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- The Forecaster
FALMOUTH—Let the revenge tour commence.
Falmouth’s boys’ lacrosse team has three losses this spring and the Yachtsmen are eager to avenge all of them.
Saturday afternoon, on its Senior Day, Falmouth got its first chance to deliver some payback and instead of serving it up cold, the Yachtsmen played red-hot offense on a sizzling day and enjoyed a surprisingly easy victory over visiting Kennebunk.
After a slow start, Falmouth took the lead for good late in the first quarter when senior Bryce Kuhn scored with 1:16 remaining for a 2-1 advantage.
Kuhn and his teammates then erupted in the second period.
Kuhn scored four straight times and by halftime, the Yachtsmen had a commanding 8-1 advantage.
With the Yachtsmen’s defense putting forth one of its best efforts to date and sophomore goalie Liam Tucker stopping the few shots that got through, the Rams were never able to close the gap.
By the end of three quarters, Falmouth had an 11-3 lead and the Yachtsmen even induced a mercy rule running clock in the fourth as they went on to a 16-4 triumph.
Kuhn had eight, or half, of the Yachtsmen’s goals and Falmouth improved to 8-3, dropping Kennebunk to 6-5 in the process.
“Senior Night, getting revenge, there were a lot of emotions,” Kuhn said. “It was a combination of things that got the juices flowing today.”
Falmouth and Kennebunk are the two teams best equipped to dethrone Cape Elizabeth this spring, although both have struggled at times.
The Rams opened with wins at Fryeburg Academy (12-5) and at home over Falmouth (14-13) before falling at home to Cape Elizabeth (16-8). After holding on for a 10-8 triumph at Freeport, Kennebunk was humbled at home by South Portland (19-4) and fell at Greely, 13-9. The Rams got back on track with victories over host Cheverus (13-9), visiting North Yarmouth Academy (14-6) and host Lake Region (16-3), then stumbled at home Wednesday versus Yarmouth (10-2).
Falmouth routed Freeport in the opener, 22-2, then held off host Scarborough, 11-10. A 14-13 loss at Kennebunk followed, but the Yachtsmen bounced back and beat visiting North Yarmouth Academy, 7-3, host Fryeburg Academy, 15-2, and visiting Cheverus, 16-10, before losing at home to Cape Elizabeth, 19-11, and to Yarmouth (8-6). Falmouth got back on track with a 15-2 victory at Wells, then romped at Greely Wednesday, 17-4.
Kennebunk had won seven of 10 meetings dating back to 2003, including the one April 28, but Falmouth beat the Rams twice at home a year ago, 15-2 in the regular season and 12-9 in the Western B semifinals and Saturday, with the sun beating down and turf heating up, the Yachtsmen put on an impressive show.
Kennebunk almost scored off the opening faceoff, as Pat Gassman won possession cleanly, raced in and set up Donovan Connor on the doorstep, but Falmouth sophomore goalie Liam Tucker stopped him cold.
“That game could have gotten off to a much different start,” said Kuhn. “Liam stuffed him. He invited him to a block party. That set the tone. That could have been deflating, but that was a huge stop. He’s been playing well.”
The Yachtsmen weren’t able to do anything on offense until 3:54 remained in the first quarter, when senior C.J. Leighton made a nice move around a defender, then beat Rams goalie James Ross from the doorstep for a 1-0 advantage.
Kennebunk did pull even at the 2:20 mark, when Kyle Mooney (from Keenan Beaudette) managed to beat Tucker, but with 1:16 left in the first, junior Austin Wheeler set up Kuhn for his first goal and Falmouth took a 2-1 lead and was ahead to stay.
Tucker made a save late in the quarter on a bid from Pat Murphy and the Yachtsmen would go on and completely dominate the second period.
After killing a penalty, Falmouth stretched its lead with two goals in six seconds.
First, in transition, sophomore Henry Norris fed classmate Devin Russell for a goal.
Then, after senior Jack Mainella won the ensuing faceoff, he set up Kuhn for a rocket past Ross for a 4-1 advantage.
After Tucker robbed Jake Boothby, the Yachtsmen onslaught continued as sophomore Jack Scribner set Kuhn up for a laser top shelf with 5:31 to go in the half.
A little less than two minutes later, after a Rams’ turnover, Russell set up Kuhn for another goal and a 6-1 advantage.
After Tucker again stole a sure goal from Boothby, Falmouth sophomore defenseman Ayden Henson made a long run up the field, passed to Russell and Russell set up Kuhn for his fifth goal of the half and a 7-1 lead.
