Superb matchups usher in lax season; Falmouth boys, Yarmouth girls most impressive so far

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The 2011 lacrosse season is still young, but there have been an abundance of big games already contested with several more on tap this week.

Calm sailing

The boys’ team making the most noise is Falmouth, which has won three games this spring in emphatic fashion. The Yachtsmen, who expected that 2010 would be their year prior to an agonizing regional final overtime loss to eventual Class B champion Cape Elizabeth, steamrolled the Capers in the 2011 opener (12-4, at home), then, last week, had no trouble with visiting Waynflete (17-5) and host Scarborough (13-3), the reigning Class A champ. Against the Flyers, sophomore Will Sipperly had six goals, while senior Zach Alexander and junior Mitch Tapley each had three. At the Red Storm, Falmouth started slowly, leading just 2-1 after one period, but came to life with a six-goal second quarter and rolled to the win behind a career-high seven goals from Sipperly and three goals and three assists from Tapley.

“We were all just clicking and Tapley found everybody,” said Sipperly. “We have more scorers than last year. Last year, we had two main guys everyone was looking at. This year, we have eight or nine guys.”

“We take some time early on to figure things out,” added Falmouth coach Mike LeBel. “Once we understand what they’re doing on defense, we know how to attack. The guys did a nice job. I would say Will Sipperly is probably the best sophomore in the state. I’d say Mitch Tapley is the best attackman in the state. I would say (junior) Mike Ryan’s the best defenseman in the state. I would say (junior) Cam Bell is the best goalie in the state. (Junior) Abyn Reabe-Gerwig (who won 14 of 19 faceoffs versus Scarborough) is the best faceoff man in the state. I have the best player at each position. The only thing holding them back is the coaching staff.”

The Yachtsmen hosted North Yarmouth Academy Tuesday and go to Yarmouth Saturday, seeking their first-ever victory over the Clippers.

Elsewhere in Western B, Greely has impressed in the early going. The Rangers romped at Wells, 9-2, at their opener, then, last Wednesday, they took host NYA to the brink before losing in triple-overtime, 10-9. Nick Rotondi, Brendan Trelegan and Paul Witte all scored twice, while goalie Griffen Demick stopped nine shots.

“We played really hard,” said Nick Witte, who filled in as coach Wednesday for Casey Abbott, who was out of town. “We didn’t win, but we took a big step forward today. We really hoped to get this one. We knew that if we stayed out of the penalty box we could play with these guys 6-on-6. If we kept mistakes to a minimum, we could play with them. We had some great chances, but couldn’t quite cash it in.”

Greely was supposed to play at Lincoln Academy Friday, but that game was postponed. After going to Waynflete Tuesday, the Rangers visit Lake Region Thursday and host defending Class B state champion Cape Elizabeth Tuesday of next week.

In Eastern B, NYA welcomed the triple-OT victory, its first of the year. The Panthers (who lost, 6-2, at home to nemesis Yarmouth in their opener), got the winner against the Rangers from senior Matt Kibler. Junior Forrest Milburn added four goals. Freshman goalie Weston Nolan made six saves.

“It could have gone either way,” Kibler said. “We were lucky to pull it out. It’s a relief. We were out here a long time. (Senior) Tim Millett had a ground ball at the other side and he did a great job beating everyone down the field. He dished it to (sophomore) Oliver (Silverson) and Oliver gave me the ball. I couldn’t miss from there. I had a good look. (This game) went on a long time. I thought it was a great effort by both teams.”

“We needed that,” added Panthers coach Chris Carpentier. “The guys showed me a lot of character today. They laid it on the line. It could have gone either way. From my standpoint (if we lost), it would have hurt. It would have been a demoralizing loss.”

NYA improved to 2-1 Saturday with a 14-4 romp at Oak Hill. After going to Falmouth Tuesday, the Panthers visit Cape Elizabeth Saturday and play at Freeport Tuesday of next week.

