SCARBOROUGH—Those who think that opening game results are meaningless had that opinion validated big-time Wednesday evening at the Kippy Mitchell Sports Complex.
Host Scarborough, which was stunned by Westbrook on Opening Night, hosted Falmouth, which won its first game by 20 goals.
The Yachtsmen were expected by most to cruise to victory, but instead, it would take all 48 minutes to resolve this one.
When Falmouth shot to a quick 2-0 advantage, the expected narrative was at hand, but in a one-minute span, the Red Storm scored three times to set the tone.
The game was tied, 4-4, after one quarter and when Scarborough’s Braeden Kane scored 13 seconds before halftime, the Red Storm took an 8-7 advantage to the break.
Both teams tightened up on defense in the second half and the Yachtsmen went back on top, 9-8, when junior George Gilbert scored three minutes into the third period, but a strike from senior Sam Ware in the final minute of the stanza forged another deadlock and it was anyone’s game entering the fourth quarter.
There, an unlikely hero emerged, allowing Falmouth to survive.
After both Scarborough senior goalie Isaac Rico and Yachtsmen sophomore goalkeeper Liam Tucker came up with big saves to keep the game tied, Falmouth sophomore Jack Scribner scored unassisted with 5:06 to play to put the visitors on top for good. If that wasn’t enough, Scribner struck again 55 seconds later.
The 11th goal loomed large, as the Red Storm rallied in the final minute.
With 22 seconds left, sophomore Sam Neugebauer cut the deficit to one and make things very interesting, but Yachtsmen senior Jack Mainella earned a critical faceoff victory and Falmouth held on for a palpitating 11-10 triumph.
The Yachtsmen were paced by four goals apiece from Gilbert and senior Bryce Kuhn, got nine saves from Tucker and improved to 2-0, dropping valiant Scarborough to 0-2 in the process.
“It was two young, inexperienced teams going at it, giving it their all,” said Falmouth coach Mike LeBel. “Both teams played well. There was kind of a playoff atmosphere to it. It was great. It was a fun environment.”
Falmouth and Scarborough have combined for six state championships since the start of the 2010 season, but both fell shy a year ago.
The Red Storm saw their four-year Class A reign end with a semifinal round loss to Thornton Academy. Scarborough was upset to start the 2015 season, falling at home to improved Westbrook last Thursday, 6-5.
The Yachtsmen lost to eventual Class B champion Cape Elizabeth for the second straight year in the regional final, but started the new season with a 22-2 home romp over Freeport last Thursday.
The series has been pretty even over the years (see sidebar, below), but three straight victories (including a 15-11 home triumph last spring) gave Falmouth a 6-5 edge dating back to 2002.
Wednesday, the Yachtsmen prevailed again, but not in the emphatic way so many expected.
It took a mere 44 seconds for Falmouth to break the ice. Freshman Emmett Zinn set up Bryce for his first goal and the Yachtsmen had the lead. With 8:40 to go in the first quarter, Gilbert scored his first goal, unassisted, and Falmouth was seemingly on its way, up, 2-0.
Scarborough then hit its stride and for the first time this season, demonstrated that its offense is pretty potent too.
With 7:52 to play in the first, Cam Thibault scored unassisted. Just 17 seconds later, Camden Jepson produced an unassisted goal. With 6:52 remaining, Thibault struck unassisted again and just like that, the Red Storm were ahead, 3-2.
The scored stayed that way for over four minutes until Kuhn collected a turnover and scored unassisted.
With 1:59 remaining, Kane scored an unassisted goal, but 26 seconds later, Gilbert finished a feed from senior C.J. Leighton to make it 4-4, a score which held through 12 minutes.
As they did in the first period, the Yachtsmen got off to a fast start in the second, as senior Kohl Valle scored unassisted just 39 seconds in.
Again, back came Scarborough, as Neugebauer scored through traffic with 8:17 to go.
Sixteen seconds later, Falmouth went back on top, as Scribner set up Kuhn. With 7:24 remaining in the half, the Yachtsmen took their second two-goal lead, 7-5, thanks to another Kuhn tally (this one from sophomore Seth Masciangelo).
Again, the Red Storm didn’t wilt and roared right back.
After Neugebauer had a goal waved off for being in the crease, the crafty sophomore took a feed from Thibault and finished with 3:55 left before halftime.
With 2:12 to go, out of a timeout, Ware set up Cam Nigro for a goal which tied the score for the fifth time.
Then, with just 13 seconds left before halftime, Ware passed the ball in front where Kane redirected it home to make it 8-7 Scarborough at the break.
