Falmouth girls denied in regional final by Kennebunk again

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Kennebunk’s girls’ lacrosse team exults after beating Falmouth, 8-3, in Wednesday’s Class B South Final. The Rams advanced to meet Yarmouth in the state final Saturday.

Photos courtesy Pat McDonald / Journal Tribune.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Kennebunk 8 Falmouth 3

F- 2 1- 3
K- 5 3 – 8

First half
22:39 K Bush (Sandford)
17:59 F Oakes (Bernier)
15:24 K K. Schwartzman (unassisted)
11:39 K Gorton (Sandler)
7:45 K Bush (free position)
4:31 F Stucker (Bernier)
1:25 K Sandler (unassisted) 

Second half
22:18 K Bush (Sandford)
19:54 K Fogg (unassisted)
10:50 F Bell (free position)
4:37 K K. Schwartzman (Sandler) 

Goals:
F- Bell, Oakes, Stucker 1
K- Bush 3, K. Schwartzman 2, Fogg, Gorton, Sandler 1

Assists:
F- Bernier 2
K- Sandford, Sandler 2

Draws (Falmouth, 7-6)
F- Bell 7 of 13
K- Bush 5 of 10, Sandford 1 of 2, H. Schwartzman 0 of 1

Ground balls (Falmouth,35-30)
F- Bell 10, K. Sarazin 7, Camelio, Stucker 5, Bernier 3, N. Budri, Farrell, Oakes, Smithwick, Spiegel 1
K- Sandford 7, Bush 5, K. Schwartzman 4, Koch, H. Schwartzman 3, Gorton, Oakman, Small 2, Parent, Sandler 1

Turnovers:
F- 18
K- 14

Shots:
F- 10
K- 16

Shots on cage:
F- 7
K- 13

Saves:
F (M. Budri) 5
K (Kudas) 4

KENNEBUNK—Falmouth’s girls’ lacrosse team has a very bright future, but there’s no question that the present belongs to the Kennebunk Rams.

Wednesday afternoon, in the Class B South Final, the Rams produced yet another masterful performance against the team most likely to derail its title hopes.

Less than three weeks after Kennebunk had to go to double overtime to beat the Yachtsmen in Falmouth, they controlled this one from start to finish, thanks to a brilliant display of ball-control offense and a smothering defense that held one of the highest scoring teams around to just seven shots on goal.

After Rams senior standout Jenny Bush and Yachtsmen freshman Christina Oakes traded early goals, Kennebunk went on top to stay with 15:24 to play in the first half, when senior standout Kyra Schwartzman tickled the twine.

After sophomore Erin Gorton added to the lead, Bush scored again, her 200th career point, for a 4-1 advantage.

Late in the half, Falmouth got a goal back, when junior Olivia Stucker scored, and junior standout Sydney Bell had an opportunity to make things really interesting when she earned a free position with 2:44 left, but she was denied by Rams senior goalie Bella Kudas and at the other end, senior Carly Sandler scored to give the hosts a 5-2 halftime lead.

Quick tallies from Bush and junior Gabby Fogg broke it open early in the second half and even though Bell finally got in the scoring column with 10:50 to play, Schwartzman provided an ideal exclamation point, when she scored a goal for her 200th career point with 4:37 remaining, and Kennebunk went on to prevail, 8-3.

Bush had three goals, Schwartzman scored twice and junior Elizabeth Cain and freshman Molly Davis spearheaded an amazing defensive effort as the Rams improved to 14-0, ended the Yachtsmen season at 12-2 and advanced to meet Yarmouth (12-3) in the Class B Final for the second year in a row, Saturday at 10 a.m., at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.

“This is what we’ve been working for,” Schwartzman said. “We knew it would be tough. We were motivated to come out today and play our best game of the season and I think we did.”

“It was tough,” said Falmouth coach Kait Johnson. “It wasn’t a lack of effort, we just couldn’t put it together. If we had played our game, the game we’ve worked on, and played with confidence, we would have been fine.” 

Nemesis

A year ago, Falmouth won the regular season matchup at Kennebunk and appeared primed to go to the state final for the first time, but the Rams came to Falmouth and won the regional final, 9-7.

On May 26 of this year, Kennebunk again visited the Yachtsmen and let a late 6-3 lead slip away, but in the second overtime, Schwartzman scored to allow the Rams to escape, 7-6, and go on to a perfect regular season.

As the top seed in Class B South (with a stratospheric Heal Points tournament index of 231.111), Kennebunk had a bye into the semifinals where it broke open a close game in the second half and went on to eliminate fifth-ranked Waynflete, 10-2, Saturday.

