While the Yarmouth boys’ lacrosse team was able to go on and win a state championship Saturday, the Falmouth Yachtsmen and North Yarmouth Academy Panthers weren’t as fortunate, falling one round shy of the ultimate game.
Falmouth culminated the finest season in its history with an 11-7 loss at top-ranked Cape Elizabeth in the Western B Final last Wednesday night.
NYA reached the Eastern B Final, but had no answers for the powerhouse Clippers and lost, 15-4.
A sign of things to come
Falmouth might have fallen short in 2009, but its time is drawing ever nearer. The Yachtsmen made many memories this spring, going 8-4 in the regular season. Falmouth enjoyed surprisingly easy wins over the likes of Kennebunk, North Yarmouth and Greely. The Yachtsmen also gave defending Class A champion Scarborough (7-5), eventual Class A champion Portland (8-7) and Cape Elizabeth (6-3) battles before falling short.
Falmouth wound up ranked second in Western B and avenged playoff losses from each of the past two seasons with a satisfying 17-5 win over visiting Greely in the semifinals.
The regional final was another story, but the Yachtsmen certainly made the Capers sweat. The game was tied 2-2 after one period and 5-5 at the half and the underdogs appeared to be in good shape. Falmouth’s youth and numbers had allowed it to pull away from most foes in the second half this year, but that wouldn’t be the case at Cape Elizabeth, as the hosts erupted for five straight goals to seize control. The Yachtsmen got as close as four goals twice in the fourth period, but drew no closer and saw their season end at 9-5 with an 11-7 loss.
Junior Kyle Lucas led the Yachtsmen with four goals in defeat.
“It was definitely much closer than the final score said at the end,” said Capers coach Ben Raymond. “They did a lot of things very well. They found some mismatches and went to them often. They finished in tight. Their goalie made some good saves early. They cleared the ball very well. They’re obviously well coached.”
“Today, we just made some basic errors,” said Falmouth coach Mike LeBel. “It’s going to come with experience. We can’t do everything right right now. I can’t expect them to. We’re getting closer and closer every game we play. Hopefully, if we’re in a similar experience next year, we’ll know how to handle it. Ninety-nine percent of the kids will be back.
“(Cape Elizabeth’s) experience came through. We got tired in the second half and made mental mistakes. Physically, we match up well with them. Skill-wise we match up with them. We were feeling very good about our chances at halftime. We always perform very well in the second half. Today, we just didn’t have it.”
Even in the wake of defeat, it was hard to describe the Yachtsmen’s season as anything short of brilliant.
“The kids deserve all the credit,” LeBel said. “(Assistant coach) Chris Richards deserves the credit. I show up and roll the ball out. They show up and play and do the work in the offseason. If they hadn’t listened to us, we wouldn’t have made it this far. It’s a testament to them and their efforts. I’m very proud of the kids. In my 15 years of coaching, these were by far, the most enjoyable kids I’ve had.”
Falmouth has just two seniors on the roster and figures to be even stronger in 2010.
As for NYA, it had its season ended by Yarmouth for the seventh time in the last eight years.
The Panthers were 7-5 during the regular year and wound up third in Eastern B. After downing No. 6 Gardiner (14-6) and No. 7 Freeport (14-9) in the quarterfinal and semifnal rounds, respectively.
NYA made the trip to Yarmouth last Wednesday night.
On June 1, the Panthers hung tough with the Clippers for three quarters before losing, 12-4. This time, Yarmouth controlled play throughout.
NYA, which scored the first goal, just 37 seconds in, found itself down 5-1 after one quarter and 9-3 at halftime. By the end of three it was 15-3 Clippers and the clock ran until the Panthers got one final goal from junior Gus Wellin in the final minute (snapping a 24 minute, 22 second drought), accounting for the 15-4 final score.
“I anticipated a close game,” Yarmouth coach Craig Curry said. “They got a quick goal. What I liked was that we didn’t wilt and we came right back and pressured them hard. This time, unlike last time, we dominated ground balls. That was the difference.”
The win was the Clippers 64th consecutive on their home field.
“It feels good,” Erickson said. “We’re not the team to get heckled by the alumni. I have faith that this streak will keep going a few more years.”
Junior Tom Gildersleeve led NYA with two goals. Yarmouth was paced by three goals and four assists from senior Rob Highland, three goals and two helpers from senior Peter Erickson, and three goals and an assist from junior Evan Henry. Junior goalie Cam Woodworth had 11 saves.
“It’s huge,” said Erickson. “We were undefeated in the regular season, but that doesn’t mean anything unless you’re undefeated in the postseason. The biggest thing was ground balls. We controlled ground balls and controlled the game. Our defense did a great job. Cam did a great job in the net.”
Sophomore Mike McCormack was the secret weapon, scoring two goals and adding two assists.
“It’s one of those stories you tell the kids that until the last day of the season we’re continually evalutating you and trying to put the best combinations on the field,” Curry said. “(Mike) bought into it. He’s done great for us. He’s not afraid to go in there and he’ll put it in the cage.”
“Coach said they might use me in the playoffs,” McCormack said. “I’ve been working hard in practices, getting shots off. I’m confident now. We were running on adrenaline. We didn’t want to show any mercy.”
NYA was pleased with its effort.
“We came out strong,” said first-year Panthers coach Chris Carpentier. “(Yarmouth’s) a very good team. Highland came out firing tonight. He hit shots from everywhere. My boys played good and hard for four quarters. That’s all I can ask. I can’t complain.”
The Panthers finished 9-6 and look forward to dethroning their rivals in 2010.
“It was a great year,” Carpentier said. “I had fun. From where we started to end up here is a treat. We only lose four seniors. It’s promising and exciting. Hopefully it’ll be a different story next time.”
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org