Falmouth girls cap strong regular season with win over TA

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Falmouth junior Christina Oakes, back to camera, hugs classmate Kayla Sarazin after Sarazin’s second half goal in Tuesday’s 7-4 home win over Thornton Academy in the Yachtsmen’s regular season finale.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Falmouth 7 Thornton Academy 4

TA- 1 3- 4
F- 3 4- 7

First half
23:53 F Smithwick (Camelio)
20:53 TA Pettaway (free position)
17:34 F Camelio (unassisted)
8:47 F Camelio (Stucker)

Second half
24:07 F Oakes (Fishman)
23:20 F Sarazin (unassisted)
21:32 F Clement (Stucker)
11:10 TA Paradis (unassisted)
8:00 TA Paradis (unassisted)
6:06 F Clement (Oakes)
55.3 TA Basile (unassisted)

Goals:
TA- Paradis 2, Basile, Pettaway 1
F- Camelio, Clement 2, Oakes, Sarazin, Smithwick 1

Assists:
F- Stucker 2, Camelio, Fishman, Oakes 1

Draws (Falmouth, 11-2)
TA- Henaire 1 of 9, McAlary 1 of 4
F- K. Sarazin 11 of 13

Ground balls:
TA- 23
F- 35

Turnovers:
TA- 20
F- 22

Shots:
TA- 14 
F- 19

Shots on cage:
TA- 11
F- 15

Saves:
TA (Sirois) 8
F (Dubinsky) 7

FALMOUTH—A successful regular season is in the books and the now the fun really begins for Falmouth’s girls’ lacrosse team.

The Yachtsmen, who long ago established themselves as the team to beat in Class A North, hosted Thornton Academy in their regular season finale on a sweltering Tuesday afternoon and behind a typically steady offensive showing, as well as a very strong defensive performance, reached double digit victories on the year.

On Senior Day, Falmouth’s lone senior, Chelsey Smithwick, opened the scoring 67 seconds in, but the Golden Trojans drew even on a free position goal from senior Alana Pettaway with 20:53 to play in the first half.

The visitors wouldn’t score again for a long, long time.

The Yachtsmen went on top for good when junior Caitlyn Camelio scored unassisted with 17:34 remaining in the half and nine minutes later, Camelio scored again, from junior Jo Stucker, for a 3-1 lead.

Six saves from Thornton Academy senior goalie Dana Sirois prevented Falmouth from pulling away, but the Yachtsmen would gain some separation early in the second half.

Just 53 seconds in, junior Christina Oakes scored and junior Kayla Sarazin, who was dominant all day in the draw circle, and freshman phenom Eva Clement added goals for a 6-1 advantage.

Finally, with 11:10 to play, Thornton Academy senior Adeline Paradis scored unassisted to end a nearly 35-minute drought and three minutes later, Paradis scored again to make things interesting, but Clement restored order by scoring with 6:06 left and while the visitors got a late tally from senior Mackenzie Basile, Falmouth was able to go on to a 7-4 victory.

Camelio and Clement both scored twice as the Yachtsmen won their sixth game in a row, finished 10-2 and in the process, dropped the Golden Trojans to 5-6.

“We tried to come out with intensity,” Clement said. “We really wanted to win this game. We wanted double digit wins.”

Season of triumph

Falmouth had some question marks to answer when the 2017 began, as some key players had departed and the program welcomed a new coach, Ashley Pullen, but with just two exceptions, the Yachtsmen have passed every test.

Falmouth opened with an 11-8 home victory over Biddeford, then fell at two-time defending Class B champion Kennebunk, 10-3. After downing visiting Messalonskee, 15-11, host Marshwood (10-6) and visiting Windham (13-3), the Yachtsmen gave defending Class A champion Massabesic a scare before losing, 11-9, but Falmouth hasn’t lost since, defeating host Scarborough (13-6) and Lewiston (5-3), visiting Cheverus (14-9) and Waynflete (8-7) and host Bonny Eagle (15-7).

“I had the good fortune of walking into a program with a lot of talent,” Pullen said. “We lost a lot of power last year and some really good players. Everybody has really stepped up across the board, from our lone senior to our freshmen.”

Thornton Academy started 2-5, but won its last three games: 12-3 over visiting Lewiston, 10-7 over visiting Windham and 9-4 over visiting South Portland. 

Falmouth and Thornton Academy have established an exciting interclass rivalry in recent seasons. In 2014, the Yachtsmen won in Saco, 8-6. The next year, Falmouth held on for an 11-9 home triumph. Two years ago, in Saco, the teams were tied on five different occasions, but the Yachtsmen eked out a 9-8 victory, and last spring, Falmouth rallied for a 7-6 home win.

Tuesday, on a beautiful late May late afternoon (86 degrees at the start), Falmouth prevailed again, this time with a little more ease.

Sarazin set the tone by winning the opening draw and Oakes tried to put the hosts on top 11 seconds in, but she was robbed by Sirois.

