(Ed. Note: With high school sports currently on hiatus, please join me in a look back at some of the finest teams our coverage area has produced this century. To help us get through the summer, each week, I’ll present the top 10 teams from a different sport…four honorable mentions, then our “Super Six,” These rankings are put together with help from coaches and others, including a Twitter poll each week at twitter.com/foresports, but the final decision is mine. This week it’s boys’ lacrosse. Girls’ lacrosse is on deck…)

Forecaster Country has certainly featured an abundance of boys’ lacrosse excellence over the past two decades.

While Cape Elizabeth has been the constant, with Yarmouth not far behind, the overall improvement in quality of play has seen other programs ascend to not only a state championship level, but into the discussion of all-time teams.

Getting this list down to just 10 championship teams has been daunting, by far the most difficult of the sports we’ve addressed so far.

With that in mind, here’s one writer’s thoughts on the top 10:

Honorable mentions

Falmouth Yachtsmen, 2012 Class B state champion

File photos

The second-best team in Falmouth history can certainly stake a claim for being higher on this list. The Yachtsmen sent goalie Cam Bell, Charlie Fay, Mike Ryan, Willy Sipperly and Mitch Tapley on to star at the college level (Ryan, Sipperly and Tapley were each All-Americans in 2012). Like the year before, these Yachtsmen passed every test but one, beat Cape Elizabeth when it mattered most, then dispatched a plucky, upset-minded North Yarmouth Academy squad on the big stage.

After losing some top-notch talent to graduation the year before, Falmouth opened with an 8-6 loss at Cape Elizabeth, then ran the table, winning its final 11 regular season games by outscoring the opposition, 165 goals to 55, reaching double figures every time out. The Yachtsmen avenged their only setback by beating Cape Elizabeth, 14-12, to secure the top seed in Western Class B, then they embarked on another title run.

After earning a bye into the semifinals, Falmouth had no trouble with York, 13-1, in the semifinals, as Tapley scored four times and Jack Cooleen added three goals. The regional final versus Cape Elizabeth was viewed as the de facto state game and it didn’t disappoint. The game featured eight ties and four lead changes, but Fay’s goal with 10:25 left gave the Yachtsmen the lead for good, Tapley added an insurance goal and that loomed huge as the Capers answered before Falmouth held on for a palpitating 10-9 win. Tapley had four goals and Fay added three. One year after beating NYA by 11 goals in the state final, the Yachtsmen were expected to roll again, but this time, the Panthers made them work for it. Falmouth only led by one early in the fourth quarter before slamming the door on defense behind Ryan and going on to a 7-4 win. Fay scored three times, Tapley added two goals and specialist Abyn Reabe-Gerwig dominated the faceoff circle as the Yachtsmen went back-to-back for to date, the only time in program history.

Coach Mike LeBel: “We got the job done. It’s always nice to beat the best programs. It’s a euphoric feeling that’s difficult to explain. The guys knew how hard it was to get to this point. The seniors didn’t want to lose and they understood what was on the line.”

Scarborough Red Storm, 2013 Class A state champion

The final and finest of the Red Storm’s four straight Class A state championship teams, this was a squad which rode the momentum from a historic win and the leadership of transcendent senior star and All-American John Wheeler to the pinnacle once again.

Scarborough lived up to the expectations, winning its first three games by a composite 48-4 margin. The Red Storm were at their best when they were tested, however. In a 9-8 win over South Portland, Wheeler showed his unselfishness by setting up Matt Murphy for the winning goal in the final minute. After Scarborough’s lone loss, 8-5 to North Yarmouth Academy, it fought off Kennebunk’s upset bid, 5-4, then beat perennial powerhouse Yarmouth for the first time in program history, 10-7, on Yarmouth’s turf no less. Wheeler had six goals and goalie David Pearson came up big, like he always did in big games. At 11-1, the Red Storm earned the top seed for the Western A tournament and embarked on another title run, outscoring the opposition, 40-9.

After earning a bye into the semifinals, Scarborough had no trouble with No. 5 Marshwood, 14-2, as Nate Howard set the pace with three goals. The Red Storm met Kennebunk again in the Western A Final and this time, rolled to an 11-3 win behind Wheeler’s five goals. In the state final versus Cheverus, Wheeler and his senior teammates ensured they’d graduate knowing nothing but championship celebrations. Scarborough enjoyed a 15-4 victory, as Wheeler cemented his status as the program’s all-time premier talent, scoring four goals and adding three assists, while Pearson came up clutch with a dozen saves. A dynastic run was punctuated by an unforgettable team.

