BOX SCORE

Cape Elizabeth 15 Thornton Academy 8

TA- 3 3 1 1- 8
CE- 7 1 4 3- 15

First period
11:43 CE Cochran (Campbell)
10:13 CE Boudreau (unassisted)
8:59 CE K. Lathrop (unassisted)
8:36 TA Marcotte (LeBlanc) (MAN-UP)
7:03 CE T. Lathrop (unassisted) (MAN-DOWN)
4:33 CE K. Lathrop (Boudreau)
2:30 CE Lee (Campbell)
1:34 TA Marcotte (Veroneau) (MAN-UP)
1:12 TA Veroneau (Ruff)
6.6 CE K. Lathrop (unassisted)

Second period
6:21 CE Campbell (K. Lathrop)
4:59 TA Flynn (unassisted)
2:51 TA Flynn (unassisted) (MAN-UP)
1:36 TA Flynn (LeBlanc)

Third period
6:55 CE Boudreau (Campbell)
6:06 TA DeLeo (unassisted)
4:44 CE Lee (Campbell)
4:05 CE T. Lathrop (unassisted)
1:39 CE Boudreau (Campbell)

Fourth period
9:39 CE Boudreau (Campbell)
5:24 CE K. Lathrop (Patterson)
5:07 TA Veroneau (unassisted)
2:51 CE T. Lathrop (unassisted)

Goals:
TA- Flynn 3, Marcotte, Veroneau 2, DeLeo 1
CE- Boudreau, K. Lathrop 4, T. Lathrop 3, Lee 2, Campbell, Cochran 1

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Assists:
TA- LeBlanc 2, Ruff, Veroneau 1
CE- Campbell 6, Boudreau, K. Lathrop, Patterson 1

Faceoffs (11-11)
TA- Michaud 11 of 22
CE- Moon 6 of 12, T. Lathrop 5 of 10

Ground balls:
TA- 31
CE- 37

Turnovers:
TA- 25
CE- 19

Shots:
TA- 22
CE- 37

Shots on cage:
TA- 12
CE- 22

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Saves:
TA (Parenteau) 7
CE (Algara) 4

CAPE ELIZABETH—If you’re going to suffer a painful loss, you might as well turn it into a positive.

Last month, Cape Elizabeth’s powerhouse boys’ lacrosse team, the reigning Class A state champion, let a late lead slip away and was stunned in overtime at Thornton Academy.

The top-ranked Capers got a chance to avenge that setback Wednesday evening at Hannaford Field when they hosted the second-seeded Golden Trojans in a highly anticipated Class A South Final.

And Cape Elizabeth did exactly that, racing to a fast start and after talented and determined Thornton Academy again battled back, this time, the Capers didn’t buckle, pulling away to punch their ticket back to the state final.

Sophomore Sam Cochran scored just 17 seconds in to set the tone and Cape Elizabeth led, 3-0, early and 6-1 late in the first quarter, but the Golden Trojans refused to go quietly.

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Three straight goals from junior Ronan Flynn pulled Thornton Academy within just two, 8-6, at halftime.

Flynn then had a chance to make it a one-goal game in the third quarter, but he was robbed by Capers senior goalie Simon Algara and Cape Elizabeth began to pull away, as seniors Caden Lee, Tiernan Lathrop and Nic Boudreau scored in succession for a little breathing room and a 12-7 lead heading for the fourth period.

There, the Golden Trojans couldn’t muster another rally and goals from Boudreau, sophomore Keegan Lathrop and Tiernan Lathrop ended all doubt as the Capers went on to a 15-8 victory.

Cape Elizabeth rode a potent attack of six different scorers as it improved to 13-2, ended Thornton Academy’s season at 13-2 and advanced to the Class A state final, where, for the second year in a row, it will battle Falmouth (12-3), Saturday at a time to be announced at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.

“This means a lot,” said the Yale University-bound Boudreau, who scored four times. “I told the guys before the game, ‘All season we’ve been playing for this game right here.’ After losing last game to them, it fired us up a little more. That showed us we have to show up and give everything every game. I’m super-proud how we played and responded.”

