Scarborough’s boys’ lacrosse team celebrates at the final horn of Wednesday’s 9-6 win over Thornton Academy in a Class A South quarterfinal. Hoffer photos.


Scarborough 9 Thornton Academy 6

TA- 2 1 1 2- 6
S- 1 5 2 1- 9

First quarter
8:35 S Park (unassisted)
8:24 TA Pelletier (St. John)
13.4 TA Flynn (unassisted)

Second quarter
10:52 S Leadley (St. Germain)
5:25 S Delaware (unassisted)
4:37 S Fogarty (Rumelhart)
2:16 TA Flynn (unassisted)
45.4 S Pedersen (unassisted)
8.1 S Park (Leadley)

Third quarter
10:08 S Leadley (unassisted)
8:31 S Pedersen (unassisted)
6:13 TA LeBlanc (Pelletier) (MAN-UP)

Fourth quarter
3:42 S Leadley (St. Germain)
3:21 TA Elliopulos (unassisted)
3:05 TA Elliopulos (DeLeo)

TA- Elliopulos, Flynn 2, LeBlanc, Pelletier 1
S- Leadley 3, Park, Pedersen 2, Delaware, Fogarty 1

TA- DeLeo, Pelletier, St. John 1
S- St. Germain 2, Leadley, Rumelhart 1

Faceoffs: (Thornton Academy, 10-8)
TA- Michaud 5 of 12, DeLeo 5 of 6
S- Carlista 8 of 18

Ground balls:
TA- 31
S- 30

TA- 29
S- 28

TA- 29
S- 22

Shots on cage:
TA- 14
S- 16

TA (Fournier) 7
S (Medeiros) 8

SCARBOROUGH—Alex Callahan hadn’t forgotten what it’s like to lose to Thornton Academy in the playoffs and he was bound and determined not to taste defeat again.

And when Alex Callahan gets fired up, you’d better believe that his Scarborough Red Storm teammates are going to be right there with him.

Wednesday evening, in a Class A South quarterfinal at the Kippy Mitchell Sports Complex, fourth-ranked Scarborough hosted the fifth-seeded Golden Trojans, the two-time reigning state champions and a team that rallied for a stunning victory last month on the Red Storm’s turf.

Incentive wasn’t a problem for Scarborough, but scoring continued to be for a quarter, as after junior Jeremiah Park put the Red Storm ahead with the game’s first goal, Scarborough didn’t score again and trailed, 2-1, after 12 minutes thanks to goals from Thornton Academy senior Caleb Pelletier and junior Ronan Flynn, the hero of the teams’ last meeting.

But the Red Storm came to life in the second period and seized the lead for good.

After senior Owen Leadley tied it up, junior Tae Delaware put Scarborough on top to stay and junior Quinn Fogarty finished as well for a 4-2 lead.

The Golden Trojans answered late in the first half on Flynn’s second goal, but the Red Storm dominated the final minute and got goals from junior Finn Pedersen and Park to enjoy a 6-3 advantage at the break.

And just a strongly as it ended the first half, Scarborough, sparked by a Callahan speech at halftime, came out sizzling in the second half, as Leadley and Pedersen each finished for an 8-3 lead.

Thornton Academy snapped an 18-minute drought on a goal from sophomore Ethan LeBlanc, but with just four minutes to go, Leadley seemingly iced it.

The proud champions wouldn’t go quietly, however, and when sophomore John Elliopulos scored twice in quick succession, things got interesting, but Callahan and his defensive mates slammed the door and the Red Storm went on to a 9-6 victory.

Scarborough won a playoff game for the first time since 2017, improved to 10-3, ended the Golden Trojans’ season at 8-5 and advanced to take on top-ranked Berwick Academy (12-1) on the road in the regional semifinals Friday at a time to be announced.

“Words can’t explain how much this win means to me, especially after they beat us first round my sophomore year,” said Callahan. “This is my first playoff win. That’s huge to me. It means the world for us to come out here and handle our business.”

Collision course

Scarborough and Thornton Academy played twice during the regular season and a third meeting was almost a foregone conclusion.