Coach Joe Hezlep: “These guys weren’t going for history, they were going for their year. They didn’t come in feeling like they were number one. They went and earned it all. The guys do a great job of making me look smart. The seniors were always aware of the situation. They knew where to be and when. They’ve seen close games. They just knew how to finish.”

Brunswick Dragons, 2015 Class A state champion

This was the best Brunswick team of them all and for one season at least, it was the best that the state had to offer.

The Dragons had lost to South Portland in the 2014 Class A state final, but there wouldn’t be a single stumble the following spring. While Brunswick ran roughshod, as usual, over its Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference foes, a couple of victories over the state’s premier programs set the Dragons apart. First, Brunswick won at Yarmouth, 14-8. Then came the biggest win of the season and one of the most unforgettable victories in program annals, a 15-14 overtime win over Cape Elizabeth in a game played at Bowdoin College. Owen Ginty played the hero in that one. When the regular season dust settled, the Dragons were 12-0, having outscored the opposition, 205-73. Brunswick earned the top seed for the Eastern A playoffs and rolled to the pinnacle.

First up was rival Mt. Ararat and the Dragons made quick work of the Eagles, 21-4, behind Ryan Croatti’s seven goals. In the semifinals, Brunswick had its way with Cheverus, 18-8, behind five goals apiece from Croatti and Matt Brooks. The Dragons punched their state game ticket by dominating Messalonskee, 21-4, in the Eastern A Final (T.J. Sullivan had seven goals, Brooks assisted on six goals and Ian Schlosser was close to unbeatable in the faceoff circle). Brunswick earned a rematch with South Portland in the state game and never trailed, winning, 13-9. The Dragons couldn’t hold an early lead, but Brooks scored in the third period to put them ahead to stay and a second state title was the end result. Brooks scored four goals and it was a Glover Family celebration, as All-American Cam Glover scored five times, Christian Glover added a goal and Don Glover coached the team to victory. For one season, Brunswick was simply perfect.

Coach Don Glover: “It feels absolutely awesome. It’s a great accomplishment for the program. Having my boys on the team working hard for this for a long time is a special moment. All the guys were ready from the get-go. To play solid lacrosse is a statement for us as a program. Winning a state championship is an honor. To do it with 16 seniors is a feather in our cap.”

Cape Elizabeth Capers, 2015 Class B state champion

The spring of 2015 also witnessed a transcendent season in Cape Elizabeth, where the Capers, long the state’s premier program, redefined the phrase, “Family Dynasty.” Not only did Connor, Griffin and Owen Thoreck, the sons of athletic director, Jeff Thoreck, star (Griffin Thoreck was an All-American), but they were joined by freshmen Ben Carroll, son of longtime program assistant Charlie Carroll, and Finn Raymond, son of longtime head coach Ben Raymond, to help make up a championship-winning juggernaut.

Cape Elizabeth won its first six games, including a surprisingly decisive 19-11 triumph at rival Falmouth, then lost an overtime thriller to eventual Class A champion Brunswick. Four more wins followed before a shocking 11-9 home loss to Falmouth on Senior Night. The loss was fuel enough for the Capers to sit up and take notice, but adding insult to injury, the Yachtsmen chanted Cape Elizabeth’s traditional victory cheer after the game, incensing the Capers and saving Ben Raymond the trouble of having to get them refocused heading into the playoffs.

Cape Elizabeth was the top seed in Western Class B and after earning a quarterfinal round bye, the Capers took out some of their frustrations on No. 5 Kennebunk in the semifinals, 16-2 (Ben Shea scored six goals and Owen Thoreck added five), but saved their best for a rematch with Falmouth in the regional final. The game was tied, 4-4, late in the first half, but Cape Elizabeth’s always-proud defense didn’t allow a single goal the rest of the way, while the Capers’ offense tickled the twine on eight occasions for a statement-making 12-4 victory. Owen Thoreck led a balanced attack with three goals and Noah Haversat dazzled at both ends of the field. The state game versus Yarmouth proved to be more of a struggle, but Cape Elizabeth went ahead to stay in the third quarter on J Bottomley’s goal, then held on, 7-5, to make it three straight Class B crowns.

