Falmouth springs the upset! Yachtsmen shock Massabesic to win first crown

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Falmouth sophomore goalie Hannah Dubinsky is mobbed by her teammates at the final horn of the Yachtsmen’s 10-7 upset win over defending champion Massabesic in Saturday’s Class A state final. Dubinsky’s 10 saves helped Falmouth win a state title for the first time.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Class A State Final, June 16, 2018, Fitzpatrick Stadium, Portland

Falmouth 10 Massabesic 7

M- 3 4- 7
F- 6 4- 10

First half
23:00 M Pike (unassisted)
20:25 F Oakes (Stucker)
18:32 F Sarazin (Stucker)
10:02 F Smithwick (Clement)
9:00 M Forrester (Drain)
8:22 F Camelio (free position)
7:45 M Drain (free position)
6:36 F Clement (Sarazin)
1:22 F Stucker (Clement)

Second half
24:18 F Camelio (unassisted)
22:33 M Pike (Renaud)
21:02 F Camelio (free position)
17:39 F Sarazin (free position)
14:31 M Drain (unassisted)
10:40 M Renaud (Champlin)
10:24 M Benton (unassisted)
5:47 F Camelio (Clement)

Goals:
M- Drain, Pike 2, Benton, Forrester, Renaud 1
F- Camelio 4, Sarazin 2, Clement, Oakes, Smithwick, Stucker 1

Assists:
M- Champlin, Drain, Renaud 1
F- Clement 3, Stucker 2, Sarazin 1

Draws (Falmouth, 12-7)
M- Drain 6 of 16, Renaud 1 of 3
F- K. Sarazin 12 of 19

Ground balls:
M- 27
F- 39

Turnovers:
M- 18
F- 18

Shots:
M-23
F- 16

Shots on cage:
M- 17
F- 14

Saves:
M (Wasina) 4
F (Dubinsky) 10

PORTLAND—All spring, consensus held that the two best teams in Class A girls’ lacrosse were Kennebunk and Massabesic.

Consensus was wrong.

Saturday afternoon at Fitzpatrick Stadium, a state champion was crowned and while it came as a surprise to many, to the Falmouth Yachtsmen, it was culmination of what they believed all along.

That they were something special and with glory on the line, they left absolutely no doubt that they were worthy champions.

Facing Massabesic, the defending state champion, veteran of many big games, the Yachtsmen, with just one senior on their roster, playing in their first-ever state final, came out and demonstrated incredible poise in the first half and opened up a lead they would never relinquish.

After the Mustangs got the game’s first goal, courtesy senior Morgan Pike, scores from juniors Christina Oakes and Kayla Sarazin and another from Falmouth’s aforementioned lone senior, Chelsey Smithwick, made it 3-1.

After Massabesic junior Cailyn Forrester and Yachtsmen junior Caitlyn Camelio traded goals, Mustangs senior Madison Drain pulled her team within one, but before the break, Falmouth got goals from freshman phenom Eva Clement and junior Jo Stucker to take a 6-3 advantage to the half.

The second half would see Massabesic make an expected run, but the Yachtsmen played beyond their years, never buckled and brought the curtain down on the finest season in program history.

A Camelio goal started the second half and after Pike scored for the Mustangs, Camelio and Sarazin converted free positions and with 17:39 to play, Falmouth was up by five, 9-4.

Then, Massabesic roared back.

Goals from Drain, junior Skylar Renaud and senior Hallie Benton cut the deficit to just two with over 10 minutes still to play, but after Yachtsmen first-year coach Ashley Pullen, who brilliantly orchestrated her team’s success from day one this spring, called timeout, Falmouth settled down and after sophomore goalie Hannah Dubinsky made a save on a point blank shot from Drain, Camelio iced it with her fourth goal with 3:47 to play and the Yachtsmen went on to a 10-7 victory.

Camelio led the way with four goals, Sarazin scored twice and won a dozen draws and Dubinsky stopped 10 shots as Falmouth finished 13-2, ended the Mustangs’ season at 13-2 and in the process, after so many near-misses, finally scaled the pinnacle and earned the right to be called the best team in the state.