Falmouth, as the No. 2 seed, also had a bye into the semifinals, where it held off No. 6 Greely, 12-9, Saturday to advance.

Entering play Wednesday, the Rams held a 3-0 edge in postseason meetings against the Yachtsmen and they weren’t about to be stopped on a beautiful (80 degree) afternoon.

Kennebunk possessed the ball much of the first half and had the first golden scoring chance a minute in, when Schwartzman got free in front, but Falmouth junior goalie Mary Budri made a nice stop.

The Rams kept possession, then got the jump with 22:39 to go in the half, as senior Liv Sandford set up Bush for the umpteenth time this spring, and Kennebunk had a 1-0 lead.

After Budri denied Bush and Sandler shot just high, the Yachtsmen, who turned the ball over five times in the first five minutes, finally got a settled offensive possession and it paid off, as Bernier passed to Oakes in traffic and Oakes beat Kudas to make it 1-1.

Kennebunk quickly responded, however, and with 15:24 to go before the break, Schwartzman scored unassisted and the Rams never looked back.

After Bush had a free position shot blocked, the Rams made it 3-1 with 11:39 remaining, as Sandler set up Gorton.

Johnson called timeout, but it didn’t stem the tide.

Kennebunk was momentarily frustrated, as Sandford shot just high and Schwartzman hit the post, but with 7:45 to go, Bush, who will play at Assumption College next year, converted a free position to give her 200 points for her career.

“It’s so awesome,” Bush said. “I didn’t realize how close I was.”

Just when it appeared the Yachtsmen were going to be out of the game by halftime, they made things interesting, as Bernier set up Stucker with 4:31 to play in the half and with 2:44 left, Bell set up for a free position. The sharpshooter had a clear path to the goal, but Kudas stood tall and denied the shot to preserve the two-goal lead.

Then, with 1:25 left, Sandler ran around the crease, got a step on a defender and beat Budri to make it 5-2.

Even though Budri denied sophomore Hallie Schwartzman as time wound down, the Rams had a relatively comfortable lead at halftime.

In the first half, Kennebunk had the ball at least 80 percent of the time, enjoyed a 12-3 shots advantage and forced eight Falmouth turnovers.

Early in the second half, the Yachtsmen displayed greater energy, but they weren’t able to cut into the deficit.

Just 35 seconds into the half, junior Devon Sarazin was denied by Kudas. 

With 23:49 to play, freshman Kayla Sarazin had a look, but shot just wide.

The Rams then returned to the attack and with 22:18 to go, Sandford set up Bush for a 6-2 lead.

Then, with 19:54 remaining, Fogg found a seam in the Falmouth defense, raced in and beat Budri for a 7-2 advantage.

Johnson again called timeout, but it didn’t produce a rally as Stucker was denied by Kudas and moments later, Stucker hit the crossbar.

With 10:50 to play, the Yachtsmen scored their final goal of the season, as Bell finished off a free position for her 72nd goal this spring, ending an 18 minute, 41 second drought.

Devon Sarazin tried to draw Falmouth closer with 8:27 left, but Kudas robbed her and after a turnover, Kayla Sarazin raced in one-on-one with Kudas, but shot wide.

That would be Falmouth’s last chance.

Kennebunk brought the curtain down with 4:37 to play, as Sandler fed Kyra Schwartzman, who beat Budri to extend the lead back to five and more importantly, join Bush in the 200-point club.

“Getting 200 is awesome, but for me, it’s never been about the points, but what the team puts up on the scoreboard,” said Schwartzman, who will attend and play at Merrimack College next year. “It’s a great accomplishment for both Jenny and I, but at the end of the day, we won as a team and that’s what matters.” 

“Considering we’ve had five, six, seven people scoring per game, (them getting 200 points is) pretty impressive,” Kennebunk coach Annie Barker said. “They all share the ball and work together so well.”

At 5:26 p.m., the final horn sounded and the Rams were able to celebrate their 8-3 victory.

“We all stepped up and played our game and came out hard and came out with the win,” Bush said. “Last time we played them, we didn’t play well at all. We didn’t possess the ball. We took the mistakes from last game and applied them to this game. We came out and executed. We knew we had to come out hard and continue to play hard. We couldn’t get comfortable because we knew they could come back. We took our time shooting. That was helpful for us today.”

“We wanted to possess the ball and we did and we wanted to wait for good shots and we did,” Barker said. “If we had the ball, they couldn’t do anything with it. We wanted to limit their possession. We’re peaking now and we’re playing a smart game. The defenders are coming up huge with turnovers. We’ve worked on our transition and we keep adding stuff and we have a lot of things we can do.”

