Falmouth no match for TA in battle of unbeatens

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Falmouth sophomore Tom Fitzgerald is hounded by Thornton Academy senior Cam Houde, left, and junior Anthony Bracamonte during the Golden Trojans’ surprisingly decisive 12-5 victory Tuesday night in Saco.

Carl D. Walsh / Portland Press Herald photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Thornton Academy 12 Falmouth 5

F- 2 0 3 0- 5
TA- 3 4 2 3- 12

First quarter
11:14 TA Levasseur (LeBlanc)
8:16 TA Edborg (Levasseur)
7:55 F N. Farnham (unassisted)
6:14 F Mainella (Fitzgerald)
4:40 TA Levasseur (LeBlanc)

Second quarter
6:16 TA Varle (LeBlanc)
5:52 TA Labreck (unassisted)
3:56 TA Labreck (unassisted)
1:27 TA Webb (unassisted)

Third quarter
10:25 F N. Farnham (Fitzgerald)
9:51 F Mainella (Fitzgerald) (MAN-UP)
5:35 TA Labreck (Levasseur) (MAN-UP)
3:04 TA LeBlanc (unassisted)
13.9 F H. Farnham (N. Farnham) (MAN-UP)

Fourth quarter
10:12 TA Levasseur (Labreck)
6:15 TA Levasseur (LeBlanc)
5:18 TA Edborg (unassisted)

Goals:
F- N. Farnham, Mainella 2, H. Farnham 1
TA- Levasseur 4, Labreck 3, Edborg 2, LeBlanc, Varle, Webb 1

Assists:
F- Fitzgerald 3, N. Farnham 1
TA- LeBlanc 4, Labreck, Levasseur 1

Faceoffs (Falmouth, 16-4)
F- St. Louis 16 of 20
TA- S. Edborg 4 of 20 

Ground balls:
F- 58
TA- 35

Turnovers:
F- 28
TA- 21

Shots:
F- 29
TA- 30

Shots on cage
F- 13
TA- 17

Saves:
F (Chapman) 5 
TA (Patry) 8

SACO—Beating Cape Elizabeth in a double-overtime thriller last month turned heads.

Downing host South Portland by 10 goals last week impressed as well.

But what the Thornton Academy boys’ lacrosse team did to visiting Falmouth in a highly anticipated battle of unbeatens Tuesday evening at Hill Stadium made everyone sit up, take notice and agree that the Golden Trojans are, until further notice, the state’s premier team.

Thornton Academy rode a balanced offensive attack and an absolutely smothering defensive effort to a shockingly decisive victory as it locked up the top seed for the upcoming Class A South playoffs.

The Golden Trojans came out with great energy and shot to a quick 2-0 lead behind goals from junior Thomas Levasseur and senior Noah Edborg, but the Yachtsmen came right back and drew even on goals from seniors Nick Farnham and Lou Mainella.

With 4:40 to play in the first quarter, Thornton Academy went on top to stay, as Levasseur scored again and the Golden Trojans’ defense didn’t allow another goal before halftime.

By the half, Thornton Academy’s lead was up to 7-2, as senior Nathan Varle, junior C.J. Labreck, Labreck again and senior Jack Webb all tickled the twine.

Not surprisingly, Falmouth tried to rally early in the second half when Farnham and Mainella scored again, but with 5:35 left in the third quarter, Labreck stemmed the tide and after senior Wyatt LeBlanc and Yachtsmen senior Henry Farnham traded goals, the Golden Trojans took a 9-5 lead to the fourth quarter.

Where they put it away in style.

Falmouth was held scoreless again and two more goals from Levasseur and one from Edborg brought the curtain down on an emphatic 12-5 victory.

Levasseur paced Thornton Academy with four goals and the Golden Trojans improved to 11-0 and in the process, handed the Yachtsmen their first loss in 11 outings this spring.

“This is huge,” said Golden Trojans coach Ryan Hersey. “We’ve never had an opportunity to say we’re at the top of Maine lacrosse. We’ve been in big games before, but these guys executed nearly perfectly tonight.”

“Credit to (Thornton),” said Falmouth coach Dave Barton. “They came out with a great game plan. It was just one of those nights.”

