CUMBERLAND—Many expected Wednesday afternoon’s Western Class B boys’ lacrosse battle between Falmouth and host Greely to be tight throughout, but instead, the Yachtsmen set the tone on the opening faceoff and never looked back.
Senior Jack Mainella won possession, junior Austin Wheeler got the ball and fed sophomore Jack Scribner for a goal which gave Falmouth a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
That goal, which came 14 seconds in, proved to be one of the fastest backbreakers on record, as the Yachtsmen would put on an absolute clinic in the first period, quickly blowing the game open and grabbing an insurmountable 7-0 advantage as six different players tickled the twine.
Falmouth was just as dominant in the second, scoring seven more times and it took a 14-0 lead to halftime, thanks in large part to Mainella winning 15 of 16 faceoffs.
With the clock running in the second half due to the 12-goal mercy rule, the Yachtsmen put the finishing touches on a stunning 17-4 victory.
Senior Bryce Kuhn paced the offense with four goals and two assists, junior George Gilbert and sophomore Henry Norris both tickled the twine on three occasions and Mainella won 21 of 25 faceoffs as Falmouth improved to 7-3, dropping Greely to 7-3 in the process.
“I was concerned going into the game because I hadn’t seen (Greely) play,” said Yachtsmen coach Mike LeBel. “I had an idea of what they did defensively and offensively from years past, but you’re never certain if they’ll run the same schemes. It was unsettling going into a game knowing absolutely nothing about your opponent. I was anxious. I’d heard from various sources that they were improved. We really didn’t take anything for granted. We knew we had to bring our ‘A’ game.”
With Cape Elizabeth having the top seed in Western B locked up, Falmouth and Greely squared off Wednesday with the No. 2 spot very much in play.
Both teams have looked great at times and mortal at others this fall.
Falmouth routed Freeport in the opener, 22-2, then held off host Scarborough, 11-10. A 14-13 loss at Kennebunk followed, but the Yachtsmen bounced back and beat visiting North Yarmouth Academy, 7-3, host Fryeburg Academy, 15-2, and visiting Cheverus, 16-10, before losing at home to Cape Elizabeth, 19-11, and to Yarmouth (8-6). Friday, Falmouth got back on track with a 15-2 victory at Wells.
Greely rolled in its first two outings: 15-0 over visiting Lake Region and 11-4 at North Yarmouth Academy, then lost at Yarmouth, 11-6. After downing visiting York, 13-4, the Rangers lost at Thornton Academy (16-8). Home wins over Kennebunk (13-9) and Messalonskee (9-6) were followed by a 13-1 loss at Cape Elizabeth. Saturday, Greely rolled at Freeport, 11-3.
Entering the game, Falmouth held an 12-3 all-time edge over Greely (see sidebar, below), with all three Rangers’ victories coming in overtime. Last year, IV Stucker scored seven times to lead the host Yachtsmen to a 15-8 triumph.
Wednesday, on a sweltering afternoon, Greely sought its first win over Falmouth since a 7-6 overtime triumph in the 2008 Western B semifinals, but Falmouth prevailed again for the 10th time in a row in the series.
With surprising ease.
Mainella set the tone by winning the opening faceoff, Wheeler grabbed the ball and in transition fed Scribner, who beat Rangers junior Dylan Sinclair for a 1-0 lead just 14 seconds in.
That was just the beginning.
With 8:55 to play in the first quarter, senior C.J. Leighton scored unassisted.
Fifty-four seconds later, Kuhn scored for the first time for a 3-0 advantage.
With 7:39 showing, Scribner set up Wheeler for a goal and a 4-0 lead.
With 6:48 left in the first, sophomore Devin Russell set up Norris to make it 5-0, inducing Greely coach Mike Storey to call timeout.
It didn’t help as Kuhn scored unassisted 28 seconds later.
With 4:36 left in the quarter, playing man-up, the Yachtsmen went ahead 7-0 when Kuhn set up Gilbert for a goal which forced Storey to call another timeout.
The Rangers had just one settled possession in the game’s first eight minutes, then were stymied by Falmouth sophomore goalie Liam Tucker, who denied junior Sam Peck and senior Mitch Mullin.