Then, as a punctuation mark, with just 1.7 seconds showing, junior George Gilbert finished a feed from Scribner and the Yachtsmen went to the break with a commanding 8-1 advantage.
Falmouth was confused early by Kennebunk playing a zone defense instead of the man-to-man defense it employed in the first meeting, but Yachtsmen coach Mike LeBel was able to get his charges to figure it out.
“Last time we played down there, they played man-to-man, but today, they slipped into a zone immediately and we weren’t ready for that,” Kuhn said. “Coach drew something up and we got it going and we started pumping them in.”
As they did to start the game, the Rams scored first in the second half, as Mooney rebounded a Boothby shot which had hit the post and finished with 9:47 left in the third quarter, to snap a 16 minute, 15 second drought and Falmouth’s 7-0 run.
Kennebunk wasn’t able to go on a run, however, as after a turnover, Russell set up Kuhn for a goal with 7:02 to play.
With 5:12 left, playing man-up, Norris fed Scribner for a 10-2 lead.
After a Scribner goal was waved off, Gilbert scored on a rebound with 2:27 to go to make it 11-2.
Late in the third, Graydon scored from Boden Beveridge man-up to cut the deficit to 11-3.
The Yachtsmen got the goal back just 29 seconds into the fourth quarter, as Kuhn scored his seventh goal, from Scribner.
With 9:21 remaining, again man-up, Russell set up Gilbert to make it 13-3.
Leighton scored his second goal with 7:29 to play (Scribner got the assist) and with 5:25 left, Scribner assisted on yet another tally, this one by Norris, for a 15-3 lead, which induced the running clock.
Kennebunk got a goal back with 2:33 to play, as Mooney scored (from Camden Connor), but 51 seconds later, Kuhn scored his eighth and final goal, unassisted, and Falmouth went on to a 16-4 triumph.
“We know we played a pretty rough game the first game, so coming back and beating them in this fashion is special, especially on Senior Day, with all the parents here,” said Falmouth senior defenseman Kohl Valle. “It was definitely a great game.”
“For some reason, it took us awhile to get going,” LeBel said. “I had a feeling we would. It just took some time. At the beginning, I think we just wanted to hit the home run pass. No one wanted to be patient and let the ball do the work. We forced the ball too early in the possession. We wanted to create looks without moving the ball. Then we moved the ball more and got their defensemen a little off balance. They ran a zone. Last time, they ran man-to-man. It always takes a little time to adjust to a zone. You can always figure it eventually, but it takes time. We started to see the looks.”
Kuhn led the way with a career-high eight goals.
“Almost all my goals were assisted,” Kuhn said. “People were finding me and I was lucky enough to finish.”
“Bryce has those games sometimes,” LeBel said. “With them running that zone, we were able to exploit the weaknesses of that zone. I showed the guys an adjustment and that opened up Bryce, of all people, to shoot. We have great outside shooters who can tee it up.”
Gilbert had three goals, Leighton two and Norris, Russell and Scribner one apiece.
Equally as impressive as the 16 goals were Falmouth’s 13 assists. Scribner had five, Russell added four, Norris had two and Mainella and Wheeler each had one. Mainella and freshman defenseman Brendan Hickey both had five ground balls. Tucker made nine saves.
“Having Liam back there is amazing,” Valle said. “You know he’ll play his game and do what he does.”
“(Liam) made big saves at big times,” said LeBel. “The score could have been a little different. I think we’d still win, but they could have had more goals.”
The Yachtsmen had a 35-33 edge in shots (24-13 on cage) and committed 18 turnovers.
Falmouth’s defense really turned heads.
“The defense is like a brotherhood,” Valle said. “We’re so much better than we were at the beginning of the year. We’re talking a lot more, which is something Falmouth has traditionally struggled with. We’re playing better together than we ever had.”
“The guys on defense did a nice job,” said LeBel. “They’re coming along. They’re working and listening and taking our suggestions. Every time they come to practice, they really work to get better. They’re communicating better as a unit.”
Kennebunk got three goals from Mooney and one from Graydon. Beaudette, Beveridge and Camden Connor had one assist apiece. Ross made eight saves.
The Rams won 17 of 24 faceoffs, as Gassman was successful on 16 of 23 occasions. Kennebunk also won the ground ball battle, 42-35, as Gassman had a game-high 15 and Donovan Connor collected seven. Kennebunk turned the ball over 20 times.
Kennebunk (third in the Western Class B Heal Points standings) closes at home versus Greely Wednesday, with the winner likely winding up third for the playoffs and the loser dropping to fourth or even fifth.
