Falmouth handles Cheverus in crossover battle

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FALMOUTH—While Falmouth’s boys’ lacrosse team might be lacking a big-name, high-scoring “superstar” of yore, this edition is proving that it’s quite capable of putting the ball in the net.

Thanks to a bevy of talents.

Thursday evening, the Yachtsmen hosted Cheverus in a crossover contest and it was abundantly clear from the get-go that there would be no shortage of offense.

The first quarter alone featured nine goals and Falmouth shot to a 3-0 lead it would never relinquish. Five different Yachtsmen scored as the hosts took a 6-3 advantage, but an illegal stick penalty to start the second period gave the Stags an opportunity to answer.

Cheverus scored twice with the three-minute man-advantage, but Falmouth, thanks to a pair of tallies from rising star sophomore Jack Scribner, did the same and by halftime, the Yachtsmen had stretched their lead to 10-6.

Two quick goals from senior Bryce Kuhn to start the second half provided breathing room, a late goal from Scribner made it 13-7 after three periods and Falmouth never looked back from there and went on to a 16-10 triumph.

Kuhn and Scribner led the way with five goals apiece and sophomore goalie Liam Tucker was lost in shuffle, yet made 10 clutch saves, as the Yachtsmen improved to 5-1 and dropped the Stags to 2-3 in the process.

“One of the best things about this team is we have a balanced offense,” said Kuhn. “We don’t really have any superstars, but we have players all over the field who can finish. We’ve worked a lot of on our zone offense. Cheverus runs a good zone defense, but we figured it out.”

Two hopefuls

Cheverus and Falmouth both find themselves in the position of being less highly touted than regional favorites Brunswick and Cape Elizabeth, respectively, but each team could be a factor in June.

The Stags, whose two-year Eastern A reign came to a close last spring after falling to Brunswick in the regional final, rolled over Deering in its opener, 18-4, then lost at defending Class A champion South Portland, 15-6. After a 14-9 home loss to Gorham, Cheverus got back in the win column Tuesday, 19-7, at Bonny Eagle.

The Yachtsmen, who lost to Cape Elizabeth in the Western B Final for the second consecutive season last spring, romped over Freeport in the opener, 22-2, then held off host Scarborough, 11-10. A 14-13 loss at Kennebunk followed, which proved to be a wakeup call.

“That was a tough loss,”Kuhn said. “We had to learn from it. We learned composure. We had to come back for the next game.”

Falmouth then beat visiting North Yarmouth Academy, 7-3, and host Fryeburg Academy, 15-2.

The teams had only met three times previously (see sidebar, below), with the Yachtsmen holding a 2-1 edge. Last year, after not meeting for five seasons, Falmouth edged host Cheverus, 12-10.

Thursday night, the Yachtsmen never trailed and managed to outscore the Stags.

It took all of 44 seconds for Falmouth to take the lead for good as junior George Gilbert scored unassisted.

With 9:19 to play in the first quarter, sophomore Devin Russell set up senior C.J. Leighton for a second goal and the Yachtsmen were up, 2-0, forcing Cheverus coach Bill Bodwell to call timeout.

The Stags almost cut their deficit in half, but senior standout Thomas Lawson’s shot hit the post.

At the other end, sophomore Henry Norris set up Kuhn for his first goal and a 3-0 advantage.

Cheverus finally broke through with 4:47 remaining, when Lawson took a pass from senior James Kane and beat Tucker man-up.

Falmouth answered right back man-up, when Leighton set up Scribner for his goal, with Scribner firing a shot past Stags sophomore goalie Sean Walsh.

Back came Cheverus, as senior Nick Schleh scored unassisted and after winning the ensuing faceoff, junior Alex Nason raced and in scored unassisted to cut the deficit to just one, 4-3.

With 1:17 left in the first, junior Austin Wheeler set up Gilbert for his second goal and 25 seconds later, Leighton set up Russell for a goal and a 6-3 lead.

In between the first and second periods, Bodwell replaced Walsh with freshman Colby Benway and the officials determined Gilbert’s stick was illegal. The stick was removed from game and Gilbert was forced to the sidelines for a three-minute, locked-in penalty, which seemingly gave the Stags a great chance to rally.

Just 16 seconds into the new quarter, Lawson scored unassisted, but after senior Jack Mainella won the ensuing faceoff, Kuhn set up Scribner for a goal and with 10:45 left in the half, Scribner scored again and Falmouth was up, 8-4.