No introductions necessary

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Cape Elizabeth, long the state’s gold standard program, moved up to Class A in 2018 and a rivalry was instantly born between the pedigreed Capers and the ascendant Golden Trojans.

Thornton Academy dominated Cape Elizabeth in the 2018 regional final, then upset the unbeaten Capers, at Hannaford Field, in the 2019 Class A South Final (see sidebar, for other previous playoff results between the schools).

“I think it’s a great rivalry,” said longtime Cape Elizabeth coach Ben Raymond, who surpassed the 300-win plateau earlier this spring. “They do a great job. They have a lot of kids in their program and they have a great plan. Their defense is the most difficult defense to play against. I think the more we see it, I think the better we get at figuring out what works and what doesn’t.”

After the 2020 campaign was cancelled by COVID, the Capers got a measure of revenge during the regular season in 2021, winning, 17-2, in Saco, but the teams didn’t meet in the playoffs.

They produced an epic back on May 20 in the regular season meeting at Thornton Academy, as Cape Elizabeth clung to a one-goal lead late, but with just 1.8 seconds showing, junior Ethan LeBlanc scored to force overtime, where Flynn played the hero to produce an 11-10 victory.

Unfortunately for the Golden Trojans, that win wasn’t enough to propel them to the top seed in Class A South. Thornton Academy lost only once in the regular season, by a goal at South Portland, but passed every other test.

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The Golden Trojans rolled over No. 7 Noble (24-3) in the quarterfinals, then held off No. 3 South Portland, 13-9, in the semifinals.

The Capers didn’t lose again after falling at Thornton Academy, then dominated No. 8 Sanford (22-5) in the quarterfinals before downing No. 4 Scarborough (12-7) in Saturday’s semifinal round.

Wednesday evening, in front of a full house, on a pleasant evening (66 degrees at the start), Cape Elizabeth delivered a powerful opening punch, but it didn’t result in an immediate knockout.

Cape Elizabeth senior Tiernan Lathrop eludes Thornton Acaemy senior Alex St. John during the Capers’ 15-8 victory Wednesday. Photos courtesy Lisa Mims.

Instead of junior Sebastian Moon, it was Tiernan Lathrop taking the opening faceoff for the Capers. He won possession and got the ball to senior Colin Campbell, who produced the first of his many assists by setting up Cochran for a 1-0 lead just 17 seconds in.

“Hats off to (Thornton Academy), they play a great zone,” Boudreau said. “For us to beat that zone, we try to get into our offense as quickly as possible, that means pushing the ball right away. When we push it, we get opportunities off the break.”

“We definitely wanted to start fast,” Raymond said. “We put Tiernan on the faceoff to try and get some transition off the bat. We really didn’t have any transition last time we played them. That was a big focus. When we get going in transition, we’re pretty hard to stop. It was a great start.”

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With 10:13 left in the first quarter, Boudreau doubled the lead, finishing unassisted.

Cape Elizabeth then got a third goal with 8:59 on the clock, as after Tiernan Lathrop made one of his patented bursts through the defense, his shot was saved by Thornton Academy junior goalie Jacob Parenteau, but his little brother, Keegan Lathrop, scooped up the rebound and sent the ball into the net.

“We wanted to put our best game on the field and we didn’t feel like we did that the last time we played them,” Raymond said. “It wasn’t a hard game to get fired up for.”

The Golden Trojans then turned momentum when they asked to check Moon’s stick and it was deemed to be illegal, putting the Capers down a man for two minutes.

Thornton Academy then got on the board 23 seconds later, as LeBlanc set up sophomore Jacob Marcotte for a shot which Algara couldn’t stop.

The Golden Trojans weren’t able to keep the momentum, as just before the penalty expired, Cape Elizabeth responded with a man-down goal, as Tiernan Lathrop finished unassisted with 7:03 on the clock.

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With 4:33 to go, Boudreau somehow threaded a low pass through the defense to Keegan Lathrop on the backside and Lathrop scored for a 5-1 lead.

“They came out at a level we haven’t seen,” said Thornton Academy coach Ryan Hersey. “No brakes. Credit to them. They’re similar to us in 2018 and 2019. They have so many weapons. Those 30-yard skip passes they were throwing tonight were killing us.”

