Falmouth's landmark win at Yarmouth opens girls' lax season
YARMOUTH—The Falmouth girls' lacrosse team is viewed as one of the teams to beat this winter.
Thursday evening, in the regular season opener, the Yachtsmen got to measure themselves against the best team from 2011 and passed with flying colors, making history in the process.
Visiting defending Class B state champion Yarmouth, Falmouth seized control by scoring the game's first six goals. The Yachtsmen then broke it open in the second half and went on to their first ever victory over the Clippers, 12-2, to start the season in style.
Falmouth got three goals each from juniors Molly Ryan and Alex Bernier and laid down the gauntlet that its title aspirations are legitimate.
"It's so exciting," Ryan said. "It's amazing. It's a great way to start the season."
Falmouth went 7-6 a year ago, falling to Cape Elizabeth, 14-12, in the Western Class B semifinals.
Yarmouth reached the pinnacle for the first time in five seasons, capping its season with a stirring 9-8 victory over Waynflete in one of the most memorable state finals ever.
Thursday, however, was all Falmouth.
The defending champs actually controlled possession the first five minutes and had a couple good looks, but Yachtsmen senior goalie Moie Aaskov turned away the Clippers' promising chances.
At the other end, Yarmouth sophomore Jordan Brown stopped a couple early shots, but with 18:21 to go in the first half, Falmouth took the lead for good when Ryan scored on a free position.
That opened the floodgates.
Just 12 seconds later, Bernier collected a loose ball and in one fell swoop, fired a shot into the net for a 2-0 lead.
A minute later, junior Angela Mallis scored unassisted after a failed clear. With 15:11 to go in the half, senior Vanessa Audet (from Fortier) found the net and 15 seconds later, Fortier (assisted by Bernier, off a Ryan draw win) scored Falmouth's fifth goal in a 3:25 span for a 5-0 lead.
"It was so important for us to get off to a good start," said Ryan. "We had the lead and we were confident we could keep going."
Falmouth pushed its lead to 6-0 behind Ryan's unassisted tally with 8:23 left in the half, but the Clippers closed the half strong to keep things interesting.
With 2:44 to go before halftime, Yarmouth got its first goal of the year when senior Ricki Pierce beat Aaskov on a free position. In the final minute of the half, senior Mo McNaboe's shot deflected off Aaskov into the goal and the Clippers only trailed, 6-2, at the break.
The Yachtsmen won seven of the nine first half draws.
"I've been working a lot on draws," said Ryan. "My teammates tell me where to go. That's really helpful."
They also collected 30 ground balls to 22 for Yarmouth, forced 14 turnovers and had a 14-8 shots on goal advantage, but based on history, nothing was guaranteed entering the second half.
As was the case in the first half, the Clippers had some chances in the early going of the second half, but Falmouth held off the onslaught and went on to put the game away.
With 20:34 remaining, Ryan (from Mallis) scored for a little breathing room. Junior Geneva Waite (from Bernier) scored a minute later and it was 8-2.
With 14:13 to go, Bernier benefited from Yarmouth's largesse, grabbing a loose ball, noticing an empty net and firing a 30-yard shot into the net.
"It was an early birthday gift, I guess," said Bernier. "I just got lucky. The goalie was out of the net and I just went for it."
Late goals from Mallis (assisted by Bernier), Fortier (unassisted) and Bernier (unassisted) gave the Yachtsmen the 12-2 victory.
"We came in to play our hardest, since Yarmouth's always a tough game," said Bernier.
"I'm happy," Haley said. "I thought we started out pretty strong. We had some sloppiness, but that's to be expected in a first game. What's good about this team is we kept our composure. Yarmouth swarmed us in the second half, but we made adjustments and figured it out. We calmed down and maintained possession of the ball."
Bernier and Ryan both scored three times. Fortier and Mallis had two goals apiece. Audet and Waite both had one tally. Bernier also had three assists, Fortier and Mallis one each.
Aaskov didn't face a lot of shots, but did come up big on occasion and made seven stops.
"Moie made huge saves," Haley said. "You can look at the girls who scored, but I said her after the game she was a big reason we pulled it off. Yarmouth had a lot of shots and she made big saves."
Ryan won 8-of-13 draws, Audet went 0-for-3.
Senior Megan Fortier, who transferred back to Falmouth from NYA, had a game-high 13 ground balls.
"(Megan's) explosive," said Haley. "She can play both ends. That's something we needed to add to our team this year. It's a welcome addition."
Bernier finished with seven, Mallis six, senior Ashleigh Burton five and Aaskov, Audet and Ryan four apiece.
The Yachtsmen had a 56-52 ground ball advantage, a 26-18 edge in shots on goal (22-9 in shots on cage) and turned the ball over 23 times, while forcing 34 giveaways.
Yarmouth's goals came from McNaboe and Pierce. Brown, in her impressive debut, made 10 saves.
Pierce was 6-of-7 on draws. Senior Claudia Lockwood went 2-of-9.
Senior Jeanna Lowery led the Clippers with 12 ground balls. Senior Caitlin Crawford and McNaboe both collected seven, junior Olivia Conrad had six and junior Claire King and Lockwood each finished with four.
"We controlled the first part of the game," Yarmouth coach Dorothy Holt said. "If it wasn't for turnovers and our shot selection, it would have been a much different game going into the half and we had turnovers at the beginning of the second half. The name of our game is not to have turnovers. We won a lot of draws in the second half. We controlled the ball. I feel like we came really far tonight. Falmouth's had a lot of time together. We haven't. I'd rather start with a tough team. Our errors happened in key spots. My seniors stepped up and we just need to work on shot selection and not turning the ball over."
The Clippers will use the April vacation week to work on getting better and they should be much more competitive when they go to Waynflete for a state final rematch April 25. After hosting defending Class A champion Scarborough April 28, Yarmouth goes to Falmouth April 30.
The Clippers are a work in progress, but rest assured they'll be a force as the season evolves.
"I'm so proud of my team," Holt said. "Most of them haven't played together. We have nine new starters."
The Yachtsmen, meanwhile, are back in action April 24 @ North Yarmouth Academy. They have their home opener April 28 against Marshwood.
This team has lived up to billing so far, but there's a lot of season and a plethora of tests to come.
"I consider us a top team," Bernier said. "We have a lot of work to do. This is a great way to start the season, but it's a long way to go."
"We welcome (the expectations)," said Ryan. "We're always the underdogs. We'd never beaten Yarmouth. We go into every game to play our hearts out."
"We do have a lot of work to do," Haley added. "Yarmouth will be different next time."