Falmouth beats Brunswick in battle of lacrosse powerhouses

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Falmouth’s boys’ lacrosse team celebrates a goal during its 10-7 home win over Brunswick Saturday night.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Falmouth 10 Brunswick 7

B-  2 1 1 3- 7
F- 3 2 3 2- 10

First quarter
11:44 B Gramins (unassisted)
9:14 B Glover (Coombs)
8:37 F N. Farnham (unassisted)
3:08 F Hickey (unassisted)
2:33 F Mainella (Zinn)

Second quarter
8:03 F H. Farnham (unassisted)
4:58 B McDiarmid (unassisted)
3:32 F Mainella (Tucker)

Third quarter
4:59 F Mainella (Tucker)
4:44 F Reed (unassisted)
2:53 B Lyne (Eno)
0.0 F Mainella (Tucker)

Fourth quarter
11:17 F N. Farnham (Mainella)
10:08 B Doherty (unassisted)
5:13 B Girardin (unassisted)
3:32 F Valle (unassisted)
0.0 B Glover (unassisted) (MAN-UP)

Goals:
B- Glover 2, Doherty, Girardin, Gramins, Lyne, McDiarmid 1
F- Mainella 4, N. Farnham 2, H. Farnham, Hickey, Reed, Valle 1

Assists:
B- Coombs 1
F- Tucker 3, Mainella, Zinn 1

Faceoffs (Falmouth, 10-9)
B- Burtis 9 of 19
F- St. Louis 5 of 11, Zinn 5 of 8

Ground balls:
B- 27
F- 42

Turnovers:
B- 25
F- 18

Shots:
B- 23
F- 43

Shots on cage
B- 15
F- 27

Saves:
B (Pendergast) 17 
F (Chapman) 8

FALMOUTH—Falmouth’s undefeated boys’ lacrosse team not only had to deal with the elements Saturday night, but the Yachtsmen also had to contend with the loss of a spiritual leader and a determined foe that just happens to be the defending Class A state champions.

But in yet another positive sign that it might soon be celebrating a title of its own, Falmouth overcame everything and produced another impressive victory against the visiting Brunswick Dragons.

The underdog Dragons took an early 2-0 lead on goals from senior Max Gramins and junior Aiden Glover, but the Yachtsmen settled down and by the time the first quarter came to a close, held the lead, thanks to goals from seniors Nick Farnham, Brendan Hickey and Lou Mainella.

Senior Henry Farnham added a goal early in the second period before Brunswick snapped a 16-plus-minute drought on a goal from sophomore Jack McDiarmid.

Mainella countered with another goal, but in the final minute of the first half, senior captain and defensive/faceoff standout Emmitt Zinn went down with an apparent knee injury and had to leave the game.

The Yachtsmen were shaken, but collected themselves and extended their lead when Mainella and junior Riley Reed scored goals in a 15-second span in the third period.

After junior Nolan Lyne got a goal back for the Dragons, ending a 14-plus-minute drought in the process, Mainella scored at the horn to make it 8-4 heading for the fourth quarter.

There, Nick Farnham scored his second goal and after senior Henry Doherty and junior Nate Girardin scored to draw Brunswick within three, senior Kristian Valle delivered the knockout blow with 3:32 remaining.

Glover scored one more time, at the horn, but Falmouth closed out a 10-7 victory.

The Yachtsmen got four goals from Mainella, improved to 9-0 on the season and in the process, handed the Dragons their third loss in 10 contests.

“We knew this would be tough,” said Falmouth coach Dave Barton. “I still think that’s the best-coached team in the state over there. They have kids who rise to the occasion in big games, so I’m not surprised it was close.”

Two of the best

Brunswick and Falmouth are longtime title threats who are once again looking to play into the middle of June.

The Yachtsmen barely broke a sweat in their first four games, dominating visiting Kennebunk (13-3), host Gorham (15-3), host Scarborough (14-4) and host Cheverus (16-6), before rallying to down visiting nemesis Cape Elizabeth, 14-8. Falmouth then pulled away to down visiting South Portland, 13-4, eked out a dramatic 8-7 victory at Yarmouth, then handled host Deering, 17-5, Wednesday. 