After beating the host Golden Trojans in their opener, 8-6, the Red Storm won at home over South Portland (18-7) and at Windham (12-6), then took host Falmouth into overtime before dropping a 10-9 decision. Scarborough bounced right back with a 12-2 home victory over Kennebunk and a 14-7 win at South Portland. The Red Storm then hosted Thornton Academy and took an early 3-0 lead, but they didn’t score again in the game’s final 30-plus minutes and the Golden Trojans rallied to win it, 4-3, on a goal from Flynn with 3.6 seconds remaining. Scarborough bounced back to beat visiting Windham with ease (13-1), then earned a thrilling 6-5 overtime win at Berwick Academy, before edging visiting Falmouth on a late goal, 7-6, and holding off host Kennbunk, 7-4. Last Tuesday, in the regular season finale, the Red Storm lost at home to undefeated Cape Elizabeth (16-5).

Thornton Academy also lost two games to Falmouth by 9-8 scores, at Falmouth in regulation and at home in overtime, and lost at home to Cape Elizabeth, but won every other contest to finish fifth in the region.

The teams had met seven previous times in the playoffs, in a 10-year span between 2010 and 2019. Scarborough held a 4-3 lead, although the Golden Trojans took the most recent encounter, 12-5, in the 2019 Class A South quarterfinals en route to a second consecutive state championship.

Wednesday, on a scorching 85-degree evening, the Red Storm took another step back toward the top of the heap.

Thornton Academy started fast and had a couple great looks, but junior Nicholas DeLeo missed wide just 30 seconds in and Flynn had a shot saved by Scarborough senior Josh Medeiros.

The Red Storm then struck first with 8:35 left in the first period, when Park scored unassisted.

But that would be it for the home team’s offense in the quarter.

Just 11 seconds later, after junior Cole Michaud won the ensuing faceoff and classmate Alex St. John scooped up the ground ball and fed Pelletier, Pelletier beat Medeiros to tie the score.

Scarborough nearly went back on top late in the quarter, but Leadley hit the post.

Then, with 13.4 seconds to go, in a play eerily reminiscent of his game-winner a few weeks back, Flynn rolled the crease, got a step and shot and scored for a 2-1 advantage after one period.

Scarborough junior Sam Rumelhart defends Thornton Academy sophomore Ethan LeBlanc early in Wednesday’s contest.

Scarborough wasn’t concerned, however, and its offense came to life in the second period.

After senior Sebastien Baba and Pedersen each missed wide, Leadley took a pass from senior Will St. Germain and beat Thornton Academy senior goalie Seth Fournier with 10:52 to play in the half to tie the score.

Then, after Medeiros denied LeBlanc and the Red Storm killed a penalty, Delaware got just enough room to score unassisted with 5:15 to go before halftime and Scarborough had the lead for good, 3-2.

Just 38 seconds later, in transition, junior Sam Rumelhart fed Doherty for a shot that Fournier couldn’t stop to extend the lead.

“We spent the first quarter just settling down and figuring things out,” said Scarborough coach Zach Barrett. “Last time, we didn’t alternate looks and we focused on that leading up to this game. We stuck to fundamentals on offense. We kept things simple and made sure the kids could execute and they did. This group of kids is strong mentally. They know they have to work hard and make plays and they don’t get down when they don’t make plays. We kept making them when it mattered, picking up ground balls. That was great to see.”

After Park and Pedersen missed wide for the Red Storm, the Golden Trojans pulled within one with 2:16 on the clock, as Flynn scored for the second time, unassisted, but it would be Scarborough finishing the half strong.

First, with 45.4 seconds remaining, Pedersen unleashed a rocket from up top that tickled the twine.

Then, with 8.1 seconds to go, Leadley set up Park for a pivotal goal and a 6-3 advantage.

“We have to keep the ball moving,” Park said. “We can’t stay stagnant. We have to keep the ball hot and keep moving around the back.”

Then, the Red Storm came out blazing to start the second half to open it up even more.

With 10:08 to go, in transition, Leadley scored unassisted.

Then, with 8:31 remaining in the third quarter, Pedersen finished unassisted and the lead was 8-3.

“Alex did a really good job at halftime getting us fired up in front of the student section,” said Park. “That really helped.”

“(Alex is) an emotional leader,” said Barrett. “He brings that fire for the guys. Its hard to not get pumped up when you’re around Alex and it’s hard to get away with anything around Alex. He holds his teammates accountable and makes sure they work as hard as he did. Not many guys play that hard for that long.”

Thornton Academy was able to pull within four, man-up, as LeBlanc finished from Pelletier with 6:13 to play in the frame.

Then, after St. Germain hit the post for the hosts, Flynn, Pelletier, St. John and LeBlanc all had good looks for the Golden Trojans, but Medeiros saved them all.