When Lee scored his first goal, from Campbell, with 2:30 left in the first, a Capers’ runaway appeared imminent, but instead, the Golden Trojans rose off the deck and made things most interesting.

After going man-up, Thornton Academy got a second goal from Marcotte (set up by sophomore Noah Veroneau) with 1:34 on the clock and 22 seconds later, in transition, senior Cody Ruff set up Veroneau to cut the deficit to three, but Cape Elizabeth closed the frame as it began in, tickling the twine, as Keegan Lathrop scored unassisted with 6.6 seconds to go for a 7-3 advantage.

The Golden Trojans then controlled the second period and rallied.

First, Algara denied senior Nick DeLeo and both Veroneau and Flynn missed high.

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After Algara made a save on a shot from Veroneau, the Capers went back up by five, as Campbell scored his goal, from Keegan Lathrop, with 6:21 to go in the half.

Thornton Academy then roared back, as Flynn scored unassisted with 4:59 on the clock, Flynn scored unassisted again, man-up, with 2:51 left and with 1:36 showing, in transition, Flynn took a pass from LeBlanc and finished and suddenly, the score was 8-6.

Flynn nearly cut the deficit to one with 38 seconds to go, but his bid rang off the post.

Cape Elizabeth had nearly squandered the lead, but Raymond reminded his team at the break that they were still sitting pretty.

“At halftime, the kids were down a little bit, but I told them they were still up two and that’s a great spot,” Raymond said. “You’d rather be up by two than down by two. We just had issues with penalties. We were in the box too much. It’s a combination of the way they play and the way we play. It’s two physical teams.”

Cape Elizabeth senior Colin Campbell chases after Thornton Academy junior goalie Jacob Parenteau.

The second half began with the feeling it was anyone’s game, but by the time the third quarter ended, Cape Elizabeth was back in control.

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With 7:50 to go, the Golden Trojans, who had killed multiple penalties, tried to pull within one, but Flynn was robbed by Algara on the doorstep.

“Simon made great saves and the defense was very good,” said Raymond. “If we hadn’t lost that game at TA, we wouldn’t have made the changes we had to make. It was apparent that we needed to fix some things and our guys buckled down and they’ve gotten better every game.”

“I think the turning the point was when Ronan got stuffed,” said Hersey. “We’d just killed a minute-and-a-half worth of penalties and it would have made it a one-goal game.”

At the other end, with 6:55 remaining in the frame, Campbell set up Boudreau in good position and after a nice fake, Boudreau beat Parenteau to make it 9-6, snapping a nearly 12-minute scoring drought in the process.

Thornton Academy got the goal back 49 seconds later, as DeLeo finished after a nice dodge, but that’s as close as it would get.

With 4:44 on the clock, Lee finished a feed from Campbell and 39 seconds later, Tiernan Lathrop scored unassisted.

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“Tiernan is like (former Golden Trojans star) CJ (Labreck),” Hersey said. “He’s very hard to stop.”

Algara protected the lead by robbing Marcotte, then with 1:39 left, Campbell set up Boudreau for a 12-7 advantage that the Capers would take the fourth period.

“When we came in for half, everyone settled down,” Boudreau said. “Coach said, ‘At the end of the day, we’re just playing lacrosse like we have all year.’ We started hitting our shots and executed more on offense and cut down on turnovers. When we don’t turn the ball over and we’re playing good lacrosse, not many teams can stop us.”

Prior to the start of the fourth period, DeLeo’s stick was found to have too deep a pocket, forcing him out for two minutes.

Cape Elizabeth couldn’t take advantage, as Tiernan Lathrop hit the post, but with 9:39 to play, Campbell set up Boudreau for a goal to stretch the lead further.

With 5:24 left, Capers’ standout junior defenseman Nate Patterson got in on the offensive fun, racing in and setting up Keegan Lathrop for what was for all intents and purposes, the dagger.

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“I can always count on Keegan being open low,” Patterson said. “He was open and I dished it to him.”

Seventeen seconds later, Veroneau scored unassisted for Thornton Academy’s final goal.

After Flynn hit the post, Tiernan Lathrop then accounted for the final score with an unassisted goal with 2:51 on the clock.

