Falmouth ekes out interclass thriller at Yarmouth

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Falmouth senior Kristian Valle, left, senior Nick Farnham and junior Reilly Tucker celebrate a first half goal during the Yachtsmen’s 8-7 win at Yarmouth in a battle of unbeaten teams Friday.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Falmouth 8 Yarmouth 7

F- 4 3 0 1- 8
Y- 2 2 3 0- 7

First quarter
11:15 F Mainella (Fitzgerald)
7:46 Y May (Truesdale)
7:14 F Mainella (unassisted) (MAN-DOWN)
3:57 F Fitzgerald (Tucker)
3:20 F Mainella (Tucker)
2:40 Y Corey (unassisted)

Second quarter
11:48 Y Corey (Truesdale) (MAN-UP)
8:14 F Fitzgerald (N. Farnham)
6:25 Y Chappell (unassisted)
1:12 F H. Farnham (unassisted)
3.1 F N. Farnham (unassisted)

Third quarter
10:48 Y May (Truesdale) (MAN-UP)
5:08 Y May (unassisted)
4:16 Y Corey (unassisted)

Fourth quarter
24.6 F H. Farnham (Tucker)

Goals:
F- Mainella 3, Fitzgerald 2, H. Farnham 2, N. Farnham 1
Y- Corey, May 3, Chappell 1

Assists:
F- Tucker 3, N. Farnham, Fitzgerald 1
Y- Truesdale 2

Faceoffs (Yarmouth, 11-6)
F- St. Louis 3 of 10, Zinn 3 of 7
Y- Primeau 11 of 16, Ricciardi 0 of 1

Ground balls:
F- 36
Y- 27

Turnovers:
F- 16
Y- 28

Shots:
F- 40
Y- 20

Shots on cage
F- 19
Y- 14

Saves:
F (Chapman) 7
Y (King) 11

YARMOUTH—Falmouth and Yarmouth’s boys’ lacrosse teams only play once this spring.

And that is a crying shame.

That’s because the rivals, who could both find themselves celebrating state championships June 16, put on a defensive show for the ages Friday evening, in a game which needed all 48 minutes to decide.

The Yachtsmen, who hadn’t been tested for a full game all season, shot to a 4-1 lead in the first quarter, as after senior Lou Mainella and Clippers senior Cooper May traded goals, Mainella scored twice more and sophomore Tommy Fitzgerald added another goal.

Yarmouth got a goal back, when sophomore Anders Corey scored, to pull within two after 12 minutes.

The Clippers then controlled play much of the second quarter, but their deficit grew by halftime.

Just 12 seconds into the frame, Corey scored again, man-up, but Fitzgerald answered for Falmouth.

Senior Silas Chappell pulled Yarmouth back within a goal, but late in the half, senior Henry Farnham and senior Nick Farnham both scored unassisted goals, the latter coming with 3.1 seconds on the clock, to make it 7-4 Yachtsmen at the break.

Falmouth wouldn’t score again until late in regulation.

While the Clippers’ defense raised its intensity level in the third period, Yarmouth’s offense did its part as well, rallying to pull even, as May scored twice and Corey added another goal with 4:16 remaining in the quarter to tie it, 7-7.

Yarmouth, despite ample possession time, would never score again.

After the Clippers killed several penalties in the fourth quarter, they got the ball with a chance to win it in the final minute, but they turned the ball over and the Yachtsmen took advantage, as with 24.6 seconds to play, junior Reilly Tucker got the ball up top to Henry Farnham and Farnham finally solved Yarmouth’s stellar sophomore Spencer King, to put his team on top for good.

Falmouth senior Emmitt Zinn won the ensuing faceoff and the Yachtsmen were able to hold on and prevail, 8-7.

Falmouth improved to 7-0, beat Yarmouth for the fifth consecutive time and in the process, handed the Clippers their first setback in six games.

“Credit to Yarmouth,” said Yachtsmen coach Dave Barton. “We had this circled on our schedule. It was fun. It was a change of pace.”

Getting defensive

Both teams had their title dreams dashed by Cape Elizabeth a year ago, Falmouth in the Class B South Final and Yarmouth in the Class B state championship game.

This spring, each squad has dazzled.

