SOUTH PORTLAND—Cape Elizabeth’s powerhouse boys’ lacrosse team had to navigate a daunting schedule this spring.

And the Capers have done just that.

In perfect fashion.

Friday evening at Martin Memorial Field, Cape Elizabeth, the two-time reigning Class A state champion, faced what figures to be its final big test of the 2023 regular season, at upset-minded South Portland, and despite being without its most prolific scorer, senior Keegan Lathrop, and having to play on a grass surface, the Capers controlled possession and generated enough offense to keep the good times rolling.

Cape Elizabeth led by just a 2-1 margin after one period, thanks to goals from senior Connor Goss and junior Bobby Offit, but by halftime, the Capers were up, 5-2, as they forced 13 Red Riots’ turnovers in the first half and got second quarter goals from senior Nate Patterson, Goss and Nick Laughlin.

Cape Elizabeth’s defense remained smothering in the third period, as it shut South Portland out, and Goss and Offitt added goals to essentially put it away.


One final goal from Laughlin ended any remaining doubt and while the Red Riots finally snapped a 27-plus-minute scoring drought, it wasn’t enough and the Capers went on to an 8-4 victory.

Goss led the way with three goals, Laughlin and Offit added two apiece and Cape Elizabeth improved to 13-0 on the season, won its 19th consecutive game dating back to last year and in the process, dropped the Red Riots to 9-3.

“This is definitely the toughest schedule that anybody has had in years,” said longtime Capers coach Ben Raymond, after his 325th career victory. “We might have 300 Heal Points and that says a lot. Every game has been a good game. That will be beneficial for us going into playoffs.”

Start and finish

Way back on April 14, the host Capers broke a third quarter tie and held off the Red Riots, 10-6, as both teams cemented themselves as top contenders in Class A.

Cape Elizabeth hasn’t skipped a beat since, defeating host Gorham (13-2), visiting Yarmouth (11-6), host Thornton Academy (7-4), visiting Falmouth (9-7), visiting Messalonskee (14-5), host Scarborough (12-1), host Yarmouth (14-8), visiting Thornton Academy, 13-7, host York (16-9), host Falmouth (15-9) and visiting Scarborough (14-2).


South Portland, meanwhile, followed up its loss in the opener with wins at Thornton Academy in a playoff rematch (5-4) at Massabesic (18-0), at North Yarmouth Academy (13-9), at home over Scarborough (12-3), at Deering (18-5). at two-time reigning Class C champion Waynflete (6-5), and at home over Windham (10-6). After losing at home to Falmouth (19-7), the Red Riots enjoyed victories over visiting Gorham (12-0) and at Portland (18-7).

In the teams’ first meeting, senior Brady Demers scored three times for South Portland, but junior Sam Cochran had three goals for the Capers, who had a big edge in most statistical categories.

Friday, on a chilly evening (54 degrees and dropping at opening faceoff), the Red Riots again hoped for an elusive first-ever win over Cape Elizabeth, but it wasn’t to be.

Cape Elizabeth senior Max Johnson defends South Portland sophomore Beckett Mehlhorn early in the Capers’ 8-4 victory Friday. Hoffer photos.

Senior Sebastian Moon won the opening possession and just 39 seconds in, the Capers struck first, as Cochran set up Goss for a shot that South Portland senior goalie Ben Kieu couldn’t stop.

Cochran nearly doubled the lead off the ensuing faceoff, but Keiu made the save and at the other end, with 10:31 to go in the first quarter, senior Lucas Mehlhorn scored unassisted to pull South Portland even.

Sophomore Beckett Mehlhorn then had a chance to give the Red Riots the lead with 7:36 on the clock, but he missed wide and at the other end, Cape Elizabeth went on top to stay.


With 6:54 remaining, in transition, senior Andrew Trachimowicz set up Offitt for a 2-1 lead.

Late in the frame, Kieu denied Cochran and Capers junior goalie Michael Foley saved a shot from South Portland junior Tobey Lappin.

Frustration then became the order of the day for the Red Riots in the second quarter, as they consistently turned the ball over, and as a result, Cape Elizabeth extended the lead by halftime.

Off the second period faceoff, which was won by Capers junior Will Picarillo, the ball came to senior Nate Patterson, usually a defensive standout, but one who is never shy to go on the attack, and Patterson bounced a shot past Kieu to make it 3-1.

After Kieu saved a shot from Offit, South Portland crept back within one with 8:17 on the clock, when Beckett Mehlhorn scored unassisted, but the home team wouldn’t score again for a long, long time.

With 7 minutes left before halftime, Cape Elizabeth went man-up for a minute after the half’s lone penalty and Lathrop, nursing a sore hamstring, came on for his only action of the game. He appeared poised to get an assist when he set up junior Alex van Huystee on the doorstep, but van Huystee was robbed by Kieu.


The Red Riots had their chances to draw even, but consistently threw the ball away.

Then, with 1:56 remaining, Goss weaved through the defense before finishing unassisted.

With just 23.3 seconds on the clock, Laughlin scored for the first time, from Moon, and the Capers took a 5-2 advantage to the break.

The biggest differences to that point were ground balls (22-8 in Cape Elizabeth’s favor) and 13 South Portland turnovers to just six for the visitors, which gave the Capers a big edge in possession.

The Red Riots couldn’t turn things around in the second half.

Cape Elizabeth senior Andrew Trachimowicz fights past South Portland senior Brady Demers.

