YARMOUTH—They simply refuse to lose.

Even when it appears they’re doomed.

Cape Elizabeth’s juggernaut boys’ lacrosse team, which played a schedule devoid of close games in 2023 before facing a gauntlet of challenges this spring, appeared to have finally met its match Tuesday evening at Yarmouth, but not even a three-goal deficit with just over seven minutes to play was enough to doom this indomitable, proud group.

The Capers and Clippers, who have been producing memorable contests for over two decades, took turns going on runs, as stars expected and unexpected rose to the occasion and ultimately, one goal was all that separated the ancient rivals.

Cape Elizabeth threatened to run away and hide early, as junior Aidan Connolly, senior Bobby Offit and senior Keegan Lathrop scored in the game’s first five minutes, but five saves from sophomore goalie Will Redfield and two goals from senior standout Colter Olson pulled Yarmouth back within one, 3-2, after one quarter.

The Capers then twice took a four-goal lead in the second period, the first when senior defenseman Colin Blackburn scored man-down, and then again on a goal from senior Sam Cochran, but Olson answered, then set up sophomore George Brown to cut the deficit to 7-5 at the half.


After Offit scored the first goal of the second half, momentum turned in the Clippers’ favor, as an errant Blackburn pass led to a goal that sparked a six-goal run. Olson set up sophomore Colby Carnes for the tying goal before Olson gave Yarmouth its first lead, 9-8, heading to the fourth period.

There, Brown and Olson struck and with 7:41 left, the Clippers were ahead by three and entertaining upset dreams.

But those dreams were dashed in a heartbeat, as Cape Elizabeth erupted for five goals in just over three minutes.

Senior Alex van Huystee started the rally by setting up Lathrop for a goal, then scoring himself.

After Offit scored to tie it, van Huystee’s goal with 5:53 left put the Capers in front to stay.

After Connolly added an all-important insurance goal, Olson cut the deficit to one with under a minute left, but Yarmouth couldn’t get the ball back and Cape Elizabeth held on for a palpitating 13-12 victory.


Lathrop and Offit paced the offense with three goals apiece as the Capers improved to 6-0 on the year, made it 29 consecutive victories over the past three seasons and in the process, handed the valiant Clippers their first setback in six outings.

“We think we can beat everyone,” said van Huystee. “We were hanging our heads when we were down, but we all know we have players on our team that can make plays at any time. As much as we don’t rely on individual skills, sometimes they shine.”

Litmus test

Yarmouth has opened the 2024 season as if it was shot out of a cannon, winning its first five games by a composite 94-26 margin. The Clippers defeated visiting Gray-New Gloucester/Poland (18-7), host Freeport (21-6), host Brunswick (18-6), visiting Greely (17-1) and host Waynflete, the three-time reigning Class C champion (20-6).

Cape Elizabeth, meanwhile, remains a team without peer.

The Capers opened by handling visiting South Portland in a state game rematch, 17-4, then defeated visiting Scarborough (12-3) before getting pushed by visiting York, the reigning Class B champion, only to hold on, 11-10, then edging host Falmouth (7-6) before winning at Messalonskee Friday, 13-7.


Last spring, Cape Elizabeth won both meetings, 11-6 at home and 14-6 in Yarmouth to take a 35-15 lead in the series, dating to 2002.

Tuesday, the Clippers were hoping to beat the Capers like they did during the 2022 season and came oh-so-close to doing so, but with the game hanging in the balance, Cape Elizabeth’s championship pedigree was the difference.

Yarmouth junior Wyatt Gawtry is hounded by Cape Elizabeth senior Keegan Lathrop early in the Capers’ 13-12 victory Tuesday. Hoffer photos.

The Capers had possession most of the first quarter and unleashed shot after shot early, but couldn’t break through, as Redfield denied van Huystee and Lathrop, while Cochran, Connolly and van Huystee sent shots wide.

Cape Elizabeth broke through with 8:07 on the first quarter clock, as Connolly scored unassisted.

Eight seconds later, the score was 2-0, as senior Will Picarillo won the ensuing faceoff to Cochran, who set up Offit for a goal in transition.

After Redfield robbed van Huystee, the Capers made it a three-goal game when Cochran set up Lathrop for a goal with 6:55 remaining.


But Yarmouth didn’t panic and after Redfield stymied both Cochran and Offit, the Clippers answered.

After Cape Elizabeth senior goalie Michael Foley saved a bid from Carnes, Olson, off a long clear from Redfield, scored unassisted with 4:04 left to break the ice.

Olson then took a pass from junior Owen Walsh and fired a rocket past Foley with 1:57 showing to cut the deficit to 3-2.

