Local girls’ lacrosse teams ran the gamut of emotions last week in two memorable rounds of playoffs.
While Freeport reached a level not before seen in the Maine Principals’ Association-sanctioned era and Yarmouth reached the regional final for the ninth year in a row, Greely bowed out in the semifinals, as did a Falmouth squad which had legitimate hopes of winning it all.
In Eastern B, Freeport went 6-6 and finished first in the Heal Points standings for the first time. The Falcons earned a bye into the semifinals where they hosted No. 5 Gardiner, a team they had never met.
Freeport wasted little time taking care of business as it raced to an 8-2 lead and outscored the Tigers by the same margin in the second half en route to a 16-4 triumph. Jess Hench had four goals, while Bethanie Knighon and Alex Mitch added three apiece. Molly Lane made four saves and coach Karin Kurry credited Megan Peacock and Katie Turner for strong defensive play.
“I’m so excited by how the team played,” said Kurry. Every girl got a chance to play and everyone played their best.”
Yarmouth, the defending state champion, finished second with a 6-6 mark and also cruised in its semifinal, dispatching visiting No. 3 Morse, 17-4. The Clippers led the Shipbuilders 9-2 by halftime and never looked back as Grace O’Donnell erupted for six goals. Jeanna Lowery and Ricki Pierce each finished with three. Jordan Brown made nine saves in her playoff debut.
“It was a huge confidence builder for these girls,” said Yarmouth coach Dorothy Holt. “Grace had her best game. We spread the offense around. The defense played great and Jordie came up with some huge saves early. She’s really growing as a goalie. The three senior captains, Caitlin, Claudia and Jeanna, have really brought everybody along. The girls have worked really hard and the hard work’s paying off.”
The Falcons and Clippers didn’t play in the regular season. The last playoff meeting came in the 2009 semifinals (a 16-3 Yarmouth triumph).
“We’re excited to play Yarmouth, especially since we’re playing at home,” said Kurry.
“It should be a good game,” said Holt. “We’ll prepare like we always do. We’ll work on teamwork, free positions and transition and having low turnovers. We won’t take anybody for granted.”
In Western B, Falmouth made history in the regular season, beating both Yarmouth and Waynflete for the first time in program history en route to a 10-2 record, but unfortunately for the Yachtsmen, they played in the same region as arguably the two other top teams in the state, the Flyers and unbeaten Cape Elizabeth. As a result, Falmouth’s stellar record only gave it the No. 3 seed and after a quarterfinal round bye, the Yachtsmen had to go No. 2 Waynflete Saturday for the semifinals.
The game was supposed to be played at Fore River Fields, but poor field conditions moved it to Fitzpatrick Stadium, site of the state finals.
The venue proved appropriate as the contest featured two championship caliber teams who produced a game for the ages. It not only lived up to the hype, but left if far behind in the rearview mirror as 50 minutes of thrills left just the tiniest bit of separation.
Each team won 13-10 on the other’s homefield in the regular season, but unlike the regular season meetings, goals were are a premium this time around in the first half and the Flyers’ ability to surprisingly control the draw circle and keep possession helped them take a 4-3 lead to the break. Falmouth drew even at 4-4 and 5-5 in the second half, but both times Waynflete answered.
Then, down 6-5, the Yachtsmen came to life, seemingly taking control behind goals from Alex Bernier, Ashleigh Burton and Angela Mallis. Falmouth had good looks at going up even further, but couldn’t do so and the Flyers came back to tie the game at 9-9. Then, in the final minute, Waynflete’s Sadie Cole scored on a free position and Falmouth (which got three goals from Bernier and 11 saves from Moie Aaskov) was left in agony, falling 10-9 to finish the year 10-3.
“We had a couple key turnovers at the end which cost us significantly,” Yachtsmen coach Robin Haley lamented. “If we’d gotten three (goals) up, it may have been the difference in winning the game. It was a great, well played game on both ends. It took until the final seconds to have somebody win. That’s the kind of game you want in the playoffs. Two very well matched teams. On any given day, it could have been either one of us. Today, it was Waynflete. My hat’s off to them. They never gave up. Neither did our girls. It was an exciting game to coach, an exciting game to play and an exciting game to watch. We made adjustments in the second half, but down to the wire, a couple plays made the difference. It was just Waynflete’s day. I wish them well. “
Falmouth, which even without the hardware bows out with the heart of a champion, bids adieu to seniors Aaskov, Vanessa Audet, Burton, Megan Fortier, Sam Smithwick and Katie Ventura, who will be missed.
“I’m so proud of this group,” Haley said. “They did everything and more in terms of what I asked for. I couldn’t have asked for a better group to coach. It was a very emotional year. I’m sad we couldn’t reach the pinnacle, but the girls accomplished more than a lot of teams. They have nothing to be disappointed about. You can’t take 10-3 away. We’re right up there.”
Plenty of talent returns, however, including junior defender Katie Cooleen, Mallis, sophomore defender Caroline McKeon, junior Molly Ryan, sophomore Sabrina Smithwick and Waite.
The Yachtsmen will be back and someday very soon will reach the pinnacle.
“I’m returning a lot of talent,” Haley said. “I hope it’s not the last time we’re hearing from Falmouth. We have some shoes to fill. We’re getting closer and getting hungrier. That’s what we have to build on. And we will.”
Greely, the No. 4 seed in Western B, passed its first playoff test last Wednesday, fending off No. 5 York, 12-10. The Rangers led most of the way, but the lead never got comfortable. Three first half goals apiece from senior Audrey Parolin and junior Julia Mitiguy gave Greely the jump, but it was a freshman who played the biggest role in preserving the lead in the second half as goalie Mary Morrison stopped seven shots in the final 25 minutes, many from point blank range as Greely held on to win, 12-10.
“At halftime, I thought about what I had to work on,” Morrison said. “Keeping my eye on the ball and staying on the balls of my feet. It helped in the second half. Confidence is a big part. Giving up goals, I can get down on myself, but my teammates are really supportive. When I make big saves, everyone’s cheering. It’s a team effort.”
“We came to play today,” said Mitiguy, who led all scorers with five goals. “It was a team effort. Everyone had a positive effort and kept it going.”
“It’s taken a few years to get here,” said Parolin, who scored four times. “We were very close last year. Thinking about last year’s game, it’s wonderful to do this senior year.”
Greely went to No. 1 Cape Elizabeth for a semifinal Saturday and fell, 18-10, as its season ended at 7-7. The Rangers were only down 7-4 at halftime, but couldn’t keep up in the second half, despite two goals each from Mitiguy and Parolin.
“Our goal going into the Cape game was to leave it all on the field and to play hard until the very last second of the game regardless of the score,” said Greely coach Sara Dimick. “That is what my team did. We took the lead in the first part of the game, 2-0, and we knew it was far from over. Cape is a very physical team and we knew it would be a challenging game. My team held it together and only trailed by three or four goals for most of the game. We stayed focused and positive throughout the game and had opportunities to close the gap. The final score was not reflective of how my team played. I am very proud of their performance and I know this playoff experience will make us even more prepared for next year. My team had a great season. We certainly had a rough start but we were able to bounce back and finish off strong.”
Look out for the Rangers in 2013.
“Next year is looking great for my team,” Dimick said. “We are only losing four seniors this year, so we will have an experienced group. Our junior class this year is very strong and will continue to be outstanding leaders for our team next season.”
Falmouth junior Alex Bernier runs up-field during the Yachtsmen’s 10-9 loss to Waynflete in Saturday’s Western B semifinal.
Greely sophomore Teal Otley runs past a prone defender during the Rangers’ 12-10 win over York in last week’s quarterfinals.