“It’s truly incredible,” said Pullen. “This program was so close for so long. I was in disbelief this winter when I went to a basketball game and there was no lacrosse banner (on the wall). I told (athletic director James Coffey) he’d have to make some room at some point.” 

At last

Falmouth has been knocking on the championship door for several years, but hadn’t been able to get past Kennebunk in the regional final round.

This spring, under the new three-class alignment, the Yachtsmen moved up to Class A North and clearly were the best team in that region, winning 10 of 12 games, losing only at the two defending state champions, Massabesic and (reigning Class B champ) Kennebunk, and downing everyone else to earn the top seed.

After earning a bye into the semifinals, Falmouth doubled up No. 4 Windham, 10-5, then had its way with No. 2 Cheverus, 17-5, in Wednesday’s regional final.

Massabesic, meanwhile, jockeyed with Kennebunk for top honors all spring. The Mustangs only lost once in the regular season, a one-goal setback at the Rams, but as the No. 2 seed in Class A South, after earning a quarterfinal round bye and ousting third-seeded Thornton Academy, 9-5, in the semifinals, Massabesic avenged its regular season loss and held off No. 1 Kennebunk, 10-9, in Wednesday’s thrilling regional final.

On May 7, the teams squared off in Waterboro and the Mustangs prevailed, 11-9, behind four goals from Pike (Camelio had five in defeat for the Yachtsmen).

Prior to Saturday, the teams had never met in the playoffs, but Pullen knew Massabesic well, having coached against the Mustangs in the 2016 state final when she was at Messalonskee.

While it was Falmouth’s first trip to the big stage, it was Massabesic’s third in a row and sixth overall. The Mustangs won Class A titles in 2007, 2014 and 2017 (see sidebar, below, for results).

Saturday, on a sensational late spring afternoon (82 degrees at the start), Massabesic’s quest for a fourth title was derailed by a Yachtsmen squad who played an exceptional game to shock the world.

Sarazin won the opening draw and Falmouth got a quick shot, but Oakes’ free position bid was denied by Mustangs senior Lydia Wasina.

Two minutes in, at the other end, Massabesic broke the ice, as Pike raced in and shot the ball past Dubinsky.

But that would be the Mustangs’ highwater mark.

After another Sarazin draw win, Stucker got the ball to Oakes and this time Oakes wouldn’t be denied, tying the score with 20:25 to play in the first half.

After Smithwick missed high, then was robbed by Wasina, the Yachtsmen went ahead for good with 18:36 remaining before halftime, as Stucker set up Sarazin.

Dubinsky then got in on the act, twice denying Drain. After Benton hit the post, Pike was sent off for two minutes with a yellow card and Falmouth capitalized.

After Wasina saved a Smithwick free position shot, Smithwick took a pass from Clement and finished with 10:02 on the clock for a 3-1 lead.

Massabesic answered with exactly 9 minutes remaining, snapping a 14-minute scoring drought, as Forrester scored unassisted, but 38 seconds later, Camelio scored for the first time, on a free position, to restore a two-goal advantage.

After Drain scored unassisted with 7:45 left, Sarazin set up Clement with 6:36 remaining and after another key Dubinsky save on Drain, Clement set up Stucker for a goal with 1:22 to go, giving the Yachtsmen a 6-3 advantage at the half.

“It was so important to get the lead,” Camelio said. “(Massabesic) had the momentum at the beginning last time. Coming out hard today and showing we could play with them changed the whole mindset of the game. We saw when the fastbreak was there and we saw when we shouldn’t push it. We were so good communicating. Everyone knew what to do and when to do it.”

In the first 25 minutes, Sarazin won nine of 10 draws and Falmouth enjoyed a 10-7 edge in shots on cage.

The Yachtsmen didn’t let up at all to start the second half and after Sarazin won yet another draw, Camelio got to a ground ball, turned and fired it past Wasina for a 7-3 advantage just 42 seconds in.

Massabesic answered in transition, as Renaud fed Pike with 22:33 on the clock, but after Dubinsky denied Drain again, Camelio converted a free position with 21:02 to play, making it 8-4 Falmouth.