The Yachtsmen then did take a 1-0 lead 67 seconds in, when, after a turnover, Camelio raced in and fed Smithwick for the goal.

The Golden Trojans answered on Pettaway’s free position with 20:53 to go in the half, but that would be their highwater mark.

After Falmouth sophomore goalie Hannah Dubinsky denied junior Catherine Henaire on a free position, Camelio raced into the offensive zone and shot and scored to put the Yachtsmen ahead for good, 2-1.

After Oakes was again robbed by Sirois, Stucker set up Camelio for a goal with 8:47 remaining before halftime for a two-goal advantage.

Late in the half, Camelio was twice denied in close by Sirois and Falmouth’s lead was only 3-1 at the break.

In the first half, Sarazin won four of five draws and the Yachtsmen had a 10-4 shots advantage, but Sirois’ six saves kept things interesting.

Falmouth remained confident and opened it up early in the second half.

Just 52 seconds in, on a restart with Sirois out of the cage, freshman Avi Fishman set up Oakes for an easy finish and a 4-1 lead.

With 23:20 to play, Sarazin scored unassisted.

With 21:32 on the clock, Clement finished a feed from Stucker and stretched the lead to 6-1.

“At halftime, I needed to make sure there wasn’t panic or that one person would try and do it all by themselves,” Pullen said. “We stayed calm and settled. I felt good that goals would come. We stuck with the game plan.” 

After 34 minutes, 43 seconds of frustration, Thornton Academy finally rediscovered the net with 11:10 to play, as Paradis scored unassisted.

“For those 35 minutes, I was really proud of the defenders’ footwork,” Pullen said. “We knew they liked to drive. We shut it down and it was probably frustrating for them.”

Paradis then scored another unassisted goal with 8 minutes on the clock to cut the deficit to 6-3.

After Dubinsky made a key save on a shot from senior Taylor Ouellette, the Yachtsmen put it away.

With 6:06 left, Oakes fed Clement and Clement, the skiing standout who has made such a strong impact in her first varsity season, fired the ball into the net for a 7-3 advantage.

“It’s been really awesome,” Clement said. “I’m really honored to be playing on this team. I get a lot of feedback from my older teammates and coaches.”

“Eva has played almost every minute of every game in the midfield and I don’t think there are many freshmen in the state who can do that,” Pullen said. “She’s so fast. Having speed in lacrosse is huge. It’s such a big advantage. Eva is very smart. Mature beyond her years. It was great to have her walk into tryouts.” 

The Golden Trojans scored one final time, with 55.3 seconds on the clock, as Basile finished unassisted, but Falmouth closed it out from there and prevailed, 7-4.

“Our defense has been doing so well,” Clement said. “Our coach is really good and we have really good team spirit. Everyone has the drive to do their best.”

The Yachtsmen got two goals apiece from Camelio and Clement and one goal each from Oakes, Sarazin and Smithwick.

Stucker had two assists, while Camelio, Fishman and Oakes each assisted on one goal.

Dubinsky made seven saves.

Sarazin was dominant in the draw circle, winning 11 of 13 opportunities.

“Having possession is everything and to know you can go into a game and hope to win a good number of draw controls really helps control a game and put us at a huge advantage,” Pullen said.

Falmouth had a 35-23 edge in ground balls (Clement and Sarazin tied for game-high honors with eight apiece), enjoyed a 19-14 shots advantage (15-11 on cage) and overcame 22 turnovers.

Thornton Academy got two goals from Paradis and one apiece from Basile and Pettaway.

Sirois made eight saves. 

The Golden Trojans turned the ball over 20 times.

The elusive title

Thornton Academy (third behind Kennebunk and Massabesic in the Class A South Heal Points standings) closes at Marshwood Thursday.

The Yachtsmen, meanwhile, have knocked on the door repeatedly in recent seasons, but haven’t been able to get to the state final. This spring, after just the fourth double-digit victory regular season, Falmouth will be the top seed in Class A North and will have a bye into the semifinals Saturday, June 9.

“We have to come out strong in all of our games,” Clement said. “We really want it. We really want to do it for Chelsey.”

“We have some time off and we have to stay focused,” Pullen said. “It’s a strategic balance of working hard and staying away from lacrosse to stay hungry. At this point, focus is huge. If you want to go the distance, you have to have your head in it. There isn’t much new to learn or more endurance to build. We’re feisty and strong and smart despite our youth. I have no doubt that we can make a good run.”

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

Falmouth senior Chelsey Smithwick fires a shot. 

Thornton Academy junior Mary Halle knocks the ball away from Falmouth junior Jo Stucker.

Falmouth junior Caitlyn Camelio gets a step on a Thornton Academy defender.

Falmouth junior Christina Oakes scores a second half goal.

Falmouth junior Kayla Sarazin is defended by Thornton Academy senior Hannah McAlary.

Falmouth sophomore goalie Hannah Dubinsky looks on as sophomore Gretchen Barney defends Thornton Academy senior Adeline Paradis.

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