Thornton Academy senior C.J. Labreck scores a first half goal as Cape Elizabeth sophomore Gavin Simopolous defends during the Golden Trojans’ 8-5 victory in Wednesday’s Class A South Final. Thornton Academy handed the Capers their first loss of the season and advanced to meet Falmouth in Saturday’s state final.

Carl D. Walsh / Portland Press Herald photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Class A South Final

Thornton Academy 8 Cape Elizabeth 5

TA- 4 3 1 0- 8
CE- 0 1 1 3- 5

First quarter
9:36 TA Edborg (unassisted)
8:48 TA Tanis (unassisted)
6:14 TA Labreck (unassisted)
5:41 TA Bracamonte (unassisted)

Second quarter
11:29 TA Labreck (Bolduc)
4:36 TA Levasseur (unassisted)
3:16 TA Bolduc unassisted)
41.0 CE Campbell (S. Dresser)

Third quarter
5:58 TA Tanis (unassisted)
3:20 CE Martin (Campbell) (MAN-UP)

Fourth quarter
10:40 CE Martin (McEvoy)
7:07 CE McEvoy (unassisted)
5:23 CE Tarling (unassisted)

Goals:
TA- Labreck, Tanis 2, Bolduc, Bracamonte, Edborg, Levasseur 1
CE- Martin 2, Campbell, McEvoy, Tarling 1

Assists:
TA- Bolduc 1
CE- Campbell, S. Dresser, McEvoy 1

Faceoffs (Cape Elizabeth, 10-7)
TA- Pelletier 5 of 11, Edborg 2 of 6
CE- D. Lathrop 10 of 17

Ground balls:
TA- 28
CE- 32

Turnovers:
TA- 15
CE- 21

Shots:
TA- 30
CE- 17

Shots on cage:
TA- 23
CE- 12

Saves:
TA (Patry) 7 
CE (J. Dresser) 15 

CAPE ELIZABETH—Cape Elizabeth’s dream season had a nightmare ending Wednesday evening at Hannaford Field.

Courtesy Thornton Academy. 

Again.

A year after losing the regional final by nine goals at the eventual Class A boys’ lacrosse champions, the Capers got an opportunity to host the Golden Trojans in the Class A South Final, but once again, Cape Elizabeth dug a hole that proved too deep to dig out of.

Not that the top-seeded Capers didn’t try.

Second-ranked Thornton Academy took a 4-0 lead after one quarter, as senior goalie Ean Patry made five clutch saves and junior Sam Edborg, senior Gavin Tanis, senior C.J. Labreck and senior Anthony Bracamonte all scored.

When Labreck, senior Thomas Levasseur and junior Colby Bolduc added second period goals, the Golden Trojans appeared en route to a rout, but freshman Colin Campbell’s goal just before the half gave Cape Elizabeth a little life.

Tanis scored midway through the third quarter, but the Capers and junior goalie Jack Dresser would shut Thornton Academy out the rest of the way.

After senior Nick Martin scored in the third period, Cape Elizabeth got fourth quarter goals from Martin, sophomore Archie McEvoy and senior Phil Tarling to make things interesting, but the Capers committed three critical turnovers and the Golden Trojans were able to run out the clock on an 8-5 victory.

Thornton Academy won its 12th game in a row, improved to 14-1, advanced to meet Falmouth (10-5) in a state final rematch Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium at a time to be announced and in the process, ended Cape Elizabeth’s quest for a perfect season at 13-1.

“It’s definitely a disappointing end to a great season,” said longtime Capers coach Ben Raymond. “It’s extra tough to lose at home, but there are a lot of teams who would love to be in the Southern Maine championship.”

More of the same

Last June, in Saco, Thornton Academy raced to a 6-1 first quarter lead and never looked back in a 15-6 regional final victory over Cape Elizabeth en route to the program’s first Class A state title.

The Golden Trojans enjoyed another strong season this spring, but there was one blemish, an 8-7 overtime loss at Cape Elizabeth April 29.

Thornton Academy made the most of that setback, however, and hasn’t lost since.

“We learned we had to play more as a team,” said Labreck, who will play at Monmouth University in New Jersey next year. “Our defense wasn’t playing that well and we had too many turnovers, so we had to pick it up offensively.”

“The first game, we were just a group of guys who hadn’t really meshed yet,” said senior defenseman Eli Arsenault. “We hadn’t found ourselves. After that game, the coaches begged us to buy into the program and after that, we only went up.”

The Capers, meanwhile, despite being taken to overtime on three different occasions, didn’t lose a game and by virtue of their win over Thornton Academy, wound up with the top seed in Class A South, while the Golden Trojans were relegated to No. 2.

Thornton Academy defeated No. 7 Scarborough, 12-5, in the quarterfinal round, then beat No. 6 Kennebunk, 10-1, in Saturday’s semifinals.

