Yarmouth girls finish undefeated by rallying past Falmouth in a thriller

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Yarmouth junior Callie Decker leaps into the arms of senior goalie Mary Kate Gunville at the final horn of the Clippers’ thrilling 9-8 win at Falmouth in Friday’s regular season finale.

Joe Carpine / 365digitalphotography.com photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Yarmouth 9 Falmouth 8

Y- 4 5- 9
F- 5 3- 8

First half
15:20 F Bell (unassisted)
14:06 Y Antolini (Elder)
13:41 Y Wilson (unassisted)
12:46 Y Lane (Waeldner)
11:45 F Waite (Bell)
11:10 F Smithwick (free position)
7:34 Y Lane (free position)
4:04 F Bell (unassisted)
39.2 F Stucker (D. Sarazin)

Second half
24:31 Y Antolini (unassisted)
22:55 Y Lunt (unassisted)
21:53 F K. Sarazin (unassisted)
19:31 F Camelio (free position)
16:42 F D. Sarazin (Stucker)
14:29 Y Then (unassisted)
5:26 Y Elder (Antolini)
4:50 Y Antolini (Lane)

Goals:
Y- Antolini 3, Lane 2, Elder, Lunt, Then, Wilson 1
F- Bell 2, Camelio, D. Sarazin, K. Sarazin, Smithwick, Stucker, Waite 1

Assists:
Y- Antolini, Elder, Lane, Waeldner 1
F- Bell, D. Sarazin, Stucker 1

Draws (Falmouth, 12-7)
Y- Lane 6 of 14, Then 1 of 4, Langenbach 0 of 1
F- Bell 7 of 12, K. Sarazin 5 of 7

Ground balls (Falmouth, 33-28)
Y- Then 5, Elder, Lane 4, Corey 3, Barbera, Gunville, Langenbach, Waeldner 2, Antolini, Decker, Lunt, Wilson 1
F- Bell 8, K. Sarazin 6, Stucker 5, Camelio 4, Birkel, Budri, D. Sarazin, Waite 2, Farrell, Oakes 1

Turnovers:
Y- 13
F- 20

Shots:
Y- 27
F- 17

Shots on cage:
Y- 21
F- 14

Saves:
Y (Gunville) 6
F (Budri) 12

FALMOUTH—Falmouth’s girls’ lacrosse team played its best game of the season Friday afternoon in its home finale, but the Yachtsmen still weren’t able to knock the powerhouse Yarmouth Clippers from the ranks of the unbeaten.

In an instant classic that potentially sets the stage for an even bigger showdown in two weeks time, the Clippers shot to an early lead, but Falmouth roared back and appeared destined for victory before Yarmouth rallied late to close its season in style.

The Yachtsmen flustered the Clippers early thanks to multiple saves from senior goalie Mary Budri, then went ahead, 1-0, when senior Sydney Bell scored 10 minutes in.

Yarmouth then finally got its offense going and scored three times in an 80-second span, as seniors Ella Antolini and Molly Wilson and junior Meredith Lane all found the net.

Falmouth coach Kait Johnson called timeout and her charges responded with a vengeance, as juniors Amelia Waite and Chelsey Smithwick scored in a 35-second span to tie the score.

The Clippers went back on top on a free position goal from Lane, but late in the first half, Bell and senior Olivia Stucker scored to make it 5-4 Yachtsmen at the break.

Yarmouth started fast in the second half, as Antolini and senior Eliza Lunt scored early goals, but again, Falmouth responded and behind goals from sophomore Kayla Sarazin, sophomore Caitlyn Camelio and senior Devon Sarazin, went on top, 8-6, to seemingly take control.

The Clippers answered on a goal from junior Eva Then with 14:29 to go, but for the next nine minutes, couldn’t pull even.

Then, with 5:26 remaining, in transition, Antolini set up junior Greta Elder for the tying goal and a mere 36 seconds later, Antolini took a pass from Lane and beat Budri to put Yarmouth on top.

After Clippers senior goalie Mary Kate Gunville denied Stucker with 2:38 on the clock, Yarmouth got possession and was able to run out the clock on its dramatic 9-8 victory.