Coach Ben Raymond: “Everybody thinks we just show up and win every single time, but people don’t know what goes into it every day. I’m biased, but I think we probably work harder than anyone else in the state to stay at this level. I think we’re at the point now coaching where we’ve literally known these kids since the day they were born. We’ve watched them grow up. It’s a special thing to be such a big part of their lives.”

The Super Six

6) Portland Bulldogs, 2009 Class A state champion

Portland quickly rose from a start-up program to a veritable powerhouse and after several years of close calls, won an elusive state title in dominating fashion, beating several top teams along the way, riding the talents of All-Americans K.R. Jurgelevich and Dylan Kenney, as well as many other key contributors.

The Bulldogs’ 2009 schedule included reigning state champions Scarborough and Yarmouth, perennial powers Cape Elizabeth, Kennebunk and North Yarmouth Academy, rivals Cheverus and Deering and soon-to-be-powerhouse Falmouth. Portland navigated that minefield with all of one loss, an 11-9 setback at an all-time great Yarmouth team (see below). It all added up to an 11-1 record, a 176-40 goal differential and the top seed for the Western A tournament, where the Bulldogs continued their prolific, winning ways.

In a 21-2 quarterfinal round demolition of ninth-ranked Massabesic, Jurgelevich scored six goals and added three assists, while three other players, Sam Guimond, Andy Holt and Tyler Sandler, produced three goals apiece. Portland took apart No. 4 South Portland, 20-2, in the semifinals, as this time, 10 different players tickled the twine, with Jurgelevich leading the way with three goals. The Bulldogs avenged the prior year’s regional final loss when they beat No. 2 Scarborough, 14-1, in the Western A Final, as Jurgelevich had five goals and Caleb Kenney added three. Two years after losing to Brunswick on the big stage, Portland got another shot at the Dragons in the state final and this time, the Bulldogs wouldn’t be derailed, grabbing an early 3-0 lead and going on to a 9-3 win. Jurgelevich scored three times and collected 14 ground balls and Caleb Kenney added a pair of goals. Portland had its title and at last, the status as one of the state’s elite powers to boot.

Coach Eric Begonia: “It’s the pinnacle. It’s been seven years in the making. I’m really happy for the senior class. Individually and as a team, they hold every record in the program’s history. This was the only missing piece. I’m thrilled to see them get it.

5) Cape Elizabeth Capers, 2014 Class B state champion

The third and most recent Cape Elizabeth team to finish undefeated during the Maine Principals Association-sanctioned era, this squad met every challenge and repeated as the Class B state champion.

A 15-1 romp over Waynflete set the tone and behind the prolific scoring of Ben Shea, All-American Griffin Thoreck and company, the Capers went on to produce 142 goals while holding the opposition to just 48, thanks a staunch defensive unit featuring All-American Tom Feenstra. Cape Elizabeth was seriously pushed only once, in the regular season finale at Falmouth, but won that one, 12-10, to lock up the top seed for the tournament, where the Capers sealed the deal.

After earning a bye into the semifinals, Cape Elizabeth punished Greely, 19-1, in the semifinals, as Shea had eight goals and Thoreck and his freshman brother, Owen Thoreck, combined for seven goals and seven assists. The Capers hosted Falmouth in the Western B Final and got a test, but passed it, 11-8, taking an early 7-1 lead behind four goals from Griffin Thoreck and two from Owen Thoreck, then going on to victory. Do-everything Noah Haversat added three goals, Shea produced a pair and Noah Wolfinger completely shut down Yachtsmen standout IV Stucker. Yarmouth didn’t roll over in the state final, only allowing Cape Elizabeth a season-low six goals, but the Capers’ defense was up to the test, surrendering a mere three as another title was clinched. Griffin Thoreck scored twice and the Clippers only mustered eight shots on cage. That’s how you cap a perfect season.

Coach Ben Raymond: “We had a great season. We improved all year. It’s more relief than anything since there’s definitely a lot of pressure being undefeated. Our seniors were great leaders all year long.”

4) Yarmouth Clippers, 2009 Class B state champion

Some would argue this was Yarmouth’s best team of all, just the second to go undefeated and capture a championship, starting and finishing with wins over Cape Elizabeth, while passing some other tough tests along the way.