Cape Elizabeth earned a bye into the semifinal round, where it held off No. 4 South Portland, 9-5, Saturday.

The teams’ regular season game was memorable for a couple reasons. It began Friday, April 26, but before the first quarter was completed, lightning suspended the contest and it was picked up three days later. Then, the Golden Trojans forced overtime behind Tanis’ goal in the waning seconds before Tarling scored in OT to give the Capers a win, their third straight in overtime.

The teams had met three previous times in the playoffs, with Cape Elizabeth prevailing, 16-5, in the 2000 state semifinals and 6-2 in the 2001 South Division semifinals and Thornton Academy taking last year’s regional final.

Wednesday, the Golden Trojans did it again.

Senior Devon Lathrop, who controlled the faceoff circle in the teams’ first meeting, won possession for the Capers to start the game and just 20 seconds in, Campbell had a great look to give his team early momentum, but Patry stopped him cold.

After Dresser denied Arsenault at the other end, senior Sam Dresser had a look to put Cape Elizabeth on top, but again, Patry came up huge.

“Ean is an All-American for a reason,” Arsenault said. “He makes huge saves at huge moments. The way he moves his body in the net is unmatched. It’s such a relief to have him.”

With 9:36 remaining in the first quarter, the Golden Trojans went on top for good, as Edborg scored unassisted.

A mere 48 seconds later, Tanis beat Jack Dresser top shelf and the score was 2-0.

Martin tried to rally Cape Elizabeth, but he was stopped by Patry.

With 6:14 to go in the frame, Labreck, on a rush, unleashed a rocket that Dresser couldn’t stop for a three-goal lead.

Just 41 seconds later, Bracamonte, the football standout, weaved through the defense before finishing and the lead was 4-0.

Late in the quarter, Patry robbed Martin again and Thornton Academy was off to a great start after 12 minutes.

“At the beginning, we had some great looks, but Ean made saves,” Raymond said. “Defensively, we had a couple breakdowns and we didn’t get off to the start we were hoping for. It was a tough hole to dig out of. We might have been a little tight in the beginning. A lot of unforced errors.”

The Golden Trojans kept the pressure on to start the second period, as Labreck scored for the second time, from Bolduc, 31 seconds in.

Neither team would score for seven minutes before Thornton Academy got an unassisted goal from Levasseur after a turnover with 4:36 showing and with 3:16 on the clock, after Jack Dresser saved an initial shot, Bolduc swatted the loose ball into the net hockey-style to make it 7-0.

The Capers finally solved Patry with 41 seconds remaining before halftime, as Sam Dresser set up Campbell for a goal, but the hosts faced a steep 7-1 deficit at the break.

Thornton Academy had a 16-8 shots advantage in the first 24 minutes.

Cape Elizabeth wasn’t able to ride the momentum of Campbell’s goal as the second half began, due in large part again to Patry, who cut off the angle on a Sam Dresser shot which hit the post, then made a save on a Dresser shot.

With 5:58 left in the third period, Tanis got past the defense and fired a shot into the net for an 8-1 lead, but that would be the end of the Golden Trojans’ offense.

It proved to be enough.

With 3:20 on the clock, playing man-up, the Capers got a goal back, as Campbell fed Martin in front and after Edborg hit the post late in the frame, Thornton Academy held an 8-2 advantage with 12 minutes go play.

Those dozen minutes would prove to be nervewracking for the Golden Trojans, as Cape Elizabeth made a run.

With 10:40 to play, McEvoy set up Martin to cut the deficit to 8-3.

McEvoy got in on the goal-scoring fun with 7:07 on the clock, finishing unassisted after a nice dodge.

“We played really well in the second half,” Raymond said. “We pushed more in transition. Shots started falling a little bit. We moved the ball better and made stops.”

Then, with 5:23 showing, Tarling scored unassisted and suddenly, the Capers were only down 8-5 and entertained hopes of a dramatic comeback.

It didn’t happen, as Cape Elizabeth couldn’t muster another shot.

Lathrop won the ensuing faceoff, but the Capers turned the ball over.

With 3:29 on the clock, Labreck was sent off for 30 seconds due to a push and Cape Elizabeth went man-up, but again, the Capers threw the ball away.

“The big turnover was man-up,” Raymond said. “The sun was tough at that point, but if we had scored, it might have become much different.”

After Jack Dresser, who was terrific in the second half, robbed Tanis on the doorstep with 2:24 to go, Cape Elizabeth had a final offensive chance, but another turnover ended any lingering hopes.

“Cape’s a tough team to stop, especially when they get rolling,” Arsenault said. “I told the guys, ‘How bad do you want it?’ They responded.”

Thornton Academy was able to milk the rest of the clock and at 7:41 p.m., celebrated its 8-5 victory.

