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FALMOUTH—So much for getting caught looking ahead.
Falmouth’s girls’ lacrosse team opened what it hopes will be a championship run on a sweltering Saturday afternoon and while some thought that the Yachtsmen might be peeking ahead to a potential showdown with Kennebunk in the regional final, they reminded everyone of how serious they are as they gave full attention to visiting Waynflete in a Western Class B semifinal.
Falmouth beat the host Flyers by seven goals last month, but knowing Waynflete’s pedigree, the Yachtsmen made sure they came to play and they made quick work of the young Flyers by virtue of a nearly perfect first half.
Falmouth’s offense was, as usual, dazzling, but on this day, the defense got its due, as it held Waynflete without a shot in the first half.
A goal from sophomore standout Sydney Bell in the fifth minute put the Yachtsmen ahead to stay and as the first half progressed, they gradually picked apart Waynflete’s storied zone defense.
Bell and senior Leigh Bernardy both had two first half goals and senior Lizzie Goodrich, junior London Bernier and sophomore Devin Sarazin each added one as Falmouth opened a commanding 7-0 lead.
The proud Flyers carried play in the second half, but eight key saves from Yachtsmen junior goalie Sarah Hutcheon prevented them from getting close and Falmouth went to an 8-2 victory.
The win, the Yachtsmen’s first ever over Waynflete in the playoffs and their first ever victory over the Flyers in Falmouth, improved their best-ever record to 12-1, ended Waynflete’s season at 9-5 and set up that delicious showdown with No. 2 Kennebunk (12-1) in the Western Class B Final Wednesday at a time to be announced.
“We take everyone seriously,” said Bernier, who had a game-high four assists. “We knew how good Waynflete is. We came out strong. We’ve been working all week in practice and we got pumped up before the game. A team wins the game and we’re a team.”
Falmouth has stolen headlines since an Opening Day win at defending Class B champion Yarmouth and only a one-goal home loss to Cape Elizabeth (which was later avenged) blemished its 12-game regular season. Thanks in large part to a win at Kennebunk, the Yachtsmen wound up with the top seed in Western Class B and as a result, earned a bye straight into Saturday’s semifinals.
Waynflete went 8-4 in the regular season and got the No. 4 seed. Wednesday, the Flyers held off visiting No. 5 Cape Elizabeth, 6-4, in the quarterfinals to advance.
The teams had met three previous times in the playoffs (see sidebar, below), with Waynflete winning each. The most recent was the most memorable, as the Flyers rallied late to edge the Yachtsmen in a 10-9 semifinal round thriller three years ago en route to a state championship.
This May 13, Falmouth rolled at Waynflete behind six goals from Bell, but the rematch was expected to be closer.
Instead, the only thing hotter than the sun baking the players on the turf field was the Yachtsmen’s play in the first 25 minutes.
Falmouth set the tone just two minutes in when it moved the ball beautifully and Bell got a pass right in front, but her shot was denied by Flyers junior goalie Charlotte Majercik.
After senior Elle Fitzgerald was also denied by Majercik, the Yachtsmen went on top to stay when sophomore Olivia Stucker intercepted a clearing pass and hit Bell, who shot past Majercik for a 1-0 lead.
After Bernardy hit the post and Goodrich had a shot denied, Bernardy finished a feed from Bernier for a 2-0 advantage with 17:58 to play in the first half and Waynflete coach Cathie Connors called timeout.
It appeared to work, as senior sparkplug Helen Gray-Bauer won the ensuing draw, collected the ground ball and was about to race in for a shot on Hutcheon when a shooting space infraction was called, giving Gray-Bauer a free position. The whistle actually helped Falmouth, as its defense hounded Gray-Bauer into losing the ball and she never managed a shot.
In fact, no Flyer would produce a shot in the first half, thanks to the smothering effort of what the Yachtsmen like to call their ‘Bomb Squad.’
“We call ourselves the ‘Bomb Squad,’ because we’re a tight unit,” said senior defender and captain Angie DiPhilippo. “If we give up a goal, we still hit sticks and talk about what we need to work on.”
“The defense was amazing today,” Bernier said. “The ‘Bomb Squad’ is the best. I love them all.”
Falmouth went back on the attack and with 13:49 left before halftime, Bernardy had a shot that deflected in (Sarazin was given an assist) and it was 3-0.
