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Brunswick girls win a stunner at Falmouth

Sports

Brunswick girls win a stunner at Falmouth

FALMOUTH—The Brunswick girls' lacrosse team might not be the juggernaut of years past, but the 2011 Dragons appear to be hitting their stride at the optimal time.

Saturday morning, at a red-hot and confident Falmouth team riding a four-game win streak, Brunswick got the jump early and never let up, riding six goals from sophomore Dakota Foster, 10 saves from junior goalie Molly Herman and a superb defensive effort, which held the potent Yachtsmen scoreless the final 23 minutes, 38 seconds, to earn its fourth straight win, 10-4.

The Dragons never trailed, improved to 6-2 and dropped Falmouth to 5-2 in a game rife with Heal Points implications.

"I think we've definitely become more of a team," said Foster, who's blossomed into one of the best players around. "We'd played together before, but we hadn't jelled. Now, we've jelled, especially in transition. We lost eight or nine seniors and have big shoes to fill, but we want to prove we learned under them and can continue the tradition."

Early wakeup call

Brunswick was a 9-8 home winner over Cony in the opener, then lost at Messalonskee, 7-6, in a game which saw the Dragons give up late goals in each half. After a 13-6 triumph at rival Mt. Ararat, Brunswick suffered a 13-6 home loss to defending Class B champion North Yarmouth Academy. The Dragons then began to turn it around, winning at Lewiston (18-7), Morse (13-8) and at home over Edward Little (20-4).

Falmouth, as expected, has impressed in 2011. After a 16-7 home win over Greely to start the year, the Yachtsmen suffered an 18-10 home loss to nemesis Waynflete, the three-time defending Western B champion, but they responded with victories at Massabesic (17-3), York (17-7) and at home over NYA (13-10), its first-ever win over the Panthers, and Cape Elizabeth (a come-from-behind 11-9 decision).

Last year, Falmouth stunned the host Dragons by scoring the game's final seven goals in a 12-11 decision, ending Brunswick's 36-game win streak in the process.

This time around, despite the 10 a.m., start, the Dragons roared.

The Yachtsmen almost scored first, but sophomore Geneva Waite's bid 37 seconds in hit the post.

Brunswick took the lead for good with 23 minutes, 5 seconds to go in the 25-minute first half when junior Corinne O'Connor set up junior Annie Kelly for a goal. Some 80 seconds later, Foster scored for the first time, sending a free position shot past Falmouth senior goalie Jen Greene.

The Yachtsmen broke the ice with 20:10 to play in the half when sophomore Molly Ryan scored on a free position, but the visitors answered as junior Suzannah Smith (unassisted), Foster (from sophomore Lydia Caputi) and O'Connor (from Smith) all scored for a 5-1 advantage.

After Falmouth coach Robin Haley called timeout and senior Caitlin Costello's bid hit the post, the Yachtsmen got a goal back as on a free position with Herman out of the play, Waite passed quickly to sophomore standout Alex Bernier, who buried the shot to make it 5-2.

Foster struck twice more, however, in a 91-second span to make it 7-2 before Bernier collected a loose ball and beat Herman with just 1.6 seconds showing to give the Yachtsmen a little life heading into the break.

When Waite set up senior Jess DiPhillippo  for a goal with 23:38 to play, Falmouth appeared ready to make a run, down just 7-4, but little did anyone on hand suspect that the Yachtsmen wouldn't score again.

"I was worried because I've played with some of (the Falmouth) girls on club teams," said Herman.

"I saw (Falmouth) come back and beat Cape the other night," said Dragons coach Beth Caputi. "I didn't come into the game thinking we'd win. I was saying, 'I hope we can win this game.'"

While Brunswick's defense was making life miserable, Herman was turning away the few bids that came her way. The Dragons' offense was content running the clock, but when opportunities presented themselves, the visitors struck and put the win away.

With 17:37 showing, O'Connor scored unassisted. Foster (after a pretty catch from Smith) tickled the twine with 12:02 to go and with 7:09 remaining, Foster (again from Smith) scored her sixth goal of the game, the coup de grace, which gave Brunswick the 10-4 decision.

"We were moving the ball and hit the second cutter," Foster said. "The first cutter was guarded. We worked in practice on hitting the second cutter. We put in some new plays in practice yesterday. We're getting to know each other and our style of play and it's coming together."

"We worked on crashing early and getting ground balls if (Falmouth) dropped them," Herman said. "We showed we could do that. We worked really well today. We were ready to play."

"We have more confidence," Beth Caputi added. "Early in the season, we were getting used to each other. We had a great week of practice. They're really buying into what we're doing.  In general, it was a great effort. It was a great team win."

While Foster stole the show with six goals, she got help as O'Connor scored twice and Kelly and Smith each had one tally. Lydia Caputi and Smith had two assists apiece, while O'Connor and Wild each had one. Caputi, Foster and Herman all grabbed six ground balls. Wild finished with five. Herman made 10 clutch saves.

"I thought Molly was awesome," coach Caputi said. "I thought (junior) Katie Swan played well and came up with a backhanded interception in the crease. We're clicking. We trust each other. We can make plays. I still think we haven't seen the best of some of our players. I won't tell you who it is, but we have a sleeper on the team who hasn't rung up the scoreboard. She needs to know she can beat any player one-on-one. I'm looking forward to her breaking out. She's like a secret weapon. When people start focusing more on Dakota, that will free up other kids."

Falmouth, which came into the game averaging 14 goals per contest, only managed four. Bernier scored twice, while DiPhillippo and Ryan each had one. Waite assisted on two of the scores. Junior Ashleigh Burton had a game-high nine ground balls. Senior Laura Fay and junior Sam Smithwick each had five. Greene made nine saves.

"Brunswick played a great game," Haley said. "They had our number. They did what they needed to do and played a great game. They capitalized on everything. We were extremely flat and we never got into a rhythm. I thought the defense played hard. Jen kept us in the game. We didn't do anything offensively and had too many turnovers."

Falmouth's Ryan won nine of 16 draws versus Foster. The Dragons grabbed 48 ground balls to 40 for the Yachtsmen. Brunswick forced 20 turnovers, giving the ball away 21 times. The visitors finished with a 27-20 advantage in shots on goal and put 19 shots on frame to 14 for Falmouth.

Big week ahead

The Yachtsmen) second to Waynflete in the Western Class B Heal Points standings) won't have time to dwell on the loss  as they go to Yarmouth Tuesday and visit the Flyers Thursday. A trip to NYA is also on the remaining schedule.

This loss could turn into a positive.

"Hopefully we got (the girls') attention," Haley said. "We have some big games coming up."

The Dragons (first in Eastern A) are idle until Friday, when they go to Cony. Brunswick closes the regular season at home versus Oxford Hills, Messalonskee and Mt. Ararat.

The Dragons hope to keep the good times rolling and finish strong.

"Coming into the season, there was doubt as to how we'd do, but I think we're doing well," Herman said.

"We need to work on throwing and catching lefty, defense, every aspect and our speed, fitness," Foster added. "That will come."

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.