“We knew it was a little too close for comfort, so we had to waste the rest of the time to get the ‘W,'” Labreck said. “We work on that a lot. We practice trying to keep the ball away from our defense, which is really hard. They make us better every single day. 

“This feels great. Going undefeated last year was a great feeling, but after losing to them the first time, it feels a little better beating them this year to go back to states. We moved the ball well. Everyone was on their toes. It was a good team effort.”

“This is awesome,” said Thornton Academy Ryan Hersey. “We knew we had the athletes, but we needed to learn from last game and I’m really proud of the fact the guys were humble enough to understand that it’s not an individual game and we had to get others involved and get better.

“We knew (Cape) had the ability to score goals quickly. We knew they’d go on a run at some point. We tried very hard to stop that in the fourth quarter. We learned from our mistakes last game. We took care of the ball better. We won more faceoffs. We spread them out and held on to the ball. The defense executed very well. Last time, we let their middies go in the middle and play that wheel rotation they like to run, but this time, we forced them down the side and we didn’t have to rotate.”

Labreck and Tanis paced the Golden Trojans’ offense with two goals apiece. Bolduc, Bracamonte, Edborg and Levasseur all added one.

Bolduc had Thornton Academy’s lone assist.

Patry made seven saves.

“Ean made some huge saves and that was a big difference-maker,” Hersey said.

Arsenault led the team with five ground balls.

The Golden Trojans had a 30-17 shots advantage (23-12 on cage) and overcame 15 turnovers.

Thornton Academy closed the regular season with a 10-4 win at Falmouth, May 28. The Golden Trojans beat the Yachtsmen, 14-12, in last year’s state final and would love to do it again, but based on previous experience, they know it won’t come easily.

“We’re just going to do the same thing we did this game,” Labreck said. “Come out on fire and see how we can do. Winning would be amazing. Especially in my senior year.”

“We’ll enjoy this for (tonight), but all we did was earn the right to come back tomorrow because we haven’t won anything yet,” Arsenault said. “Winning again would mean the world. Obviously a repeat would be great, but to end a senior season on a ‘W’ would be great. Only one team gets to do that and I want that to be us. We can’t overlook Falmouth. Last year, we were down the majority of the state game. If we play our game, I think we’ll be in a good spot. I just want us to play a Trojans’ lacrosse game and do what we do.”

“Last year, we handed it to Falmouth two weeks before states, 12-5, then had to fight for our lives in the state game,” Hersey added. “Again, they have nothing to lose and they’ll come out ready to go. I know (Falmouth coach) Dave (Barton) will do an excellent job preparing them. We need to focus. This game is great, but if we don’t win Saturday, it’s not as sweet.”

Too little, too late

Cape Elizabeth got two goals from Martin and one each from Campbell, McEvoy and Tarling.

Campbell, Sam Dresser and McEvoy each had one assist.

Jack Dresser made 15 saves.

“Jack made some great saves, especially in the second half,” Raymond said.

Lathrop won 10 of 17 faceoffs.

The Capers had a slim 32-28 edge in ground balls (junior defenseman Max Patterson scooped up a game-high seven) and gave the ball away 21 times.

“Thornton Academy is a talented team,” Raymond said. “They do a lot of things well. They’re well-coached, they’re organized. Their defense is really hard to play against. They have a goalie who made big saves. Their faceoff guy was great tonight too.”

While the season ended in disappointment, Cape Elizabeth made a lot of memories this spring.

“Our seniors have done a great job, not just in games, but in practices and in school every day,” Raymond said. “They’ve been great leaders and showed the younger guys how to win and how to be successful. They played really hard today. They could have let things get away from us in the second half, but we were able to dig our way back into it and there’s something to be said for that.”

As always, the future is bright and the Capers expect to be battling for a championship in 2020.

“We had a bunch of sophomores who played a lot, freshmen who played a ton and our junior class was there too this year, so we feel good about where we’re going,” Raymond said. “We think we’re doing the right things. It’s just a matter of putting it all together.” 

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

Cape Elizabeth junior goalie Jack Dresser is pressured by Thornton Academy junior Sawyer Wirsing (13) and junior Cameron Cote.

Cape Elizabeth junior goalie Jack Dresser, who stopped 15 shots, keeps a wary eye on Thornton Academy senior Thomas Levasseur.

Thornton Academy celebrates its second consecutive regional title.

Senior goalie Ean Patry, left, and senior C.J. Labreck, along with their teammates, show off the regional championship trophy.

Previous Cape Elizabeth stories

Season Preview

Cape Elizabeth 7 Scarborough 6 (OT)

Cape Elizabeth 8 Yarmouth 7 (OT)

Cape Elizabeth 8 Thornton Academy 7 (OT)

Cape Elizabeth 9 Falmouth 4

Cape Elizabeth 16 South Portland 7