Something had to give

Falmouth and Thornton Academy have stolen headlines all spring, due their excellent play against all foes.

The Golden Trojans started with home wins over Gorham (16-7) and Deering (12-5), then downed visiting Cape Elizabeth in double-overtime (11-10) for their first signature victory. After beating visiting Massabesic (17-5), Thornton Academy won at Scarborough, 17-7, in a regional final rematch, then downed host Lewiston (15-9), visiting Kennebunk (18-2), host Cheverus (20-4), host South Portland (14-4) and host Biddeford (21-9).

The Yachtsmen barely broke a sweat in their first four games, dominating visiting Kennebunk (13-3), host Gorham (15-3), host Scarborough (14-4) and host Cheverus (16-6), before rallying to down visiting nemesis Cape Elizabeth, 14-8. Falmouth then pulled away to down visiting South Portland, 13-4, eked out a dramatic 8-7 victory at Yarmouth, then handled host Deering, 17-5, visiting Brunswick (10-7) and visiting Cheverus (21-7).

Tuesday’s showdown was the first between the teams since a 12-7 home victory for Falmouth way back on May 16, 2005. and just the second all-time.

On a beautiful night for lacrosse (80 degrees at the start), in front of a large and vocal crowd, Thornton Academy made the Maine lacrosse community sit up and take notice once and for all.

It took all of 46 seconds for the Golden Trojans to score the first goal, as LeBlanc set up Levasseur for a shot which got past Yachtsmen senior goalie Ethan Chapman.

After Thornton Academy junior goalie Ean Patry denied Falmouth sophomore Tom Fitzgerald, Edborg scored his first goal, from Levasseur, for a 2-0 lead at the 3:44 mark of the first period.

The Yachtsmen then settled in and answered with 7:55 to go in the frame, as Nick Farnham beat Patry top shelf and with 6:14 on the clock, Mainella finished a feed from Fitzgerald to tie the score.

The Golden Trojans were unfazed and would completely stymie Falmouth’s attack the rest of the half.

With 4:40 left in the first quarter, LeBlanc set up Levasseur for a goal and Thornton Academy never trailed again.

After Edborg hit the crossbar and Mainella missed just wide, the Golden Trojans took a 3-2 lead to the second period.

There, they opened things up further.

After Falmouth senior Kristian Valle hit the crossbar and Patry robbed Henry Farnham, LeBlanc set up Varle with 6:16 left in the half for a 4-2 lead.

A mere 24 seconds later, Labreck weaved through the defense and beat Chapman.

Then, after Patry robbed Henry Farnham, Labreck scored again, in transition, with 3:56 to go before the break.

An unassisted tally from Webb, a matchup nightmare for any defense, made it 7-2 with 1:27 remaining in the half and Patry preserved that lead with a late save on a bid from Falmouth senior Brendan Hickey.

“Playing from ahead was huge,” said Levasseur. “We can come out slow, but we knew we had to play fast from the beginning. It would have been hard to play from behind.”

“Shutting them out in the second quarter was huge,” Hersey said. “Ean made big saves and our defense did a good job closing down the holes quickly to take away what they like to do.”

In the first half, Yachtsmen junior Iyendae St. Louis won 10 of 11 faceoffs and the visitors had a 31-17 edge in ground balls, but Thornton Academy’s defense forced 16 turnovers and Patry made four key saves.

Falmouth got out to a fast start in the second half, but couldn’t sustain it.

Just 95 seconds in, Fitzgerald set up Nick Farnham for a goal to end an 19 minute, 49 second drought and the Golden Trojans’ 5-0 run.

After a slashing penalty on the hosts, Fitzgerald fed Mainella for a man-up tally with 9:51 to go in the third and the Yachtsmen were back within 7-4.

That’s as close as they would get.

After Fitzgerald twice missed wide and junior Reilly Tucker had a shot saved by Patry, the hosts went man-up and Labreck made Falmouth pay, taking a pass from Levasseur, making a nice move to elude a defender, then finishing to restore order.

With 3:04 remaining in the frame, LeBlanc scored unassisted to make it 9-4.

“Those goals were really big to allow us to separate,” Hersey said.

Falmouth got a goal back with 13.9 seconds on the clock, as Nick Farnham set up Henry Farnham for a man-up goal, but the visitors wouldn’t score again.