In the first 12 minutes, Mainella won all eight faceoffs and the Yachtsmen outshot the hosts, 14-2.
Falmouth continued to excel in the second period.
Just 20 seconds in, in a carbon copy of the way the game began, Mainella won the faceoff, Wheeler got the ground ball and fed Scribner for a goal and an 8-0 lead.
Gilbert scored unassisted with 8:45 to go in the half and with 5:13 remaining, Scribner set up Norris to get the Yachtsmen in double figures.
With 4:01 left, in transition, Norris fed Kuhn for a goal.
Playing man-up, Falmouth made it 12-0 49 seconds later as Scribner passed to Gilbert for a goal.
Gilbert fed Norris for another man-up goal with 2:40 to play and 25 seconds later, Scribner assisted Russell’s man-up goal to make it 14-0 at halftime.
In the first half, the Yachtsmen won 15 of 16 faceoffs, held a 27-8 advantage in ground balls and a 24-3 shots advantage.
“The difference in the first half was the faceoffs,” said Kuhn. “We kept winning them. We really had a good matchup on faceoffs.”
With the clock running throughout the second half, Falmouth wasn’t able to equal its scoring production of the first half, but took care of business nonetheless.
Just 37 seconds into the third period, Greely finally got on the board when junior Sam Peck set up senior Mitch Mullin for a goal.
The Yachtsmen got that goal back with 9:12 left in the quarter when Kuhn set up Russell in transition.
Leighton added an unassisted tally with 3:16 remaining, but the Rangers cut the deficit to 16-2 when senior Tim Adams scored unassisted with 15 seconds left.
Greely scored 50 seconds into the final stanza when Mullin finished a feed from sophomore Joshua Lawless and with 8:28 left, Mullin fed junior Dillon Trelegan for a goal to make it 16-4, but with 2:24 to play, Kuhn pounced on a rebound and finished to account for the 17-4 final score.
“It honestly could have been a much closer game,” Kuhn said. “(Greely’s) a very talented team.”
“I told the kids before the game that we may have to wear them down, but I thought our depth would win out,” LeBel said. “Our success happened quicker than I anticipated. We had more opportunities and when they got the ball, they got frustrated and took shots when they shouldn’t or threw the ball away.”
Kuhn paced the offense with four goals, but he had plenty of help. Gilbert and Norris finished with three goals each, Leighton, Russell and Scribner had two goals apiece and Wheeler finished with one.
“We’ve talked about it since day one, playing as a team,” Kuhn said. “We have a lot of threats and talent. We’re a very balanced team.”
Scribner had four assists, while Kuhn and Wheeler had two each and Gilbert, Norris and Russell all finished with one. Tucker stopped three shots.
Falmouth had a huge edge in all statistical categories, starting with faceoffs, where Mainella was successful on 21 of 25 opportunities.
“I was winning the draws, but we had really good wing play today,” Mainella said. “I just figured out where my guys were. Going against better guys this year has just helped my confidence. I just tried to get our offense going. We’ve learned to keep going, regardless of the score.”
“It’s a good sign when Jack is having success on faceoffs,” LeBel said. “We had really good wing play from Austin and (freshman) Brendan (Hickey) today, but Jack could have won those faceoffs by himself.”
The Yachtsmen had a 37-17 advantage on ground balls (Wheeler had a game-high eight) and outshot the Rangers, 38-14 (26-7 on cage). Falmouth overcame 14 turnovers.
Greely got two goals from Mullin and one each from Adams and Trelegan. Lawless, Mullin and Peck had assists. Belisle had a team-high five assists. Sinclair made six saves, while Gauvin finished with three. The Rangers turned the ball over 15 times.
Greely (third in the Western Class B Heal Points standings) is back in action Monday when NYA pays a visit. The Rangers close the regular season at Kennebunk Wednesday.
Falmouth (second behind Cape Elizabeth in Western B) has a home tilt versus Kennebunk Saturday and finishes at Cape Elizabeth Tuesday.