After Majercik denied shots from Bernier and Sarazin, Bernier set up Sarazin for a goal with 9:59 left.
With 6:30 to go, Bernier threw a high pass in front, but Goodrich snared it, then beat Majercik to make the score 5-0.
“We just had to move (the goalie),” Bernier said. “We’ve worked on breaking the zone. You have to have double cuts and recognize when you’re open and we’ve gotten better at that.”
“We had a solid first half, very composed and very deliberate,” said Falmouth coach Kait Johnson. “I love playing against zones personally. I don’t run them, but I love the challenge of teaching the girls how to do it. They want to learn it and they were up for the challenge. It was beautiful to see how we picked it apart. The girls kept shooting and found the back of the net several times.”
Just 46 seconds later, Stucker set up Bernier for another goal and Connors called her final timeout.
It didn’t help, as the Yachtsmen got possession again with 5:10 to play before halftime, Goodrich set up Bell for a 7-0 lead, a score which would hold until the break.
Waynflete committed 13 turnovers in the first half and could have trailed by even more were it not for Majercik’s five saves, but the Flyers would show what they were made of in the second half.
Just 47 seconds in, sophomore Isabel Canning took her team’s first shot, but in a sign of things to come, Hutcheon made the save.
Hutcheon then denied Canning again, senior Christian Rowe twice and senior Haley Johnson.
“I’m so confident with Sarah,” said DiPhilippo. “She’s really come up big this season and improved so much. Without her, I don’t know where we’d be, to be honest.”
“Sarah was amazing,” said Bernier. “She saved us in the second half.”
Finally, with 12:21 to play, junior Nina Moore converted a free position to put Waynflete on the board.
Falmouth got the goal right back when Bernier threaded a beautiful pass to Bell, who finished with 10:07 showing for an 8-1 lead.
“London does so much for us on offense, defense, midfield,” Johnson said. “She’s an amazing player.”
After Hutcheon twice robbed Flyers freshman Izzy Burdick, freshman Laura Baginski finished a feed from Rowe with 6:08 to go, but Waynflete could get no closer and the Yachtsmen went on to celebrate an 8-2 victory.
“We have really good team chemistry,” DiPhilippo said. “Coming into playoffs, we emphasized being a team and we came out fired up today, ready to play.”
“We had a hard team keeping the intensity in the second half,” Bernier said. “When you come in with a lead like that, you can get ahead of yourself, but we kept the lead.”
“I’m very, very proud,” Johnson added. “This group of girls is so level-headed. We preach mental toughness, one game at a time and being a team. The postseason is tough because it’s all about mental toughness. We played a perfect first half. We faltered a little bit in the second half.”
Bell had three goals, Bernardy two and Bernier, Goodrich and Sarazin once apiece. The most impressive offensive statistic was that every Yachtsmen goal came with an assist, as Bernier had four, Stucker three and Goodrich one. Hutcheon made eight saves, all in the second half.
“Sarah played a great game,” said Johnson. “She stepped up when it counted.”
Falmouth had a 32-31 edge in ground balls (Fitzgerald had a game-high eight and DiPhilippo collected five). The Yachtsmen overcame 18 turnovers, forcing 21, and had a 16-14 shots advantage (14-10 on goal).
Waynflete got goals from Baginski and Moore and an assist from Rowe. Canning led the team with seven ground balls. Majercik stopped six shots. The Flyers won the battle of the draw circle, 7-5.
“Falmouth is an incredible team,” said Connors. “They’re super-strong. They’re talented. They’re phenomenal. I knew if we didn’t score before they did that it would be hard for us to come back. I tried to make changes in timeouts, but we just didn’t have enough time. We had opportunities, but our shots just didn’t go in. I’m proud of my girls for fighting to the end. We took a deep breath at halftime and came out strong. That showed our character.”
This was one of the youngest teams in Flyers’ history and as the season progressed, they became quite a force.
“Looking at our growth this season, it was incredible,” Connors said. “I love to win, but I love to be with the girls even more. It was a lovely group.”
Waynflete loses Gray-Bauer, the state’s most disruptive defensive force, defender Dana Peirce, attack Haley Johnson and Hannah Thompson-Greaves (who missed the season with a knee injury) to graduation, but a lot of young talent will return in 2016.
Since Connors took over the program in 1993, the Flyers have never gone three straight years without a championship (last year, they were ousted by Cape Elizabeth in the semifinals). That means the rest of the state should take them very seriously next spring.
