Thornton Academy 4 Scarborough 3

TA- 0 2 0 2- 4
S- 1 2 0 0- 3

First quarter
4:02 S Delaware (Leadley)

Second quarter
8:45 S Leadley (unassisted)
6:44 S Leadley (St. Germain)
4:05 TA St. John (Pelletier) (MAN-UP)
3:24 TA Flynn (LeBlanc)

Third quarter
No scoring

Fourth quarter
7:03 TA LeBlanc (Pelletier)
3.6 TA Flynn (unassisted)

TA- Flynn 2, LeBlanc, St. John 1
S- Leadley 2, Delaware 1

TA- Pelletier 2
S- Leadley, St. Germain 1

Faceoffs: (Scarborough, 6-5)
K- Michaud 5 of 11
S- Carlista 6 of 11

Ground balls:
TA- 35
S- 41

TA- 25
S- 23

TA- 18
S- 20

Shots on cage:
TA- 17
S- 15

TA (Fournier) 12
S (Medeiros) 13

SCARBOROUGH—Four years ago, the Scarborough and Thornton Academy boys’ lacrosse teams played two games that resulted in a total of 71 combined goals.

It’s safe to say that Thursday evening’s contest between the neighboring rivals didn’t come anywhere close to that kind of prolific production.

In a game that was a defensive struggle throughout, but one that was taut and entertaining until the final horn, the Golden Trojans and Red Storm proved to have almost no separation before Thornton Academy was able to shake off a season’s worth of frustrating close losses as its offense awakened just in time.

The tone was set when neither team scored for nearly the first eight minutes of the game before junior Tae Delaware put Scarborough ahead, 1-0, after one quarter.

When senior Owen Leadley scored consecutive goals for the Red Storm midway through the second period, it appeared they were on their way, but shockingly, the hosts wouldn’t score the rest of the quarter, or at all in the second half.

The Golden Trojans then pulled within one at halftime, as junior Alex St. John and classmate Ronan Flynn scored in a 41-second span late in the second period, cutting the deficit to 3-2.

The score remained 3-2 all the way through a scoreless third quarter, as Thornton Academy senior goalie Seth Fournier and Scarborough senior goalie Josh Medeiros stood tall.

With 7:03 remaining, the Golden Trojans snapped a 20-plus-minute drought when senior Caleb Pelletier set up sophomore Ethan LeBlanc for the tying goal.

Both teams were stymied from there and it appeared overtime was imminent, but moments after having a golden opportunity squashed by Medeiros, Flynn got one final chance and with 3.6 seconds showing, he completed an impressive individual effort and scored the goal that gave Thornton Academy an inspirational 4-3 victory.

The Golden Trojans improved to 5-3 on the season and in the process, handed the Red Storm just their second setback in seven outings.

“We knew we needed a huge win to turn the season around and we got it,” said Flynn. “We’d lost three games by a total of four goals. We’ve been in close games. We had to learn how to finish one.”

Playoff preview

Scarborough and Thornton Academy figure to be the two teams best equipped to battle Cape Elizabeth for Class A South honors next month, as each squad has shown glimpses of greatness.

The Golden Trojans opened with a 12-6 win over South Portland, lost to Scarborough (8-6) and at Falmouth (9-8), then turned it around, defeating South Portland (13-4), Kennebunk (12-2) and Windham (9-3) before letting a fourth quarter lead slip away in Tuesday’s 9-8 home overtime loss to Falmouth.

The Red Storm, meanwhile, opened with victories at Thornton Academy (8-6), at home over South Portland (18-7) and at Windham (12-6), then took host Falmouth into overtime before dropping a palpitating and agonizing 10-9 decision. Scarborough bounced right back with a 12-2 home victory over Kennebunk and a 14-7 win at South Portland Tuesday.

In the teams’ first meeting, a game that was also tight throughout, Scarborough snapped a three-game skid in the series.

Thursday, on a very pleasant mid-May evening (it was 64 degrees at the start), in front of a large and vocal crowd (and how nice is that to finally see and hear again!) the Red Storm had no shortage of chances to emerge victorious, but their offense went cold and the Golden Trojans got a therapeutic victory.

