FREEPORT—Yarmouth’s defending Class B state champion girls’ lacrosse team badly needed a dose of confidence entering Saturday afternoon’s contest at regional rival Freeport.
Fifty minutes later, the Clippers are on the road back to championship form.
Yarmouth had a strong offensive showing Saturday, but initially, the Clippers were sparked by sophomore goalie Mary Kate Gunville, who made a series of key early saves to keep the game scoreless.
Then, Yarmouth’s potent offense hit its stride.
Senior Shannon Fallon scored with 19:58 to play in the first half and from there, the floodgates opened. Fallon would score five times in the first half, senior Lane Simsarian, junior Lilly Watson and sophomores Eliza Lunt and Katie Waeldner also tickled the twine and the Clippers took a commanding 9-1 advantage to the break.
Yarmouth never let up in the second half and induced a mercy rule running clock when senior Emma Torres scored twice in just over a minute. From there, the Clippers controlled play and went on to a 16-3 triumph, snapping a two-game losing skid to start the season.
Ten Yarmouth players scored in all, Gunville made 10 key saves and the 1-2 Clippers handed Freeport its third loss in as many outings this season.
“We needed some confidence,” said Yarmouth coach Dorothy Holt. “I didn’t think the outcome would be what it was, but I think the girls flipped the switch today. They’ve been working really hard. It just clicked today. My seniors stepped up. They’ve been working really hard at practice. Yesterday was the best practice we’ve had and today, we just turned it on.”
Yarmouth was the premier girls’ team in the state a year ago, capping a 13-2 season with a 13-10 win over Cape Elizabeth in the Class B Final. The Clippers were hard hit by graduation (most notably by the departures of top scorer Grace O’Donnell and defenders Abby Belisle-Haley and Julia Primeau) and lost at home to Falmouth in the 2015 opener, 14-9, then after a two-week break, fell at York Thursday, 8-6.
Freeport, which has been a top contender the last three seasons, losing to Yarmouth in the last year’s regional final, also was affected by graduation and welcomed a new coach this spring in Marcia Wood, who led Scarborough to four Class A state titles. The Falcons dropped their opener, 11-4, to York in a “home” game played at North Yarmouth Academy. Thursday, Freeport lost at Cape Elizabeth, 12-6.
Yarmouth has dominated the series over the years, winning 13 of 14 meetings since 2003. Last year, the Clippers won at Freeport in the regular season, 14-3, behind six goals from O’Donnell, as Holt won her 100th career game. The Falcons gave Yarmouth a scare in the Eastern B Final, but the Clippers prevailed, 11-6.
Saturday, Yarmouth demonstrated why it still has to be taken seriously.
Freeport freshman Chloe Davidson won the opening draw and the Falcons got two quick golden scoring opportunities.
First, Davidson had a look, but Gunville made the save.
Freeport kept the pressure on and junior Lily Johnston had a great chance, but Gunville again stood tall, keeping the game scoreless.
“That was really important for me,” Gunville said. “I knew I had my feet under me. I saw the ball well. I’ve been practicing a lot. I feel a little more comfortable having a year of high school lacrosse. There are always ways to get better. These girls are my family away from my family. It’s coming together and it’s really awesome.”
Gunville’s saves weren’t only big for her confidence, they gave her whole team a boost.
“We turned the ball and Mary Kate had to make big saves,” Holt said. “She set the tone. She kept us in it. She’s carrying us a lot and she’s only a sophomore. The girls trust her so much. They hear her and it brings them together. Her confidence just keeps getting bigger and bigger. She’s doing the big things and the little things for everybody. It would have been a much different game had those goals gone in.”
Once Yarmouth got a settled offensive possession, it pounced as Fallon got some operating room (she doesn’t need much) and she raced in and beat Freeport junior goalie Sam Jordan for a 1-0 lead.
With 18:04 to go in the first half, Lunt struck unassisted to make it 2-0.
After Gunville again robbed Davidson, Fallon took a pass from sophomore Gretchen Barbera and finished to make it 3-0 with 16:29 left, forcing Wood to call timeout.
It worked initially, as senior Emily Johnson set up Johnston for a man-up goal with 15:31 showing, but with 12:40 left, Watson scored unassisted for a 4-1 Clippers advantage.
