FALMOUTH—Thursday evening might have been the dawn of a new girls’ lacrosse season, but Falmouth senior standout Alex Bernier was clearly in midseason form.
And as a result, her team is off to a hot start.
The Yachtsmen hosted perennial power Yarmouth in the teams’ mutual lidlifter and while the Clippers hung tough in the first half, six Bernier goals (including one on a free position with less than a second to go) gave the hosts a 9-5 advantage.
Falmouth opened it up in the second half, scoring seven of the first eight goals, and rolled to a 16-7 triumph.
Bernier led all scorers and outscored the Clippers single-handedly with eight goals. Seniors Angela Mallis and Molly Ryan (who broke the ice less than a minute into the game) both added three and the Yachtsmen improved to 1-0, dropping Yarmouth to 0-1.
“We were a little slow in preseason games, but I was pleased with how we played tonight,” said Falmouth coach Robin Haley. “I thought we did a nice job. There were some areas where we sloppy, but for the most part, we moved the ball around well. Only a few girls scored goals, but that didn’t reflect how good the others were.”
Falmouth is coming off the best season in program annals, but it ultimately ended in heartache, when the Yachtsmen couldn’t hold a second half lead and lost to eventual state champion Waynflete, 10-9, in the Western B semifinal round to wind up 10-3.
Yarmouth, which won the 2011 state title, was hit hard by graduation and a brutal schedule a year ago as it started 0-5. The Clippers turned things around, however, and got all the way to the Eastern B Final where they too couldn’t hold a late lead and were stunned by Freeport, 12-11, in overtime, to finish 7-7.
The rivalry has been one-sided in favor of Yarmouth, but last year, Falmouth finally broke through against the Clippers with a pair of victories.
Thursday, the Yachtsmen got the better of the Clippers again.
Yarmouth junior Grace O’Donnell won the opening draw, but the Clippers turned the ball over. The Yachtsmen then pounced as Bernier set up Ryan for the first goal of the season 46 seconds in.
Falmouth never looked back.
After a six minute drought, the Yachtsmen scored three times in a 36-second span to seize control.
With 18:09 left in the first half, Bernier scored her first goal, unassisted, after a turnover.
After another turnover, senior Geneva Waite scored unassisted. After a Ryan draw win, Bernier scored unassisted and with 17:33 to play before halftime, Falmouth was in command, up, 4-0.
Yarmouth got its offense going 38 seconds later when senior Olivia Conrad took a pass from O’Donnell and beat Yachtsmen freshman goalie Sarah Hutcheon.
Back came Bernier, however, scoring on a free position, firing a shot past Clippers junior goalie Jordan Brown to make it 5-1.
Yarmouth then got tallies from senior Sara Costello (assisted by senior Julie Kameisha) and O’Donnell (assisted by Costello) to pull within 5-3, but a Bernier free position goal and an unassisted strike from Ryan restored the four-goal advantage, 7-3.
After Conrad (from Kameisha) answered for the Clippers, Bernier took a pass from Waite and finished to make it 8-4.
With 2:40 to go in the half, Yarmouth got a goal from senior Alex Lucas (assisted by Kameisha) and appeared primed to be within three at the break, but with time about to expire, Clippers junior Julia Primeau was whistled for a yellow card and as a result, Bernier was granted a free position. With 0.8 seconds showing, Bernier beat Brown and Falmouth had the momentum and a 9-5 lead at the break.
Yarmouth was very much in the game when the second half began, but the Yachtsmen quickly opened it up for good.
Just 2:10 in, after an initial shot was saved, Bernier flicked the ball hockey style past Brown into the net for a goal.
Mallis got on the scoreboard 51 seconds later with an unassisted tally which extended the lead to 11-5.
Kameisha answered with an unassisted goal, but Falmouth erupted for five straight goals to ice the win.
First, with 13:38 left, Ryan took a pass from junior Mikey Richards and finished.
Richards then set up sophomore Leigh Bernard for a goal and a 13-6 advantage.
Mallis scored twice in a 48 second span (the first from Waite, the second from Bernier) and just like that, the lead was nine.
With 6:12 remaining, an unassisted Bernier goal, her eighth and final of the game, made it 16-6 and induced a “mercy rule” running clock which lasted until Kameisha scored unassisted with 2:32 to play.
That would be it for the scoring as Falmouth went on to the 16-7 victory.
“The game just flowed really well,” said Bernier. “We played well. I’m really happy. We didn’t know what to expect. At halftime, we talked about maintaining possession of the ball and working on midfield transition.”
“It was awesome,” Ryan said. “We have a lot of new players out there. They proved something to all of us. I knew we had potential. We got in our groove and Alex got her shot going. We get our offense going and we can score.”
Bernier had half of the Yachtsmen’s goals and single-handedly outscored the Clippers by tickling the twine on eight occasions.
“Offseason, every single day, (Alex) probably took 100 shots,” said Ryan. “No one can save her shots.”
“We’re very fortunate to have her,” said Haley. “The nice thing about Alex is that she can score eight goals, but she wants to see her teammates have success. She won’t hesitate to dish the ball off. She’s a playmaker.”
