Falmouth girls save best for last in inspirational win over TA

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Falmouth’s girls’ lacrosse team erupts with joy following its dramatic comeback from a late two-goal deficit in Saturday morning’s 7-6 home win over Thornton Academy.

Chris Lambert photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Falmouth 7 Thornton Academy 6

TA- 2 4- 6
F- 3 4- 7 

First half
16:24 F D. Sarazin (Stucker)
12:52 F D. Sarazin (free position)
6:26 F Stucker (K. Sarazin)
3:15 TA Ouellette (Basile)
36.8 TA Ouellette (Henaire) 

Second half
23:36 TA Paradis (unassisted)
22:24 F Bell (K. Sarazin)
13:49 TA Pettaway (unassisted)
8:35 TA Paradis (unassisted)
6:37 TA Paradis (unassisted)
4:13 F Smithwick (Oakes)
1:07 F K. Sarazin (free position)
13.4 F Stucker (D. Sarazin) 

Goals:
TA- Paradis 3, Ouellette 2, Pettaway 1
F- D. Sarazin, Stucker 2, Bell, K. Sarazin, Smithwick 1

Assists:
TA- Basile, Henaire 1
F- K. Sarazin 2, Oakes, D. Sarazin, Stucker 1

Draws (Falmouth, 8-7)
TA- P. LeBlanc 7 of 15
F- Bell 3 of 8, K. Sarazin 5 of 7

Ground balls (Falmouth, 42-33)
TA- Henaire 7, Cyr 6, P. LeBlanc 5, Bearden, McAlary 4, M. LeBlanc, Paradis, Sirois 2, Ouellette 1
F- Camelio 8, Bell, K. Sarazin 7, D. Sarazin 4, Budri, Farrell, Stucker 3, Birkel, Waite 2, G. Barney, Mahoney, Oakes 1

Turnovers:
TA- 21
F- 29 

Shots:
TA- 27
F- 14 

Shots on cage:
TA- 19
F- 9

Saves:
TA (Sirois) 2
F (Budri) 13 

FALMOUTH—When a team takes the final step from challenger to champion, there is always one game it can look back upon, a game where all seemed lost, but where it somehow persevered and found a way to win in glorious fashion.

Falmouth’s girls’ lacrosse team quite possibly took that step Saturday morning.

Hosting Thornton Academy in an early season crossover battle, the Yachtsmen, regional finalists the past two years, had almost nothing go their way for the majority of the game, but with all the odds stacked against them, it didn’t matter.

Whether it was the 10 a.m. start or perhaps the unfamiliar sight of that shiny yellow object in the sky, Falmouth came out sloppy and would ultimately turn the ball over twice as many times as it managed to produce a shot.

Regardless, the talented Yachtsmen still managed to score the game’s first three goals, as senior captain Devon Sarazin scored twice in just over three minutes and classmate and fellow captain Olivia Stucker added another goal with 6:26 to play in the first half for a 3-0 lead.

The Golden Trojans, as they always seem to do against Falmouth, then answered thanks to a pair of goals from junior Taylor Ouellette and drew back within a goal at halftime.

When junior Adeline Paradis scored 84 seconds into the second half, the score was tied, but with 22:24 remaining in regulation, Yachtsmen senior standout and captain Sydney Bell finished for her first (and what proved to be her only) goal, putting the hosts back on top.

Just six seconds later, however, Bell was given her second yellow card for what the officials perceived as rough play and by rule, she had to leave the game.

With Falmouth shaken, Thornton Academy pounced and seemingly seized control of the contest, as junior Alana Pettaway scored to tie it with 13:49 remaining and Paradis added two goals in less than two minutes for a 6-4 advantage with 6:37 to go.

The Yachtsmen managed just one shot on goal in the first 20 minutes of the half and when the Golden Trojans got the ball again, it appeared they would run out the clock.

Instead, Falmouth’s defense forced a turnover and in transition, sophomore Christina Oakes set up junior Chelsey Smithwick for a goal and with 4:13 left, the Yachtsmen had life, down just one goal.

Then, with 1:07 to play, sophomore Kayla Sarazin, who came up big in the draw circle with Bell sidelined, was awarded a free position and she buried it, tying the score, 6-6.

Then, with the prospect of overtime looming, Falmouth completed its improbable comeback, as Devon Sarazin passed to Stucker, who scored with 13.4 seconds to go and the Yachtsmen managed to run out the clock from there to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in the most inspirational fashion, 7-6.

