Falmouth erupts to down SP in crossover showdown

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Falmouth junior Jack Scribner (14) congratulates senior George Gilbert after one of the Yachtsmen’s 21 goals in Saturday’s 21-10 victory over South Portland.

Chris Lambert photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Falmouth 21 South Portland 10

SP- 2 1 4 3- 10
F- 6 2 12 1- 21

First quarter
9:04 F Russell (Scribner)
7:32 F Scribner (Fitzgerald)
6:53 F Gilbert (unassisted)
5:49 SP Adams (D. Fiorini)
5:34 F Scribner (unassisted)
4:34 F Scribner (Nolan)
3:49 F Nolan (unassisted)
1:11 SP Fiorini (unassisted) 

Second quarter
9:03 SP Zechman (Mehlhorn) (MAN-UP)
7:56 F Gilbert (unassisted)
5:31 F Scribner (Russell) (MAN-UP) 

Third quarter
10:54 F Mainella (Hickey)
9:24 SP Angell (Adams) (MAN-UP)
8:31 SP J. Fiorini (Mehlhorn)
8:03 SP Fiorini (unassisted)
7:00 F Gilbert (unassisted)
6:11 F Russell (Mainella)
4:38 F Scribner (Fitzgerald) (MAN-UP) 
4:22 F Russell (Scribner)
4:10 F Hickey (unassisted)
4:02 SP Zechman (unassisted)
2:52 F N. Farnham (Mainella)
1:59 F Gilbert (Scribner) (TWO MEN-UP)
1:48 F Scribner (Gilbert) (TWO MEN-UP)
1:36 F Russell (Scribner) (MAN-UP)
38.0 F Mainella (Scribner)
4.4 F Mainella (unassisted) 

Fourth quarter
10:16 F Gilbert (Fitzgerald)
6:03 SP Fiorini (Mezzanotte)
1:44 SP Mehlhorn (unassisted) (MAN-DOWN)
16.6 SP Mehlhorn (unassisted) 

Goals:
SP- J. Fiorini 4, Mehlhorn, Zechman 2, Adams, Angell 1
F- Scribner 6, Gilbert 5, Russell 4, Mainella 3, N. Farnham, Hickey, Nolan 1

Assists:
SP- Mehlhorn 2, Adams, D. Fiorini, Mezzanotte 1
F- Scribner 4, Fitzgerald 3, Mainella, Russell 2, Gilbert, Nolan 1

Faceoffs (Falmouth, 26-8)
SP- Tierny 8 of 31, Ellis 0 of 3
F- Pierce 26 of 34

Ground balls (Falmouth, 53-19)
SP- Mezzanotte 6, Vose-Gimble, Watson, Zechman 3, Adams, J. Fiorini, Mehlhorn, Tierny 1
F- Pierce 16, Hickey 9, Reed 5, Scribner 4, Arrants, N. Farnham, Russell 3, Engleberger, Gilbert 2, Fitzgerald, Klebe, Ciraulo, H. Farnham, Masciangelo, Mainella 1

Turnovers:
SP- 20
F- 18

Shots:
SP- 20
F- 43

Shots on cage
SP- 16
F- 32

Saves:
SP (Watson) 11
F (Chapman) 6 

FALMOUTH—Falmouth’s boys’ lacrosse team is still hitting its stride.

And based on what the Yachtsmen did to two-time defending Western Class A champion South Portland Saturday afternoon, that’s a frightening proposition indeed for the competition.

While Falmouth isn’t getting the attention of rival and three-time defending Class B champion Cape Elizabeth, the Yachtsmen are well on their way to greatness if a 21-goal uprising in a crossover showdown was any indication.

Falmouth shot to a 6-1 first quarter lead, as junior Jack Scribner scored three times, but the Red Riots didn’t buckle and hung around, pulling within 6-3 in the second quarter before the Yachtsmen took an 8-3 advantage to halftime.

South Portland, behind Syracuse University-bound senior standout Jack Fiorini, pulled within 9-6 with just over eight minutes to play in the third period before Falmouth flipped the switch in jawdropping fashion.

In a 6 minute, 56 second span, the Yachtsmen erupted on a 12-1 run to end all doubt. 

Senior George Gilbert got his offensive game on track and had plenty of help from a balanced attack as Falmouth forced a running clock.

The Yachtsmen settled down in the fourth quarter, only scoring once, but went on to a decisive 21-10 victory.

Scribner scored six times, Gilbert added five goals, seven players scored in all, sophomore Spencer Pierce won 26 of 34 faceoffs and Falmouth improved to 3-0, dropping the Red Riots to 1-2 in the process.