The Clippers opened the season with an 8-4 win at Greely, then ended an eight-year, 20-game skid against Cape Elizabeth with a 7-6 victory before dominating visiting North Yarmouth Academy, 14-2. After holding off visiting South Portland, 8-7, Yarmouth won at York, 10-5, Tuesday.

The Yachtsmen, meanwhile, 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. Wednesday, Falmouth pulled away to down visiting South Portland, 13-4.

A year ago, the Yachtsmen won both meetings, 16-6 at home and 13-5 in Yarmouth. That allowed Falmouth to cut the Clippers’ advantage in the series (dating to 2003) to 11-9 (see sidebar, below).

Friday, Falmouth managed to prevail again, but Yarmouth took the Yachtsmen to the wire in an instant classic.

Falmouth junior Iyendae St. Louis won the opening faceoff and the visitors got the jump 45 seconds in when Fitzgerald fed Mainella, who beat King to make it 1-0.

King kept the deficit at one by twice denying Fitzgerald and with 7:46 remaining in the quarter, in transition, May took a pass from senior Joe Truesdale and beat Yachtsmen senior goalie Ethan Chapman to tie the score.

On the play, Falmouth junior Zach Dubinsky was called for a slash, but it would be the Yachtsmen who scored on the ensuing penalty, as Yarmouth turned the ball over and Mainella finished for a 2-1 lead with 7:14 left in the frame.

With 3:57 to go, Tucker set up Fitzgerald for a goal and 37 seconds later, Tucker set up Mainella, who made a great catch on a low throw before shooting past King to extend the advantage to 4-1.

But just when it appeared Falmouth was en route to another decisive victory, the Clippers settled down.

With 2:40 left in the first period, Corey cut the deficit to two with an unassisted goal.

Just before the quarter ended, Henry Farnham was called for a holding penalty and 12 seconds into the second period, Corey finished a feed from Truesdale for a man-up goal, pulling Yarmouth within one, 4-3.

The Clippers had some opportunities to pull even, but Chapman denied Corey and sophomore Gavin Hamm hit the post.

The Yachtsmen got a goal back with 8:14 left in the half, as Nick Farnham set up Fitzgerald.

With 6:25 remaining, Chappell answered for the hosts, cutting the deficit to 5-4, but again, Yarmouth couldn’t pull even, as Chapman saved shots by junior Michael Guertler and Chappell.

Then, Falmouth closed the half with two goals to seemingly wrest back all the momentum.

With 1:12 showing, Henry Farnham bulled through the defense and beat King to make it 6-4.

Then, after Chapman saved another Guertler shot, Nick Farnham wouldn’t be denied, fighting through the defense and finishing with 3.1 seconds on the clock for a 7-4 halftime advantage.

In the first half, the Clippers, thanks to junior Griffin Primeau, won eight of 12 faceoffs, but committed 14 turnovers to the Yachtsmen’s seven and that allowed Falmouth to enjoy a 19-12 shots advantage.

Yarmouth’s defense then put the clamps on the Yachtsmen in the third quarter as the Clippers rallied to pull even.

Just 35 seconds into the second half, Henry Farnham was sent off for slashing and 20 seconds later, Zinn was sent to the sidelines for interference, allowing Yarmouth to score a 6-on-4 goal, as Truesdale set up May to cut the deficit to two.

Falmouth then had a chance to answer man-up, but Fitzgerald hit the post and Tucker was robbed on the doorstep.

With 5:08 remaining in the third quarter, May scored unassisted to make it 7-6 and with 4:16 on the clock, Corey scored his third goal, unassisted, and the Clippers were even.

And that would be it for offense for either team until the game’s final minute.

Late in the third, the Yachtsmen got a scare as Fitzgerald came off seeking attention for his wrist.

Henry Farnham then hit the post and King denied Tucker and after Yarmouth junior James Hook was called for a slash, Tucker was robbed by King, sending the game to the fourth quarter still deadlocked.

With 10:17 left in regulation, May had a good chance to put the Clippers on top for the first time, but Chapman made the save.

Two minutes later, Fitzgerald returned to action, but Yarmouth continued to possess the ball and Hamm hit the post and Guertler had a shot saved by Chapman.

Falmouth then went man-up with 5:20 remaining, as Corey was called for a trip.

Twenty-nine seconds later, Yachtsmen senior Kristian Valle got a great look, but King robbed him.

