WATERVILLE — The Gardiner boys lacrosse team can take small comfort in the fact it was only outscored by two goals in the second half of Wednesday’s Eastern Maine Class B championship game against Yarmouth.

The first half was another matter. The Clippers systematically picked the Tigers’ defense apart and jumped out to a 10-goal lead, eventually winning 15-3.

Yarmouth (12-3) advances to Saturday’s state title game against Cape Elizabeth, while top-seeded Gardiner finishes at 14-1.

The talent gap between northern and southern Maine teams has narrowed — Gardiner knocked Yarmouth from the playoffs two years ago — but is still significant.

“We’re not used to competition like that,” Gardiner senior Tyler Jamison said. “Day in and day out, they play better teams. They’re more used to moving the ball fast and they find that open person faster.”

After going scoreless for the first five minutes, the Clippers scored six times over the next six minutes. Quinn Hathcock and Ethan Cyr each scored twice over that span while Ian Edgecomb and Nick Ronan notched a goal apiece.

“We set this goal at the beginning of the season,” Yarmouth midfielder Christian Henry said. “We knew we wanted to play this game and eventually get to Fiztpatrick Stadium for the finals. I was here watching on the sidelines when I was a sophomore . . . watching them lose that game (to Gardiner) in overtime and it was a heartbreaker.”

Hathcock added a pair of goals in the second quarter as did sophomore Brendan Dioli, Henry also chipped in with a score while Jamison broke the shutout with a goal for the Tigers. Yarmouth coach David Pearl cautioned his team about overconfidence at the half and they responded with a strong third quarter. Henry scored twice to get his hat trick while Dioli also picked up his third goal and Edgecomb his second.

“(We) were an underrated team this year,” Pearl said. “They’ve worked really hard. They practice like they play. Out of all the teams I’ve coached I’ve never seen a team practice with more intensity.”

Pearl got some of his reserves into the game in the fourth quarter which helped swing some of the momentum to the Tigers. Seniors Dalton Sargent and Seth Wing each scored unassisted and it could have been more if not for four saves by Yarmouth goalie Sam Landry who finished with nine saves. JD Crocker had 11 for Gardiner.

“We battled adversity all season long and we were able to pressure teams really well,” Gardiner coach KC Johnson said. “Today, we were pressured. We didn’t handle that adversity very well.”

The unbeaten regular season was the first for Gardiner, which finished at 11-1 two years ago.

“We’re proud of it,” Jamison said. “Our goal at the beginning of the season was to make it back to Easterns, win KVACs and attempt to go undefeated which we did until the end.”

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

[email protected]

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