“The girls showed a lot of heart,” said Clippers coach Dorothy Holt. “Falmouth’s a really good team. It was a great game that could have gone either way. We persevered at the end. If you’d ask me at the beginning of the season, I would have said no way (we’d go 12-0) because everyone is so good.”

Two of the best

The prospect of Falmouth and Yarmouth meeting in the state final was very realistic when the 2017 season dawned and with the playoffs on the horizon, that possibility still looms large.

Falmouth has lost to Kennebunk in the past two regional finals and came into this season viewed by many as the team to beat. While the Yachtsmen have been very competitive throughout, things haven’t come as easily as expected.

Falmouth started the 2017 campaign by winning at Gorham (11-5) and at home over Greely (18-8). The Yachtsmen then rallied late to stun visiting Thornton Academy, 7-6. After a 14-2 victory at Wells, Falmouth edged visiting Cape Elizabeth, 9-8, in overtime. After rolling at Fryeburg Academy, 18-10, the Yachtsmen held off visiting York (10-7) and beat host Freeport (14-6). Last week, Falmouth fell at home to defending Class B champion Kennebunk in a regional final rematch, 9-5, then rolled at Fryeburg Academy, 19-8. Tuesday, the Yachtsmen dug a 6-1 first half hole at Waynflete and despite a valiant late rally, lost by a goal, 8-7.

Yarmouth has won four straight regional titles and after losing to Kennebunk in last year’s state game, has handled every test it’s faced this spring in impressive fashion.

The Clippers opened by easily handling visiting Fryeburg Academy, 16-1, then defeated visiting Cape Elizabeth, 13-6, visiting Waynflete (12-4), host North Yarmouth Academy (17-4), visiting Freeport (9-4), host Lake Region (11-6), visiting Scarborough (15-3), host Brunswick (14-2) and visiting Greely (9-3). After somewhat avenging last year’s state game loss with a 7-3 win at Kennebunk, Yarmouth downed visiting York on its Senior Night Tuesday, 9-4.

Last spring, Falmouth handled visiting Yarmouth, 14-7, cutting the Clippers’ all-time lead in the series to 11-6, as after Yarmouth won the first 10, the Yachtsmen captured six of seven (see sidebar, below).

This time around, the Clippers beat Falmouth for the first time since May 28, 2014 (17-9 at home).

The first five-plus minutes saw Yarmouth dominate possession and pepper Budri, but have nothing to show for it.

Just 48 seconds in, Antolini earned a free position, but her shot was turned aside.

After Budri saved a free position shot by Lunt, Then shot wide.

Budri then saved a shot by Wilson and a free position bid from Then.

With 17:54 left in the first half, the Yachtsmen produced their first shot, but Gunville saved Bell’s free position.

Devon Sarazin then hit the post and Stucker had a free position shot saved.

Finally, with 15:20 to go, Bell earned enough breathing room to unleash a shot that Gunville couldn’t save and the hosts a 1-0 lead.

The Clippers got their offense on track with 14:06 left in the half, as Elder passed to Antolini, who tickled the twine.

“We were nervous at first, but we dug deep,” Antolini said. “It took awhile to get going, but once we did, it was awesome. Falmouth’s a very good team. (Mary’s) one of the better goalies we’ve seen. We found out early we had to make her move to put the ball in the back of the net. We picked up on that quickly. Once we figured out to shot-fake, that’s what we needed to do.”

After Lane won the ensuing draw, Wilson scored an unassisted goal 24 seconds later to give Yarmouth its first lead.

With 12:46 remaining before halftime, senior Katie Waeldner set up Lane and it appeared the Clippers were on the verge of pulling away.

Johnson then called timeout to settle her team and it worked wonders.

Bell won the draw out of the timeout and got the ball to Waite, who scored with 11:45 on the clock to cut the deficit to one.

Thirty-five seconds later, Smithwick earned a free position and buried it to make it 3-3.

After Gunville turned aside a Bell free position, Lane put Yarmouth back on top, 4-3, with a free position goal with 7:34 to play in the half.

Then tried to extend the lead with 6:20 to go, but Budri made the save.

After Kayla Sarazin fired a shot off the post, Bell eluded three defenders, then shot past Gunville to make it 4-4 with 4:04 remaining.

