BOX SCORE

Thornton Academy 11 Cape Elizabeth 10 (OT)

CE- 3 2 0 5 0- 10
TA- 2 3 0 5 1- 11

First period
7:29 TA St. John (Raymond) (MAN-UP)
6:38 CE K. Lathrop (unassisted)
5:30 CE Boudreau (K. Lathrop)
4:20 TA Veroneau (Raymond)
57.5 CE Campbell (unassisted)

Second period
7:35 CE Campbell (K. Lathrop)
6:16 CE T. Lathrop (Campbell)
5:15 TA Veroneau (Raymond)
4:18 TA LeBlanc (unassisted)
4:01 TA Flynn (Marcotte)

Third period
No scoring

Fourth period
11:41 TA Marcotte (unassisted)
11:26 CE Boudreau (T. Lathrop)
10:31 TA Veroneau (Marcotte)
9:59 CE T. Lathrop (unassisted)
7:15 CE K. Lathrop (unassisted)
6:47 CE Boudreau (Campbell)
6:13 TA Flynn (unassisted)
4:15 CE Lee (T. Lathrop)
2:13 TA Marcotte (Flynn) (MAN-UP)
1.8 TA LeBlanc (unassisted)

Overtime
3:36 TA Flynn (unassisted)

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Goals:
CE- Boudreau 3, Campbell, K. Lathrop, T. Lathrop 2, Lee 1
TA- Flynn, Veroneau 3, LeBlanc, Marcotte 2, St. John 1

Assists:
CE- Campbell, K. Lathrop, T. Lathrop 2
TA- Raymond 3, Marcotte 2, Flynn 1

Faceoffs (Cape Elizabeth, 14-10)
CE- Moon 14 of 24
TA- Michaud 10 of 24

Ground balls:
CE- 27
TA- 23

Turnovers:
CE- 11
TA- 20

Shots:
CE- 43
TA- 27

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Shots on cage:
CE- 26
TA- 16

Saves:
TA (Parenteau) 16
CE (Shur) 5

SACO—Talk about saving your best for last.

Friday evening at Hill Stadium, the reigning Class A state champion Cape Elizabeth boys’ lacrosse team paid a visit to the squad which preceded it atop the pinnacle, Thornton Academy.

And both squads put forth a championship-worthy effort in an unforgettable contest.

Which required more than 48 minutes to decide.

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Thanks to a breathtaking finish from the Golden Trojans.

The Capers, who won last year’s encounter by 15 goals en route to the title, took a 3-2 lead after one quarter, then got goals from seniors Colin Campbell and Tiernan Lathrop in the second period, as they threatened to pull away again, but this time, Thornton Academy answered.

With the fog descending and a large and vocal crowd roaring, the Golden Trojans scored three straight goals to end the first half, as senior Ronan Flynn (remember that name) forged a 5-5 time at the break.

Neither team would score in a defense-heavy third period, then both offenses roared back to life in a back-and-forth, breathtaking fourth quarter.

Sophomore Noah Veroneau gave Thornton Academy a 7-6 lead with 10:31 to play, but Cape Elizabeth seemingly took control when Lathrop, sophomore Keegan Lathrop and senior Nic Boudreau all scored to make it 9-7.

After Flynn cut the deficit to one, senior Caden Lee’s goal with 4:15 to play restored a two-goal Capers’ bulge.

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But the defending champs couldn’t finish it off.

With 2:13 to go, sophomore Jacob Marcotte scored man-up and the Golden Trojans had life.

Cape Elizabeth then milked most of the remaining time off the clock, but Thornton Academy got the ball back for one final push and with just 1.8 seconds showing, junior Ethan LeBlanc scored the biggest goal of his life to date and the game would go to “sudden victory” overtime.

There, the Golden Trojans won the faceoff and just 24 seconds in, Flynn played the hero, scoring unassisted, and Thornton Academy had a monumental and memorable 11-10 victory.

The Golden Trojans extended their win streak to eight games, improved to 8-1 and in the process, dropped the Capers to 8-2.

“We knew at the start of the season, Cape would be the biggest game we were going to have and we knew they were beatable this year,” Flynn said. “We knew they had some weaknesses we had to push.”

