 win at Deering, then handled visiting Cheverus by the same score before holding off visiting Yarmouth, 13-12, and downing visiting Falmouth, the defending Class A North champion, 13-9. South Portland was then upset in overtime at Kennebunk 11-10, before bouncing back with a vengeance Wednesday, winning, 28-0, at Sanford.

The Capers, meanwhile, started with a 17-6 home win over defending Class C champion Waynflete, then needed overtime to edge Scarborough, 7-6, rallied to edge Yarmouth in overtime, 8-7, then did it again in OT, 8-7, over Thornton Academy. After a 16-3 win at Freeport, Cape Elizabeth downed visiting Falmouth (9-4), won at Greely (9-7) and Tuesday, handled visiting York, 19-3.

Last year, Mehlhorn scored four times, but the host Capers held off the Red Riots, 10-8, to improve to 4-0 all-time in the series.

Saturday, on a very pleasant 64 degree, windy afternoon, Cape Elizabeth, as has been the case all spring, bent but didn’t break and wound up in the win column again.

It took all of 98 seconds for the Capers to go on top to stay, as Tarling got the ball to Sam Dresser, who beat a defender with a nice spin move, then shot past South Portland senior goalie Quinn Watson for a 1-0 lead.

The Red Riots had trouble holding on to the ball early and couldn’t counter and with 6:29 on the first quarter clock, Boudreau scored unassisted to double the advantage.

South Portland broke through a minute later, as Stevens took a pass from junior Bram Backman and finished, but with 4:54 remaining, McEvoy scored unassisted to make it 3-1.

The Red Riots again drew within one with 2:46 on the clock, as senior defenseman Shippen Savidge collected the ball in the defensive end, ran it into the offensive zone, then passed to Stevens, who finished.

South Portland’s momentum lasted all of six seconds, however, as Lathrop won the ensuing faceoff and raced in to score.

With 1:21 left in the frame, Sam Dresser’s unassisted goal made it 5-2, but the Red Riots crept back within two with 5.4 seconds remaining, as senior David Fiorini got the ball to Stevens, who back-handed a shot past Jack Dresser.

South Portland had its opportunities to catch up in the second period, but couldn’t do so.

Just 47 seconds in, Fiorini fed Adams to cut the deficit to one, but the Red Riots never could pull even.

After Jack Dresser preserved the lead with a terrific save on a shot from Stevens, Tarling scored unassisted with 3:40 left in the half.

After Jack Dresser robbed Red Riots junior Isaac Sobey, the Capers put on a transition passing clinic, as McEvoy threw the ball to Martin, who passed to Campbell, who beat Watson for a 7-4 lead with 2:29 remaining.

With 1:07 left, Mehlhorn scored unassisted and despite being outplayed, South Portland was only down two, 7-5, at the break.

Lathrop won eight of 14 first half faceoffs and Cape Elizabeth had a 23-13 advantage in ground balls.

The Red Riots stayed close in the third period as well before the Capers finally opened it up late.

Cape Elizabeth went up by three goals with 10:17 left in the frame, as Tarling bounced a shot past Watson, but with 8:07 to go, Fiorini scored unassisted and again, South Portland appeared on the brink of making a run.

But it didn’t happen, as Jack Dresser robbed Fiorini with the Red Riots playing man-up, then Dresser stopped another shot by Fiorini. 

With 4:35 left, McEvoy scored unassisted and 45 seconds later, Martin set up Campbell to make it 10-6.

South Portland got a goal back in transition with 53.5 seconds on the clock, as Backman fed Mehlhorn, but the Capers responded in backbreaking fashion.

With 37.8 seconds to go, Cape Elizabeth demonstrated its transition prowess again with the same combination, Martin to Campbell, producing the goal.

“We practice fastbreak moments,” Campbell said. “We hadn’t executed it that well, so it was super-cool to see that come together.”

“We cleared the ball better in the second half and had more transition opportunities and had two great fastbreak finishes with four passes,” Raymond said. “When we share the ball, everyone gets opportunities. Our offense is about moving the ball and finding someone open on the backside.”

Lathrop then won the ensuing faceoff and for the second time, raced in and beat Watson and just like that, the Capers were in command, up, 12-7, heading for the fourth period.

“Devon turned it into a runaway,” said Cape Elizabeth junior defenseman Max Patterson. “He’s an amazing faceoff guy and we’re lucky to have him. He gives the offense so many possessions. When he scores, it’s awesome, because it makes the defense slide to him, then it opens up our offense and we can bang it around and get it in the crease.”

“Devon scored great goals off faceoffs,” Raymond said. “Faceoffs were fairly even, but when he won them, they were more meaningful. We got good offensive chances right off the faceoff and they didn’t.”

Any faint Red Riots’ comeback hopes were extinguished for good with 9:36 to play, as McEvoy got the ball to Sam Dresser, who shot and scored while falling.

