BOX SCORE

Cape Elizabeth 12 Gorham 9

G- 4 5- 9
CE- 6 6- 12

Goals:
G- Bickford 3, Dupuis, Light 2, DeWitt, Myles 1
CE- McDonald, Woods 3, Gagne, Hooper 2, Campbell, Long 1

CAPE ELIZABETH—Cape Elizabeth’s girls’ lacrosse team is off to a fast start.

Even better, the Capers are only going to get better this spring, their first at the Class A level.

Monday evening at Hannaford Field, Cape Elizabeth got pushed and chased by visiting Gorham, but answered every challenge and went on to a confidence-inspiring victory.

The Rams led just once, 1-0, but they hung close throughout a first half which ended 6-4 in the Capers’ favor.

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Goals from senior Claire McDonald and sophomore Kaity Woods gave Cape Elizabeth a little breathing room early in the second half and after Gorham got as close as 11-8 late, McDonald scored again to put it away and the Capers went on to prevail, 12-9.

McDonald and Woods both scored three times as Cape Elizabeth started with a victory for the first time since 2019 and dropped the Rams to 0-1 in the process.

“It’s a great start,” said Capers coach Alex Spark. “We don’t see Gorham all the time and they brought us an awesome, competitive game. Both sides went back-and-forth, which is what you want to see.”

A new beginning

Cape Elizabeth has long been a top contender in Class B, winning the state title in both 2018 and 2019 in memorable fashion.

Last year, the Capers went just 4-10 and lost to eventual state champion Yarmouth, 17-4, in the state quarterfinals.

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This spring, Cape Elizabeth, along with Yarmouth, has made the move to Class A and while the Capers, know nothing will come easily, they welcome the challenge.

“We’re really excited (to move up),” said McDonald. “Having even more competition is good for us.”

Gorham, meanwhile, is one of many teams chasing reigning state champion Kennebunk in Class A and has no shortage of talented players, something Cape Elizabeth learned first-hand Monday.

The teams last met in a countable game April 29, 2017, a 9-4 home victory for the Capers.

Monday, on a chilly evening, Cape Elizabeth did just enough to start its season in style.

Cape Elizabeth senior Claire McDonald eludes the Gorham defense en route to one of her three goals during Monday’s 12-9 victory. Hoffer photos.

In the first half, Woods and senior Ellie Gagne both scored two goals for the Capers, while McDonald and promising freshman Libby Hooper each added one.

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The Rams, meanwhile, got single goals from seniors Mary DeWitt, Katherine Dupuis and Alexandra Light and another from sophomore Hannah Bickford.

Gorham went on top with the game’s first goal, but Cape Elizabeth scored the next three.

The Rams then drew within one at 3-2, 4-3 and 5-4, but on each occasion, the Capers answered to hold a slim 6-4 advantage at the break.

Just three minutes into the second half, Gorham drew within one for the final time, when junior Miranda Chasse set up Dupuis for a shot that Cape Elizabeth senior goalie Elise Branch couldn’t stop.

After having a shot saved by Rams sophomore Lily Rubin, McDonald scored unassisted with 20:47 remaining to restore a two-goal advantage, then 26 seconds later, Woods scored unassisted for an 8-5 advantage.

Gorham came right back on the ensuing draw, as Light set up Bickford in transition for a goal.

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But that’s as close as the Rams would get, as with 16:05 to play, Woods set up senior Paige Long and with 14:13 on the clock, McDonald found freshman Heather Campbell to make it 10-6.

Out of a timeout, Gorham answered on a goal from senior Alexandra Myles, but with 11:48 to go, Hooper scored unassisted to make it 11-7.

The Rams came right back a minute later, when Bickford broke away and finished unassisted, but with 8:06 to go, McDonald scored unassisted for what proved to be the Capers’ final tally.

Gorham would score once more, as Light finished in transition with 2:35 remaining, but Cape Elizabeth ran out the clock from there and celebrated its 12-9 victory.

Cape Elizabeth congratulates senior goalie Elise Branch after the victory.

“It’s a really good start,” McDonald said. “I’m super-proud of everyone. This is a completely different team than last year and we have a lot of new girls on the field, freshmen and sophomores stepping up. The draws we didn’t have as much possession as we wanted, so that’s something we can work on, but our midfield re-defend was huge. When we settled the ball on attack, we calmly got feeds and cuts and it was beautiful to watch.”

“We were able to hang on to a lead,” Spark said. “I thought our transition defense, our ride in the midfield, was incredibly invasive. We got turnovers. They burned us a handful of times on transition, so our focus was to not turn the ball over to give them that opportunity.”

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Cape Elizabeth had six different players tickle the twine, as McDonald and Woods each had three goals, Gagne and Hooper scored twice apiece and Campbell and Long both added one.

For Gorham, Bickford led the way with three goals, while Dupuis and Light had two apiece and DeWitt and Myles both scored once.

No rest

Both teams are back in action Tuesday.

The Rams play their home opener, versus Sanford.

Cape Elizabeth will look to improve to 2-0 when a familiar foe, Yarmouth, pays a visit.

“It’s always a fun game playing Yarmouth,” said McDonald. “We love it.”

“It’s time to rest up,” Spark said. “Yarmouth will bring a great game. The girls are excited.

“We have a good group of athletic kids. Some who are finding their knack in lacrosse. We have a great amount of seniors and a good group of sophomores and freshmen who are stepping up. We’re still learning how to jell. We have to work on winning the draw, taking better care of the ball on offense and taking better shots. When it starts to click, we’re only going to go up from there. We always say that we only want to go up in our season.”

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

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