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Left in a fog

While the Capers came into the season the prohibitive favorite, the Golden Trojans, along with Scarborough and South Portland, have served up a reminder of just how difficult it is to repeat.

Thornton Academy opened with a 14-3 victory at Windham, then let a late lead slip away in an 11-10 loss at South Portland. After bouncing back with an impressive and stifling 4-1 win at Falmouth, Thornton Academy dominated Portland (17-3), Massabesic (20-0), Greely (11-2) and Marshwood (15-4). Tuesday, the Golden Trojans needed three overtimes to outlast host Scarborough, 5-4, on senior Alex St. John’s game-winner.

Cape Elizabeth, meanwhile, started with home victories over Kennebunk (21-4) and Gorham (16-9), giving longtime coach Ben Raymond his 300th win in the process, then won at two-time reigning Class B champion Yarmouth (14-5), held on for an 11-10 victory at Falmouth, then defeated visiting Greely, 17-4, and host Scarborough (14-8). A shocking 18-16 home loss to Yarmouth followed, snapping a 22-game win streak, but the Capers bounced back and won at Lewiston (19-4) and at home over York (15-3).

Last year, Cape Elizabeth rolled in Saco, 17-2, en route to the state title.

Thornton Academy last beat the Capers in the 2019 Class A South Final (8-5).

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Friday, on a chilly evening (52 degrees at the start), with fog becoming more and more prevalent as the night wore on, the Golden Trojans, in front of a raucous crowd in their Blackout Game, got pushed to the brink on multiple occasions, but kept rising off the deck before finally delivering a knockout blow of their own.

Cape Elizabeth senior Nic Boudreau hounds Thornton Academy junior goalie Jacob Parenteau on a clear attempt early in the Golden Trojans’ 11-10 overtime victory Friday. Hoffer photos.

It took over four minutes to break the ice, which Thornton Academy did man-up with 7:29 to play in the first quarter, as junior Cameron Raymond set up St. John for a shot which Cape Elizabeth senior goalie Fred Shur couldn’t stop.

“St. John is really good in transition,” Raymond said. “What can you do other than try to run with him and do the best we can?”

The Capers came right back and tied it up with 6:38 on the clock, as Keegan Lathrop scored unassisted.

The visitors then took their first lead 68 seconds later, as Keegan Lathrop set up Boudreau for a rocket, which Golden Trojans junior goalie Jacob Parenteau couldn’t stop.

Thornton Academy tied the game back up with 4:20 left in the frame, when Raymond set up Veroneau for his first goal, but after Parenteau denied shots from Boudreau, Lee and Tiernan Lathrop, Campbell scored unassisted with 57.5 seconds showing to put Cape Elizabeth ahead, 3-2, after one quarter.

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The Capers then bid to break it open in the second period, as after Parenteau saved a shot from Tiernan Lathrop, then robbed Keegan Lathrop, Keegan Lathrop set up Campbell for a goal with 7:35 left in the half and with 6:16 to go, Campbell found Tiernan Lathrop for a 5-2 lead.

The Golden Trojans were on the ropes, but they roared back and in just over two minutes, scored three straight goals to even the score.

First, Raymond set up Veroneau at 5:15.

Fifty-seven seconds later, LeBlanc scored unassisted.

Then, with 4:01 on the clock, Marcotte found Flynn to make it 5-5.

“(Cape) created a tremendous amount of pressure between the two boxes,” Thornton Academy coach Ryan Hersey said. “That was our biggest problem in the first and second quarters, not being able to get the ball up to our attack. Once we got it there, we had good possessions, but they do a heck of a job creating chaos in the middle. That’s where I had flashbacks from last year.”

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Late in the half, Tiernan Lathrop hit the post, then Parenteau robbed both Tiernan Lathrop and Boudreau and at the break, the game was deadlocked, as 10 Parenteau saves kept things very interesting.

The third quarter started 5-5 and would end that way, as Parenteau saved shots from Boudreau and Keegan Lathrop, while Campbell and Boudreau just missed.

Both teams rediscovered their offense in the fourth period as after just 10 total goals were scored in the first 36 minutes, the squads tickled the twine 10 times in the next dozen minutes.