In the first half, the Red Storm won 12 of 17 faceoffs and had a 20-11 advantage on ground balls. Falmouth had a 16-15 shots advantage.
Not surprisingly, the offense slowed in the second half, but it was clear the game would go down to the wire.
Kuhn bid to tie the score just 31 seconds into the third period, but his shot clanked off the post.
The visitors did pull even with 9:30 left in the frame, when, playing man-up, Kuhn set up Gilbert to make it 8-8.
Just 26 seconds later, Gilbert scored unassisted to put the Yachtsmen ahead, 9-8.
It didn’t last, as moments after Tucker robbed Thibault, Ware finished a feed from Neugebauer and with 51.5 seconds to go in the third, the score was tied anew, 9-9.
A late Tucker save on a bid by Jepson kept the game deadlocked heading for the fateful final stanza.
For much of the fourth quarter, the two goalies stood tall, as Tucker denied Nigro and Rico turned aside bids from Scribner and Gilbert.
Finally, with 5:06 to play, Scribner got some operating room and beat Rico to put Falmouth ahead to stay, 10-9.
“I just got a good matchup,” Scribner said. “I had space to work with. I was able to turn the corner and let one go.”
Mainella won the ensuing draw, the ball again came to Scribner and with 4:11 left, Scribner scored again to push the lead to 11-9.
“That goal was the same as the one before,” Scribner said.
“Jack’s a protege of mine,” Kuhn said. “I’m not surprised he stepped up. He made big plays.”
“Jack doesn’t have a lot of experience,” LeBel added. “He didn’t play a lot last year at all, but he has a confidence. He plays like a senior. He has a lot of confidence in his shot, handling the ball, going one-on-one. He plays with a little bit of swagger. I think he’ll be a player to watch in the future.”
Twice before, the Yachtsmen enjoyed two-goal leads and quickly gave them away. This time, they’d hold on.
With under two minutes left, Jepson had a good look, but his shot was blocked by a defender.
Scarborough kept pushing and after a Falmouth penalty, with 22 seconds to go, Thibault set up Neugebauer on the doorstep and Neugebauer finished, cutting the deficit to 11-10.
There was plenty of time for the Red Storm to tie the game and force overtime, but they needed possession.
Red Storm faceoff specialist Nate Howard entered the circle against Mainella and Mainella came up huge, gaining possession.
“Jack’s never really been a faceoff guy, but he’s stepped up huge,” Scribner said. “He’s helped us out.”
The Yachtsmen ran the clock down to five seconds, then turned the ball over, but by then, all Scarborough could do was heave the ball downfield to no avail as the horn sounded and Falmouth survived, 11-10.
“(Scarborough’s) a great team and they were hyped up for it,” Kuhn said. “It’s critical for us to have these kinds of games. We knew it would be tough. We made halftime adjustments. We honed in on that.”
“We knew Scarborough has been a good team and that year was no different,” said Scribner. “They were really strong on defense. We had to take advantage of our opportunities and we did. We tried not to look at matchups. We knew they’d be excited and they were, but we finished at the end. We needed to step up in the second half. Liam had big saves. Our defense stepped up. It was a great effort.”
“It was more defensive adjustments in the second half than anything, getting into the right position and playing team defense,” added LeBel. “We played fine one-on-one defense. We just weren’t there to help out.”
The Yachtsmen were paced by four goals each from Gilbert and Kuhn. Scribner had two huge goals (to go with a game-high six ground balls) and Valle scored once.
Kuhn (three ground balls), Leighton (four ground balls), Masciangelo (three ground balls), Scribner and Zinn each had one assist.
Tucker made nine clutch saves.
Mainella lost 14 of 24 faceoffs (Leighton went 0 for 1), but won six of eight in the second half with the game on the line. He also had four ground balls.
Falmouth only committed 11 turnovers and enjoyed a 40-26 shots advantage (22-19 on frame).
Scarborough’s offense was paced by three goals from Neugebauer. Kane and Thibault both scored twice, while Jepson, Nigro and Ware had one goal apiece.
Thibault and Ware had two assists each, while Neugebauer added one.
Rico made 11 saves.
The Red Storm won 14 of 25 faceoffs (Howard went 7 of 14 and Jepson 7 of 11).
“We love our faceoff guys,” Scarborough coach Joe Hezlep said. “They work as hard as anyone. You have to push the limit in faceoffs. We just got unlucky at bad times.”
Scarborough had a 34-33 edge in ground balls, with Howard, Neugebauer and Reece Lagerquist each collecting a team-high four.
The Red Storm committed 15 turnovers.
Hezlep was able to put the loss in perspective.