The Yachtsmen have a chance to avenge a pair of losses in the week to come, but know it won’t be easy.
“We have to keep playing our game,” Mainella said. “We’re still working on communication and sticking to our system.”
“I think we can avenge those losses,” Kuhn said. “I think both Kennebunk and Cape Elizabeth are beatable teams. We have to play our best.”
“We need a good showing against Kennebunk,” LeBel added. “That’s essential. We need to build off this win and what we did well today. Saturday’s a must-win game. We want to ensure the second seed in the West, so we have to win. I don’t want to have to go to Kennebunk and play in the playoffs.”
Greely senior Gabe Belisle possesses as Falmouth junior Austin Wheeler defends.
Falmouth junior George Gilbert fires a shot.
Falmouth senior C.J. Leighton tries to get past Greely junior Alex Kroot.
Falmouth senior Jack Mainella wins a faceoff against Greely senior Gabe Belisle. Mainella won 21 of 25 faceoffs Wednesday.
Greely senior Mitch Mullin shoots past Falmouth freshman Brendan Hickey.
Greely junior Sam Peck sends Falmouth sophomore Jack Scribner flying.
Falmouth sophomore Henry Norris shoots on Greely junior goalie Dylan Sinclair.
Falmouth sophomore Liam Tucker plays the ball late in the game.
Falmouth 12 @ Greely 3
Western B semifinals
@ Falmouth 16 Greely 7
@ Falmouth 15 Greely 7
@ Falmouth 14 Greely 2
Falmouth 16 Greely 6
Western B semifinals
@ Falmouth 22 Greely 5
Falmouth 9 @ Greely 0
Western B semifinals
@ Falmouth 17 Greely 5
Western B semifinals
@ Greely 7 Falmouth 6 (OT)
Falmouth 10 @ Greely 9
Western B quarterfinals
@ Greely 8 Falmouth 7 (OT)
@ Greely 12 Falmouth 11 (OT)
Falmouth 9 @ Greely 7
Falmouth 10 @ Greely 9
Falmouth senior C.J. Leighton is congratulated after scoring a goal during the Yachtsmen’s 17-4 win at Greely Wednesday.
F- 7 7 2 1- 17
G- 0 0 2 2- 4
11:46 F Scribner (Wheeler)
8:55 F Leighton (unassisted)
8:01 F Kuhn (unassisted)
7:39 F Wheeler (Scribner)
6:48 F Norris (Russell)
6:00 F Kuhn (unassisted)
4:36 F Gilbert (Kuhn) (MAN-UP)
11:40 F Scribner (Wheeler)
8:45 F Gilbert (unassisted)
5:13 F Norris (Scribner)
4:01 F Kuhn (Norris)
3:12 F Gilbert (Scribner) (MAN-UP)
2:40 F Norris (Gilbert) (MAN-UP)
2:15 F Russell (Scribner) (MAN-UP)
11:23 G Mullin (Peck)
9:12 F Russell (Kuhn)
3:16 F Leighton (unassisted)
15.2 G Adams (unassisted)
11:10 G Mullin (Lawless)
8:28 G Trelegan (Mullin)
2:24 F Kuhn (unassisted)
F- Kuhn 4, Gilbert, Norris 3, Leighton, Russell, Scribner 2, Wheeler 1
G- Mullin 2, Adams, Trelegan 1
F- Scribner 4, Kuhn, Wheeler 2, Gilbert, Norris, Russell 1
G- Lawless, Mullin, Peck 1
Faceoffs (Falmouth, 21-4)
F- Mainella 21 of 25
G- Coyle 1 of 20, Belisle 3 of 5
Ground balls (Falmouth, 37-17)
F- Wheeler 8, Gilbert 5, Hickey 4, Norris, Russell 3, Bernier, Ciraulo, Engelberger, Kuhn, Scribner 2, Leighton, Tucker, Valle, E. Zinn 1
G- Belisle 5, Adams, Peck, Wood 2, Borden, Graham, Kroot, Shain, Sinclair, Trelegan 1
Shots on cage:
F (Tucker) 3
G (Sinclair) 6 (Gauvin) 3