Greely’s Devlin O’Keefe soars for a shot late in the Rangers’ 14-13 overtime loss to Brunswick in Saturday’s Class B state final.
Falmouth’s girls’ lacrosse team mobs goalie Hannah Dubinsky at the final horn of the Yachtsmen’s 10-7 upset victory over defending champion Massabesic in Saturday’s Class A state final. Falmouth won a championship for the first time.
Yarmouth’s Eva Then scores a free position goal, the 100th goal of her career, during the Clippers’ 12-11 overtime loss to Cape Elizabeth in Saturday’s Class B state final.
(Ed. Note: For the complete Falmouth-Thornton Academy and Greely-Brunswick boys’ lacrosse and Falmouth-Massabesic and Yarmouth-Cape Elizabeth girls’ lacrosse game stories, with box scores and additional photos, see theforecaster.net)
Eight Forecaster Country lacrosse teams entered last week entertaining championship dreams.
When the dust settled, only one, Falmouth’s girls, raised a trophy to the heavens.
While heartbreak was the overriding theme, it was a week to remember, a week of unforgettable games which brought the curtain down on a memorable season.
After three straight regional final losses, a coaching change and a move up to Class A, which also includes the consensus two top teams in the state, Kennebunk and Masabesic, Falmouth’s girls weren’t expected to win a championship this spring.
But after a 3-2 start, the Yachtsmen closed on a seven-game win streak and as the top seed in Class A North, Falmouth earned a bye into the semifinals, where it downed No. 4 Windham, 10-5. Last Wednesday, the Yachtsmen hosted No. 2 Cheverus in the regional final and rolled to a 17-5 win, thanks in part to seven goals from Caitlyn Camelio and three from Kayla Sarazin.
That gave Falmouth a regional crown for the first time and sent it to Fitzpatrick Stadium Saturday to meet defending Class A champion Massabesic in the state game. The Mustangs had beaten the Yachtsmen, 11-9, May 7, but in the rematch, Falmouth played close to a perfect game to shock the world.
After the Mustangs got the game’s first goal, scores from Christina Oakes. Kayla Sarazin and Falmouth’s lone senior, Chelsey Smithwick, made it 3-1 Yachtsmen.
After Massabesic pulled within one, Camelio answered. The Mustangs then made it 4-3, but before the break, Falmouth got goals from freshman phenom Eva Clement and Jo Stucker to take a 6-3 advantage to the half.
“It was so important to get the lead,” Camelio said. “Coming out hard today and showing we could play with them changed the whole mindset of the game.”
The second half would see Massabesic make an expected run, but the Yachtsmen played beyond their years, never buckled and brought the curtain down on the finest season in program history.
A Camelio goal started the second half and after the Mustangs countered, Camelio and Sarazin converted free positions and with 17:39 to play, Falmouth was up by five, 9-4.
Then, Massabesic roared back, scoring three straight times, but after Yachtsmen first-year coach Ashley Pullen, who brilliantly orchestrated her team’s success from day one this spring, called timeout, Falmouth settled down and after goalie Hannah Dubinsky made a save on a point blank shot, Camelio iced it with her fourth goal with 3:47 to play and the Yachtsmen went on to a 10-7 victory.
“Words can’t describe it,” Smithwick said. “We worked hard every single day. We went out with nothing to lose and it paid off in the end. I’m so proud of this team. We got the Sportsmanship Award and won states. It’s pretty special.”
“It feels amazing,” Dubinsky said. “The best feeling I’ve ever felt. We played our hearts out each game. We played to have fun and to do our best.”
“We came out ready to play and we played for each other,” Sarazin said. “We were ready to fight.
Camelio led the way with four goals, Sarazin scored twice and won a dozen draws and Dubinsky stopped 10 shots as Falmouth finished 13-2, ended the Mustangs’ season at 13-2 and in the process, after so many near-misses, finally scaled the pinnacle and earned the right to be called the best team in the state.
“It’s truly incredible,” said Pullen. “This program was so close for so long. I was in disbelief this winter when I went to a basketball game and there was no lacrosse banner (on the wall). I told (athletic director James Coffey) he’d have to make some room at some point.
“Even if you’re the underdog, you have to believe in your team and make sure they believe in themselves. The mental side of the game is huge. We had the mindset of not being scared or intimidated by a high-powered team with a lot of height and talent. We played them close last time. There’s a lot of growth that has happened between May 7 and now.”
Falmouth only graduates Smithwick, but she will be hard to replace for her role on and off the field.
“Chelsey has been a leader since before the season even began,” Pullen said. “She’s worked behind the scenes about making sure we do the little things right. She has a commanding presence. I could count on her to keep people focused and on task.”