Yarmouth won its first three games under new coach Steve Moore, triumphing at NYA (6-2), at home over York (9-4) and at Brunswick (10-0). Against the Wildcats, junior Bart Gallagher had three goals. Gallagher had three more goals, while senior Matt Murphy and sophomore Nick Ronan had two in the victory over the Dragons.

Monday night, the Clippers suffered their first loss, 13-2, at Cape Elizabeth, in a rematch of last year’s 7-6 state final setback. Yarmouth did get 12 saves from junior Alex Kurtz and goals from Gallagher and junior Sam Torres in its most decisive loss since a 7-1 setback to the Capers in 2003.

Yarmouth hosts Falmouth Saturday (seeking to extend its nine-year, 70-plus game home unbeaten streak) and goes to Waynflete Tuesday of next week.

Freeport took a 2-1 record into Wednesday’s home game versus Wells. Last Wednesday, the Falcons lost, 14-0, at Cape Elizabeth, but Saturday, they held on for a 5-3 victory at Edward Little (Dylan Arris and Hans Pope both scored twice). Freeport hosts Fryeburg Saturday and welcomes NYA Tuesday.

Clippers cruising

On the girls’ side, Yarmouth, the preseason favorite in Eastern Class B, has lived up to billing, winning three tough road games in a seven-day span to start the year.

After pulling away for a 16-9 win at recent playoff nemesis last Tuesday in the opener, the Clippers went to defending Class  A champion Scarborough Saturday and avenged a loss from last season. Yarmouth got off to a slow start and trailed 3-0 early, but the team’s potent offense got going and five goals apiece from seniors Devin Simsarian and Danielle Torres were the difference in a 16-11 triumph.

“We’ve gotten down before,” said Simsarian. “Last year, we wouldn’t have been able to come back like this, but we don’t get down as a team this year. We knew we had to step it up.”

“I think we just all worked together,” said junior defender Caitlin Crawford, who stepped up to fill the absence created by an injury to senior Kate Dilworth. “We’ve pushed really hard during practice. We all boost each other’s morale. I think it was a team effort. Our attack played really well today. It was impressive.”

“Even the underclassmen stepped up today,” Yarmouth coach Dorothy Holt said. “I used a lot of subs and everyone came through. Danielle’s really taken over as the defender of the middies right now. She’s making key interceptions, then (senior)  Becca (Bell) and Devin do the scoring. Danielle sits back and waits for her opportunities.”

Monday, at Cape Elizabeth, the Clippers led just 6-3 at halftime, then exploded for 10 second half goals to reach 16 again, beating the Capers, 16-6, behind six goals apiece from Torres and senior Becca Bell.

“I’d say it was shaky in the beginning,” said Bell. “We definitely turned it around and regained our confidence. That was key for us. We’ve become a second half team, which isn’t the norm for us based on other seasons. It’s good to see. Our focus is on fewer turnovers and fouls and we’re improving on those things.”

“I’m really excited about this game,” said Torres, who didn’t even play the last 10-plus minutes. “It was such a low score at halftime. We wondered how the second half would go and we came on strong. We’re happy with how we performed in the second half. We know Cape is always a strong, physical game.”

“I think we were nervous,” added Holt. “We’re on the road and we had to step it up and we did. We got ground ball controls today. We’ve worked hard on that. We didn’t have a lot of turnovers. Cape’s a great team. It was close for a half. I think it was closer than the score. The defense really stepped up. We controlled the midfield. Danielle and Becca had huge games. Devin took over defensively today. We’re mixing it up. They’re taking their turns. It took a team effort today to win. I’m pleased with how we stepped up.”

Yarmouth has one more road game, Thursday, at defending Western B champion Waynflete (a team the seniors have never beaten), then finally comes home Saturday to face Falmouth.

“Our next game is a big one,” said Bell. “We’re looking forward to the challenge. We’ve been practicing on grass. Hopefully that will pay off. We’ve done really well on the road, but we’re looking forward to having our first home game. This is our strongest year.”