“We’ve played (Alex) before and we know she’s a standout player,” said Yarmouth coach Dorothy Holt. “We just have to communicate more. We did a great in the beginning shutting her down, then we lost it. You have to hand it to her. She had a great game.”
Mallis and Ryan both had three goals, while Bernard and Waite each had one.
Bernier, Richards and Waite all had two assists.
Hutcheon made six saves in her varsity debut.
Bernier also had a team-high six ground balls, while senior defensive standout Katie Cooleen had five.
“Katie’s solid,” said Haley. “She’s very intelligent on the field. She’s really patient. She’s our go-to person on the defensive end. She calms the rest of the girls down. She’s our field leader without a doubt.”
The Yachtsmen won 13 of 24 draws, with Ryan going 11-of-21 and Bernard winning 2-of-3. They committed just 16 turnovers (a very impressive stat for an opener), while forcing 18, and put 25 shots on goal compared to 13 for Yarmouth.
The Clippers were paced by Kameisha, who had two goals and three assists. Conrad added two goals, while Costello, Lucas and O’Donnell all had one. Costello and O’Donnell both had an assist.
O’Donnell went 4-of-8 on draws, Simsarian 6-of-13, Conrad 1-for-1 and sophomores Ellie Teare and Emma Torres both 0-for-1.
Sophomore Lane Simsarian led Yarmouth with six ground balls. Conrad had five, while Kameisha and Lucas each collected four.
Brown made nine saves.
“We just have a lot to work on,” said Holt. “We’re young. At one point, I had five sophomores out there. I have new defenders. We’re learning. We missed 50-50 balls. I’m not disappointed. I don’t think the girls should hang their heads. They played hard until the end.”
Yarmouth, after an April vacation trip to Florida, will look to bounce back April 23 when it hosts Waynflete. A trip to three-time defending Class A champion Scarborough follows four days later and the Clippers will get another crack at Falmouth, this time at home, May 1.
This team will be heard from as the season goes along.
“We’ll come back (from Florida) and hit the ground running,” Holt said. “It doesn’t get any easier for us. I can’t complain about the schedule. We’ll get there.”
The Yachtsmen are back in action April 23 when they host Cape Elizabeth in a pivotal showdown. Falmouth welcomes Western A contender Marshwood three days later.
The Yachtsmen will keep getting better, which has to be a scary thought to the rest of the league.
“I think we’re pretty good,” said Bernier. “We have some work to do, but we’ll be pretty good if we work hard. We talk about last season. It’s in our mind every practice, to work hard and make it past where we got last year.”
“We need to work on defense and midfield transition,” Ryan said. “Once we play Cape and Waynflete, we’ll figure out who we are and what we can do.”
“(Tonight’s) a baseline for us what we’re doing well,” added Haley. “We know what we need to work on with Cape coming up after vacation. We need to figure out how to play against size.”
Falmouth senior Geneva Waite attempts a shot while Yarmouth junior goalie Jordan Brown defends.
Falmouth senior Molly Ryan and Yarmouth junior Grace O’Donnell battle during a faceoff.
Falmouth sophomore Leigh Bernard defends Yarmouth sophomore Ellie Teare.
Yarmouth senior Olivia Conrad is defended by Falmouth senior Alex Bernier.
Yarmouth 14 @ Falmouth 9
Yarmouth 12 @ Falmouth 1
Yarmouth 11 @ Falmouth 2
@ Yarmouth 9 Falmouth 2
@ Yarmouth 13 Falmouth 2
@ Yarmouth 16 Falmouth 5
@ Yarmouth 14 Falmouth 1
Falmouth senior standout Alex Bernier fires one of her eight goals into the net during Thursday’s 16-7 season-opening win over Yarmouth.
Y- 5 2- 7
F- 9 7- 16
24:14 F Ryan (Bernier)
18:09 F Bernier (unassisted)
17:44 F Waite (unassisted)
17:33 F Bernier (unassisted)
16:55 Y Conrad (O’Donnell)
15:58 F Bernier (free position)
14:03 Y Costello (Kameisha)
11:00 Y O’Donnell (Costello)
10:21 F Bernier (free position)
6:32 F Ryan (unassisted)
5:23 Y Conrad (Kameisha)
3:55 F Bernier (Waite)
2:40 Y Lucas (Kameisha)
0.8 F Bernier (free position)
22:50 F Bernier (unassisted)
21:59 F Mallis (unassisted)
20:46 Y Kameisha (unassisted)
13:38 F Ryan (Richards)
11:26 F Bernard (Richards)
9:58 F Mallis (Waite)
9:10 F Mallis (Bernier)
6:12 F Bernier (unassisted)
2:32 Y Kameisha (unassisted)
Y- Conrad, Kameisha 2, Costello, Lucas, O’Donnell 1
F- Bernier 8, Mallis, Ryan 3, Bernard, Waite 1
Y- Kameisha 3, Costello, O’Donnell 1
F- Bernier, Richards, Waite 2
Shots on cage:
Y- (Brown) 9
F- (Hutcheon) 6