“It’s always good to beat a strong team,” said Yachtsmen coach Mike LeBel. “(South Portland’s) well-coached, a strong team with good players. We have our philosophy and tried to stay with that and we did. We didn’t panic.” 

Two of the best

Falmouth and South Portland have enjoyed their share of June success in recent seasons.

The Red Riots won the Class A state title in 2014, but lost to Brunswick in last year’s final, 13-9. South Portland then was hit hard by graduation and has a steep learning curve this spring. After falling at Scarborough in the opener, 13-10, the Red Riots won at Biddeford, 15-2.

The Yachtsmen, who lost to Cape Elizabeth in last year’s regional final, handled visiting Freeport, 19-6, and Kennebunk, 10-5, to begin 2016.

Saturday morning, under sunny, but chilly 54-degree skies, the teams met in a countable game for the first time and it was Falmouth that made it count.

Early on, it was Yachtsmen sophomore goalie Ethan Chapman, who is filling in for injured junior Liam Tucker, who came up big, denying a pair of high quality South Portland shots to keep the game scoreless.

“When Ethan makes saves like that, it gives our defense confidence,” said LeBel. “He saw the ball well. He set the tone for us early.”

Falmouth broke the ice with 9:04 to go in the first quarter, when Scribner set up junior Devin Russell for a shot which beat South Portland freshman goalie Quinn Watson for the game’s first goal.

After Russell hit the post, junior George Fitzgerald passed to Scribner, who eluded the defense and scored his first goal with 7:32 remaining.

“Whenever I can keep my feet moving and keep the defender working, it’s easier,” said Scribner. “Everyone has to move and cut off the ball.”

Gilbert got in the scoring column, unassisted, 39 seconds later and it was 3-0 Yachtsmen.

The Red Riots got on the board with 5:49 to go, when freshman David Fiorini set up classmate Mitchell Adams.

Falmouth bounced right back, as Scribner scored unassisted 15 seconds later, Scribner finished a feed from senior Jared Nolan with 4:34 to go and 45 seconds after that, Nolan scored unassisted for a 6-1 lead.

Fiorini scored for South Portland with 1:11 left in the opening stanza, but the Yachtsmen took a 6-2 advantage to the second period.

There, Falmouth threatened to run away and hide, but couldn’t do so.

With 9:03 left in the half, playing man-up, Red Riots freshman Cooper Mehlhorn set up junior Finn Zechman to cut the deficit to three, but Gilbert faked right, then went left and finished with 7:56 remaining and Russell set up Scribner for a man-up goal with 5:31 to go and the Yachtsmen took an 8-3 advantage to the break.

In the first half, Falmouth had an 8-5 edge in faceoffs, a commanding 28-9 advantage in ground balls and ousthot South Portland, 22-11.

The Red Riots tried to answer in the second half, but the Yachtsmen’s onslaught was just beginning.

Sixty-six seconds into the third period, Russell set up sophomore Lou Mainella to make it 9-3.

South Portland then cut the deficit in half, as Adams set up junior Jake Angell for a man-up tally with 9:24 left in the quarter, Mehlhorn passed to Fiorini for a goal 53 seconds later and with 8:03 to go in the frame, Fiorini beat two defenders to finish unassisted and pull his team within 9-6.

But just when it appeared the Red Riots had all the momentum, they were absolutely staggered by Falmouth’s ensuing uprising.

Gilbert stemmed the tide with an unassisted goal with 7 minutes left and many goals followed.

“It was nice to get George back into the swing of things,” LeBel said. “He was trying to figure things out with the new players on his line. He did a great job all around today.” 

Forty-nine seconds later, Mainella set up Russell to make it 11-6.

With 4:38 remaining in the third, man-up, Fitzgerald passed to Russell, who finished.

Sixteen seconds later, after Pierce won yet another faceoff, Scribner set up Russell to make it 13-6.

Pierce won another faceoff and sophomore Brendan Hickey picked up the loose ball before racing in to finish with 4:10 showing, but South Portland answered eight seconds later, as Zechman scored unassisted.

The Yachtsmen would get six more goals before the end of the third.

Mainella set up sophomore Nick Farnham with 2:52 left and after a pair of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on the visitors, Gilbert (from Scribner at 1:59), Scribner (from Gilbert 11 seconds later) and Russell (from Scribner with 1:36 left) scored man-up. Mainella (from Scribner with 38 seconds showing) and Mainella (unassisted with 4.4 seconds left) then tickled the twine and made it 20-7 and put the game out of reach.

The final stanza featured less scoring, but Falmouth went on to an easy win.

With 10:16 left, Fitzgerald set up Gilbert for the Yachtsmen’s final goal.