Everyone else returns, however, and some new players figure to make the 2019 Yachtsmen even stronger.
Now that Falmouth has gotten over the championship hump, don’t be surprised if another title follows.
“We’ll be basically the same team next year,” Dubinsky said. “We have to keep playing our hearts out next year.”
“I think next year will be exciting,” said Sarazin. “We have a lot of eighth graders rising up, so we’ll have fresh faces too. We can’t wait to play.”
“We’ll pick up where we left off,” said Camelio. “We’ll come back and try and get another one. It won’t be handed to us. We’ll have to work for it.”
“It’s nice to not have the bulls-eye for a year, but we’ll have expectations next year,” Pullen added. “That’s a new challenge for us. We do have a great group coming back.”
The Freeport and Greely girls and North Yarmouth Academy and Yarmouth boys all lost one step shy of the state finals.
The Falcons, who went 8-4 in the regular season, their best record since 2014, earned the No. 4 seed in Class C and downed No. 5 Boothbay, 18-7, in the quarterfinals, but last Tuesday, in the semifinals, Freeport couldn’t keep up with top-ranked Lake Region and lost at the eventual state champions, 19-8, to finish 9-5. Taylor Rinaldi scored four times in defeat.
“I’m happy with how we played in the first half,” said Freeport coach Marcia Wood. “But when Lake Region scored two, late in the first half, we got deflated and couldn’t catch up.”
Greely, ranked third in Class B, survived No. 6 Waynflete, 6-5, in the state quarterfinals, but last Wednesday, in the semifinals, the Rangers fell one goal shy in a 9-8 loss to eventual state champion Cape Elizabeth. Greely never led and a late rally came up just short as they finished 9-5.
“Season’s on the line, so you know you have to take some risks,” Greely coach Becca Koelker said. “Our defense knew that we were going to have to go out and pressure a little bit more instead of sitting back. I thought they did a fabulous job of executing that.”
NYA’s boys enjoyed their best season since 2013, going 8-4, good for the top seed for the Class C postseason and after eliminating No. 8 Gray-New Gloucester, 18-2, in the quarterfinal round, the Panthers welcomed No. 4 Waynflete last Tuesday in the state semifinals, but NYA lost, 18-6, to finish 9-5. Connor Clock scored twice.
“We’ve got a squad of 16 guys and we made it to the Western Maine final,” NYA coach Glenn Gorden said. “We did it on the backs of guys like Connor Clock, but that’s our one senior and we’ve got everyone else returning next year. Hopefully we can build on that.”
Yarmouth’s boys looked like the team to beat in Class B when they started 8-1, but the Clippers dropped games to Cape Elizabeth, Greely (in overtime) and Waynflete (in overtime) to close the year and that dropped them to the No. 3 seed. After handling sixth-ranked York, 17-10, in the state quarterfinals, Yarmouth went to No. 2 Brunswick last Wednesday for the semifinals.
In the teams’ first playoff meeting since 2005, the Clippers took an 8-4 lead to the half and had a 13-11 advantage in the fourth quarter, but after drawing within one, the Dragons tied the score with six seconds left in regulation, then crushed Yarmouth’s hopes 33 seconds into overtime, 14-13, to end the Clippers’ season at 9-5. Anders Corey had four goals and Gavin Hamm and Cooper May each scored three times, but it wasn’t enough.
“It was a hard-fought game on both sides,” said Yarmouth coach David Pearl. “Penalties hurt us in the third quarter. It gave them the momentum and a couple of goals. That really put them back in the game. Being a man down, then two, that took a lot out of us. Credit to Brunswick, they showed a lot of fight right until the end of the game. It was an exciting game.”
The Falmouth and Greely boys and Yarmouth girls were able to get to Fitzpatrick Stadium for the state finals Saturday, but wound up on the wrong end of the score.
Greely’s boys were up first, battling Brunswick in the Class B Final.
The Rangers went 9-3 in the regular season and as the top seed in Class B, ousted No. 9 Gardiner, 19-5, in the quarterfinals and fourth-seeded Messalonskee, 16-11, in the semifinals (Schuyler Wetmore had six goals, Ben Kennedy scored four and Andrew Lawrence added three) to reach their first state final in the Maine Principals’ Association-sanctioned era and their first in any era since 1996.
Greely had beaten Brunswick, 15-14, in overtime during the regular season and the teams would need more than 48 minutes again, but this time, it would be the Dragons who got the final goal.
The Rangers got off to a slow start and trailed, 7-3, after one period and 10-6 at halftime, but they dominated the third quarter and drew even, 10-10, on Tim Coyle’ goal midway through the frame. After Brunswick went back on top, Wetmore and Devlin O’Keefe scored to give Greely its first lead. The Dragons drew even at 12-12, but Lawrence made it 13-12 Rangers with six minutes to play. Brunswick again tied the score and despite some good opportunities both ways late in regulation, the teams went to “sudden victory” overtime.
