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No letdown for Falmouth; Yachtsmen steam past NYA

Sports

No letdown for Falmouth; Yachtsmen steam past NYA

FALMOUTH—Falmouth girls' lacrosse coach Robin Haley was concerned her team might suffer a letdown two days after the biggest regular season victory in program history, a first-ever win over powerhouse Waynflete Tuesday afternoon.

So when the Yachtsmen suffered a momentary lapse and allowed successive goals to the visiting North Yarmouth Academy Panthers in the first half Thursday afternoon, she called timeout.

Suffice it to say that it worked.

Out of the timeout, Falmouth erupted for five goals in 88 seconds, stretching a 6-3 lead to a commanding 11-3 bulge and the Yachtsmen never looked back, going on to their 10th victory in 11 games this spring, 18-6.

Senior Vanessa Audet led the way with five goals and classmate Megan Fortier added four as Falmouth dropped NYA to 1-10 on the year.

"We talked," Haley said. "The girls are tired. Not that that's any excuse. I was concerned coming off the Waynflete game, what that would look like. We were able to regroup. I continue to be encouraged."

Good times roll on

NYA has a very different look in 2012 and hasn't been helped by having to play one of the toughest schedules in the state.

The Panthers opened with a 15-5 loss at Waynflete, then fell to visiting Falmouth (17-3), 10-8 at Freeport, 13-8 at Cheverus, 12-7 at home to Wells, 12-5 at Yarmouth, 16-8 to visiting Massabesic, 16-7 to visiting Waynflete and 13-5 at Greely. NYA got in the win column Friday, 17-6, over visiting Fryeburg.

Falmouth started hot this spring by downing host Yarmouth, 12-2, NYA, 17-3, Marshwood, 13-10, and visiting Yarmouth, 19-7. The Yachtsmen then fell from the unbeaten ranks with a 13-10 home loss to Waynflete, but rebounded with victories over host Fryeburg (22-4), visiting Kennebunk (17-10) and York (19-8) and host Wells (24-6) before making history with the 13-10 win at Waynflete Tuesday. In that one, Falmouth was down 5-0 early, but junior Molly Ryan won 20 of 25 draws and the Yachtsmen roared back.

"It was indescribable," said Falmouth senior Ashleigh Burton. "That was the goal we were striving for all season. The seniors who have played varsity, watching last year's seniors get so close, it hit close to home."

Prior to last season, Falmouth had never beaten NYA, but the Yachtsmen turned the trick twice in 2011 (13-10 and 15-5) and carried a three-game win streak against the Panthers into Thursday's contest.

It didn't take long for Falmouth to suggest that a fourth straight victory over NYA was in the offing, but the Panthers, to their credit, never quit.

NYA actually struck first, taking a 1-0 lead when senior Katie Cawley scored unassisted 1 minute, 50 seconds in.

The Yachtsmen got on the board with 21:37 to go in the first half when Fortier passed to junior Angela Mallis, who beat Panthers sophomore Nikolle Storey.

Falmouth went on top for good 18 seconds later when junior Alex Bernier set up classmate Geneva Waite for a goal.

The Yachtsmen were just getting warmed up.

Goals from Ryan (unassisted at 20:43), Fortier (on an almost unfair one-on-one situation 30 seconds later), Audet (from Fortier at 18:17) and sophomore Sabrina Smithwick (from Audet 11 seconds later) made it 6-1 and appeared to put Falmouth solidly in control.

Instead, NYA got a goal from sophomore Abby McKelvy (assisted by senior Katherine Millett at 12:54) and another from junior Lillie Reder (on a fluky play where her pass toward the goal eluded a teammate and also Falmouth senior goalie Moie Aaskov), to suddenly make the score 6-3.

That induced the game-turning timeout.

The Yachtsmen then flipped the switch and pulled away.

Off the ensuing draw win, Ryan passed to Burton, who scored with 8:15 to play in the half.

At that point, seven different players had accounted for the seven goals.

In transition, off another draw win, Fortier passed to Audet, who finished at 7:49.

Just 16 seconds later, Ryan set up Waite for a goal.

With 7:02 left before the break, Ryan again found Burton, who usually spends the majority of her time on the defensive end, and Burton finished for a 10-3 lead.

"It was fun to score two goals," Burton said. "Megan Fortier and I are both D-wings. She's usually the one running the ball up and scoring. We switched it up today."

