NYA holds off Freeport's upset bid, 11-8
FREEPORT—The North Yarmouth Academy boys' lacrosse team was able to overcome one of the most dominant individual performances in recent memory Tuesday afternoon to earn a pivotal 11-8 victory over host Freeport in an Eastern Class B showdown.
Despite Falcons senior Hans Pope's brilliance in the faceoff circle, on ground balls and offense, the Panthers were able to take a 10-2 lead into the fourth quarter and hold on for dear life.
Senior Finn Hadlock had three goals and two assists, sophomore T.J. Daigler scored four times and added two assists and classmate Oliver Silverson also had two goals as NYA improved to 3-3, dropping Freeport to 3-3 on the year.
"We need to learn how to finish games off quickly," Hadlock said. "We had that game in hand and it got out of hand quickly. It's a matter of being focused. Focus is the big issue. We need to be able to do that the whole game. We need to come together a little more as a team."
Both NYA and Freeport have high hopes this spring and should be factors come playoff time.
The Panthers opened with a 6-2 home loss to rival/nemesis Yarmouth, bounced back with a thrilling 10-9 home win over Greely (in triple overtime) and a 14-4 triumph at Oak Hill, then fell at arguably the two top teams in the state, Falmouth (14-2) and Cape Elizabeth (17-2).
The Falcons rolled in their opener, 14-4, over visiting Lake Region, then struggled to score in a 14-0 loss at Cape Elizabeth, a 5-3 home win over Edward Little and a 3-1 home setback to Wells. Freeport did roll over visiting Fryeburg, 10-1, Saturday.
Entering Tuesday's contest, the Falcons had never beaten the Panthers. Last year, NYA was a 19-6 winner at home. This time around, although the game appeared one-sided at times, Freeport never quit.
Neither squad could get their attack going in a first period which featured a combined 20 turnovers.
The Panthers did get on the board first with 9:19 to go in the 12-minute quarter as Silverson took a pass from senior Matt Kibler and scored. That put NYA ahead to stay. Silverson scored again with 7:51 showing (from Hadlock).
The Falcons got on the board at the 4:37 mark as junior Dylan Arris scored unassisted. Daigler put home a rebound at 3:23 and the Panthers were up, 3-1, after one.
If it wasn't for the stellar play of Falcons junior goalie Alex Sturtevant (seven saves in the quarter) the deficit might have been worse.
In the second, Freeport made it a one-goal game when Pope scored unassisted 7:09 prior to halftime, but the Panthers answered with a dazzling four goals in 88 seconds to seize control.
Junior Forrest Milburn (from Daigler) got things started at 6:27. A mere seven seconds later, after a faceoff win, junior Parker Howard beat Sturtevant to make it 5-2. Hadlock fed Daigler for a transition goal at 5:41 and 42 seconds after that, Daigler (from Silverson) scored man-up and it was 7-2. A goal from Hadlock (set up by Daigler) with just 3.7 seconds showing made it 8-2 NYA at halftime.
In the third, Daigler (from senior Tim Millett) and Hadlock (from Millett) scored and the Panthers took a seemingly safe 10-2 advantage to the final stanza.
NYA might have entertained thoughts of going up 12 and inducing a running clock, but Pope was about to take centerstage and make things very, very interesting.
The senior standout, Freeport's 2010 Male Athlete of the Year, who was hindered by injury to start the spring, scored unassisted with 11:46 to play, ending the Panthers' 7-0 run and a 19 minute, 23 second drought.
Pope scored again 31 seconds later man-up and it was 10-4. He won the ensuing faceoff, raced in and scored again with 11:04 left and suddenly it was a 10-5 ballgame. Pope won another faceoff and this time fed junior Evan Hench for a goal at 10:57. Thirteen seconds later, senior Connor Mcghie scored unassisted for the hosts and it was a 10-7 game as the Falcons capped a run of five goals in 62 seconds.
"(Pope) really spurted there in the fourth quarter," said NYA coach Chris Carpentier. "They didn't let up."
Freeport would get no closer, even though it had man-up opportunities to do so.
With 5:37 showing, Hadlock restored a four-goal lead when he scored unassisted, but just 10 seconds later, after winning the faceoff, Pope set up Hench for a goal to make it 11-8.
NYA was able to hold on from there, got some timely saves from freshman goalie Weston Nolan and went on to the victory.
"We came out well," said Carpentier, who spent three years as the Falcons' coach before taking over the Panthers' program in 2009. "I've spent a little time here on the other side. This is my first time back. We rebounded well after the Cape romping. We're hurt. The whole starting defense. My freshmen played very well. We needed a win in a bad way."
Daigler had a team-high four goals, Hadlock finished with three, Silverson added a pair and Howard and Milburn each tickled the twine once. Dagiler, Hadlock and Millett each assisted on two goals, Kibler and Silverson had one assist apiece. Daigler grabbed a team-high 11 ground balls, while Hadlock and Millett each had eight and Milburn finished with seven. Nolan made 13 saves.
For Freeport, it was the Pope Show as the senor had four goals, assisted on two others, won 16-of-18 faceoffs and grabbed a mindboggling 20 ground balls.
"Hans was injured for the first couple weeks and he's just getting his legs back," said Falcons coach Geoff Arris. "He's our workhorse. He does it all. He's amazing."
Hench scored twice, while Arris and Mcghie had one goal apiece. Hench also had 10 ground balls. Sturtevant finished with 19 saves.
"Alex is amazing," said Arris. "Every coach says their goalie's the best. We're up against a lot. He makes huge saves for us."
The Falcons won 17 of the 22 faceoffs. In addition to Pope's dominance, freshman Mark Donahue went 1-for-1, while sophomore Jordan Roy was 0-for-2 and junior Dylan Arris finished 0-for-1. Kidder went 3-of-14 for NYA. Howard won 2-of-7 opportunities and freshman Colton Ackerman went 0-for-1.
Freeport had a 61-59 edge in ground balls, but turned the ball over 38 times (the Panthers gave it away on 24 occasions). NYA outshot the hosts, 42-32, and put 30 shots on frame, as opposed to 21 for the Falcons.
"I'm not sad with this loss at all," said Arris. "We've never beaten NYA. We're right with them in Heal Points. We needed this win. We had a tough loss against Wells. It's eaten at us. We've gotten better and better since then. We showed we can come back from a deficit and make it a decent game."
Big games ahead
Freeport (eighth in Eastern B) is at Fryeburg Thursday and hosts Lincoln Academy Saturday. The Falcons still have key games remaining with Greely, Yarmouth and Falmouth.
"We're looking at Lincoln, Fryeburg and Greely," Arris said. "We have good momentum. We have players back. Hans is healthy and good to go."
NYA (seventh in the region) has a big test Saturday when it hosts defending Class A champion Scarborough. The Panthers then visit Yarmouth and host Cape Elizabeth.
"We have to find consistency in the offense," Carpentier said. "We've shown good glimpses and we've also shown a dark side. Scarborough's a huge game. They're No. 1 in the West. We need to turn things around if we're going to compete."
"Our goal is to beat Yarmouth, Falmouth and Cape and make it to the Class B championship," said Hadlock. "Right now, we're not there. We definitely have the pieces. I love my team. We just need to finish."