Medeiros started red-hot by robbing freshman Bo Preston, Flynn and junior Colby Bilodeau in the early going.

Scarborough then opened the scoring with 4:05 to play in the first quarter, as Leadley set up Delaware for a 1-0 lead.

Scarborough senior Will Arpin protects the ball from Thornton Academy junior Ronan Flynn in early action. Hoffer photos.

Delaware appeared to double the lead two minutes later, but his goal was off as he was ruled to be in the crease.

Fournier then made a key save on a shot from junior Finn Pedersen in the final minute and the score remained 1-0 heading for the second period.

There, each team had a veritable offensive explosion in comparison to the first quarter.

After Pelletier hit the post for the visitors 46 seconds in, the Red Storm went on top, 2-0, when Leadley finished unassisted with 8:45 remaining before halftime.

Thornton Academy’s frustrations continued, as sophomore John Elliopulos hit the post and with 6:44 on the clock, senior Will St. Germain set up Leadley for his second goal and a 3-0 advantage.

But Scarborough would never score again.

The Golden Trojans’ comeback began after Red Storm junior Sam Rumelhart was sent off for a cross check and playing man-up, Thornton Academy pulled within two, as Pelletier set up St. John, a standout at the defensive and offensive ends of the field, for a goal with 4:05 left before the break.

Then, a mere 41 seconds later, Flynn scored his first goal, from LeBlanc, and the score was 3-2.

That score remained at halftime, but only after Fournier made a clutch late save on a Leadley bid.

In the first 24 minutes, all statistical categories were nearly even, but Scarborough clung to the lead.

The Red Storm would stay ahead in the third quarter as well, but the Golden Trojans had their chances.

Medeiros had to save shots from Pelletier, Elliopulos and Pelletier again, who also hit the post.

At the other end, Delaware tried to score for Scarborough, but he hit the post and both junior Jeremiah Park and Leadley had shots saved by Fournier.

Scarborough senior Owen Leadley, who scored twice, is defended by Thornton Academy freshman Bo Preston.

Early in the fourth period, Fournier denied a shot from Pedersen and Pelletier was robbed by Medeiros.

Then, with 7:34 to play, Thornton Academy went man-up, after Leadley was sent off for interference.

The Golden Trojans didn’t score man-up, but did draw even a second after the penalty expired, as Pelletier found LeBlanc for a shot that Medeiros couldn’t stop.

Thornton Academy had snapped a 20:21 drought and the game was deadlocked, 3-3.

The rest of regulation featured near-misses until the Golden Trojans finally scored at the optimal time.

Off the ensuing faceoff, Rumelhart scooped up a ground ball, raced in and shot, but his bid sailed high.

After going man-up, Scarborough got a great look from Park, but Fournier stopped it cold.

With 3:24 to play, Flynn appeared primed to put Thornton Academy ahead for the first time, but Medeiros stopped him on the doorstep.

After Leadley bounced a shot over the goal, he had a shot saved by Fournier with 1:33 showing and after Pedersen got the rebound, he missed just wide.

On the play, Golden Trojans defenseman Carter Gagne was called for slashing and the Red Storm had a minute’s worth of man-up advantage.

But they couldn’t capitalize, as Pedersen hit the post and Leadley had a shot saved by Fournier.

“Giving up goals gets to you a little bit, but I just had to keep my head clear and think about the next shot and making sure I was there to make the save,” Fournier said.

Thornton Academy got possession and called timeout with 36.7 seconds to go.

Then, with time winding down, Flynn got the ball behind the goal, rolled to his right with a defender right on him and at the last split second, Flynn got a sliver of room, fired a low shot and this time, Medeiros couldn’t stop it.

“We’d just ran a play where the goalie stuffed me on the crease,” Flynn said. “We wanted to get the ball to Alex on the clear and run the same play again. I just had to run around (the crease) and I just did what I did. I had shot high the shot before and (assistant coach Chris) Driscoll told me the goalie was going high every time, so I should fake it and go low. When I came around and I realized I didn’t have enough room to fake it, I went low and got it between his legs. It felt great.”