With 17:39 left, Sarazin scored on a free position, but after coach Brooks Bowen called timeout, the Mustangs responded like champions and made things very interesting.

Drain sparked the comeback, scoring unassisted with 14:31 to play.

With 10:40 left, senior Logan Champlin set up Renaud for a goal which made it 9-6.

Just 16 seconds later, after Drain won the draw, Benton scored unassisted and Massabesic was within two, forcing Pullen to call timeout.

“Coach told us to stay calm and composed and we went out there and stayed calm and composed,” Smithwick said.

“I wrestled with calling the timeout, but given lots of factors, I decided to use it to try and stop the momentum,” Pullen said. “There was a palpable momentum shift and Massabesic is dangerous when momentum is on its side. We’ve worked all season long, with the young team I have, with staying calm, collected and poised. It was a pep talk of tapping into that.” 

After the Yachtsmen settled down and refocused, Dubinsky came up huge one final time, denying a Drain shot which could have cut the deficit to one with 8:40 on the clock.

After milking some time, Falmouth got an all-important insurance tally when Clement won a ground ball, then passed to Camelio, who finished for a 10-7 lead with 5:47 to play.

Sarazin won the ensuing draw and the Yachtsmen ran more time off the clock.

The Mustangs did get a couple more chances, but Camelio forced a pair of turnovers and at 5:09 p.m., the horn sounded and Falmouth’s varsity program, which began in 2001 and first won a playoff game in 2007, celebrated its 10-7 victory and its first state championship in raucous fashion.

“Words can’t describe it,” Smithwick said. “We worked hard every single day. We went out with nothing to lose and it paid off in the end. I’m so proud of this team. We got the Sportsmanship Award and won states. It’s pretty special. We’ve shared so many memories. It’s a great way to go out.”

“It feels amazing,” Dubinsky said. “The best feeling I’ve ever felt. We played our hearts out each game. We played to have fun and to do our best.”

“We came out ready to play and we played for each other,” Sarazin said. “We were ready to fight.”

Pullen was the only member of a team to previously taste a championship and she was thrilled to do it again.

“Two years ago, I left (Messalonskee) to take a new job down here and it was really hard to leave,” Pullen said. “To walk away after winning a championship was so hard. I didn’t know if I’d have a head coaching role again. Now, working at Falmouth as a counselor and a coach, I love to have the relationships I have with the girls.

“I came in with a focus on team and working together as a unit and not having a superstar do it all and peaking at the right time. We had our best two games in our last games, Wednesday and today. 

“Even if you’re the underdog, you have to believe in your team and make sure they believe in themselves. The mental side of the game is huge. We had the mindset of not being scared or intimidated by a high-powered team with a lot of height and talent. We played them close last time. There’s a lot of growth that has happened between May 7 and now. I’m terrified as a coach to go in as a favorite. As a coach, I’d rather have the close loss before. 

“It’s been a blast. The best part of my day, every day, is when I walk out of my office and go out on the field and have fun with them and also help them develop their individual games. It’s so rewarding.”

Camelio led the offense with four goals, while Sarazin scored twice and had an assist.

“Kayla and Caitlyn are such a gift to have on the field,” said Pullen. “I’d be lucky to have one player like that, let alone two, and when you combine them with Eva in the midfield, they’re scrappy and fast and they re-defend. You can trust them to make good decisions with the ball in their hands. The team looks to them to settle. They’ve been invaluable.”

Clement, Oakes, Smithwick and Stucker had one goal apiece.

Clement added three assists, while Stucker had two.

“We wanted to make sure we had the ball in different people’s hands,” Pullen said. “That’s been our mantra all year long. We have lots of threats. To have so many players contribute on attack is huge.”

Dubinsky made 10 key saves.

“I was very nervous, but when I get a shot, my mind goes completely blank and that’s how I stop it,” Dubinsky said. “The defense helps me a lot. If I give up a goal, they make sure I don’t get down on myself.” 

“Hannah did a great job,” said Sarazin. “I don’t know how she does it. She stops everything you throw at her.”