After beating the Capers, 8-6, in the opener, the Clippers, with Evan Henry and All-Americans Rob Highland and Steven Petrovek leading the way, scored in double figures in every subsequent contest. In the regular season, Yarmouth tickled the twine 178 times and with goalie Cam Woodworth serving as a last line of defense, the Clippers only surrendered 39 goals (on seven occasions, they gave up two goals or fewer). Other than the opener, Yarmouth’s biggest scare came in midseason, when eventual Class A champion Portland paid a visit. The Clippers found a way to prevail, 11-9, behind Petrovek’s two goals and four assists and Woodworth’s 11 saves. Yarmouth earned the top seed for the Eastern B tournament and finished off its perfect season.

After earning a bye into the semifinals, the Clippers destroyed No. 4 St. Dom’s, 26-1, as Highland, Petrovek, Mike McCormack and Colby Shields all had four goals and Jake Gallagher added three. The regional final versus rival and third-seed North Yarmouth Academy was a little closer, but Yarmouth rolled again, 15-4, as Henry and Peter Erickson paced a balanced attack with three goals apiece. That left only Cape Elizabeth to be dealt with in the state final. As expected, the Capers gave the Clippers all they could handle, but Yarmouth finished atop the heap, 12-9, capturing its second title in a row and fourth all-time, thanks in part to three goals apiece from Henry, Highland and Petrovek (including a highlight reel, behind-the-back strike), two from Luke Torres and eight Woodworth saves. It would be Yarmouth’s last championship for a decade, but the Clippers’ excellence from that era lingers still.

Coach Craig Curry: “These kids really came out of nowhere. I really believe that. Not many people gave us a whole lot of thought in the preseason. We lost 18 kids and most of them were starters. These kids worked their hearts out and brought themselves to a place where they could challenge anybody. It was a great season.”

3) Yarmouth Clippers, 2004 State champion

This was the team that finally put Yarmouth atop the lacrosse mountain, one that beat Cape Elizabeth not once, not twice, but three times and finished a perfect 16-0 in Craig Curry’s first season as coach. One year after dropping an OT heartbreaker to Cape Elizabeth in the state final, in Barry White’s swan song as coach, the 2004 Clippers (featuring All-Americans Chris Hichborn, Todd Lawrence and Jon Miller) had a single purpose and went out and reached the pinnacle.

Yarmouth scored goals with abandon, reaching double digits in every outing, and when it had to step up, the defense was formidable as well. The Clippers served notice that they were the team to beat by winning their first seven outings, by a composite 98-16 margin, then the first act of the changing of the guard occurred May 11. Playing on its home turf, Yarmouth dug an early 6-0 deficit against Cape Elizabeth, but the Clippers roared back and prevailed, 13-11, in the program’s biggest regular season victory to date. Yarmouth took the lead for good on Brent Stevens’ goal with 6:19 to play. Hichborn scored four times and assisted on the winner. After putting up 53 goals in wins over Wells, North Yarmouth and Greely, the Clippers beat Cape Elizabeth again, in even more impressive fashion, in the finale. Playing in a mud-pit during a downpour, visiting Yarmouth rolled, 15-7, behind seven goals from Hichborn and four more from Miller, to finish 12-0 and earn the top seed for the East Region playoffs.

The Clippers were never truly pushed in the postseason. They ran roughshod through their region, first beating Cony (23-4) in the quarterfinals, behind four goals and four assists from Lahey, then eliminating NYA (11-3) in the semifinals before pulling away in the second half to oust Brunswick (13-3) in the regional final, as Hichborn, Miller and Stevens all scored three times. Yarmouth had to get past Cape Elizabeth one final time in the state game and was up to the challenge, winning, 11-6. Five different players scored in the first period as the Clippers set the tone and went up, 5-2. By halftime, Yarmouth had a 7-3 advantage and thanks to some key saves from goalie Alex Bubier (who made 16 on the day), it extended the lead to a commanding 10-5 heading for the final period. There, Luke Stevens scored the clincher and Yarmouth unleashed a celebration years in the making, one which once and for all cemented the Clippers as an premier program.

Coach Craig Curry: “As a team, as a group, they asserted themselves all over the field in every aspect of the game. It took some time for our defense to mature and come together. To me, they became the backbone of the team. They kept us in game until the offense could score.”

2) Cape Elizabeth Capers, 2002 State champion

With Matt Ranaghan leaving the opposition in his wake, Cape Elizabeth’s boys’ lacrosse team steamrolled all comers en route to the 2002 state title.  

Nothing’s more dangerous than a proud program coming off a disappointment. After its 11-year title reign was ended by North Yarmouth Academy the year before, the Capers, who boasted premier players at multiple positions (including All-Americans Mike DiFusco, Matt Ranaghan and Dean Scontras), took out their anger and frustration on the rest of the state, only getting seriously tested once in their perfect run to the title.