The second period followed a similar script.

After van Huystee hit the post 25 seconds in, Cape Elizabeth’s fourth goal came in transition, as senior Jake Liess, a top defenseman, ran into the offensive end, then found Cochran, who tickled the twine with 9:01 on the clock.

After Offit hit the crossbar, van Huystee set up Lathrop for a 5-2 lead with 6:27 left in the half.


Seventeen seconds later, Lathrop was sent off for a minute for slashing and Yarmouth looked to get on the board man-up, but after Carnes was denied by Foley, it would be the Capers scoring man-down, as Blackburn rushed up the field and when the defense didn’t respond in time, he fired the ball past Redfield and in.

The Clippers answered with 5:09 left, as Olson set up sophomore Hakon Yeo for a goal, but after Foley denied Olson, the Capers went ahead by four for a second time.

After Lathrop hit the post, van Huystee kept possession and found Cochran for a goal with 3:35 remaining, making it 7-3.

Again, Yarmouth chipped away and cut into the deficit.

With 2:58 on the clock, Olson scored a highlight reel goal, taking a pass from sophomore Nate Buchanan before flipping a shot over his shoulder and past Foley and in.

Redfield then stood tall, denying Lathrop and Offit and with 1:12 to go, the Clippers went man-up.


With 33 seconds left, Olson set up Brown for the man-up goal and the score was 7-5 at the half.

Cape Elizabeth controlled possession in the first half and had a whopping 34-13 advantage in shots, but only half were on cage and Redfield’s nine saves kept things most interesting.

And the second half would be even more compelling.

Cape Elizabeth senior Colin Blackburn keeps a close eye on Yarmouth senior Colter Olson.

The Capers opened the third quarter scoring with 9:11 on the clock, as van Huystee set up Offit for a transition goal, but the rest of the frame would be all Clippers.

After Foley robbed Olson and made a save on a shot from sophomore Ian Minnihan after a turnover, Yarmouth got a gift, as Blackburn won possession of the ball and turned to flick it to Foley, but instead, he threw the ball directly into the goal and just like that, with 6:21 remaining, the Clippers were within two.

“I don’t think (Colin) meant to shoot,” longtime Cape Elizabeth coach Ben Raymond said. “He thought Mike was there probably. Those are things we continue to work on.”


With 4:57 to go, Brown set up Carnes for a goal and after Redfield denied both Lathrop and Cochran, Yarmouth tied it with 2:52 left, as Olson set up Carnes on a pick-and-roll play.

Then, 55 seconds later, Olson executed a pretty stop-and-go move before firing the ball past Foley to give the Clippers their first lead, 9-8.

Olson tried to extend the advantage just before the horn, but his shot was just wide and Yarmouth went into the final stanza in front.

Cape Elizabeth tried to answer when the fourth quarter began, but Lathrop and van Huystee each missed wide.

Then, with 9:08 on the clock, Carnes set up Brown for a goal to make it 10-8.

After Redfield robbed Offit, Olson struck unassisted with 7:41 remaining and punctuated his goal with an exuberant celebration.


But the 11-8 lead would prove to be the Clippers’ highwater mark and it would erode rapidly.

Picarillo won the ensuing faceoff and with 7:20 on the clock, van Huystee set up Lathrop up top and he ripped a shot past Redfield and in to end the 6-0 Yarmouth run and an uncharacteristic 13 minute, 51 second scoring drought.

The Capers got the ball back and with 6:17 left, van Huystee was able to beat Redfield just inside the near post to make it a one-goal game, 11-10.

Picarillo won the ensuing faceoff and in a mere seven seconds, Cape Elizabeth pulled even, as Cochran set up Offit.

Seventeen seconds after that, the Capers struck for the lead, as van Huystee fought through the defense before scoring to make it 12-11.

“At a certain point, I had to shoot,” said van Huystee. “I must have missed my first six shots and I wasn’t confident shooting, but when you’re open, you have to let it rip. My boys told me to be confident and shoot. Their long-poles were on Keegan and Sam, our best dodgers, so other people had to dodge and step up.”


“Alex was great,” said Raymond. “There’s going to be a mismatch. We have enough guys where someone will get the short-stick. I like our chances with any of our top six guys against another team’s short-stick D-mids. They were slow to slide and he had a better idea of where he was going with the ball. The slide wasn’t coming and he scored some nice goals.”

Connolly, who scored Cape Elizabeth’s first goal, then scored the Capers’ final one, unassisted, beating Redfield short side with 3:56 remaining and what was a three-goal deficit had turned into a two-goal lead in a dizzying matter of 3 minutes, 24 seconds.