There, Greely missed a couple good looks, then turned the ball over and that led to the winning goal as the Dragons won a state title for the second year in a row, 14-13, ending the Rangers’ season at 11-4. Lawrence, Wetmore and Ethan Fraser all had three goals, Jackson Williams won 23 of 28 faceoffs and goalie Sawyer Gagnon made 11 saves, but it wasn’t enough.
“The program has come a long way,” Greely coach Mike Storey said. “The coaches and players have worked really hard to build this program into what we envisioned. It’s taken a long time to get here, but a lot of good kids pushed the program in the right direction.
“We’re still a young group. An experience like this will only help us in the future. We have a strong sophomore class and junior class. We can’t get it back for the seniors, but we’ll come back and work even harder next year.”
Yarmouth’s girls suffered an equally painful setback in their Class B Final versus Cape Elizabeth.
The Clippers, who lost in gutwrenching fashion to Kennebunk in last year’s state game, went 10-2 this spring, earning the top seed in Class B. After advancing by virtue of a 14-1 quarterfinal round victory over No. 9 Brunswick and a 17-10 semifinal round win over fourth-ranked Messalonskee (Eva Then had six goals and Ehryn Groothoff added five), Yarmouth met the second-seeded Capers for the second time in five seasons on the big stage.
Groothoff put the Clippers up early, 2-1, but the next four goals went to Cape Elizabeth and the Capers held a 7-4 advantage at the half.
Trailing by four early in the second half, Yarmouth got goals from Meredith Lane, Greta Elder and Then to pull within one. Down, 10-8, with time drawing late, Then scored the 100th goal of her career, Lane found the net to tie it, then Lane set up Elder for an 11-10 lead with 3:32 to play. The Clippers couldn’t run out the clock, however, and Cape Elizabeth drew even in the final minute.
The game went to a three-minute, “sudden victory” overtime and after Yarmouth lost possession while its coaches were trying to call timeout, the Capers raced down and scored to win it, 12-11, ending the Clippers’ season at 12-3.
Groothoff had four goals, while Elder, Lane and Then each scored twice.
“Cape deserved to win,” longtime Clippers coach Dorothy Holt said. “We had ample opportunity to win it. You have your time to win the game and you have to win it when you have that opportunity. We didn’t win it. I thought we were evenly matched. It comes down to composure and we lost our composure and didn’t hold on to the ball.
“We dominated the second half. The girls played well, great team defense. I couldn’t ask any more from my team. Half of these girls weren’t on this team last year. My eight seniors, some of them didn’t see the field in last year’s championship game. I’m proud we made it here.”
Falmouth’s boys enjoyed a dominant 11-1 regular season, marred only by a 12-5 loss at Thornton Academy May 29. As the top seed in Class A North, the Yachtsmen earned a bye into the semifinals and after holding off No. 4 Lewiston, 14-10, they dispatched second-seeded Portland, 15-6, in last Wednesday’s regional final, as Nick Farnham, Aidan Gallup and Lou Mainella each scored four goals.
Falmouth, a three-time Class B state champion, took part in its first Class A state final Saturday evening, matching up with undefeated Thornton Academy.
The Yachtsmen would give the Golden Trojans a much tougher test than in the first meeting, leading, 5-2, after one quarter, 8-7 at halftime and 11-9 when Farnham scored early in the fourth period, but Thornton Academy scored five straight goals to get some breathing room and went on to a 14-12 victory, ending Falmouth’s season at 13-2. Farnham had four goals and three assists and Reilly Tucker scored three times.
“We gave it everything we had,” said Falmouth coach Dave Barton. “We told the guys it’s OK to be upset right now, but there’s something powerful about giving everything you’ve got in a three month season and these guys did everything we asked. I’m super-proud.
“We executed well offensively for two-and-a-half quarters. We didn’t play our best game a couple weeks ago and quite honestly, we still didn’t play our best game. We had a lot of turnovers on the perimeter. They’re an aggressive zone to begin with and they pressed out more. Credit to them.”
Even though there was plenty of disappointment in the wake of the loss, its first in four state game appearances, Falmouth had plenty of pride as well.
“It’s a talented group and we grew off the field as well,” Barton said. “It’s a powerful thing to get 30 guys rowing in the same direction.”
Lakes Region Weekly staff writer Adam Birt. Portland Press Herald writers Glenn Jordan and Taylor Vortherms and Times Record staff writer Eric Maxim contritbuted to this story.