“The two fastbreak goals right at the beginning of the third (quarter) were the tough ones,” lamented Thornton Academy coach Ryan Hersey. “We wanted to come out strong and chip away, but the third quarter has been our Achilles’ heel all year long and unfortunately that was the case again tonight.”

Thornton Academy had a couple chances to draw closer man-up, but couldn’t do so.

Then, with 3:42 left in the game, St. Germain set up Leadley for the apparent dagger.

But the Golden Trojans had one final surge left.

First, 21 seconds later, Elliopulos scored unassisted.

Then, with 3:05 remaining, Elliopulos finished a feed from DeLeo and just like that, the score was 9-6.

When Thornton Academy went man-up seconds later, it had a golden chance to really make things interesting, but Scarborough wasn’t about to let one slip away.

First, Medeiros denied St. John, LeBlanc missed wide, then LeBlanc had a shot saved by Medeiros with 1:07 to play.

Scarborough was able to run out the clock from there and celebrated its 9-6 victory.

“That last (loss to TA) fueled us into this game,” said Callahan. “We thought about that all game. Our defense has been solid all year. It shows in big games like this. We buckle down and make the stops. We have grit on the field. They got some good goals on us, they’re a good team, but we really showed up today as a defense.”

“It feels amazing to win for the seniors who didn’t get to have a season last year,” said Park. “We’ve struggled with letting off the gas, but we kept on it today. Watching from the sideline, it was nerve-wracking, but our defense has been a huge part of our success. They’ve been amazing this year.”

“This is a good first step,” Barrett added. “It’s huge for the kids’ confidence. I know anything can happen in the playoffs, especially against TA. Late in the game, we lost control a little bit, but luckily, we’d done enough work early on to build a cushion and hold on. Ending the season the way we did against Cape shook our confidence and I wasn’t sure how the guys would respond, but they responded great and I’m proud of them.”

The Red Storm featured a balanced attack, as seven different players played roles in goals being scored.

Leadley scored three times and had one assist. Park and Pedersen each had two goals, while Delaware and Fogarty added one apiece.

St. Germain assisted on two goals and Rumelhart also had an assist.

“We like to have balanced scoring,” said Barrett. “We haven’t had a single guy take over this year. We play our best when multiple guys score goals.”

Medeiros made eight huge saves, including six in the second half.

Delaware and senior Mason Hertlein shared team-high honors with four ground balls apiece.

Scarborough had a 14-13 edge in shots on frame and overcame 28 turnovers.

For Thornton Academy, Elliopulos and Flynn each scored twice, while LeBlanc and Pelletier had one goal apiece.

DeLeo, Pelletier and St. John all had one assist.

Fournier made seven saves.

The Golden Trojans had a 10-8 edge in faceoffs, a 31-30 edge in ground balls (St. John and sophomore Hayden Whitney each had a game-high six), enjoyed a 29-22 shots advantage and turned the ball over 29 times.

“We just ran out of time,” Hersey said. “Scarborough’s bigger and stronger and more well-rounded. We really struggled to generate offense from multiple locations. We pushed Caleb and Ronan hard to start the offense and we struggled to start it from anybody else.

“We’ve had many times this year where we could have rolled over, but I’m really proud of the senior boys for embracing the culture and not giving up. We knew we had a huge hill to climb this year. What we appreciate the most about these seniors is that they knew it might not be our year, but they did everything in their power to prepare the younger guys.

“I feel like as long as these guys hit the gym, we’ll be back next year ready to go. We just need some size and maturity. Losing isn’t always a bad thing. We’ll learn from it and come back hungry next year.”

On the road

Friday, Scarborough will compete in a semifinal for the first time since 2017, but it will require a road trip to Berwick Academy, which defeated No. 9 South Portland, 16-3, in its quarterfinal round game Wednesday.

The Red Storm will be confident, however, having won at the Bulldogs, 6-5, on Leadley’s overtime goal back on May 21.

The teams have no playoff history.

“It’s my last season and I want to make it the best one,” Callahan said. “We need to keep the same mentality. That was a gritty game last game. We have to fight every single minute. If we come out with the same mentality we had tonight, I think we can be successful.”

“I’m excited to move on,” Park said. “We need to keep our sticks hot and keep moving off-ball.”

“We’ll be fired up to go play (Berwick),” added Barrett. “It’s tough to go down there and play. It’s a long drive. They play a different style, so we’ll need to switch gears a little bit. We have to make sure we’re confident and play our game.”

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

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