After scoring a total of 76 times in five season-opening victories (including a 20-9 revenge win over NYA), Cape Elizabeth got pushed to the brink at Kennebunk before holding on for a 12-11 triumph. The Capers then administered another dose of revenge to NYA (13-8) and scored 74 goals in their final five outings to go 12-0 and earn the top seed in the West Region. The domination would continue in the postseason.

Cape Elizabeth rolled past Waynflete, 16-4, in the quarterfinals, then beat Marshwood by 12 goals (20-8) in the semifinals (Alex Weaver had six goals and Colin Malone five). As expected, the Capers were pushed by Kennebunk in the West Region Final, but prevailed, 11-7, as Mike Walsh scored three goals, DiFusco added a pair and Scott Caras produced a huge tally just when the Rams were making a run. That left upstart Brunswick, making its first state game appearance, and after a two-day wait due to rain, Cape Elizabeth returned to the pinnacle with abandon, 15-7. The Capers got five goals from DiFusco and the Ranaghan-led defense frustrated the Dragons, punctuating a dominant season with a commanding victory.

Coach Ben Raymond: “It’s always great to win. It feels much better than it does to be on the other side. It’s something we told the kids: ‘You all know what it feels to be on the losing side of a state championship now. Let’s make sure it doesn’t happen again.'”

1) Falmouth Yachtsmen, 2011 Class B state champion

The people’s choice in our Twitter poll and the top choice of former Yachtsmen coach Mike LeBel, Falmouth’s first championship team not only dethroned Cape Elizabeth and fell just one goal shy of perfection, it also produced players who excelled at the high school level, then went on to make an indelible mark as collegians as well.

The Yachtsmen nearly ascended to the pinnacle in 2010, but after beating Cape Elizabeth in both regular season meetings, they were upset in overtime by the Capers in the Western B Final and Cape Elizabeth went on to win yet another state title. The guard changed in 2011, as Falmouth featured all-star caliber talent in goal (Cam Bell), on defense (All-American Mike Ryan), in the midfield (faceoff specialist Abyn Reabe-Gerwig, as well as scoring threats Jack Cooleen and Willy Sipperly) and on attack (All-Americans Nick Bachman, Charlie Fay and Mitch Tapley).

The Yachtsmen opened with a decisive 12-4 home win over Cape Elizabeth, won by 10 goals at eventual Class A champion Scarborough, crushed North Yarmouth Academy by a dozen goals in a state game rematch and handed Yarmouth its first home loss since 2002, snapping the Clippers’ 73-game win streak on their turf. Falmouth then stumbled at Cape Elizabeth, falling, 8-7, in overtime, but only after Bachman scored in the waning seconds to cap a valiant rally which forced the extra session. The rest of the season was a coronation, as the Yachtsmen blanked Yarmouth (by the improbable score of 17-0), then beat Greely, NYA and Freeport by a composite 48-9 margin to wrap up the top seed in Western Class B. This time, Falmouth wouldn’t be denied in its quest for the big trophy.

In the semifinals, the Yachtsmen left Waynflete in their wake, 17-1, as Fay led a balanced attack with four goals. That set up the de facto state final against Cape Elizabeth in the Western B Final, where on its new home turf, Falmouth wasn’t about to buckle, winning, 11-9, as Bachman (four goals) and Brendan McDonnell staked the Yachtsmen to an early lead, Ryan tallied an improbable goal late, Bell made a dozen saves and despite a late Capers’ rally, Falmouth got to celebrate a first trip to Fitzpatrick Stadium for the state final. The Yachtsmen quickly earned their coronation versus NYA in the Class B state final, winning, 15-4, behind four goals and four assists from Tapley, three goals apiece from Bachman, Cooleen and Sipperly and Reabe-Gerwig’s brilliance in the faceoff circle (he won 17 of 21 opportunities). Falmouth won another title the following year and the core of this juggernaut team made a mark for several springs thereafter.

Coach Mike LeBel: “A lot of other people had a ton to do with this. When I took over five years ago, we maybe had one or two kids going to camp and playing out of season. I thought I could improve the program. Initially, I never imagined we’d be here knowing how good Yarmouth is and their tradition, Cape and NYA. I thought we could get to a level close to them, but I never thought with their talent and tradition, we’d be able to eclipse them.”

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

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