Falmouth knocks off Portland/Deering to advance to semifinals

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Falmouth senior Kayla Sarazin, right, celebrates her fourth goal with freshman Viviana Griffin during the Yachtsmen’s 7-1 win over Portland/Deering in Wednesday’s South Region quarterfinals.

Brianna Soukup / Portland Press Herald photos.

More photos below.

FALMOUTH—Saying Kayla Sarazin is an offensive-minded defenseman is a monstrous understatement.

Sarazin, a senior standout for the Falmouth girls’ hockey team, who was named earlier Wednesday as a semifinalist for the Becky Schaeffer Award given to the state’s top senior girls’ hockey player, put on an offensive show Wednesday evening against Portland/Deering in a South Region quarterfinal at Family Ice Center.

Sarazin got the third-ranked Yachtsmen going with her first goal 3-minutes, 27-seconds into the contest and they never looked back..

Before the first period was over, senior Reade Carmichael, freshman Eliza Chace and junior Jojo Kaserman added goals to help Falmouth put sixth-seeded Portland/Deering in a 4-0 hole.

Portland/Deering looked to rally in the second period, but Yachtsmen senior goalie Julia Bonnvie stood tall and Sarazin scored her second goal with 3:03 to go.

Portland/Deering got some life 19 seconds later when senior Emily Demers scored, but Falmouth would end all doubt in the third period.

Sarazin completed her hat trick with 9:48 to play and with 8:20 on the clock, Sarazin scored for the fourth time to bring the curtain down on an impressive 7-1 victory.

The Yachtsmen improved to 12-5-2, ended Portland/Deering’s season at 5-14 and in the process, advanced to face second-ranked Scarborough (13-4-1) in the South Region semifinals Friday at 5 p.m., at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham.

“There aren’t enough great things I can say about (Kayla),” said Falmouth coach Rob Carrier. “I do know she didn’t want it to be her last game and she showed that on the ice.”

The first step

Each team returned to the playoffs this winter, although they took different routes.

Portland/Deering, which got to the regional final last season for the first time in program history, started 2-2, then lost nine of 10 before finishing 5-13 after a 7-2 victory at York in the finale.

Falmouth, which lost in the quarterfinals last year, bounced back this winter to go 11-5-2, thanks in part to a 6-2 season-ending surge.

The teams met just once in the regular season, way back on Nov. 24, a 7-6 Yachtsmen victory in Portland, as Carmichael had a hat trick and junior Sarah Wentworth scored the winning goal with 16 seconds left, helping erase a 4-0 deficit (Portland/Deering was paced by two goals apiece from Demers and sophomore Caroline Lerch).

The squads had played once before in the playoffs, a 6-3 Falmouth win in the 2012 West Region semifinals.

Wednesday, the Yachtsmen came out stronger than they have all winter and quickly seized control.

Just 25 seconds in, Sarazin threatened to open the scoring, but Portland/Deering sophomore goalie Christiana Gannon came up big and made the save.

Sarazin wouldn’t be denied on her next opportunity, as with 11:33 to go in the first period, she scored unassisted, firing a rocket that Gannon couldn’t stop to put Falmouth on top for good.

“We’ve struggled with the first period this season,” Sarazin said. “Tonight, we got here 40 minutes before we were supposed to be here and it was good to have that time. We had a such tough game against them last time, when they had a 4-0 lead, so it was nice to have the first goal this time. We got up and we knew we couldn’t let up.” 

The second goal came with 8:27 remaining, as Carmichael rebounded home Kaserman’s shot (junior Sophia Blier was also credited with an assist).

Portland/Deering went on the power play with 7:59 left in the period, but 29 seconds later, disaster struck for the visitors, as Chace got the puck just inside the red line and flicked it on goal where it bounced in front of Gannon, then eluded the goalie and found the net for an improbable score and a 3-0 advantage.

That forced Portland/Deering coach Tom Clifford to call timeout, but it didn’t help, as with 2:24 remaining in the first period, Gannon stopped a shot by Carmichael, but Kaserman rebounded the puck home to make the score 4-0.