Brunswick moved down to Class B this spring and started fast, opening with decisive wins over host Cony (19-1), visiting Gardiner (20-8) and visiting Scarborough in a state game rematch (16-8). After dropping an overtime thriller at South Portland (10-9), the Dragons beat visiting Lewiston (16-7), host Edward Little (18-8) and visiting Morse (21-3). After letting an eight-goal lead slip away in a stunning 15-14 overtime home loss to Greely, Brunswick bounced back Wednesday and beat host Messalonskee, 12-11.

The teams haven’t met often over the years, just twice in fact, in 2010 (a 10-7 Yachtsmen victory in Brunswick) and 2011 (a 13-1 home win for Falmouth). 

Saturday, the Yachtsmen won again, but the Dragons didn’t make it easy.

Brunswick came out unfazed and after senior Max Burtis won the opening faceoff, Gramins scored just 16 seconds in, beating Falmouth senior goalie Ethan Chapman for a 1-0 lead.

The Dragons struck again with 9:14 on the clock, when Glover scored in transition, from sophomore Chandler Coombs, but Brunswick’s offense then went on hiatus.

The Yachtsmen broke their ice with 8:37 remaining in the first, as Nick Farnham scored unassisted, solving Brunswick junior goalie Connor Pendergast.

A tying goal from senior Aiden Gallup was waved off and after Falmouth killed a penalty, Mainella was denied by Pendergast, but with 3:08 left in the frame, Hickey won the ball on the defensive side of the field, then roared into the attacking zone and fired a shot past Pendergast to tie the score.

Thirty-five seconds later, Mainella scored for the first time, from Zinn, and the Yachtsmen had the lead for the first time, 3-2, an advantage they’d take to the second period.

Falmouth added a fourth goal with 8:03 remaining in the first half, as Henry Farnham scored unassisted, beating Pendergast top shelf.

Brunswick finally answered with 4:58 on the clock, as McDiarmid rushed in and finished, snapping the Yachtsmen’s 4-0 run and a 16-minute, 16-second drought.

Mainella got the goal back (from junior Reilly Tucker) with 3:32 left before halftime.

Late in the half, Chapman robbed Girardin and Gramins hit the post.

Then, with just 15.8 seconds to go, in a scrum in front of the Falmouth goal, Zinn hit the turf awkwardly, hurt his left knee and had to be helped to the bench.

The game went to the half with the Yachtsmen up two goals, but they (Hickey especially) were concerned about their fallen captain.

“Emmitt has been the best captain we could have asked for,” Hickey said. “He’s like a brother to me. We all love him. We hope he heals up quick. We rallied around him.” 

“Emmitt is our rock, our heart-and-soul,” Barton said. “He keeps the guys loose. He’s been through injuries. You hate to see anyone go down, but the guys realized they weren’t just playing for themselves, but for them, because he wanted to be out there.” 

In the first 24 minutes, Falmouth had a decisive edge in shots, 24-8, but 11 Pendergast saves kept the game close.

The Yachtsmen would eventually open it up even further in the third quarter, but it took awhile.

After Brunswick couldn’t take advantage of a 6-on-4 opportunity, throwing the ball away, Tucker set up Mainella for a goal with 4:59 remaining for a 6-3 lead.

Fifteen seconds later, after junior Iyendae St. Louis won the faceoff, Reed became the second Falmouth defender to score, beating Pendergast for an unassisted tally to stretch the advantage to four.

The Dragons answered with 2:53 left, as senior Andrew Eno threw a high pass that Lyne leaped to catch before beating Chapman to cut the deficit to 7-4, ending a 14:05 dry spell.

The Yachtsmen then got a momentum-turning tally at the third period horn, as Tucker set up Mainella for a shot which got past Pendergast, pushing the lead back to four.

“We’re a team and we score as a team,” Mainella said. “Those weren’t my goals, those were team goals. Reilly has great eyes for the field and he finds me when I’m open. He’s a great player.”

“Lou is coming off a big game against Deering and Reilly continues to find space off-ball and extends possessions with timely ground balls,” Barton said. “Teams double pole Nick and Henry and other guys step up. It’s a selfless group that shares the ball.” 

Brunswick didn’t go quietly in the final stanza, but Falmouth’s defense never let it truly get interesting.

Just 43 seconds into the fourth, Mainella fed Nick Farnham for a 9-4 lead.