Down the stretch, the Red Riots got goals from Jack Fiorini (assisted by junior Nick Mezzanotte with 6:03 showing), Mehlhorn (man-down, with 1:44 to go) and Mehlhorn again (unassisted with 16.6 seconds to play), but Falmouth went on to the emphatic 21-10 victory.

“We work harder than any team I’ve seen in practice and it shows on the field,” Scribner said. “We executed our man-up today.”

“(The Red Riots) have a heck of a team,” LeBel said. “They have young players who can play. They understood that when we touched the ball we were successful offensively. They extended their defense and that opened up some looks. They took chances and we capitalized. I’m surprised my guys kept their heads up so well, but we practice that, so I shouldn’t be. It was a nice surprise that we moved the ball so quickly and got the ball to the backside to the open man and finished. We pushed the action and got the ball into the box toward the cage and good things happened.”

The Yachtsmen’s offense was like an avalanche, as Scribner had six goals, Gilbert five, Russell four, Mainella three and Nick Farnham, Hickey and Nolan one apiece.

Scribner also had four assists. Fitzgerald wound up with three, Mainella and Russell had two each and Gilbert and Nolan added one apiece.

Chapman made six saves.

Perhaps the biggest reason for Falmouth’s decisive win was Pierce’s brilliance in the faceoff circle, as he was successful on 26 of 34 tries.

“I haven’t taken faceoffs for too long,” Pierce said. “It’s really fun in there. You just try to stay calm until the whistle blows. It’s kind of personal in a way. My wing players, Jack Engleberg, Riley Reed, Brendan Hickey, are phenomenal. Coach says if you can push it forward, you can score. It was good to help out my team today. It speaks to what we have going here at Falmouth and what we’re trying to build. Coach has put together so many good teams. It’s a pleasure to be part of one.”

“Spencer was the player of the game,” Scribner said. “He won a lot of faceoffs.” 

“I think the biggest thing today for us was winning faceoffs,” LeBel added. “We didn’t know what we had with Spencer. He’s done a great job. When we win faceoffs and we have the ball, the ball didn’t get in (Fiorini’s) stick, he couldn’t score. It seemed like every time he had the ball, he scored. They could have gotten back into it really quickly with the offense they had, but we won the faceoffs.”

The Yachtsmen also had a commanding edge in ground balls, 53-19 (Pierce easily had a game-high 16 and Hickey collected nine) and shots, 43-20 (32-16 on cage).

Falmouth committed 18 turnovers, but they weren’t a factor.

Staggered

South Portland got four goals from Jack Fiorini, two apiece from Mehlhorn and Zechman and one each from Adams and Angell.

Mehlhorn had two assists, while Adams, David Fiorini and Mezzanotte had one each. Watson made 11 saves, while Mezzanotte had a team-high six ground balls.

The Red Riots committed 20 turnovers.

“The wheels just came off the bus,” said South Portland coach Tom Fiorini. “We didn’t play a great first half, but we were still in the game. All of a sudden, we struggled playing defense. We were in the game at 9-6. They couldn’t stop us offensively. We just came totally unglued on defense. We did everything we weren’t supposed to do. We weren’t aggressive, we weren’t checking or sliding. If we did a better job with the ball, I say we could have played with Falmouth. They couldn’t stop Jack. But we couldn’t win faceoffs and we weren’t aggressive on the ball. They took advantage of our weaknesses.”

Regularly scheduled programming

South Portland hopes to get back on track Wednesday, when it plays host to Cheverus. The Red Riots welcome Marshwood Friday, then have to play at dangerous Westbrook and juggernaut Cape Elizabeth.

“We have to try to keep getting better and right now, we’re not,” Tom Fiorini said. “We’re not going to throw in the towel. We’re going old school on Monday. Back to the chalkboard.”

Falmouth will play at North Yarmouth Academy Monday, then goes to Yarmouth Thursday. A first of likely three showdowns vs. Cape Elizabeth looms Wednesday, May 10, in Cape Elizabeth.

“I hope we can continue to improve this season,” Pierce said. 

“I think we can be very good if we keep working the way we are, listening to Coach and buying into the program, then the sky’s the limit,” Scribner said. 

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

Falmouth sophomore Lou Mainella keeps the ball away from South Portland junior Brandon Gagne.

South Portland junior Jake Angell fires a shot.

Falmouth senior George Gilbert carries the ball as South Portland sophomore Jack Vose-Gimble defends.

Falmouth junior Devin Russell shoots as South Portland senior Jack Fiorini defends.

South Portland freshman Mitchell Adams shoots and scores.

Falmouth junior Devin Russell races past South Portland junior Jake Angell en route to the goal.

Falmouth sophomore Brendan Hickey, left, and junior Seth Masciangelo celebrate a goal.

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