“We tried not to win that ugly, but we wanted to get Ronan the ball and set a screen for him,” said Thornton Academy coach Ryan Hersey. “The time before, he got wide open, but hit the goalie. They read it pretty well, but he’s an aggressive kid who likes to get inside and he doesn’t mind getting hit. They didn’t slide anyone to him and he got that open look.”

“(Ronan) made a nice play,” said Scarborough coach Zach Barrett. “We defended it well. He shot around the defender and put the ball in a spot where the goalie couldn’t get it. You can’t do much about that. It’s unfortunate we were in that position.”

With just 3.6 seconds showing, Thornton Academy had its first lead, 4-3.

Scarborough hoped for a miracle and while junior Jack Carlista won the ensuing faceoff, there was no time for a shot and at 8:31 p.m., the horn sounded, allowing the Golden Trojans to rush the field and celebrate their victory.

Thornton Academy junior Ronan Flynn (4), far right, is congratulated by classmate Alex St. John while the rest of the team celebrates after Flynn’s goal with 3.6 seconds left gives the Golden Trojans a come-from-behind 4-3 win at Scarborough Thursday.

“We started very slow,” Flynn said. “Our defense came out strong and we worked hard on offense.”

“This is great,” said Fournier. “We came out a little flat in the first half, but we really kicked it into gear and got the win. We finally caught on to their offense and we shut them down.”

“We needed this,” Hersey added. “We came out and we played probably our worst quarter-and-a-half of the year to start the game. Scarborough’s much bigger, older and stronger, but given the close games we’ve had this year, the young guys have gotten experience and we didn’t want to leave here on a losing note. We knew we could play better. We had to stop playing scared. If they pushed, we had to push back.

“They got two of their three goals on a certain offensive play and we locked that down in the second half. This is old school TA lacrosse, where we might win 4-3 or 5-4. We’ll win anyway we need to. We got a huge game from our defense and especially our goalie, who made some big saves at the end.

“The fan support was huge. Our student section, you would have thought it was a home game. I really appreciate them driving up here and supporting us. That got us pumped up.”

Flynn had two goals, while LeBlanc and St. John each scored once and Pelletier had a pair of assists.

Fournier stopped 12 shots.

“Seth only gave up three goals and stopped a bunch of shots,” Flynn said. “He’s always reliable.”

LeBlanc had a team-high six ground balls and St. John collected five.

Thornton Academy had a 17-15 edge in shots on frame and overcame 25 turnovers.

Scarborough’s offense consisted of two goals and one assist from Leadley, one goal from Delaware and one assist from St. Germain.

The Red Storm had a 41-35 edge in ground balls (St. Germain led the way with six) and had a 20-18 shots advantage. They turned the ball over 23 times.

“(Thornton Academy’s) goalie is good, their defense is good, they’re well coached and we just didn’t execute,” Barrett lamented. “We had plenty of chances. I don’t know if our guys got tight and had big-game jitters, or what. It was an awesome atmosphere. I think that got to our guys a little bit. We have two guys who played with us in 2019 as varsity players. The rest of them didn’t. This was a big deal for them.

“Overall, I thought we outplayed them. We had the ball in their end most of the game and we dictated on offense. We did what we wanted to do, but we didn’t finish. Finishing is a huge part of lacrosse and by not finishing, this is the outcome. I thought we should have scored a lot more goals. It’s a tough one.”

Fine tuning

The regular season’s getting late and the Golden Trojans and Red Storm still have work to do.

Thornton Academy has a daunting test Tuesday when Cape Elizabeth pays a visit. The Golden Trojans then close with games at reigning Class B champion Yarmouth and Windham.

“It’s a huge momentum boost for us,” Flynn said. “If we lost this game, there was no promise we’d get a home playoff game.”

“This gives us momentum before we play Cape,” said Fournier. “We’ll get some good practices in and hopefully come out strong.”

“This win was huge,” Hersey added. “With Cape coming in next, we talked about how we could be at three losses in a row and that’s not where we wanted to be.

“It’s been fun to coach a young team. We haven’t had one like this in a long time.”

As for Scarborough, it’s idle until next Thursday when Windham pays a visit. The Red Storm then go to Berwick Academy, host Falmouth, play at Kennebunk, then close at home versus Cape Elizabeth June 1.

“We have stuff to work on,” said Barrett. “We have a big week next week.”

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

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