“We lose four seniors, including Helen, who did so many things for us, but our young kids got some great experience this year,” Connors said. “Next year, we’ll hopefully have the same growth and have even more success in the playoffs.”
Falmouth has played in only one previous regional final (an 11-6 loss to Waynflete in 2010), but that one was contested on the road.
Wednesday, the Yachtsmen will host the regional final for the first time and hopes to advance to the state game for the first time in program history.
Getting past Kennebunk (which beat York, 13-10, in its semifinal) won’t be easy. Even though Falmouth beat the host Rams, 10-8 May 26, doing it a second time will be daunting. Kennebunk has won both prior playoff meetings, 14-6 in the 2006 quarterfinals and 11-7 in the 2007 quarterfinals.
“We have to work together and be a team because they’re amazing,” said Bernier. “We have the confidence. I think we have what it takes. It’s crazy, honestly. I wanted to think we’d get here, but it’s kind of unreal.”
“We’re in a really good place,” said DiPhilippo. “I think if we come out like we did today, we can do it.”
“We’ll focus on playing Falmouth lacrosse,” Johnson added. “It’s very cool to host. We’re excited.”
Falmouth sophomore Sydney Bell looks to go to goal. Bell led all scorers with three goals in the victory.
Falmouth senior Leigh Bernardy eludes Waynflete senior Helen Gray-Bauer.
Waynflete sophomore Isabel Canning shows her speed.
Falmouth senior Angie DiPhilippo defends Waynflete freshman Izzy Burdick as Yachtsmen junior goalie Sarah Hutcheon looks on.
Falmouth senior Elle Fitzgerald is defended by Waynflete sophomore Isabel Canning.
Waynflete senior Helen Gray-Bauer races up the field.
Waynflete junior Nina Moore races past Falmouth sophomore Sydney Bell.
Falmouth junior goalie Sarah Hutcheon makes one of her eight second half saves.
Waynflete junior Nina Moore scores her team’s first goal on a free position shot in the second half.
Falmouth junior goalie Sarah Hutcheon denies Waynflete senior Christian Rowe on a free position as sophomore Devin Sarazin (10) and junior London Bernier close in.
Waynflete junior Meddy Smith and Falmouth sophomore Sydney Bell fight for the ball.
Falmouth sophomore Olivia Stucker waits patiently as she searches for an open teammate.
2012 Western B semifinals
Waynflete 10 Falmouth 9 (@ Fitzpatrick Stadium)
2010 Western B Final
@ Waynflete 11 Falmouth 6
2009 Western B semifinals
@ Waynflete 12 Falmouth 4
Falmouth’s girls’ lacrosse team races to junior goalie Sarah Hutcheon at the final horn of Saturday’s 8-2 win over Waynflete in the Western Class B semifinals. The top-ranked Yachtsmen beat the Flyers for the first time in the postseason and for the first time ever in Falmouth as they advanced to the regional final Wednesday versus Kennebunk.
Ben McCanna photos.
More photos below.
W- 0 2- 2
F- 7 1- 8
20:28 F Bell (Stucker)
17:58 F Bernardy (Bernier)
13:49 F Bernardy (Sarazin)
9:59 F Sarazin (Bernier)
6:30 F Goodrich (Bernier)
5:44 F Bernier (Stucker)
5:10 F Bell (Goodrich)
12:21 W Moore (free position)
10:07 F Bell (Bernier)
6:08 W Baginski (Rowe)
W- Baginski, Moore 1
F- Bell 3, Bernardy 2, Bernier, Goodrich, Sarazin 1
W- Rowe 1
F- Bernier 4, Stucker 3, Goodrich 1
Draws (Waynflete, 7-5)
W- Gray-Bauer 4 of 7, Canning 3 of 4, Moore 0 of 1
F- Bernardy 5 of 12
Ground balls (Falmouth, 32-31)
W- Canning 7, Giguere, Gray-Bauer 4, Johnson, Pope 3, Moore, Rowe, Smith 2, Burdick, Majercik, Peirce, Vest 1
F- Fitzgerald 8, DiPhilippo 5, Costa 4, Bell, Bernardy, Stucker 3, Bernier, Hutcheon 2, N. Budri, Marsanskis 1
Shots on cage:
W (Majercik) 6
F (Hutcheon) 8