Just 19 seconds in, after Shur denied St. John, Marcotte scooped up the rebound and sent it into the net to snap a a 16 minute, 20 second scoring drought and put Thornton Academy up, 6-5.

A mere 15 seconds later, after junior Sebastian Moon won the ensuing faceoff, Tiernan Lathrop passed to Boudreau, who whipped a blast past Parenteau to snap an 18 minute, 18 second drought to tie the score.

The Golden Trojans retook the lead with 10:31 to go, as Marcotte set up Veroneau, but 32 seconds later, during a scrum in front, Tiernan Lathrop scooped up a loose ball and in a highlight reel play, in one motion, flung the ball behind his back and into the net to tie it anew.

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After St. John hit the post for Thornton Academy, the Capers went ahead, as Keegan Lathrop scored with 7:15 on the clock.

Campbell then set up Boudreau for his third goal 28 seconds later, but even up two, Cape Elizabeth wasn’t home free.

After Shur robbed Flynn, Flynn tried again with 6:13 remaining and he finished and the Golden Trojans trailed by just one, 9-8.

The Capers responded, as after Boudreau hit the crossbar and Parenteau saved a shot from Lee, Lee got a pass from Tiernan Lathrop in front, then buried his shot for a 10-8 lead with 4:15 to play.

Moon then won the ensuing faceoff to junior Nate Patterson, who raced in with a chance to essentially ice it, but Parenteau made a huge save.

Parenteau then robbed Lee as well and that sparked a comeback.

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With 2:13 to go, after a Capers’ penalty, Flynn fed Marcotte for a goal and the score was 10-9.

Moon then won the ensuing faceoff and Cape Elizabeth managed to run the clock below a minute and finally called timeout with 29 seconds remaining.

The Golden Trojans had to gamble and Hersey had Parenteau come out as an extra defender, which created an open net.

Out of the timeout, Boudreau got a sliver of room and shot toward the empty net, looking to deliver the dagger, but the shot bounced in front and went over the crossbar and out to Thornton Academy.

“We got enough pressure down there for them to call timeout and we were able to set up a play where we had our goalie on the other side and created a 7-on-6 situation where we were pressuring and thankfully, we were able to get the ball,” Hersey said.

“It wasn’t drawn up as a going-to-goal situation, but he’s got a wide open look and he’s an excellent lacrosse player who makes good decisions and it just didn’t go in,’ Raymond said. “He’ll learn from that.”

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Thornton Academy had one final chance.

And the Golden Trojans took advantage.

After getting the ball into the offensive zone, Thornton Academy called timeout with 7.4 seconds showing and Hersey set up a game-tying play.

Thornton Academy junior Ethan LeBlanc prepares to beat Cape Elizabeth junior defenseman Nate Patterson to score the tying goal late in regulation.

Out of the timeout, LeBlanc got the ball on the side, where Patterson defended.

LeBlanc feigned right, raced back left, fought his way through Patterson’s stick, then bounced a shot between Shur’s legs with just 1.8 seconds on the clock.

“It’s crazy,” LeBlanc said. “I saw (Patterson) was covering me top-side, so I knew I could get it down low. I just face-dodged, got inside and put it five-hole (on the goalie). It was the greatest feeling ever. The crowd was going wild. It was just amazing.”

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“If it wasn’t open, we had some options, but it was Ethan’s turn to get it in,” said Hersey.

“We weren’t really worried about what they would run,” Raymond said. “We just needed to move our feet, push and not throw a stick-check. It just didn’t happen that way. Obviously, we haven’t been in that situation very often. You can’t make it up in practice when there isn’t as much on the line. Hopefully, we learn from these experiences and if we come across them again, we’ll be ready.”

Suddenly and stunningly, the game would go to overtime, tied, 10-10.

Thornton Academy had all the momentum going into the four-minute, golden goal extra session and would quickly bring matters to an end.

Senior Cole Michaud beat Moon on the faceoff as after an initial scrum, junior Hayden Whitney won possession for the Golden Trojans, who took timeout.

“We could have picked up the ground ball on the faceoff,” Raymond lamented. “I think we over-ran that one.”

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Out of the timeout, LeBlanc, this time, gave the ball up to Flynn, who raced to his right and while there wasn’t much room, he was able to unleash a shot through traffic which Shur couldn’t stop.