“That was huge,” said Scribner. “They had the momentum since a penalty like that kills a team, but we took it away.”

“(Jack) was level-headed and just finished,” Kuhn said.

“Jack has been playing great, figuring out how to play at the varsity level,” added Yachtsmen coach Mike LeBel. 

Cheverus did get a second man-up goal when Schleh finished a feed from senior Fritz Gemmer at the 9:16 mark and just after the penalty expired, Schleh scored unassisted to make it 8-6, but with 5:55 left in the half, Scribner scored unassisted and with 3:58 remaining, in transition, Russell set up Kuhn for a goal which gave the Yachtsmen a 10-6 advantage at halftime.

“We had a great opportunity (being man-up),” Bodwell lamented. “It would have been nice to come out of that closer.”

Falmouth got some separation in the third quarter.

Sixty-seven seconds in, Kuhn took a pass from Wheeler and beat Benway top shelf. With 9:47 left in the period, Kuhn scored again, from Leighton, and the Yachtsmen were up six.

Neither team scored for over six minutes until Kane finished a feed from freshman Max Coffin at the 3:10 mark for the Stags’ first goal in 17 minutes, 49 seconds.

After Kuhn hit the post, Leighton set up Scribner for a goal inside the final minute and Falmouth held a 13-7 lead with 12 minutes to play.

In the fourth quarter, the Yachtsmen scored 65 seconds in, as Scribner assisted Leighton. After Schleh scored unassisted and Schleh scored man-up (from freshman Jesse Pierce), Kuhn scored a man-up goal (from Scribner).

Cheverus’ final goal came with 2:14 to play, when Lawson scored unassisted. With 1:25 to go, Gilbert finished after a nice dodge and that brought the curtain down on Falmouth’s 16-10 triumph.

“I knew they’d come in with a lot of firepower,” LeBel said. “Lawson and Schleh are legit players. Fortunately for us, they just weren’t very deep offensively. Those two guys are exceptional, but if they got tired, and I think Lawson did, they ran out of steam. We’re getting healthy. We’re getting experience, which is what we lacked coming into the season.”

Five different players scored in the win, as Kuhn and Scribner both had five goals to lead the way.

“Coach had us in the right spot,” Scribner said. “We have a lot of young kids who are getting in on the action. The captains are leading us. I’m loving it. I’m happy to be out here.”

Gilbert added three goals, Leighton had two and Russell one. Leighton had four assists, while Russell, Scribner and Wheeler had two apiece and Kuhn and Norris one each.

“My main concern going into this game was could we score enough goals?” LeBel said. “I knew they’d score. It was good balance. We have nice balance with our scorers. That’s promising.”

The Yachtsmen held a 16-13 edge on faceoffs, with Mainella prevailing on 14 of 25 opportunities. Gilbert, Kuhn and Russell shared team honors with four ground balls apiece. Tucker made 10 key stops.

“Liam’s a phenomenal goalie,” LeBel said. “We just need to give him more help. We were missing (freshman) Brendan Hickey, probably our best one-on-one defenseman. I don’t think Schleh would have gotten five goals if Hickey was on him. He’s that talented and productive in the clearing game. He’s only a freshman and will only get better. We started from scratch after the Kennebunk game and taught the kids how to play defense and it’s helped. We lacked defensive experience. I knew we’d score goals.”

Falmouth held a 45-34 shots advantage (31-20 on cage) and only turned the ball over 12 times.

For Cheverus, Schleh had five goals, Lawson three and Kane and Nason one each. Coffin, Gemmer, Kane and Pierce each had one assist. Benway stopped 11 shots, while Walsh had four saves. Gemmer had a game-high seven ground balls (the Stags held a 35-30 advantage), while freshman Michael Hatch collected five. Hatch also won six of nine faceoffs. Cheverus committed 14 turnovers.

“I’m very pleased,” Bodwell said. “There were times I looked out and we had five freshmen out there. We’re getting better. The defense got better as the game went on. I’m happy with how we played.”

Back in class

Cheverus hopes to bounce back Wednesday when it plays at Scarborough. A home tilt versus Kennebunk looms May 16.

“We have a shot in both games, but we have to play well,” Bodwell said.

Falmouth’s next two games are at home, but both are doozies, as two-time reigning Class B champion Cape Elizabeth pays a visit Tuesday and Yarmouth comes to town May 19.