With 3:19 left, Tarling fed Martin to make it 14-7.

Down the stretch, junior Benson Offit scored twice, the first time unassisted with 2:26 on the clock, then from sophomore Finn Snyder a minute later, and Cape Elizabeth closed out its 16-7 triumph.

“We have a lot of perseverance,” Campbell said. “We never give up. We always work hard as a team. This is a really good team win for us.”

“We practiced on grass before this game,” Patterson said. “We like being on turf, because that’s what we’re used to, but practicing on grass helped.”

“This was big,” Raymond added. “To finish above South Portland is really important. We don’t want to play a playoff game here on this field.”

The Capers had eight different players score in an impressive display of balance.

Campbell and Sam Dresser each had three goals, while Lathrop, McEvoy, Offit and Tarling all scored twice. Boudreau and Martin added one goal apiece.

“Our depth really shows on offense,” Campbell said. “That can take us a long way. We’ll keep using it going forward.”

Martin had three assists, Tarling added two and McEvoy and Snyder had one apiece.

Jack Dresser quietly had a huge game, making 13 saves.

Lathrop helped Cape Elizabeth enjoy a 15-12 advantage in the faceoff circle. 

The Capers had a solid 39-25 advantage in ground balls (junior Andrew Carroll led the way with seven and Lathrop collected five), enjoyed a 39-31 edge in shots (28-20 on cage) and they only turned the ball over 16 times.

South Portland’s offense was paced by Stevens’ three goals, but they all came in the first quarter. Mehlhorn added two goals, while Adams and Fiorini each had one.

Backman and Fiorini both had two assists, while Savidge finished with one.

Overall, Cape Elizabeth’s defense stymied the Red Riots for large chunks of the game.

“All week in practice, we harped on finding their two big scorers (Fiorini and Mehlhorn),” said Patterson. “I knew I’d have to play tighter defense than I usually do.”

“I think Max is without a doubt one of the top defenders in the state,” Raymond said. “He’s proved that in our big games. Cooper didn’t score 6-on-6. We did some different things on David. We adjusted well to different things. Playing multiple defenses makes us more flexible and gives their offense other things to worry about.” 

Watson made 12 saves.

Junior Jack Kingsley had a game-high nine ground balls.

The Red Riots turned the ball over 19 times.

“I feel we played probably our worst game of the year and I’m trying to figure out why,” said South Portland coach Tom Fiorini. “I keep going back to that third quarter when we had opportunities, but we didn’t capitalize on them. It got away from us because we couldn’t put the ball in the cage. We had good looks at the goal, but we couldn’t score, then the kids got a little frustrated and (Cape) got a couple quick goals.”

June looms

South Portland (now fourth in the Class A South Heal Points standings) faces consecutive daunting tests when it goes to defending Class B state champion Brunswick Monday and to reigning Class A champion Thornton Academy Wednesday. The Red Riots visit Gorham Friday, then close the regular season with a home game versus Scarborough and a trip to Cheverus.

“Two games in a row we’ve been flat and we have to figure it out with more big games coming up,” Tom Fiorini said. “We have to figure out how to get our offense to jell.”

Cape Elizabeth (first in the region) is back in action Thursday at Yarmouth, then goes to Fryeburg Academy and hosts Greely to end the regular season.

“Going into the season I would have been surprised to be 9-0 at this point, but knowing how well we work together, it’s awesome,” Campbell said. “Yarmouth will be a big game. Greely will be huge as well. We’ll have to keep showing up and doing the same thing we did today.”

“We have great team chemistry,” Patterson said. “It’s a fun group of kids. We enjoy being together. It’s awesome we’re doing so well so far this season. We just need to keep practicing hard. Our practices have high intensity. It shows on the field. If we keep working hard and listening to the coaches, it will be a great rest of the season. Homefield advantage makes things that much easier and much better. We hope to be on Hannaford Field all playoffs.”

“We just want to keep playing well,” Raymond added. “That’s a bigger concern than seeding. We know we have big games coming up with Yarmouth and Greely and we’ll have no problem with our kids getting up for those games.”

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

Cape Elizabeth freshman Colin Campbell shoots on South Portland senior goalie Quinn Watson.

Cape Elizabeth sophomore Archie McEvoy eludes South Portland senior Ryan Loring.

Cape Elizabeth junior goalie Jack Dresser robs South Portland junior Alex Stevens.

South Portland senior Cooper Mehlhorn (22) celebrates after junior Alex Stevens scores on Cape Elizabeth junior goalie Jack Dresser with junior defenseman Max Patterson looking on.

Previous Cape Elizabeth-South Portland results

@ Cape Elizabeth 10 South Portland 8

@ Cape Elizabeth 16 South Portland 2

Cape Elizabeth 9 @ South Portland 8 

Cape Elizabeth 18 @ South Portland 3 

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