Senior Cory Langenbach bid to put the Clippers back on top, but Budri made the save and in the final minute, Budri denied Then.

Falmouth transitioned to offense and with 39.2 seconds to go, in transition, Devon Sarazin set up Stucker for a goal which gave the Yachtsmen a 5-4 advantage at the break.

“We had to reel it in and hone in our nerves,” Johnson said. “We had the jitters and Yarmouth’s an extremely talented team all over the field. The girls did the work. I just tried to keep them poised.”

In the first half, Falmouth had a 6-4 edge in draws and a 17-14 advantage in ground balls, but Yarmouth had a 17-11 shots advantage (13-8 on frame). Nine saves from Budri kept the Yachtsmen in the lead.

It didn’t take long for the Clippers to answer in the second half, as Lane won the opening draw and Antolini scored unassisted 29 seconds in.

After Budri robbed Lane, Lunt scored unassisted with 22:55 to go and Yarmouth was back on top, 6-5.

Falmouth bounced right back to re-tie the game when Kayla Sarazin raced through the defense and beat Gunville with 21:53 remaining.

That started a three-goal run that seemingly put the Yachtsmen in control.

With 19:31 on the clock, Camelio finished a free position for a 7-6 Falmouth lead.

With 16:42 to play, Stucker set up Devon Sarazin and visions of an upset win danced in the Yachtsmen’s heads.

But instead, they wouldn’t score again.

After Holt called a timeout, the Clippers crept back within a goal when Then scored unassisted with 14:29 to go.

The next nine minutes saw the teams trade turnovers, Budri deny Then and Gunville make a save on a Kayla Sarazin shot.

Yarmouth then pulled even with 5:26 remaining, as in transition, Antolini passed in front to Elder, who beat Budri to forge the game’s sixth and final tie.

“Sometimes in pressure situations, you want to put your head down and hold the ball as tight as you can, but it’s important to keep your head up and react within a split second,” Antolini said. “The goal could come from anywhere. It won’t always come from a set play.”

Lane then won possession back for the Clippers and this time Antolini got to receive, not give, as Lane fed her to Budri’s right and Antolini fired a high shot past the goalie’s stick and into the net for a 9-8 lead, producing the game’s fifth lead change.

“That was a great pass from Meredith,” Antolini said. “We had those transitions so many times. That’s when we finally hit it. We were frustrated so many times, but everything came together.”

Falmouth had plenty of time to answer and Kayla Sarazin won the ensuing draw. After Stucker and Devon Sarazin kept possession by collecting ground balls, Stucker got a look with 2:38 to play, but Gunville made the save and Yarmouth got the ball back.

And never gave it up.

Ground balls from Antolini and Then kept possession and after Then earned a free position with 46 seconds on the clock, instead of shooting, she pulled the ball out and the Clippers ran out the clock from there and celebrated their 9-8 triumph.

“This was a great test,” Antolini said. “We had composure and a deep bench. We have a saying, ’21 strong!’ and today we showed that we were 21 strong. Every single player was ready to step up. At the end, we haven’t had that kind of pressure on us, but our hard work made all the difference. We dug deep and that’s the kind of team that can go all the way.”

“This isn’t our first test, but what helped us get through was coming together as a team,” Barbera said. “We composed ourselves and gave it 150 percent. They’re a great team. We weren’t surprised they came back. We had to dig deep and step up. This is my senior year and to go undefeated all season feels great. The atmosphere in our practices in incredible. When we come down the hill and step on the field, everything at school just washes away.”

“That’s not the Yarmouth way,” Holt added. “It’s hard for us to come back. That’s why I’m most proud of them, showing composure. Falmouth did a great job putting pressure on us. We each brought the other’s level of play up. It starts with our defense. We get our inspiration from our defense. We had a lot of turnovers today, but that comes with nerves. We don’t practice stalling a lot. I’m not big into stalling until the very end. The girls showed composure. The seniors pulled it together and Mary Kate made some big saves and the defense knocked down some passes. It was fun to watch.”

Yarmouth’s offense was paced by three goals from Antolini. Lane had two goals, while Elder, Lunt, Then and Wilson had one apiece.

Antolini, Elder, Lane and Waeldner (who left the game with an apparent ankle injury with 9:54 to go) all had one assist.

