Claire McDonald of Cape Elizabeth, center, celebrates with teammates after defeating Thornton Academy in a Class A South quarterfinal on Wednesday in Saco. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

SACO — When her Cape Elizabeth girls’ lacrosse team needed her Wednesday afternoon, Clair McDonald was a tourniquet. She stopped the bleeding.

McDonald scored the last of her five goals late in the second half, stopping a barrage of seven straight Thornton Academy goals that had made a lopsided game tight. A minute and a half later, McDonald’s steal at midfield helped the Capers clinch the Class A South quarterfinal, 15-9.

“She’s a powerful force on the field, and she wants it so bad for herself and the team,” Cape Elizabeth Coach Alex Spark said of McDonald, a senior. “We needed that ball to go in the back of the cage at that point. We had a smart possession, we took time off the clock, and we needed to finish it.”

Playing in its first season of Class A lacrosse, No. 5 Cape Elizabeth, 8-6, will play the winner of Thursday’s game between No. 9 Gorham (5-8) and No. 1 Kennebunk (12-0) in the semifinals. No. 4 Thornton Academy ends the season at 8-5.

Ellie Gange of Cape Elizabeth unleashes a shot in the second half while guarded by Morgan Bolduc, left, and Katelyn Munro of Thornton Academy during a Class A South lacrosse quarterfinal. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

“We’re exactly where we need to be. New competition this year has really made us explore our depth of talent. More intensity, I think, has really pressured us to step it up, especially in the second half of our season. I think we showed tonight we have what it takes,” McDonald said of her team’s jump from Class B to A.

The Capers dominated the first half, taking an 11-2 lead into the break, and pushed the lead to 13-2 with goals by Kaity Woods and Annaliese Rudberg early in the second half. Passing the ball and getting all of the forwards involved was key to the fast start, Spark said. A different player scored each of Cape’s first five goals.


“We’ve been working really hard in practice at using all seven of our attackers. Really moving the ball, sharing the ball. We had six of our seven attackers score today,” Spark said.

“There was no surprises. They came out with a lot of energy. We didn’t match it early on. We gave up a lot of goals we could’ve defended,” Trojans Coach Craig Agreste said.

Grace Veroneau of Thornton Academy drives between Lucie Boudreau and Annaliese Rudberg, right, of Cape Elizabeth. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Down 11 and faced with running time, the Trojans rallied, scoring seven goals in the span of 11 minutes. Morgan Bolduc scored four goals over the span for Thornton, and Grace Veroneau added a pair.

“One thing I said was, let’s not leave here quitting. I thought the kids stepped up and they didn’t quit. I said if with 12 or 13 minutes to go down to five or six, we’re going to have a chance. But you can’t go down 11-2 at the half,” Agreste said.

Emma Boissoneault’s goal with 8:43 to play cut Cape’s lead to 13-9.

“Yeah, that was terrifying. They have really good control of the draw and ball handlers in general. I think our defense needed some motivation from attack. Defense played great from the gun. I think they’re the ones that started the energy in the first half, but obviously we were a little nervous that second half in that run,” McDonald said.

Added Spark: “I knew we weren’t going to be able to hold them off (the entire game). They’re a great team and they have great stick skills.”

McDonald’s goal with 7:28 left elicited a shout of joy and sigh of relief from the Capers, and Ellie Gange’s goal on a free position with just over a minute left sealed the win.

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