“We weren’t the same team that began the year,” Carrier said. “We’ve been building up and we wanted to make sure we had a really good first period. The girls came out with a lot of energy and that’s what we were shooting for.” 

Portland/Deering didn’t get dominated in the first 15 minutes. It had 10 shots, but Bonnvie stopped every one and she remained formidable in the second period, making nine more saves.

The Yachtsmen got their fifth goal with 3:03 to play in the second period, when after a long rush, Sarazin backhanded the puck into the goal.

Nineteen seconds later, Portland/Deering finally broke through, when Demers managed to score from in front (senior Madelyn Danse and Lerch had assists), but Portland/Deering, despite having a 10-8 advantage in shots in the period, couldn’t draw any closer and Falmouth took a 5-1 lead to the intermission.

“Julia played out of her mind,” Sarazin said. “We came into the locker room between the second and third (periods) and I said, ‘You’re playing amazing!” 

The Yachtsmen then put the win on ice on the power play in the third period.

With 9:48 left and Falmouth playing 5-on-3, Carmichael set up Sarazin for the goal which gave the standout a hat trick.

“I play midfield in lacrosse, so I think about playing both sides,” Sarazin said. “I lean toward defense, but if I have a chance to score, I’m definitely looking to shoot.”

Sarazin then tacked on one final unassisted goal for good measure with 8:20 left and the Yachtsmen went on to the 7-1 victory.

“It was a great effort,” Carrier said. “We had a game plan in place, the girls executed it and we played with a lot of passion. The girls were ready.”

Falmouth enjoyed a 36-24 advantage in shots on goal, scored twice on the power play and got 23 saves from Bonnvie.

“In a lot of games, there’s a lull in your play and you hope your goalie can step up and save you and Julia did,” Carrier said. “We don’t walk out of here without a six-goal win if Julia didn’t play like she did.”

Valiant effort

Portland/Deering got 29 saves from Gannon, but couldn’t score man-up and was too frequently stymied by the Yachtsmen’s defense and Bonnvie.

“I don’t think the score was how we played,” Clifford said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the effort we had. As a number six seed, we had nothing to lose and I thought for a lot of the first two periods, we took it to them, but Julia played great and made some unbelievable saves. My girls know we’ve got two premier scorers in high school hockey with Caroline and Emily. We had time. We needed to chip away.

“Looking at our schedule going in, we knew we had a much tougher schedule this year. We lost important seniors from last year and we lost Emma Merrill (who transferred). To the kids’ credit, from day one, their goal was to make the playoffs.”

Portland/Deering expects to contend again in 2019-20.

“We lose four seniors and it will be extremely hard to say goodbye, bu we had a tremendous turnout at the Portland/Deering open house for kids who are interested in playing,” Clifford said. “The goal every year is to make the playoffs.”

Scarborough awaits

Next up for Falmouth is a Scarborough squad which lost only to Cheverus/Kennebunk and Lewiston twice apiece and tied St. Dom’s. 

On Jan. 21, the Red Storm won at Falmouth, 2-1, scoring the go-ahead goal on the power play in the second period.

The teams have played five previous times in the playoffs, with the Yachtsmen holding a 3-2 edge. The most recent was a 3-1 victory for Falmouth in the 2017 South Region Final.

“I think it’ll be an exciting game,” Sarazin said. “I know we’ll come out excited. It’ll be interesting. We just have to stay focused.”

“Scarborough’s a formidable team,” Carrier said. “I’d say they’re probably one of the more balanced teams in the state. They have some really good players and they’re deep. I expect another really good game. Anytime you lose to a team by a goal, you feel like the next time you play them you can give them a tough game and that’s what we’re looking for.”

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

Portland/Deering Caroline Lerch and Falmouth freshman Eliza Chace lunge for the puck.

Portland/Deering sophomore goalie Christiana Gannon can’t stop the puck.

Falmouth senior goalie Julia Bonnvie prepares to make one of her 23 saves.

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