Falmouth, meanwhile, is going to be second to Cape Elizabeth and the Yachtsmen finish up Tuesday evening at the Capers, a team they haven’t beaten since the 2012 Western B Final, a span of eight games.
While Falmouth has nothing to lose, it hopes to produce another strong effort to carry momentum into the postseason, where it might just be the team most able to dethrone Cape Elizabeth.
“We’re going into the playoffs strong,” Valle said. “We’re going to make some noise.”
“We’ll try a bunch of different things and see what works and see if we can get it clicking,” Kuhn said. “We’ll learn from that game. It would be nice to win, but we’re locked into the two seed and they’re one. I feel we’re playing our best lacrosse now. We avenged this loss. Cape and Yarmouth are really good teams. We’ll have to play our best game to beat them.”
“We’re doing a nice job coming from where we were at the beginning of the season,” LeBel added. “We knew it was a process we had to go through. We took our lumps, but we wanted to teach it right and develop our system. Each week, we’ve put in a little more and we’ve gotten better and better. We wanted to be competitive with the top teams at the end.
“Cape’s going to be tough. They have so many options and they’re so aggressive defensively. They’re well coached. They’ve got the full package this year. They’re a fun team to watch and a nightmare to coach against. You want to be in those situations to compete and see what happens.”
Falmouth senior C.J. Leighton shoots and scores.
Falmouth’s George Gilbert shoots past Kennebunk’s Jesse Lacasse.
Falmouth senior Jack Mainella defends Kennebunk’s Tyler Dumas.
Falmouth sophomore Jack Scribner launches a shot.
Falmouth sophomore goalie Liam Tucker makes one of his nine saves.
Falmouth senior Kohn Valle defends Kennebunk’s Keenan Beaudette.
Falmouth junior Austin Wheeler fights Kennebunk Pat Gassman for a loose ball.
Falmouth junior George Gilbert is hugged by senior Bryce Kuhn after scoring a goal.
@ Kennebunk 14 Falmouth 13
@ Falmouth 15 Kennebunk 2
@ Kennebunk 11 Falmouth 8
Western B semifinals
@ Falmouth 12 Kennebunk 9
@ Falmouth 13 Kennebunk 1
@ Kennebunk 14 Falmouth 6
West Region quarterfinals
@ Kennebunk 10 Falmouth 9
West Region quarterfinals
Kennebunk 13 @ Falmouth 9
Kennebunk 14 @ Falmouth 9
@ Kennebunk 14 Falmouth 7
Falmouth senior Bryce Kuhn emotes after one of his eight goals during the Yachtsmen’s 16-4 home win over Kennebunk Saturday afternoon.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.
K- 1 0 2 1- 4
F- 2 6 3 5- 16
3:54 F Leighton (unassisted)
2:02 K Mooney (Beaudette)
1:16 F Kuhn (Wheeler)
9:08 F Russell (Norris)
9:02 F Kuhn (Mainella)
5:31 F Kuhn (Scribner)
3:49 F Kuhn (Russell)
2:10 F Kuhn (Russell)
1.7 F Gilbert (Scribner)
9:47 K Mooney (unassisted)
7:02 F Kuhn (Russell)
5:12 F Scribner (Norris) (MAN-UP)
2:27 F Gilbert (unassisted)
1:15 K Graydon (Beveridge)
11:31 F Kuhn (Scribner)
9:21 F Gilbert (Russell) (MAN-UP)
7:29 F Leighton (Scribner)
5:25 F Norris (Scribner)
2:33 K Mooney (C. Connor)
1:42 F Kuhn (unassisted)
K- Mooney 3, Graydon 1
F- Kuhn 8, Gilbert 3, Leighton 2, Norris, Russell, Scribner 1
K-Beaudette, Beveridge, C. Connor 1
F- Scribner 5, Russell 4, Norris 2, Mainella, Wheeler 1
Faceoffs (Kennebunk, 17-7)
K-Gassman 16 of 23, Dumas 1 of 1
F- Mainella 7 of 24
Ground balls (Kennebunk, 42-35)
K- Gassman 15, D. Connor 7, Brennan, Lacasse 3, Beveridge, Boothby, Doe, Graydon, Mooney 2, Beaudette, Hycle, Iadesma, Ross 1
F- Hickey, Mainella 5, Leighton, Scribner 4, Russell, E. Zinn 3, Gilbert, Henson, Masciangelo, Norris 2, Kuhn, Tucker, Valle 1
Shots on cage:
K (Ross) 8
F (Tucker) 9