SOUTH BERWICK — For the first time this season, Cape Elizabeth High’s unbeaten boys’ lacrosse team played a fourth quarter with the game in doubt.

And it was No. 1 seed and host Berwick Academy that had the momentum after three quarters of the Class A South final Wednesday. The Bulldogs had rallied from a 7-2 halftime deficit and trailed just 8-7.

Cape responded like a program that has won more Maine Principals’ Association boys’ lacrosse titles than any other school, pulling out an 11-9 victory.

“Our defense had a tough third quarter and they picked themselves up and communicated better,” Cape Coach Ben Raymond said. “We picked up more ground balls, Charlie (Whitney) made some big saves, we cleared the ball efficiently. We did everything you could ask for in the fourth quarter when it mattered the most.”

Cape (15-0) will face North champion Falmouth (11-4) in the state championship game at 7;30 p.m. Friday at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. Cape will be going for its 12th state title since the sport was sanctioned in 1998, but its first since 2017.

“It’s good to be back,” said junior midfielder Tiernan Lathrop, who led Cape with four goals and numerous individual clearing runs out of the defensive end.

Cape beat Falmouth 14-5 during the regular season. That was the Capers’ closest game prior to Wednesday.

Cape’s Colin Campbell and Berwick’s Jackson Travis traded goals early in the fourth to keep Berwick within a goal. That slim margin was especially important because Berwick’s Padraic “Paddy” Condon, a South Berwick resident, was winning nearly every faceoff (18 of 23).

Caden Lee restored Cape’s two-goal lead, assisted by Lathrop (four goals), with 8:45 to play.

Neither team scored again until Cape freshman Keegan Lathrop scored his third of the game for an 11-8 lead with 2:53 left.

Berwick answered at 1:59 on a quick shot from Nick McSorley.

On the faceoff, Cape’s Gus Huffard, who had battled Condon all game, came though with a win. Berwick didn’t get another shot.

“I just kept fighting and looking for it and I guess I got it when I needed it,” Huffard said.

Cape had taken control by outscoring Berwick 5-0 in the second quarter, with the Lathrop brothers each scoring twice.

Midway through the third quarter, Berwick’s Ryan Muse and McSorley scored 19 seconds apart to start the rally. Travis and Shea Green scored in the final minute of the quarter to increase the pressure on Cape.

“Cape Elizabeth is the golden standard when it comes to lacrosse in the state of Maine,” said Berwick’s first-year coach, Sam Harding, a former star player at Marshwood. “To compete against Cape Elizabeth to a 9-11 game … to me, in a sense, that’s a win. And to come back from a 7-2 deficit is just incredible.”

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