Stucker and Devon Sarazin both scored twice, senior goalie Mary Budri kept Falmouth in the game all day with 13 clutch saves and the Yachtsmen improved to 3-0 on the young season, dropping Thornton Academy to 2-1 in the process.

“It’s a great character win,” said Falmouth coach Kait Johnson. “A team win. Things weren’t going our way. We couldn’t catch, we couldn’t throw. We had a million turnovers and other things we couldn’t control, but we came together. We lost one of our most integral players, but I’m so proud of the maturity the girls showed.” 

Close games

Falmouth and Thornton Academy have both been in contention the past several seasons.

The Golden Trojans won 10 games last spring and got to the Class A South semifinals before losing to eventual regional champion Massabesic. On April 21, the Golden Trojans opened with a decisive 18-3 home win over Sanford. Thursday, Thornton Academy handled visiting Westbrook, 15-1.

Falmouth has reached the Class B South Final the past two years, but hasn’t been able to solve Kennebunk. This spring, the Yachtsmen had no trouble in their first two games, winning at Gorham (11-5) and at home over Greely (18-8).

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

Saturday, under 68-degree, sunny skies, in an early start necessitated by Thornton Academy’s prom later in the day, the squads produced another too-close-to-call thriller that came down to the final seconds.

It took nearly nine minutes for the first goal to be scored, as both teams had trouble holding on to the ball.

In an ominous sign of things to come, Bell received a yellow card for dangerous contact five minutes in and had to sit for two minutes, but the Golden Trojans couldn’t capitalize.

Finally, with 16:24 to play in the first half, Devon Sarazin broke the ice, finishing a feed from Stucker, beating Golden Trojans junior goalie Dana Sirois.

With 12:52 left, Sarazin struck again, this time on a free position.

After Budri made a huge save on a Pettaway free position, Kayla Sarazin set up Stucker and the Yachtsmen had a 3-0 lead with 6:26 to go before halftime, but Thornton Academy would answer.

With 3:15 remaining, Ouellette took a pass from junior Mackenzie Basile and finished to make it a two-goal game.

Then, with just 36.8 seconds to go, Ouellette scored again, from sophomore Catherine Henaire, and the visitors only trailed, 3-2, at the break. 

In the first 25 minutes, Falmouth turned the ball over a whopping 16 times and only managed eight shots, but six Budri saves preserved the lead.

The second half proved to be emotional and dramatic and featured a jawdropping finish.

With 23:36 to go, the visitors drew even, on an unassisted tally from Paradis, but the Yachtsmen came right back and with 22:24 left, Kayla Sarazin passed up top to Bell, who beat the defense before shooting past Sirois to put Falmouth back on top, 4-3.

On the ensuing draw, a collision ensued and Bell was given another yellow card and had to come off for another two minutes.

Thornton Academy couldn’t score and Bell went back on the field, but play was stopped and the officials explained that because she had gotten two yellows, she couldn’t play the rest of the game and adding insult to injury, the Yachtsmen were penalized for putting her back in the game, forcing them to be down a player for another two minutes.

The Golden Trojans couldn’t capitalize, as Budri robbed senior Amanda Cyr, but with 13:49 to go, Pettaway got free and beat Budri to tie the game again.

Johnson took her final timeout to settle her team, but Thornton Academy soon took control, forcing Falmouth to turn the ball over while getting good chances on the offensive end.

With 9:04 left, senior Paige LeBlanc was wide on a free position, but 29 seconds later, Paradis scored unassisted to put the Golden Trojans ahead for the first time.

WIth 6:37 remaining, Paradis struck again unassisted and suddenly, Thornton Academy was up, 6-4.

Seven seconds later, Cyr came off with a yellow card, but the Yachtsmen threw the ball away again and as the clock ticked under five minutes, the Golden Trojans set up in the offensive end and prepared to stall to milk the clock.

Instead, an unlikely source, freshman Gretchen Barney, forced a turnover and that led to a transition opportunity, as Oakes got the ball ahead to Smithwick and with 4:13 remaining, Smithwick fired the ball into the net to cut the deficit to one and give Falmouth a giant jolt of life.

“Chelsey has grown so much as a player,” Stucker said. “For her to make that shot, it shows that anyone can take hold of the offense.”

“A freshman, Gretchen Barney, stepped up for us and made a big play,” Johnson said. “When Chelsey scored, I knew we’d win. Our energy was down, but that got us going. It took a long time to find it, but we finally did.”