Bush led the way offensively with three goals. Kyra Schwartzman scored twice. Fogg, Gorton and Sandler had one goal apiece. Sandford and Sandler both assisted on two goals.

Kudas made four key saves.

Sandford collected a team-high seven ground balls, while Bush grabbed five.

Kennebunk had a 16-10 edge in shots (13-7 on cage) and only turned the ball over 14 times.

Most importantly, Cain and Davis face-guarded Bell and never allowed her to breathe and as a result, the Yachtsmen never got going offensively.

“Molly and Elizabeth worked in practice on face-guarding, getting ready for Sydney,” Schwartzman said. “We also worked on playing a six-man backer zone, which is huge. It’s so hard to get through.”

“I give this win to our defense because they played an amazing game,” Bush said. “Our face-guarders played awesome. We held them to a low number of shots. We’re really happy with that.”

“We wanted to take Sydney out and disrupt their game,” Barker added. “We had two people face-guarding her. Molly’s an ice hockey player. She was out of her mind with nerves, but she did her job.”

Rematch 

For almost a year, Kennebunk has stewed about its state final loss last spring. Saturday, the Rams will have a chance to avenge it.

On May 24, host Kennebunk beat Yarmouth, 9-5. 

The Clippers have won all five prior playoff meetings, including state game victories in 2002 (13-8), 2007 (7-5) and last year.

The Rams have been gearing up for this opportunity since they walked off the field heartbroken a year ago.

A first state championship is close enough to taste.

“This was our last time on this field and Saturday will be our last game together, so we’ll be prepared,” Bush said. “Our heads will be there. We’ll be there physically. We’re excited. I think we can do it.”

“It’s a privilege and an honor get back (to states),” Schwartzman said. “We’re ready. It’s so important to start strong. The passion and heart we put on the field from the beginning, playing for 50 minutes, that’s what we have to do. It’s bittersweet it’s our last time together, but we’re ready to take it home.”

“I think these girls are ready, I really do,” Barker added. “They’re mentally ready, physically ready. They won’t let anything bother them. They have composure. We didn’t have that last year. We’ll go in and follow our game plan and stick to it.”

Not going away

Falmouth got goals from Bell, Oakes and Stucker and a pair of assists from Bernier.

Budri made five saves.

Bell won 7 of 13 draws and led all players with 10 ground balls, helping the Yachtsmen enjoy a 35-30 advantage in that category.

Falmouth was done in by 18 turnovers.

“We just didn’t show up today,” Johnson said. “A lot of it is attributed to our young jitters and uncertainty. Every time we got momentum, something would happen. Little mistakes added up. We’re a great shooting team, but today, we didn’t even move the goalie off her line. That was a mental error. 

“I do think we’re the toughest competition they’ll face this year.”

For the second year in a row, the Yachtsmen finished 12-2.

“We accomplished a lot,” Johnson said. “No one expected us to get this far.”

Falmouth graduates Bernier, defender Nicole Budri and backup goalie Elizabeth Amadei, but returns everyone else and with Kennebunk about to be hard-hit by departures, the Yachtsmen should be the favorite in 2017.

“We have a huge junior class and our freshmen have a great opportunity,”Johnson said. “We wanted to win this game so badly, but the big picture of our program is that we’re on the rise. We want redemption. We’re looking to start a dynasty. Next year is just the beginning.”

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

Kennebunk senior Kyra Schwartzman races up the field as Falmouth junior Sydney Bell gives chase. Schwartzman produced the 200th point of her career with a goal late in the contest.

Falmouth senior Nicole Budri defends Kennebunk senior Kristen Koch.

Falmouth senior captains Nicole Budri, left, and London Bernier receive the runner-up trophy in the postgame ceremony.

Previous Falmouth-Kennebunk playoff results

2015 Western B Final
Kennebunk 9 @ Falmouth 7 

2007 Western B quarterfinals
@ Kennebunk 11 Falmouth 7

2006 Western B quarterfinals
@ Kennebunk 14 Falmouth 6 

Previous Falmouth stories

Season Preview

@ Falmouth 17 Waynflete 6

Falmouth 9 @ Thornton Academy 8

Kennebunk 7 @ Falmouth 6 (2 OT)

@ Falmouth 14 Yarmouth 7

Previous Kennebunk stories

Kennebunk 13 @ Waynflete 3

@ Kennebunk 9 Yarmouth 5

Kennebunk 7 @ Falmouth 6 (2 OT)

Class B South semifinal
@ Kennebunk 10 Waynflete 2 

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