Gunville made six saves.

Then had a team-high five ground balls, while Elder and Lane each collected four.

The Clippers had a 27-17 shots advantage (21-14 on cage) and overcame 13 turnovers.

Encouraging

Falmouth saw seven different girls score, as Bell had two goals and Camelio, Devon Sarazin, Kayla Sarazin, Smithwick, Stucker and Waite had one apiece.

Bell, Devon Sarazin and Stucker each had one assist.

Budri kept her team in it for 50 minutes with 12 saves.

The Yachtsmen had a 12-7 edge in draws and a 33-28 advantage in ground balls (Bells had a game-high eight, Kayla Sarazin picked up six and Stucker had five).

Falmouth committed 20 turnovers, but did a lot right over the course of 50 minutes.

“I’m so proud of this team,” Johnson said. “We focused and did what we took in practice into the game. We were definitely tired and we starting forcing it. If there was one more minute, maybe we would have had that (tying) goal.”

Two weeks to the big show

Falmouth will be the No. 2 seed in Class B South and will earn a bye into the semifinals Saturday, June 10, where the Yachtsmen will host either third-ranked York (8-4) or No. 6 Lake Region (7-5).

“We’ll keep getting better,” Johnson said. “We’ve underachieved at times this season, but we have a y0ung team. We get better every single day. If we keep improving, we’ll be in a great spot. This year, unlike any other, any team could win. All the teams are so talented. It’s going to be a fun playoffs.”

Yarmouth is the top seed in Class B North and will likely host either No. 8 Winslow (6-6) or No. 9 Erskine Academy (5-7) in the quarterfinals Wednesday. The Clippers are heavy favorites to win their region for the fifth straight season.

This group wants to join the 2002 and 2007 squads and go all the way without a single blemish.

Don’t bet against them.

“Knowing we went all season without a loss means a lot,” Barbera said. “We have a target on our backs now, but I think we can rise to the challenge.”

“Going 12-0 is incredible,” Antolini said. “We knew we had the capability. Every single individual has mattered. For the seniors, this has been something we wanted since freshman year. We’ve drilled that into everyone and we have a really high standard. We couldn’t be more excited. We need to remember that we’re out here because we love (lacrosse) and we need to remember we have all the capability in the world. It comes down to who wants it more in the end.”

“Most of these girls I’ve seen play in middle school and I’ve coached for a long time,” Holt added. “My heart is with this group of girls. Every year is special, but this year is even more special because I’ve never had seven starting seniors.

“Now, we can regroup and get ready for playoffs. We have to keep up our level of intensity. We’ve got an Alumni Game planned next week. That will provide good competition to get us ready.”

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

Falmouth senior Sydney Bell and Yarmouth junior Meredith Lane focus on the ball during a draw.

Yarmouth junior Eva Then shoots through the Falmouth defense.

Yarmouth senior Katie Waeldner races up the field.

Falmouth senior goalie Mary Budri makes a save on this shot from Yarmouth senior Cory Langenbach.

Falmouth sophomore Kayla Sarazin gets past the Yarmouth defense and shoots on Yarmouth senior Mary Kate Gunville.

Yarmouth senior Eliza Lunt prepares to shoot on Falmouth senior Mary Budri.

Previous Falmouth-Yarmouth results

2016
@ Falmouth 14 Yarmouth 7

2015
Falmouth 14 @ Yarmouth 9 

2014
@ Yarmouth 17 Falmouth 9

2013
@ Falmouth 16 Yarmouth 7
Falmouth 11 @ Yarmouth 8

2012
Falmouth 12 @ Yarmouth 2
@ Falmouth 19 Yarmouth 7

2011
@ Yarmouth 13 Falmouth 12
Yarmouth 13 @ Falmouth 8

2010
@ Yarmouth 19 Falmouth 10

2009
Yarmouth 14 @ Falmouth 9

2007
Yarmouth 12 @ Falmouth 1

2006
Yarmouth 11 @ Falmouth 2
@ Yarmouth 9 Falmouth 2

2005
@ Yarmouth 13 Falmouth 2

2004
@ Yarmouth 16 Falmouth 5

2002
@ Yarmouth 14 Falmouth 1

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