“I knew I could beat my guy,” Flynn said. “I just went for it, let one go and looked and it was in the back of the net.”

“We won the faceoff, then we called timeout and set up a similar play (to the tying goal),” Hersey said. “We wanted Ethan to pretend like he was doing it, then we got it to Ronan, so we got Patterson off of him.”

“I don’t think our last stand was a great defensive stand,” Raymond said. “It was just a sweep across the top and we had no slide. It was a lack of communication with a defense that started the season really young and is still maturing and still looking for the leaders to step up.”

Thornton Academy exults after its overtime win.

At 8:38 p.m., Thornton Academy rushed the field and celebrated its 11-10 victory.

“We started out well, then we were down, 5-2, but instead of letting them run out 17-2 like they did last year, we just stayed in it and at the end, we wanted it more,” Flynn said. “We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but we never felt out of it.”

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“It means Heal Points and staying home in the playoffs, but it means more than that,” said LeBlanc. “We played a great game and did everything right.”

“We had a great fan base tonight,” Hersey added. “So many youth kids. We wanted them to be a part of this. It’s exciting for us to make that comeback and come out with the ‘W.'”

The Golden Trojans got three goals apiece from Flynn and Veroneau, two each from LeBlanc and Marcotte and one from St. John.

Cameron Raymond had three assists, while Marcotte had two and Flynn finished with one.

Parenteau made 16 key saves.

St. John had a game-high seven ground balls.

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Thornton Academy overcame 20 turnovers.

“We talked to the boys about the importance of taking care of the ball,” said Hersey. “We were able to settle down and have good possessions. Huge credit to the defense today. We knew we were in for a battle. Cape can throw a ball 30-yards on a dime and our guys aren’t used to moving that quickly. They figured out how we had to move as the ball was in the air and even before they started passing it we were anticipating and getting there, which is a good sign.”

Another lesson

Cape Elizabeth got three goals from Boudreau, two apiece from Campbell, Keegan Lathrop and Tiernan Lathrop and one from Lee.

Campbell, Keegan Lathrop and Tiernan Lathrop all had two assists.

Shur made five saves.

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Moon won 14 of 24 faceoffs.

The Capers had a 27-23 edge in ground balls (Patterson collected five, while junior Andrew Trachimowicz had four), a 43-27 advantage in shots (26-16 on cage) and only turned the ball over 11 times, but still fell just short.

“They play a very difficult zone defense that gears toward stopping some of the things we do really well,” said Raymond. “I thought we had a lot of shots. Their goalie made a bunch of saves. We shot a bunch high, wide. We moved the ball really well at times and scored some really nice goals where everybody touched it and the ball came to the backside. We need to consistently execute that. If we move the ball like we did when we had that run, we would have possessed more and been fine.”

Nothing’s settled yet

Thornton Academy (now second in the Class A South Heal Points standings) is back in action Wednesday, when it hosts Gorham. After playing at Kennebunk, the Golden Trojans finish at home versus Bonny Eagle.

“The top four teams are all so close,” LeBlanc said. “We could lose to any of them, or beat any of them. We just have to go out and play.”

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“We know we still have a lot of work to do if we want to be playing on Father’s Day weekend,” Flynn said.

“We need to catch up to (Cape’s) level with consistency in passing and catching and we have 29 days to do that,” Hersey added. “There’s only so much we can do in (practice). The guys really have to step up on their own. It would be lovely to be here (for playoffs). This win will help get us a few home games, which is awesome. It’s just great to see the guys’ resilience and persistence. Hopefully, this is catalyst we need for the final month.”

Cape Elizabeth (still clinging to the top spot in Class A South) is idle until next Friday, when it has its next big test, at home versus South Portland. The Capers then close at Greely June 1.

“It’s important to focus on doing things that will make us better for the playoffs,” Raymond said. “That’s always our approach. We’d like to spend time at home. As long as we don’t have to go to South Portland, everyone else has turf, so who really cares? It’s more about finding out who will be the leader on defense and on offense, it’s just being more consistent and making sure all six guys have a good day on the same day. The more these guys will be in these situations, the easier it will be. Some of these guys haven’t been in many close games.

“It should be a good postseason. Whoever is playing their best at the right time will do well.”

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

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