Kieu kept South Portland in it early in the third period, saving shots from Cochran and van Huystee, but with 6:42 to go, Goss again eluded a defender and finished unassisted.


“Obviously, when you don’t have the best player in the state you have to adjust,” Goss said. “The last couple days in practice, we had to come up with some stuff to get looks without Keegan. It’s fun going one-v-one against (Ben). I’ve played against him since middle school, so it was fun getting a few on him.”

“Connor did a great job in that spot tonight,” Raymond said. ” We had some really nice, long possessions where everyone touched the ball a couple times and it ended in goals. It’s not great to not have Keegan, but everyone else understood they had to pick up the responsibility and play better.”

With 2:52 remaining in the frame, Cochran set up Offit for his second goal and the lead was five.

Kieu kept it from getting out of hand by denying van Huystee and Cochran, but when the fourth quarter began, the Capers were in control, up, 7-2.

With the Red Riots continuing to struggle setting up on offense, Cape Elizabeth scored one final time, with 7:08 on the clock, as Laughlin bulled through the defense and finished.

Finally, with 4:56 to play, in transition after a turnover, Lucas Mehlhorn scored unassisted to end the Capers’ 5-0 run and a 27 minute, 21 second scoring drought.


South Portland had a rare 6-on-3 opportunity after multiple penalties, including one on Foley, but Lucas Mehlhorn had a shot saved by junior backup James York.

With 1:36 remaining, playing 6-on-4, the Red Riots found the net, when Beckett Mehlhorn finished a feed from sophomore Ian House, but that’s as close as they’d get, as York saved a shot from Beckett Mehlhorn and after Laughlin hit the post as time wound down, Cape Elizabeth was able to celebrate its 8-4 victory.

Cape Elizabeth junior backup goalie James York is congratulated by his teammates at the final horn.

“We came into the season and we realized we’d only win if we played as a team,” Trachimowicz said. “We’re fortunate to play in practice against an offense that brings it every single time, so we felt prepared coming into it. We’ve been working hard every single day. We know we’ve got each other’s backs and it’s been smooth sailing. We’ve had a blast all season.”

“This was a good test,” Raymond said. “They have good athletes over there. We did a good job on Luc and Beckett. Our defense was outstanding forcing turnovers. I think we did a good job in between the boxes. (South Portland) cleared fairly effectively, but once they got it over, we didn’t give them anything easy.”

As usual, Cape Elizabeth’s offense featured balance, as four different players scored and four others produced assists.

Goss led the way with three goals, while Laughlin and Offit found the net twice apiece and Patterson finished once.


Cochran had two assists, with Moon, Picarillo and Trachimowicz also setting up teammates.

Foley made three saves, while York stopped two shots in his limited time.

The Capers had a big edge in ground balls, 39-23 (Patterson led the way with five), out-shot the Red Riots, 27-15 (19-9 on cage) and only turned the ball over 13 turnovers.

“We did a very good job with ground balls,” Raymond said. “It’s always one of our focuses. We know how important it is. I think we’ve won the ground ball battle in every single game this year.”

South Portland got two goals apiece from Beckett Mehlhorn and Lucas Mehlhorn, but that was it for offense.

Kieu made 11 saves.


Beckett Mehlhorn had a team-high four ground balls.

The Red Riots were doomed in part by 22 turnovers.

“Cape did a really good job of pressuring us in transition,” South Portland coach Dan Hanley said. “They’re a good team and that’s what good teams do. Right when we came over the midfield line, they swarmed and we didn’t handle the pressure well today. We lost our composure and we’ll learn from it.

“Cape gets a lot of attention for their offense and the highlight reel goals they score, but what makes them really good is that they’re great between the lines. They’re great on faceoffs and they’re poised with the ball once they get a lead and that makes it hard to climb back. It’s frustrating, but hopefully we get another shot at them.

“I’m proud of how the guys came out today. Our effort level was high and they didn’t shy away from the moment. We played tough. There are lessons to be learned. It’s about composure. Cape does that really well. We need to be able to find that in the clear and on offense. At the end of the day, it’s about ground balls. We’ve gotten better during the year, but Cape had twice as many possessions as we did and that’s how you win lacrosse games, whether it’s in May or June. We’ll continue to work on that.”

Stage is set


South Portland, which appears resigned to the No. 3 seed in Class A, spends the rest of the regular season on the road, going to Kennebunk Wednesday of next week before closing at Bonny Eagle June 1.

“I think the standings will probably stay where they are,” said Hanley. “Having an open tournament for the state will create some great matchups.”

Cape Elizabeth will again be the top seed in Class A and has just one game standing between it and a third undefeated regular season since 2019, at home versus Greely Wednesday.

“Winning a state championship as seniors would be unreal,” Goss said. “For a lot of us, this is the last sport we’re going to play. It would be great to accomplish (a championship) this year with a different team.”

“We came into the season with expectations lower than usual, so it means a lot to us to prove we’re the team to beat once again without the guys we lost (to graduation),” Trachimowicz said. “Nothing’s changed from the first day. We’ll just bring it. We have the right mindset. If we roll into the playoffs the way we’ve been playing recently, I think we’ll do great.”

“We still have some things we haven’t shown in games,” added Raymond. “Our offense is still developing and improving. I imagine we’ll be better when the playoffs come around. We’d rather play at home. We enjoy playing at home.

“The kids have learned a lot during the season. I think we’ve improved a ton. I think we’re doing the things that we need to do to be ready. We’ll have some time off and we can focus on stick skills and shooting and get kids more time with that. It will be helpful.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at

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