As soon as that penalty expired, Clippers sophomore Preston Jancovic was sent off for tripping, but again, the visitors couldn’t capitalize, as Fitzgerald shot wide.

With 2:55 to play, King denied a shot from Fitzgerald.

Thirty-four seconds later, May was called for holding and Falmouth went man-up again, but it never produced a shot and Yarmouth got the ball back and called timeout with 1:39 on the clock.

The Clippers then worked the ball around the perimeter, but the Yachtsmen’s defense locked down, never allowed a shot and with 41.1 seconds to go, forced a turnover.

“It’s a game of possession and we had a timeout with a chance to score,” Yarmouth coach David Pearl said. “We wish it would have been different, but it was a defensive night for sure.”

Falmouth then set up on offense and produced the winner.

With 27.2 seconds to go, Nick Farnham fired a shot wide and while most on hand expected the ball to bounce out of play, Tucker somehow came up with the short hop and fed Henry Farnham out front. Farnham then shot through a crowd and beat King with 24.6 seconds showing, making it 8-7 Yachtsmen.

“Nick shot and we practice getting the ball off the ground quickly and Reilly did it,” Henry Farnham said. “I got a look at the goal and got it.”

“Reilly gets so many ground balls,” Barton said. “He’s so slick. He’s a natural right hander, but he’s in a lefty attack role for us. He’s probably pound-for-pound the toughest guy on our team.

“It’s not always pretty with the Farnhams, but they’re effective. They’re big guys who eat checks. They’re not fazed taking it into the teeth of the defense. They’ve made plays in huge moments. They’re on a mission this year. They understand when it’s time to share the ball and when it’s time to make a play.”

The goal snapped a 23-minute, 39-second drought.

Yarmouth had a chance to draw even, but to do so, it needed the ball.

And Zinn made sure that wouldn’t happen, as he won the faceoff to junior Riley Reed.

“I just knew I had to get the ball for my team,” Zinn said. “I know I’ll get beaten on clamps, so I told the wings to lock off. I had confidence I could get the ball out.”

“(Primeau) was unbelievable tonight, so we went with Emmitt to play on his hands and have everyone else lock off,” Barton said.

Falmouth was able to play keep-away until 4 seconds were on the clock. The Clippers then tried a desperation heave down the field, but it didn’t result in a shot and the Yachtsmen held on, 8-7, to stay undefeated.

“Overall, it’s good for us to have a game like this,” Henry Farnham said. “We know we have to play a full game to win. We knew (the Clippers) were one of the most athletic teams in the state. They’re always good and well coached. We weren’t playing very well on offense. We needed to spin the ball around better and get better dodges. Credit to them, they played very well defensively.”

“You know you have something special when seniors say in the huddle that this was what we needed,” Barton said.

Falmouth got three goals from Mainella, two apiece from Fitzgerald and Henry Farnham and one from Nick Farnham.

Tucker didn’t score, but had three assists. Nick Farnham and Fitzgerald had one assist apiece.

Chapman quietly made seven clutch saves.

“We have faith in Ethan,” Zinn said. “We know he’s ready.”

The Yachtsmen had a 36-27 edge in ground balls (Mainella, Tucker and senior Marcus Dyhrberg each collected five) and enjoyed a 40-20 shots advantage (19-14 on cage).

Falmouth overcame 16 turnovers.

The Yachtsmen’s defense ultimately was the difference, as it held the Clippers scoreless the final 16:16.

“We have a very good defense,” Zinn said. “(Senior) Brendan (Hickey) is like a brother to me and has been since we’ve been two feet tall. Marcus is a great kid. What it comes down to is we know our strengths and our weaknesses. We have each other’s back and we can lock down. If we make a mistake, we move on. Same thing with our successes. It’s all about the next possession, doing whatever we have to do to prevent the ball from going in the net.”

“Late in the third quarter, early in the fourth, the defense locked down and got stops,” said Barton. “I would have liked to have more complimentary lacrosse and scored, but credit to them. We bring a lot to the table defensively. We have righties, we have leftifes, we have senior leadership. We match up well with pretty much every team. Our defensive middies are coming along. We pride ourselves in making teams earn goals and Yarmouth earned a few tonight.”

One goal short

Yarmouth’s offense was paced by Corey and May, who each scored three times. Chappell had the other goal. Truesdale finished with two assists.

King made 11 saves.