"Ashleigh did a nice job," said Haley. "She shot left-handed. On any given day, it can be anyone scoring for us."

Finally, 15 seconds later, Bernier raced in alone and scored to complete the five-goal, 88-second surge, pushing the advantage to 11-3.

Again, the Panthers refused to roll over, pulling within six at halftime behind goals from sophomore Olivia Madore (unassisted) and Cawley (assisted by Madore) in a 16-second span.

While the score appeared lopsided, NYA was hanging tough, winning nearly half the draws and being close to even in other statistical categories. Five clutch saves from Storey helped keep the game from getting completely out of hand.

The hosts would put it away in the second half.

Just nine seconds in, off a draw win, Fortier scored unassisted.

Audet scored a free position goal at 20:26, Mallis set up Fortier for a goal 13 seconds later and with 16:37 remaining, Audet (from Fortier) scored to induce a running clock.

Fortier pushed the lead to 16-5 with a free position tally at 15:20. Smithwick scored her second goal unassisted with 10:21 remaining and with 2:14 to go, Audet tickled the twine unassisted to complete Falmouth's scoring.

Then, as time expired, the Panthers got their lone goal of the second half as Cawley took a pass from Madore in transition and scored, accounting for the 18-6 final score.

"We can't go into these games thinking we'll automatically win," said Audet. "We weren't doing well in the first half, but came out strong in the second half."

Audet led all scorers with five goals. Fortier had four goals and also four assists. Burton, Smithwick and Waite all scored twice, while Bernier, Mallis and Ryan had one goal each. Ryan added three assists, while Audet, Bernier and Mallis each had one.

"Our team is really spread out scoring-wise," Audet said. "It's pretty tough for the other team."

Aaskov made five saves.

Falmouth wasn't as dominant on the draws in this game, but still won 14 of 25. Ryan went 13 of 22 and Audet won 1 of 3 opportunities.

The Yachtsmen had a 40-34 advantage on ground balls. They were led by Fortier with nine, Mallis with seven and Ryan with five. Falmouth turned the ball over 17 times, but outshot NYA, 33-24 (30-11 on cage).

The Panthers were paced by three goals from Cawley. Madore, McKelvy and Reder all had one goal. Madore added two assists and Millett had one.

Storey impressed with her 12 saves.

"She really played the game of her life today," NYA first-year coach Lynn Sullivan said. "She was happy. She needed that."

"Their goalie played great," said Haley. "She was very impressive today. I thought she kept them right there. My hat goes off to her."

Madore went 6 of 16 on draws, while Millett won 4 of 7 and Cawley 1 of 2.

Madore and Millett had a team-high six ground balls. Senior Hannah Twombly grabbed five.

NYA only turned the ball over 10 times.

"The score won't show it, but we were competitive," said Sullivan. "If you look at where we were the first game of the year with these guys to where we are now, we've made great improvement. The girls have learned a ton. They came off of this game feeling really good about themselves and they should. They played a great game. That last score was awesome."

One showdown left

Both teams have one huge game remaining.

NYA is seventh in the Eastern Class B Heal Points standings, but only five teams qualify for the playoffs. If the Panthers can beat visiting rival Yarmouth in the finale Wednesday, they might be able to make it to the postseason for the 13th year in a row.

Even if it doesn't, NYA would love nothing more than to beat the Clippers and go out with a flourish.

"Beating Yarmouth would be a great way to end a challenging season," said Sullivan. "The girls would be psyched. We're a much different team than the first time."

Falmouth is in a heated three-way fight in Western B, where arguably the three best teams in the whole state reside. The Yachtsmen were third behind Cape Elizabeth and Waynflete prior to the win, but could leapfrog all the way to first if they beat the Capers in their finale Tuesday. It will be Senior Night in Falmouth, giving the game even more of a festive feel.

"We still have work to do," said Audet. "Cape's the biggest game we have, other than Waynflete. We have to keep it up. We work so hard to get homefield. It's a big deal."

"We really want to play here," said Burton. "The seniors are really close. We're close with the underclassmen too. We really want to win it and the underclassmen want to win it for us."

"Now we have to get ready for Cape," Haley said. "We just have to play our game. We have to pay attention to not falling into Cape's game. It's hard to tell (about Heal Points). There's a possibility we won't be first even if we beat (Cape). It's quirky."

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