In the fourth quarter, Thornton Academy played like the champion it hopes to become and ended all doubt.

After a Yachtsmen turnover, with 10:12 to play, Labreck set up Levasseur for a goal.

With 6:15 left, LeBlanc set up Levasseur for his final goal and an 11-5 lead.

Fifty-seven seconds later, after a turnover, the Golden Trojans scored one final time, as Edborg finished unassisted.

Thornton Academy’s defense never let Falmouth breathe from there and the Golden Trojans celebrated arguably the biggest regular season win in program history, 12-5.

“We just wanted to come out and make a statement and show them who we are,” said senior defensive standout Cam Houde. “That was definitely the best defense we’ve played so far this year. We gave 100 percent and did what we had to do.”

“We’ve got a lot of young guys and veterans and we all stepped up to win,” Levasseur said. “So far this year, it felt like we didn’t have 48 full minutes of hard work and success and our coach preaches that. We knew we had to come out and play every single minute tonight and we did and were successful.”

Thornton Academy had six players score, led by Levasseur, who had four goals. Labreck added three goals, Edborg had two and LeBlanc, Varle and Webb each finished with one.

“We have to be humble enough to get the ball to the open person,” said Hersey. “We have eight or nine guys who can put the ball in the net, we just have to find them.”

LeBlanc added four assists, while Labreck and Levasseur each had one.

Patry made eight timely saves and got a lot of help from an unheralded defense.

“Our defense is always hitting us in practice and we give them our best too,” Levasseur said. “High intensity in practice translates to the field.”

“I believe we have the number one goalie in the state,” said Hersey .”He made huge saves. We have a first-team All-Conference guy in Cam Houde back. (Junior) Eli Arsenault has stepped up his game and our sophomore, Cam Cote, has been a great addition. He can put pressure on and strip the ball.”

Edborg had a team-high five ground balls.

The Golden Trojans had a 30-29 edge in shots (17-13 on cage) and overcame 21 turnovers.

Learning experience

Falmouth got two goals apiece from Nick Farnham and Mainella and one from Henry Farnham.

Fitzgerald had two assists and Nick Farnham added one.

Chapman made five saves.

St. Louis won 16 of 20 faceoffs and the Yachtsmen held a 58-35 edge in ground balls (Fitzgerald had a game-high seven and Hickey and junior Riley Reed each collected six), but were doomed in part by 28 turnovers.

“We knew it would be a battle,” Barton said. “We turned it into a track meet a little bit and that’s not our game. They’re super-aggressive on-ball, they get sticks in passing lanes and they love to defend every blade of grass. Ean made some big saves and that picked them up. We did things tonight we never do and they capitalized. We came out of halftime how we wanted to respond, but we couldn’t string anything together. They’re a deep team. They have a lot of guys who can run.” 

Playoff tuneup

Thornton Academy closes at Deering Friday, then will prepare for the rest of Class A South to try and come to town and prevent it from reaching the state final for the first time.

Good luck with that.

“We’ll celebrate this win tonight, but when we wake up tomorrow morning, our only goal will be to beat Deering Friday,” Levasseur said.

“It’s definitely a big achievement,” Houde said. “It feels nice. We have to keep giving the same effort we gave in this game tonight.”

“We’re on top, but when you’re on top, everyone is coming for you,” Hersey added. “The message I’m giving them is to stay humble and keep working for the next three weeks if we really want (to win a championship). Everyone comes through us now, which is nice.”

Falmouth has one game left as well, home against defending Class A South champion Scarborough Saturday. The Yachtsmen will then look to win Class A North for the first time.

“We’ll learn from this,” Barton said. “We have a way to go offensively and defensively. That was magnified tonight. It’s a process. We didn’t set out at the beginning of the season to be undefeated. We know what our goal is. The message after tonight is you can’t just talk about it, you have to be about it. We have hungry guys who will get right back at it tomorrow.”

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

Thornton Academy junior Ean Patry can’t come up with the save. Patry did stop eight shots.

Thornton Academy senior Cam Houde shields Falmouth senior Nick Farnham from a ground ball.

Thornton Academy celebrates one of its 12 goals.

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