“I think we’re in a position right now where a moral victory is plenty for us,” he said. “The improvement we’ve had the past seven days is pretty remarkable. We had to play too much defense in the second half. Given the amount of firepower they have, they’re tough to stop if we can’t take the ball from them. (Scribner) finished two great shots. There wasn’t much Rico could do with those. It was great defense by (Kevin) Caldwell. That’s what he’s taught to do. Sometimes they shoot and it goes in.”
LeBel was certainly impressed by the Red Storm’s effort.
“They were far better than advertised,” he said. “They brought a lot of energy. They played well together. They caught some breaks, but they created those breaks. I don’t think we played poorly, they just played well. They’re hitting their stride. They were impressive. I knew they’d be tough and that it could go either way.”
Scarborough will seek its first win Wednesday, when it plays at Thornton Academy. A home game versus Portland looms Friday of next week.
“At this point of the year, it’s not like the sky is falling,” said Hezlep. “We look in the mirror and it’s about what we’re doing. The emphasis is on getting better. The amount of talent in this group is almost limitless. It’s more about guys finding their roles and where they fit in. We practice at 6 a.m. tomorrow then we’re off four days, then we have TA.”
As for Falmouth, it goes to Kennebunk Tuesday, where it hopes to avenge a regular season loss from last year. The Yachtsmen are home versus North Yarmouth Academy Friday of next week.
Falmouth knows it still has work to do.
“We’ll contend like we always do,” said Kuhn. “We (seniors) get one more crack at it. We have a lot of things we can work on.”
“We have great leadership from our captains,” Scribner said. “We just have to get more comfortable.”
“We have to play better team defense,” LeBel added. “Offensively, we need more movement. We have multiple options of guys who can score. I have to do a better job of putting them in a position to be productive.”
Falmouth junior Jack Bernier tries to get past a Scarborough defender.
Scarborough senior Nate Howard is shadowed by Falmouth senior Kohl Valle.
Scarborough’s Camden Jepson handles the ball.
Falmouth senior Bryce Kuhn, who had four goals, looks for some operating room.
Scarborough’s Colin Hayward defends Falmouth’s C.J. Leighton.
Scarborough’s Braeden Kane and Falmouth’s Seth Masciangelo fight for a ground ball.
Scarborough sophomore Sam Neugebauer soars through the air as he scores one of his three goals.
Scarborough goalie Isaac Rico makes one of his 11 saves.
Scarborough’s Sam Ware gets a step on Falmouth’s George Gilbert. Ware finished with one goal and two assists.
Scarborough celebrates one of its 10 goals.
@ Falmouth 15 Scarborough 11
@ Falmouth 4 Scarborough 3
Scarborough 7 @ Falmouth 5
@ Scarborough 11 Falmouth 5
Scarborough 14 @ Falmouth 6
Scarborough 10 @ Falmouth 4
@ Scarborough 8 Falmouth 7
@ Falmouth 11 Scarborough 7
Falmouth 15 @ Scarborough 5
Falmouth 7 @ Scarborough 6
Falmouth’s boys’ lacrosse team celebrates its hard-fought 11-10 victory at Scarborough Wednesday night.
Ben McCanna photos.
More photos below.
F- 4 3 2 2- 11
S- 4 4 1 1- 10
11:16 F Kuhn (E. Zinn)
8:40 F Gilbert (unassisted)
7:52 S Thibault (unassisted)
7:35 S Jepson (unassisted)
6:52 S Thibault (unassisted)
2:49 F Kuhn (unassisted)
1:50 S Kane (unassisted)
1:24 F Gilbert (Leighton)
11:21 F Valle (unassisted)
8:17 S Neugebauer (unassisted)
8:01 F Kuhn (Scribner)
7:24 F Kuhn (Masciangelo)
3:55 S Neugebauer (Thibault)
2:12 S Nigro (Ware)
13.0 S Kane (Ware)
9:30 F Gilbert (Kuhn) (MAN-UP)
9:04 F Gilbert (unassisted)
51.5 S Ware (Neugebauer)
5:06 F Scribner (unassisted)
4:11 F Scribner (unassisted)
22.0 S Neugebauer (Thibault)
F- Gilbert, Kuhn 4, Scribner 2, Valle 1
S- Neugebauer 3, Kane, Thibault 2, Jepson, Nigro, Ware 1
F- Kuhn, Leighton, Masciangelo, Scribner, Zinn 1
S- Thibault, Ware 2, Neugebauer 1
Faceoffs (Scarborough, 14-11)
F- Mainella 11 of 24, Leighton 0 of 1
S- Howard 7 of 14, Jepson 7 of 11
Shots on cage:
F (Tucker) 9
S (Rico) 11