“Defensively, (Yarmouth’s) very good and they did an excellent job of taking our top guys away with their poles, but we had an advantage on their short-sticks,” Raymond said. “Their goalie was outstanding. He did a really good job. He made saves and made good decisions on the clear. We had so many shots in the first half, but he did a good job and that got in our guys’ heads. They were passing up shots. We had to make him move a little bit more in the second half.”

But as was the case all night, Yarmouth wouldn’t quit and that made for a dramatic finish.

After finally gaining possession, the Clippers appeared to pull within one when Olson scored unassisted on the run with 3:16 left, but the goal was waved off due to interference.

Redfield kept home alive by denying Cochran and then, with 42.6 seconds to play, Olson bounced home a shot and his unassisted goal stood, making it a one-goal game again.


But Yarmouth would never get a look at a tying shot, as Picarillo won the faceoff and after Raymond called timeout, the Capers were able to run out the clock, exhale and celebrate a 13-12 victory.

The celebration a the final horn of Cape Elizabeth’s victory Tuesday.

“We sometimes get a little too comfortable when we’re up and we couldn’t do that in this type of game,” said van Huystee. “It came back to bite us. It’s always a close game against Yarmouth.”

“It’s just consistency,” said Raymond. “We had a very good spurt to start the game. First half overall was pretty good besides the penalties. We did a decent job moving the ball, clearing it, moving it. In the fourth quarter, we had a great four-minute stint where we won a bunch of faceoffs and made good decisions on the offensive side of the field. End of the game was great. We passed up a shot, got the ball behind (the goal) and killed off the rest of the clock.”

Six different Capers scored, as Lathrop and Offit each had three goals, Cochran, Connolly and van Huystee added two apiece and Blackburn finished with one.

Eight of the 13 goals were assisted, as van Huystee had four, Cochran three and Liess one.

Foley made eight saves.


Picarillo dominated the faceoff circle, winning 20 of 29 opportunities.

Cape Elizabeth doubled up Yarmouth on ground balls, 40-20 (with Picarillo leading the way with 11), enjoyed a commanding 50-23 shots advantage (28-20 on cage) and overcame 15 turnovers.

The Clippers’ offense was paced by the unstoppable Olson. Olson, who will play next year at Rutgers University in New Jersey, had six goals and added three assists.

Brown and Carnes each scored twice and Yeo also found the net.

Brown, Buchanan and Carnes all had one assist.

Sophomore Noah Tippie had a team-high three ground balls.


Redfield was huge with 15 saves.

Yarmouth committed 18 turnovers and just couldn’t get the ball enough, or when it mattered most, to make the difference.

“It was a good game, back and forth,” Clippers coach Jon Miller said. “We got down early and I reminded the guys that lacrosse is a game of waves. Our wave came later and we couldn’t hold on to it, but it was great lacrosse. We’ll take away that we were able to play a close game against a top team in the state. We hadn’t been tested yet and it could have gone either way. In a one-goal lacrosse game, it comes down to one possession, that could be one ground ball, one dropped pass. It’s a game of possession and we didn’t have it. We had the momentum, but we lost a couple possessions and Cape scored some quick transition goals that took away our lead.”

The fun continues

The teams meet again in the regular season finale May 29 in Cape Elizabeth, but both squads have plenty of heavy lifting to contend with in the meantime.

Yarmouth hopes to bounce back when it hosts Messalonskee Thursday. The Clippers go to Greely and Scarborough next week.


“We didn’t beat (Cape), but we will see them the last game of the season, so from here on out, the goal is to win the last game of the regular season and the last game of the playoffs,” said Miller. “It was great to get a test tonight. A close lacrosse game is a unique experience. We needed that because we have some tough games coming up.”

The Capers welcome Gorham Friday, then go to Windham Tuesday of next week before likely getting a test from visiting Thornton Academy Saturday, May 11.

“We know we’re not nearly at our best yet,” said van Huystee. “I don’t want to say going undefeated is important, but it’s extra incentive to try every game. It’s fun energy, these big games. We just have to stay dialed in at practice every day and take every game one at a time. Sometimes we look at the championship instead of the next game down the road and we can’t do that.”

“We definitely want these type of games and we’ll keep getting them,” Raymond said. “This is probably one of the best schedules we’ve had in years. We have yet to see TA and we’ll see them twice. We see Falmouth again and Yarmouth again and Windham’s in there too.

“We have a lot of little things we need to work on. We’re filtering in a bunch of guys who don’t have as much experience. They have to learn what to do in certain situations. These are the best times to learn. You can’t mimic it in practice. We talk about it and we learn and hopefully, we do a little better each game.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. 

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