After Fallon hit the post at one end and Gunville denied Falcons junior Courtney Broderick at the other, Fallon finished unassisted with 9:29 to go for a 5-1 lead.
With 6:05 left, Fallon set up Waeldner for a sixth goal.
After Johnston hit the crossbar and Davidson was once again flustered by Gunville, Yarmouth showed how dangerous it can be in transition, as Watson set up Simsarian for a 7-1 advantage with 4:18 to go.
Just 46 seconds later, Fallon got the ball on the side of the goal, left a hapless defender in her wake, thanks to her unstoppable pirouette move, and finished unassisted to make it 8-1.
Then, with 2:26 to go before halftime, Fallon scored her fifth and final goal for an emphatic 9-1 advantage at the break.
“Shannon’s worked so hard,” Holt said. “I think she shot three buckets of balls in practice yesterday. She’s just been shooting. It really showed today.”
In the first half, Yarmouth outshot Freeport, 18-11.
Torres took center stage early in the second half, scoring on a free position, then finishing unassisted in a 22-second span to make it 11-1.
After Fallon hit the crossbar, Torres set up sophomore Cory Langenbach for a 12-1 lead.
After Falcons senior Julia Dearden hit the post on a free position, Watson scored her second goal, unassisted, and the Clippers had a 13-1 advantage.
Freeport snapped Yarmouth’s 10-0 run and a 31 minute, 45 second scoring drought when Johnson finished a Martin feed with 8:46 to play, but sophomore Molly Wilson (from Lunt) answered with 7:24 remaining.
After Martin scored the Falcons’ final goal, unassisted, with 5:45 to play, Wilson set up junior Ella Antolini at 4:22 and junior Sophia Harrison (from Watson) scored with 1:24 remaining to bring the curtain down on the Clippers’ 16-3 victory.
“It feels amazing,” Fallon said. “It’s been a little discouraging the past two games. Everyone’s adjusting, but we’ve really jelled. Our practices have been more upbeat and intense. This was really good for us. (The York) loss was a learning experience. People have high expectations for us. We’ve learned last year was amazing, but that’s in the past.”
“It feels really good,” Gunville said. “We played hard and we lost to good teams, but we had to shake it off and move on to the next game.”
Yarmouth’s offense showed great balance, as 10 girls scored. Fallon led the way with five goals. Torres and Watson both scored twice, while Antolini, Harrison, Langenbach, Lunt, Simsarian, Waeldner and Wilson all had one goal.
“We got settled and different players drove,” Fallon said. “We read the defense better than we have in the past. We have to spread it across the board to replace Grace. We don’t have one huge scorer this year. It’s good to know there are other players who can step up and score when we need them to.”
“It’s amazing to see the ball traveling up the field and to know that everything that goes on in practice goes on to the field,” Gunville said.
“We’re young and focusing on learning how to play with each other,” Holt added. “We’re growing as a team. Today showed what we’re all about. We don’t have a big standout. We’ve had it in the past, but we’re trying to work as a team and today showed when we have the confidence to go to goal, we can get the ball in the goal and that’s huge.”
Watson had two assists and Barbera, Fallon, Lunt, Torres and Wilson each finished with one. Gunville wound up with 10 saves.
“Mary Kate made some amazing saves throughout the game,” Fallon said. “That amplifies the intensity and gives us confidence and gives us a boost on the offensive end as well. She’s literally a wall.”
The Clippers had a 37-29 advantage on ground balls (Fallon and Torres had a team-high five each), committed 13 turnovers while forcing 16 and outshot the Falcons, 29-16 (24-13 on cage).
Freeport got one goal each from Johnson, Johnston and Martin and one assist each from Johnson and Martin. Johnson had a game-high 15 ground balls and Jordan made eight saves. The Falcons held an 11-10 edge in draws, but it just wasn’t their day.
“Lack of scoring doesn’t get the momentum going your way,” Wood lamented. “Their goalie came up with good saves and that deflated us. We couldn’t figure out how to get around her. The more we were swarmed, the more we threw it away. We weren’t able to get the ball moving. We weren’t communicating on defense. We didn’t defend our crease rolls. We have to just live and learn and at some point, we need to start doing it and it needs to click. We could have played with them. It was just one of those days you can’t explain. We’ll flush it and move on.”