The Dragons battled back, as Doherty scored unassisted with 10:08 to go and with 5:13 to play, Girardin rushed in and finished to make the score 9-6.

The Yachtsmen didn’t let it get any closer, however, as with 3:32 on the clock, after a nice spin move, Valle finished unassisted.

After Doherty hit the post, Brunswick scored one final time, but it was merely cosmetic, as Glover finished unassisted, man-up, at the horn, to account for the 10-7 final score.

“We knew it would be a dogfight down to the end,” Mainella said. “We’ve been playing as a team and not taking anyone for granted.”

Falmouth got goals from six different players, as Mainella scored four times, Nick Farnham had two tallies and Henry Farnham, Hickey, Reed and Valle all had one goal.

Tucker didn’t score, but had three assists, and Mainella and Zinn had one assist apiece.

Chapman made eight saves.

The Yachtsmen held a 10-9 edge in faceoffs, a 42-27 advantage in ground balls (St. Louis had a game-high six, while Henry Farnham, Mainella and Tucker each collected five) and enjoyed a 43-23 shots advantage (27-15 on cage).

Falmouth overcame 18 turnovers.

For the 19th game in a row, the Yachtsmen held the opposition under 10 goals.

“We know we’re lucky with our defense,” Barton said. “They’re sponges. We have a great coach (John Leonard) who works with them. We’ve seen some great attackmen, but the guys coach themselves. We want to make teams earn goals and we did a good job.”

Brunswick’s offense featured two goals from Glover and one apiece from Doherty, Girardin, Gramins, Lyne and McDiarmid.

Coombs had an assist.

Pendergast stood tall with 17 saves.

Girardin had a team-high five ground balls.

The Dragons turned the ball over 25 times.

“(Falmouth’s) exceptional,” said longtime Brunswick coach Don Glover. “Our challenge coming here was to ignore the scoreboard and play to our potential. I’m proud of the guys for not buckling and stepping up to the challenge. The shot stats were (lopsided) at halftime. We closed down well and we went to the zone and Connor made some saves. They have an exceptional defense. We knew that. We tried to find some seams, but they locked it down really well. That team right there, that’s the number one team in the state. They’re so skilled.”

Championship dreams

Brunswick (now third in the Class B Heal Points standings) closes the regular season with a home game versus Maranacook Tuesday and a trip to Mt. Ararat May 29.

“We’re getting closer to the second season and we just want to get better,” Don Glover said. “The two overtime losses we had, we were ahead on the scoreboard, but we made mistakes and it came back to haunt us. This game, we came out hard.”

Falmouth (first in Class A North) welcomes Cheverus Tuesday, plays at Thornton Academy in a potential state final preview May 29 and finishes June 2 with a home game against Scarborough.

“We have to keep grinding,” Mainella said. “Next team, next game. We have a lot of hunger.”

“Going undefeated would be nice, but our focus isn’t changing,” said Hickey. “We’re not playing to be undefeated. We’re playing to win a championship.”

“It sounds cliche, but we want to get better every day,” Barton added. “Our mantra is ‘Chop Wood, Carry Water.’ We focus on the process and getting better. We have goals. It’s a motivated group that’s willing to do anything. I’m interested to see how it all plays out. We have a lot of work still to do. Offensively, defensively. When tournament time rolls around, we need to roll with the punches and be able to handle every team’s best.”

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

Falmouth senior Brendan Hickey shoots and scores the tying goal in the first quarter.

Brunswick junior Aiden Glover is closely defended by Falmouth senior Marcus Dyhrberg.

Falmouth junior Reilly Tucker is defended by Brunswick senior Nate Harrower.

Falmouth senior Lou Mainella shoots and scores one of his four goals as Brunswick senior Max Burtis defends.

Brunswick senior Jared Hummer is sandwiched between Falmouth seniors Aiden Gallup, left, and Emmitt Zinn.

Brunswick junior Nolan Lyne is defended by Falmouth senior Marcus Dyhrberg.

Brunswick sophomore Josh Musica is defended by Falmouth seniors Aiden Gallup (17) and Henry Farnham.

Falmouth senior Emmitt Zinn possesses the ball.

Brunswick sophomore Jack McDiarmid fires a shot.

Falmouth senior Nick Farnham launches a shot.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.