“(Cape’s) a great team,” said Kuhn. “They have great talent and a great coach. We’d love to crash that party. We have a great shot coming off this win. Hopefully we’ll be ready.”

“We have tough competition coming up,” Scribner said. “Everything needs to get better.”

“We have to play the number one team in Massachusetts, Acton-Boxboro, in a scrimmage Saturday,” LeBel added. “They were number one in Massachusetts last year. We’ll play them and that will help us get ready for Cape. It will teach us a lot.

“It’s not about how we’re playing now. We have to adopt Cape’s philosophy, where we look to peak at the end of the season. We might hit a couple roadblocks, but the kids are working hard and trying to improve.”

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

Cheverus junior Alex Nason defends Falmouth senior Bryce Kuhn.

Falmouth sophomore Jack Scribner beats Cheverus freshman goalie Colby Benway for one of his five goals.

Cheverus senior Thomas Lawson shoots on Falmouth sophomore goalie Liam Tucker.

Falmouth senior Bryce Kuhn, who had five goals, is defended by Cheverus sophomore George Conzelman.

Cheverus senior Fritz Gemmer races up the field.

Cheverus freshman goalie Colby Benway keeps a wary eye on Falmouth sophomore C.J. Leighton.

Falmouth senior C.J. Leighton (2), sophomore Jack Scribner (14) and sophomore Devin Russell congratulate senior Bryce Kuhn after a goal.

Previous Falmouth-Cheverus results

Falmouth 12 @ Cheverus 10

@ Falmouth 9 Cheverus 6

@ Cheverus 6 Falmouth 5

Sidebar Elements

Falmouth senior Bryce Kuhn (27) and C.J. Leighton (left) congratulate sophomore Devin Russell after a goal during the Yachtsmen’s 16-10 home win over Cheverus Thursday.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.


Falmouth 16 Cheverus 10

C- 3 3 1 3- 10
F- 6 4 3 3- 16

First quarter
11:16 F Gilbert (unassisted)
9:19 F Leighton (Russell)
5:55 F Kuhn (Norris)
4:47 C Lawson (Kane) (MAN-UP)
3:30 F Scribner (Leighton) (MAN-UP)
2:51 C Schleh (unassisted)
2:45 C Nason (unassisted)
1:17 F Gilbert (Wheeler)
52.7 F Russell (Leighton)

Second quarter
11:44 C Lawson (unassisted) (MAN-UP)
11:12 F Scribner (Kuhn) (MAN-DOWN)
10:45 F Scribner (unassisted) (MAN-DOWN)
9:16 C Schleh (Gemmer) (MAN-UP)
8:59 C Schleh (unassisted)
5:55 F Scribner (unassisted)
3:58 F Kuhn (Russell)

Third quarter
10:53 F Kuhn (Wheeler)
9:47 F Kuhn (Leighton)
3:10 C Kane (Coffin)
40.4 F Scribner (Leighton)

Fourth quarter
10:55 F Leighton (Scribner)
10:31 C Schleh (unassisted)
9:09 C Schleh (Pierce) (MAN-UP)
2:38 F Kuhn (Scribner) (MAN-UP)
2:14 C Lawson (unassisted)
1:25 F Gilbert (unassisted)

C- Schleh 5, Lawson 3, Kane, Nason 1
F- Kuhn, Scribner 5, Gilbert 3, Leighton 2, Russell 1

C- Coffin, Gemmer, Kane, Pierce 1
F- Leighton 4, Russell, Scribner, Wheeler 2, Kuhn, Norris 1

Faceoffs (Falmouth, 16-13)
C- Nason 3 of 12, Hatch 6 of 9, Gemmer 4 of 8
F- Mainella  14 of 25, Leighton 2 of 4

Ground balls (Cheverus, 35-30)
C- Gemmer 7, Hatch 5, Lawson 4, Coffin, Nason, Thomas 3, Kane, Pierce 2, Benway, Cawley, Conley, Griffin, Ly, Walsh 1
F- Gilbert, Kuhn, Russell 4, Ciraulo, Leighton, Mainella, Masciangelo, Scribner, Tucker, Wheeler, E. Zinn 2, Norris, Valle 1

C- 14
F- 12

C- 34
F- 45

Shots on cage:
C- 20
F- 31

C (Walsh) 4 (Benway) 11
F (Tucker) 10

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