Cape Elizabeth then closed it out and at 8:43 p.m., rushed the field to celebrate its impressive 15-8 victory.

Cape Elizabeth celebrates the victory.

“I definitely lost sleep (after the last game),” said Patterson, who allowed the tying goal in that one. “It’s nice we could resolve things. This means so much for the seniors. We gave it everything we got. We didn’t play our best in the second quarter. We felt like we scored goals on ourselves. It was our mistakes and good teams take advantage. They were simple things we could fix.”

Boudreau and Keegan Lathrop paced the Capers’ offense with four goals apiece. Tiernan Lathrop added three goals, while Lee had two and Campbell and Cochran one apiece.

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“Our offense is very good,” Raymond said. “We saw some things that opened up some holes and we reminded the guys where those holes were at halftime. (Assistant coach) Charlie (Carroll) does an amazing job of designing things that are going to impact the game. The guys just shot really well. The last game we played them, we probably had 45 or 50 shots. We didn’t have that many tonight, but they were better looks and we did a better job executing. When you have this many seniors, it’s a big deal. Three out of four defenders are seniors and all but two of our offensive guys are seniors.”

Campbell also pitched in six assists.

“One of the awesome things these guys have done this year is they don’t care who scores,” Raymond said. “They understand that the more we move and share the ball, we’re that much harder to defend. Colin has great vision. We put the ball in his hands a lot as the distributor and he has some great guys around him who can finish. The defense has some tough choices to make because Keegan does a great job around the crease, we have some really good outside shooters and good luck stopping Tiernan.”

Boudreau, Keegan Lathrop and Patterson also had assists.

“You can do so much not scoring a goal,” Boudreau said. “Nate’s almost the MVP of every game with the ground balls he picks up. Some games, some of us score nine goals, some of us have zero. It doesn’t really matter who scores goals.”

Algara stopped four shots.

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The Capers enjoyed a 37-31 edge in ground balls (as Patterson came up with nine and Tiernan Lathrop had eight), out-shot the Golden Trojans, 37-22 (22-12 on cage) and overcame 19 turnovers.

Each team won 11 faceoffs.

Cape Elizabeth senior captains Tiernan Lathrop, left, Colin Campbell and Nic Boudreau accept the regional championship trophy following the win. Hoffer photo.

Bump in the road

Thornton Academy got three goals from Flynn, two apiece from Marcotte and Veroneau and one from DeLeo.

LeBlanch had a pair of assists, while Ruff and Veroneau each added one.

Parenteau made seven saves.

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Senior Alex St. John led the team with nine ground balls.

The Golden Trojans turned the ball over 25 times.

“I’m proud of our guys for making it a game,” Hersey said. “We lose some boys, but we have a good amount coming back. To go from 8-5 to 13-2 is impressive. I’m proud we got back to this place so quickly. I’d love to get back here next year.”

Falmouth, again

Cape Elizabeth had to hold on for an 11-10 win at Falmouth in the teams’ regular season meeting, May 2.

The teams have met 10 times in the playoffs dating to 2009, with the Capers holding a 7-3 edge, including last year’s decisive 19-6 victory in the Class A state final.

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The Navigators advanced by virtue of a 2-0 shutout (no typo) of Windham in their regional final Wednesday.

Cape Elizabeth knows it will have a much tougher time with Falmouth than it did last year, but now that another state title is close enough to taste, don’t expect the Capers to be satisfied until they can celebrate on the turf at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

“Every year is different,” Patterson said. “Last year was one of the best teams Cape’s ever had. This year, we’ve had to work on things we didn’t see last year. I’m looking forward to it. I’m pumped.”

“We’re just worried about ourselves,” Boudreau said. “We don’t really worry about what the other team does. We’ll worry about showing up and playing. Our coaches do a great job preparing us. We’ll have tomorrow and Friday to practice and we’ll be ready to play Saturday.”

“We know (Falmouth coach) Dave (Barton) does a great job, so they’ll have a game plan and will be ready for us,” Raymond added. “The state game’s a hard game to play for both teams. It’s about who shows up. It’s more about who will make the least amount of mistakes. The guys will be fairly confident. We have to keep them focused. We can’t think the same thing will happen that happened in last year’s state final.”

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

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