Freeport plays its next three games away from home: at Lake Region Wednesday, then at Wells and Gardiner. The Falcons are hoping to get in the win column.
“It’s time to get some goals, some confidence,” Wood said. “It’s been a tough start for us.”
Yarmouth returns home Tuesday, but faces a huge test against powerhouse Kennebunk, a team which beat the Clippers in Yarmouth last spring.
“Kennebunk’s going to be huge,” Fallon said. “We have to step up the intensity in practice. Much of our game is mental at this point. We know we have the talent to win. We have to put in the effort to give us a boost.”
“We still have a lot of work to do,” Holt said. “Kennebunk’s really good. (Rams coach Annie Barker’s) an amazing coach. We hold them in the utmost respect. We’ve talked about them for a long time. We have to bring our ‘A’ game. This will help us bring confidence into Tuesday.”
Yarmouth senior Lane Simsarian beats Freeport junior goalie Sam Jordan for a first half goal.
Freeport junior Courtney Broderick races past Yarmouth sophomore Cory Langenbach as Clippers sophomore goalie Mary Kate Gunville prepares to make a save.
Freeport freshman Taylor Rinaldi and Yarmouth junior Campbell Dorsett fight for possession.
Yarmouth senior Caitlin Teare tries to catch up to Freeport junior Courtney Broderick.
Yarmouth sophomore Ella Antolini fires a shot past Freeport junior goalie Sam Jordan for goal in the second half.
Yarmouth senior Emma Torres, left, and sophomore Cory Langenbach defend Freeport junior Lily Johnston.
Yarmouth 14 @ Freeport 3
Eastern B Final
@ Yarmouth 11 Freeport 6
Eastern B semifinals
Yarmouth 12 @ Freeport 10
Eastern B Final
@ Freeport 12 Yarmouth 11 (OT)
@ Yarmouth 17 Freeport 7
Yarmouth 13 @ Freeport 6
Eastern B semifinals
@ Yarmouth 16 Freeport 3
@ Yarmouth 14 Freeport 1
Eastern B semifinals
@ Yarmouth 17 Freeport 2
Yarmouth 17 @ Freeport 2
@ Yarmouth 17 Freeport 3
Yarmouth 14 @ Freeport 3
@ Yarmouth 17 Freeport 5
East Region quarterfinals
@ Yarmouth 17 Freeport 5
Yarmouth sophomore Mary Kate Gunville denies Freeport junior Lily Johnston for one of her 10 saves during Saturday’s 16-3 Clippers’ victory.
Jason Veilleux photos.
More photos below.
Y- 9 7- 16
F- 1 2- 3
19:58 Y Fallon (unassisted)
18:04 Y Lunt (unassisted)
16:29 Y Fallon (Barbera)
15:31 F Johnston (Johnson)
12:40 Y Watson (unassisted)
9:29 Y Fallon (unassisted)
6:05 Y Waeldner (Fallon)
4:18 Y Simsarian (Watson)
3:32 Y Fallon (unassisted)
2:256 Y Fallon (unassisted)
24:14 Y Torres (free position)
22:52 Y Torres (unassisted)
18:51 Y Langenbach (Torres)
13:35 Y Watson (unassisted)
8:46 F Johnson (Martin)
7:24 Y Wilson (Lunt)
5:45 F Martin (unassisted)
4:22 Y Antolini (Wilson)
1:24 Y Harrison (Watson)
Y- Watson 5, Torres, Watson 2, Antolini, Harrison, Langenbach, Lunt, Simsarian, Waeldner, Wilson 1
F- Johnson, Johnston, Martin 1
Y- Watson 2, Barbera, Fallon, Lunt, Torres, Wilson 1
F- Johnson, Martin 1
Draws (Freeport, 11-10)
Y- Torres 5 of 14, Antolini 5 of 7
F- Martin 7 of 15, Davidson 4 of 6
Ground balls (Yarmouth, 37-29)
Y- Fallon, Torres 5, Watson 4, Barbera, Bartlett, Simsarian, Waeldner 3, Dorsett, Harrison, Lunt, Teare 2, Langenbach, Myers, Wilson 1
F- Johnson 15, Martin 4, Driscoll, Johnston, Rinaldi, Washburn 2, Davidson, Olins 1
Shots on goal:
Shots on cage
Y- (Gunville) 10
F- (Jordan) 8