CAPE ELIZABETH-The guard has been changed.

Big time.

Friday evening at Hannaford Field, in the opening act of the 2010 boys’ lacrosse season, the highly touted Falmouth Yachtsmen not only lived up to the hype, but exceded it, making an enormous statement with a 48-minute domination of the host Cape Elizabeth Capers.

The Yachtsmen lost to the Capers in last year’s Western B Final, but this time around never trailed, getting five goals from senior Dan Hanley, four more from junior Nick Bachman and breaking the game open with a five-goal third period run en route to a stunning and decisive 11-4 triumph.

“It’s huge,” said Hanley. “This is the first time to ever beat them. It feels good. We didn’t expect this. Cape’s a good team. We came out hard and really wanted it. We played a good game all around.”

Reversing history

Cape Elizabeth has been synonymous with lacrosse excellence seemingly forever, but Falmouth is the new kid on the block, one that burst on to the scene a year ago when it won nine games and reached a first regional final, before losing, 11-7, to the Capers.

Cape Elizabeth lost some top-notch talent to graduation, while the Yachtsmen returned virtually everyone, but until Falmouth beat the Capers, all the hype meant little.

Friday night, as the spring sports season began amid wintery conditions, the Yachtsmen left little doubt that they’re now the regional favorite.

After a sluggish start with plenty of turnovers (the teams combined for 19 in the first quarter), Falmouth took the lead for good at the 8:05 mark of the opening period when sophomore Jack Cooleen set up senior Mike Kane for a goal.

Just 37 seconds later, Bachman won a ground ball and beat Cape Elizabeth junior goalie Jack Roos for a 2-0 advantage. With 1:05 to play in the first, Bachman (from Andrew Murry) scored again and the Yachtsmen held a 3-0 lead after one.

The Capers responded in the second. With 7:58 to go in the half, the hosts got on the board when junior Timmy Takach scored unassisted. Cape Elizabeth had opportunities to draw closer, but Falmouth sophomore goalie Cam Bell (who was at Cheverus a year ago) came up big to keep the Capers from drawing closer. Then, with 51 seconds left, Hanley scored his first goal, unassisted, to make it a 4-1 game at the half.

A run of four goals in just over four minutes in the third period put the game away.

First, senior Chris Janelle scored unassisted to make it 5-1. Bachman followed with an unassisted goal and Hanley scored back-to-back unassisted goals and the Yachtsmen were in control, up 8-1.

“We have a lot of depth,” Hanley said. “We have kids who are in good shape. We didn’t let up. It started from the back. Cam played phenomenal in net. He kept us in it early when it was close. We built off his big saves. My teammates are phenomenal. We possessed the ball and waited for the matchup. I had the matchup today.”

With 2:09 left in the third, Cape Elizabeth junior Teddy Smith scored to make it 8-2, but the damage was done.

The Capers made it a five-goal game on an unassisted goal from Takach 52 seconds into the fourth, but after a clutch save from Bell, senior Kyle Lucas set up Cooleen for a goal and Hanley followed with a pair of unassisted tallies to essentially salt it away. A late strike from Smith accounted for the 11-4 final score.

“It’s just a different intensity level we bring,” said Falmouth coach Mike LeBel. “It’s not just throwing and catching, it’s about intensity and playing together and determination to succeed. These guys have worked at it for four years. It’s been a work in progress and it’s starting to show.”

Falmouth has enjoyed landmark wins in recent years over the likes of Scarborough and North Yarmouth Academy, but this victory was unique.

“It’s an absolute euphoric feeling,” LeBel said. “I just wish (assistant coach and former Cape Elizabeth assistant) Chris (Richards) could be here to see this. It would have been nice to celebrate it with him. The kids played at a certain level the whole time. They made mistakes, but they didn’t let it affect them. They moved on, busted their tail and worked hard.”

Hanley led the way with five goals. Bachman added four, while Cooleen and Kane each had one. Cooleen, Lucas and Murry added assists. Bell made 14 saves, several of the highlight reel variety.

“It was a team effort tonight,” LeBel said. “I haven’t really seen a big weakness on our team yet. It’s just everybody. If one falters, someone else picks them up. They know now how to play the game, while in years past they waited for someone else to do it. Now, we have kids to take charge. It’s also a combination of teams being down.”

Falmouth is now idle until April 27 when it goes to Waynflete. Three days later, the Yachtsmen have a chance to finally beat its last remaining nemesis, when they host two-time defending state champion Yarmouth. Falmouth hosts Cape Elizabeth in a rematch May 18 and it’s likely the rivals will square off again in the regional final on June 16.

“Yarmouth’s not the same (this year, after graduation losses) and Cape’s not the same so I expect this type of effort from us with the kids we have returning,” LeBel said. “We’re not young and developing anymore. Our top two midfield lines are the same in effectiveness. Our depth wears teams down. We’re deep at every position. That goes a long way. We’re taking it game by game. I haven’t seen any hint that we’ll back down. Practice is intense. The kids get after it. They never fluctuate. It serves us well.”

“It’s definitely a big step, but we’re not satisfied,” Hanley added.

Cape Elizabeth also returns to action April 27, at Freeport.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]

Falmouth senior Dan Hanley makes a move around Cape Elizabeth junior Timmy Takach Friday. Hanley had five goals in the Yachtsmen’s first-ever win over the Capers.

Falmouth senior Mike Kane works his way toward the Cape Elizabeth goal. Kane scored the first goal of the game Friday.

Falmouth senior Dan Hanley eludes Cape Elizabeth junior Teddy Smith in the first half.

Falmouth junior Brendan McDonnell tries to elude Cape Elizabeth’s Alex Cooley Friday night.

Sidebar Elements

In a play symbolic of Friday night’s result, Falmouth junior Brendan McDonnell sends Cape Elizabeth junior Wilson Laprade flying after a first half hit. The Yachtsmen avenged last year’s loss in the regional final with a first-ever triumph over the Capers, 11-4.

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