Kayla Sarazin won the ensuing draw and the Yachtsmen had a great look to tie it, but Stucker shot just wide.

Falmouth then gave the ball away and Thornton Academy was able to run the clock down to 1:43 before giving the ball back.

That was the opening the Yachtsmen needed and after getting the ball into the offensive zone, Kayla Sarazin earned a free position and before she even shot, her teammates celebrated, as if the goal was a certainty.

It turned out that they were spot-on, as Sarazin wouldn’t be denied, beating Sirois to tie the game at 6-6 with 1:07 to play.

“Kayla is another player who’s amazing,” Stucker said. “She’s such a key player this year and she’s only a sophomore.”

“Kayla’s an animal,” Johnson added, with affection. “She wasn’t going to be denied on that shot.”

The Golden Trojans were staggered, but they got possession on the ensuing draw and had a chance to win it, only to turn the ball over with Devon Sarazin pouncing it.

Falmouth transitioned to offense once more and after Stucker just missed with 26.3 seconds to play, the Yachtsmen retrieved the ball and with 13.4 seconds to go, Devon Sarazin fed a cutting Stucker and this time, Stucker’s shot was true, tickling the twine for a 7-6 lead.

“Devon is an awesome feeder,” said Stucker. “She’s always there. I was just right in front and it just clicked.”

When Kayla Sarazin won the ensuing draw, the win was all but assured and even though Stucker hit the post with a second left, Falmouth was able to celebrate its 7-6 come-from-behind triumph.

“It was just thrilling,” Stucker said. “We didn’t give up. Our motto this year is ‘Unfinished Business.’ (Thornton’s) a really strong team and we didn’t underestimate them. I’m glad we came out on top. Syd’s an awesome player. She knows how to run our offense and defense. Playing without her was something new, but we figured it out. We’re such a team, it doesn’t matter. We had a reality check after starting flat-footed. We came back with energy. We got it from each other.”

“I never felt like we were losing,” Johnson said. “We were frustrated and it was hard to stay positive, but we had senior leadership.”

Devon Sarazin and Stucker paced the offense with two goals each. Kayla Sarazin and Smithwick both had one goal, as did Bell, whose presence even after leaving the game paid dividends.

“Sydney’s a great kid,” said Johnson. ‘She took a minute or two by herself, then came back to the sideline and was as much a part of the team as anyone. That’s a huge testament to her character as a senior leader. That helped us a lot.”

Kayla Sarazin had two assists and Oakes, Devon Sarazin and Stucker all had one.

Budri came up big time and again with 13 saves.

“Mary made some big saves,” Johnson said. “She’s our saving grace.”

Falmouth won 8 of 15 draws (Kayla Sarazin won five of seven after replacing Bell) and had a 42-33 edge in ground balls (sophomore Caitlyn Camelio had a game-high eight, while Bell and Kayla Sarazin collected seven apiece).

The Yachtsmen overcame 29 turnovers.

Thornton Academy got three goals from Paradis, two from Ouellette and one from Pettaway. Basile and Henaire both had one assist. Sirois made two saves. Henaire had a team-high seven ground balls, while Cyr collected six.

The Golden Trojans overcame 21 turnovers and had a 27-14 shots advantage (19-9 on cage).

Back to business

While Thornton Academy is back in action at Gorham Tuesday, Falmouth looks to stay unbeaten when it plays at Wells. Cape Elizabeth pays a visit Friday.

“We’ll have to work hard every single game,” Stucker said. “We’ll go game by game, but I’m really excited.”

“This team knows it’s anyone’s game on any given day this year,” said Johnson. “Every day will be a battle.”

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

Falmouth sophomore Kayla Sarazin fights Thornton Academy senior Hannah Gorham for a loose ball.

Falmouth senior Olivia Stucker plucks the ball away from Thornton Academy junior Madison Bearden and Falmouth senior Devon Sarazin. Stucker later scored the game-winning goal.

Falmouth sophomore Kayla Sarazin ties the game with this free position shot with 1:07 to play in regulation.

Falmouth senior Sydney Bell races in and scores on Thornton Academy junior goalie Dana Sirois. Bell had to leave the game after receiving a second yellow card early in the second half, but her teammates managed to pull out the victory.

Falmouth senior Devon Sarazin races past Thornton Academy sophomore Morgan LeBlanc.

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