“We’re loving this so far, but it’s going to be so challenging the rest of the season,” said Torres. “We feel we get better each week. We have a few holes, but that’s where we’ll be focusing our attention. I’ve never beaten Waynflete. They’re always a very skilled and composed team. It will be a big game for us. It will be a different game on grass. The ball bounces differently.”

Defending Class B state champion NYA bounced back from its loss to Yarmouth with an impressive 13-6 crossover win at Brunswick Friday to improve to 2-1. The Panthers had seven different scorers, were paced by four goals from junior Megan Fortier and three from senior Lilly Wellenbach, took the lead for good on Wellenbach’s unassisted goal midway through the first period and never looked back.

“We knew this would be a big game,” said Fortier, a transfer from Falmouth. “We wanted to forget the past couple days and start new.”

Senior Frances Leslie, in just her second game in goal, made seven first half saves and stopped 12 stops overall.

“I don’t know if I’d call it feeling at home yet, but it’s getting more comfortable,” said Leslie, a captain, who was a field standout before concussion-related issues moved her into the goal. “It’s really helpful to have a good defense back there and they’ve helped me a lot. I’ve gotten help from the boys’ team goalie and pointers from the coaches have been great. I think I got into a rhythm. It takes awhile to warm up and step up to every ball. I felt the energy of my team playing well.”

“It’s an awfully big win for us,” said NYA coach Julia Sterling. “It’s a long season, but it’s tough with our schedule. We’re working really well together.”

The Panthers went to Greely Tuesday, visit Falmouth Thursday and have a state final rematch at Waynflete Saturday.

Freeport lost its opener, 14-4, at NYA, but is now 2-1 after beating visiting Fryeburg (8-2) and Camden Hills (20-5). Jocelyn Davee scored three times and Alex Mitch and Elli Pier each had two goals versus the Raiders. Against the Windjammers, Mitch, Pier, Becca Lane, Jess Hench and Aubrey Pennell all had three goals. The Falcons were home with powerhouse Waynflete Tuesday and go to Fryeburg Thursday.

In Western B, Falmouth hoped this was the year it could contend with Waynflete and after a 16-7 home win over Greely in its opener, welcomed the Flyers Tuesday night. The Yachtsmen scored the game’s first two goals, but that was their highwater mark as Waynflete dominated from there and went on to an 18-10 victory. Sophomore Alex Bernier had three goals and sophomore Laura Fay two, but it wasn’t enough as the Flyers won 22 of 29 draws.

“We had a couple spurts here and there,” Falmouth coach Robin Haley said. “Scoring 10 goals on them isn’t easy to do. As long as Waynflete doesn’t have the ball, they can’t score, but they had it a lot and they’ll execute 99 percent of the time. I was hoping we’d get them tonight.”

The Yachtsmen improved to 2-1 Saturday with a 17-3 romp at Massabesic. Bernier and sophomore Molly Ryan both scored six times. Falmouth was at York Tuesday, hosts NYA Thursday and goes to Yarmouth Saturday.

Greely gave Sara Dimick her first coaching win last Wednesday, 15-10, over visiting Wells. Julia Mitiguy had four goals to lead the way. Friday, the Rangers fell to 1-2 after a 16-8 home loss to Coy. Teal Otley scored twice and Audrey Parolin added a goal and three assists. Greely was home against NYA Tuesday and welcomes Fryeburg Monday.

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


Sidebar Elements

All eyes were on Falmouth sophomore Will Sipperly Saturday at Scarborough. Sipperly scored seven goals, leading the powerhouse Yachtsmen to their third decisive win in a row, 13-3, over the defending Class A champion Red Storm.

Yarmouth senior Danielle Torres fires one of her five goals during the Clippers’ 16-11 win at defending Class A champion Scarborough Saturday. The Clippers have defeated top contenders NYA, Scarborough and Cape Elizabeth in a 3-0 start.

NYA senior Lilly Wellenbach surveys the field during Friday’s 13-6 win at Brunswick. Wellenbach scored three times.

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