“Hannah has come so far this season,” Pullen added. “Last year, she played behind Mary Budri, who was an incredible keeper. I think Hannah came into the season really worried she couldn’t fill that role, but we’ve worked on her with her mental game all season. She’s really taken off in the playoffs. She played confident and made huge saves. Huge.” 

Sarazin won 12 of 19 draws.

“Eva and Caitlyn are so fast (on the wing) on the draw,” Sarazin said. “I know I can trust them to win it if I get the ball to them.”

The Yachtsmen had a 39-27 advantage in ground balls (Clement had a game-high 11, Sarazin collected nine and Camelio had seven).

Falmouth only turned the ball over 18 times in a very stressful setting.

For the Mustangs, Drain and Pike each scored twice, while Benton, Forrester and Renaud had one goal apiece.

Champlin, Drain and Renaud had assists.

Wasina made four saves.

Benton had a team-high five ground balls, while Drain collected four.

Massabesic had a 23-16 shots advantage (17-14 on cage) and turned the ball over 18 times.

Bowen could only tip his cap to Falmouth after the game.

“I wouldn’t say we were caught by surprise,” Bowen said. “(Falmouth’s) a quality program. They’re well-coached, well-skilled, great athletes. They were well-prepared. They do what they do and they do it well. They’re good in the draw circle. They handle the ball well and they get up and down the field well. We had some forced turnovers and unforced turnovers and that led to opportunities for them at the other end. Those are two-goal swings.”

Twice as nice

Falmouth only graduates Smithwick, but she will be hard to replace for her role on and off the field.

“Chelsey has been a leader since before the season even began,” Pullen said. “She’s worked behind the scenes about making sure we do the little things right. She has a commanding presence. I could count on her to keep people focused and on task.”

Everyone else returns, however, and some new players figure to make the 2019 Yachtsmen even stronger.

Now that Falmouth has gotten over the championship hump, don’t be surprised if another title follows.

“We’ll be basically the same team next year,” Dubinsky said. “We have to keep playing our hearts out next year.”

“I think next year will be exciting,” said Sarazin. “We have a lot of eighth graders rising up, so we’ll have fresh faces too. We can’t wait to play.”

“We’ll pick up where we left off,” said Camelio. “We’ll come back and try and get another one. It won’t be handed to us. We’ll have to work for it.”

“It’s nice to not have the bulls-eye for a year, but we’ll have expectations next year,” Pullen added. “That’s a new challenge for us. We do have a great group coming back.

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

Falmouth junior Kayla Sarazin, who excelled in the draw circle and scored twice, possesses the ball.

Falmouth sophomore goalie Hannah Dubinsky makes a timely save.

Falmouth junior Christina Oakes scoops up a ground ball in front of Massabesic senior Abigail Chaves (3) and senior Kaylee St. Laurent.

Falmouth sophomore Emily Hamilton looks to pass as Massabesic senior Kaylee St. Laurent defends.

Falmouth junior Caitlyn Camelio shoots and scores.

Falmouth junior Jo Stucker tries to shoot past Massabesic junior Sarah DesVergnes.

Falmouth freshman phenom Eva Clement battles Massabesic senior Abigail Chaves for the ball.

Falmouth senior Chelsey Smithwick is defended by Massabesic junior Emily Stinson.

Falmouth junior Natalie Birkel defends Massabesic senior Morgan Pike.

Falmouth junior Jo Stucker hugs classmate Caitlyn Camelio after one of Camelio’s four goals.

Falmouth’s lone senior, Chelsey Smithwick, and her teammates rush over to the Yachtsmen’s cheering section to show off the new championship trophy.

Your new Class A girls’ lacrosse state champions.

Previous Falmouth game stories

@ Falmouth 11 Biddeford 8

@ Kennebunk 10 Falmouth 3

Falmouth 13 @ Scarborough 6

@ Falmouth 8 Waynflete 7

@ Falmouth 7 Thornton Academy 4

Previous Massabesic state games

2017
Class A
Massabesic 13 Messalonskee 4

2016
Class A
Messalonskee 7 Massabesic 6 (OT)

2014
Class A
Massabesic 9 Cheverus 8 (5 OT)

2013
Class A
Cheverus 8 Massabesic 7

2007
Class A
Massabesic 9 Brunswick 7

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