“I think Spencer shined tonight,” Pearl said. “I think he’s probably the best goalie in the state. He’s a special player and a leader. He made great saves and clears too.”

“Spencer is one of the best goalies in the state and I couldn’t be more impressed with their defense,” said Barton. “They made us earn every inch on the field. They have a great man-down unit. They were really aggressive and made us earn it. It got frustrating. They pressured the ball and forced us to get the ball to the backside and tonight, we couldn’t do it.”

May had a game-high six ground balls and Primeau collected four.

The Clippers won 11 of 17 faceoffs, but committed 28 turnovers.

“It’s a big disappointment,” Pearl said. “We played man-down for a long, long time and they couldn’t score on us. Credit to Falmouth. They’re a great team, but I’m really proud of our boys. We proved a lot to ourselves. We got down in an early hole, but we came back and that’s something I want the boys to carry with them. This team is built on defense. Tonight, it just came down to the last play. You could tell the teams were really tired and were putting everything they could into it. It was a great high school lacrosse game. Fought really hard. They have some great defenders who made great plays.”

Best in class

Yarmouth, first in the Class B Heal Points standings, has a busy week upcoming, which includes a game at Kennebunk Monday, a home tilt versus Lake Region Tuesday and a trip to defending Class A South champion Scarborough Friday. Home games versus Cape Elizabeth and Greely and a trip to Waynflete close the regular season.

“We’re exactly halfway through the regular season and so far, we’ve played just about every great team in the state and we’ve shown we’ve got heart,” Pearl said. “Going forward, we’ll grow and learn from this. The boys will leave here resolved. After coming back and playing so well against a team as vaunted as Falmouth, we’ll come back and work hard.”

Falmouth (first in Class A North), goes to Deering Wednesday, then has a compelling interclass home battle against defending Class A champion Brunswick Saturday, May 19. Home games versus Cheverus and Scarborough, sandwiched around a trip to dangerous Thornton Academy, close the regular year.

“We know we can’t fall off from what our ultimate target is,” Zinn said. “It’s on to the next one. It’s just step after step after step. We can’t get down on ourselves and we just need to come out and get the job done.”

“This is a senior-laden group that knows we have a lot of work ahead of us,” Barton said. “We have a focused group that will come back and get ready for a tough stretch. Deering has been in a bunch of close games. Then, we have Brunswick in a Saturday night under-the-lights game. We’re really good about learning from a game, then moving on to the next one.”

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

Yarmouth sophomore Gavin Hamm drives on Falmouth sophomore Shane Allen.

Falmouth senior Nick Farnham shoots and scores as Yarmouth senior Sean Moore looks on.

Falmouth junior Reilly Tucker tries to get the ball away from prone Yarmouth senior Sean Moore.

Yarmouth senior Silas Chappell is defended by Falmouth junior Riley Reed, left, and sophomore Shane Allen.

Falmouth junior Reilly Tucker shoots on Yarmouth sophomore goalie Spencer King.

Yarmouth senior Cooper May, who scored three goals, fires a shot.

Yarmouth junior Griffin Primeau tries to possess the ball as Falmouth senior Emmitt Zinn defends.

Falmouth senior Aiden Gallup fires a shot.

Recent Falmouth-Yarmouth meetings

2017
@ Falmouth 16 Yarmouth 6
Falmouth 13 @ Yarmouth 5

2016
Falmouth 12 @ Yarmouth 7
Class B state final
Falmouth 13 Yarmouth 9 

2015
Yarmouth 8 @ Falmouth 6 

2014
Falmouth 17 @ Yarmouth 12

2013
@ Yarmouth 10 Falmouth 9 (OT) 
Yarmouth 15 @ Falmouth 14 (OT)

2012
@ Falmouth 14 Yarmouth 7
Falmouth 12 @ Yarmouth 6

2011
Falmouth 14 @ Yarmouth 5
@ Falmouth 17 Yarmouth 0

2010
Yarmouth 7 @ Falmouth 4
@ Yarmouth 8 Falmouth 6

2009
Yarmouth 18 @ Falmouth 5

2007
@ Yarmouth 17 Falmouth 2

2006
@ Yarmouth 13 Falmouth 2

2005
@ Yarmouth 19 Falmouth 6

2004
@ Yarmouth 18 Falmouth 1

2003
Yarmouth 13 @ Falmouth 2

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