FALMOUTH — After beating Kennebunk 15-2 in the second game of the season, only to be beaten by the Rams 11-8 a month later, the Falmouth boys lacrosse team expected just one thing when the teams met for the rubber match Saturday.

“We expected a barnburner,” senior midfielder Brad Gilbert said. “We expected a battle.”

Falmouth got just that but survived the fire to advance, overcoming an early three-goal deficit thanks to eight different goal scorers as the second-seeded Yachtsmen beat the third-seeded Rams 12-9 in a back-and-forth Western Class B regional semifinal.

Falmouth (10-3) moves on to play top-ranked Cape Elizabeth (13-0) in the regional final Wednesday. Kennebunk, which had a seven-game winning streak snapped, ended its first season back in Class B at 9-5.

“Today was a mix of our entire season,” Rams coach Dan Seavey said. “The past six or seven games we’ve been playing well, but today we were up and down and inconsistent.”

It was the “up” initially as the Rams got off to the best possible start, getting two goals from Tyler Elkington and another from Pat Gassman to take a 3-0 lead after 11 minutes as Falmouth turned the ball over five times early.

“I don’t think that was us coming out flat,” Gilbert said. “They came out really hot, and we didn’t match it right away. But once things started getting going it just started going back and forth.”

The Yachtsmen did respond, scoring three goals in the space of 1:48 thanks to the play of junior Bryce Kuhn, who got Falmouth on the board by forcing a Rams defensive zone turnover, picking up the ground ball and slotting it past Kennebunk goalie Ben Bath.

Kuhn then found Joe Dancoes wide open out front after a well-worked Falmouth passing sequence, and another Rams turnover turned into the third goal as C.J. Leighton scored in transition off a pass from Kuhn.

“The start was good. We ran our offense and weren’t turning the ball over,” Seavey said. “And then we shot ourselves in the foot, and they came back and tied it up.”

The Rams retook the lead, scoring twice in the opening 73 seconds of the second quarter, thanks to Elkington and Hussey, but the Yachtsmen then took over with five of the last six goals of the half.

Senior standout I.V. Stucker started the run by scoring on a tight-angled shot and then feeding George Gilbert to tie the game at 5-5.

The Rams took back the advantage as Hussey scored on a fast break from the following faceoff, but two George Gilbert goals in the span of 17 seconds gave Falmouth its first lead, which it extended to 8-6 just 17 seconds before the half as Leighton scored on a length-of-the-field transition move started by Brad Gilbert’s caused turnover.

“We’ve got some good players who have been on varsity for a good time and have some fire power, and eventually you’re only going to hold them back for only so long,” Falmouth coach Mike LeBel said. “We just had to stay patient and run our offense. We knew that our time would come to attack the cage and we’d get some good looks, and good things would start to happen.”

Kennebunk got back to within a goal as strikes from Patrick Rimmer and Elkington sandwiched a Falmouth goal from Tyler Jordan in the opening three minutes of the third quarter.

Falmouth then slowly started to take over as the quarter wore on, dominating possession and taking advantage of some sloppy Kennebunk turnovers in the midfield, only for Bath to make six straight saves ”“ including three fantastic stops on Yachtsmen players hugging the crease ”“ to keep the Rams in the game.

“We tried to take good shots, we got good shots but he made some really, really solid saves,” LeBel said. “If there’s a different goalie in the game, we’re scoring 18 goals. He was fantastic.”

“He was amazing,” Falmouth’s Brad Gilbert said about Bath, who made 13 saves. “We knew he was arguably one of the best goalies in the state, and just had to take the best shots we could and take them wisely.”

Falmouth finally found a way past Bath to start the fourth quarter as Kuhn was given room on the left for a shot into the top corner to make it 10-8, and the Yachtsmen had a chance to put things away when Kennebunk’s Chris Broadhead was called for a 30-second penalty with 4:32 left.

But senior long-stick middie Nicco DeLorenzo ended the Rams’ 16:38-minute scoring drought with a spectacular individual effort, causing a turnover in the defensive zone, picking up the ground ball and sprinting the length of the field before sending a bounce shot up and over the right shoulder of Yachtsmen goalie Nick Beaulieu to get Kennebunk back within one.

“He comes up with big plays for us every game,” Seavey said of DeLorenzo, who led the Rams with four ground balls and four caused turnovers. “He’s been doing that since he was a freshman.”

Kennebunk then had two chances to even things up but couldn’t get a shot on goal as Gassman won the resulting faceoff, only for the Rams to turn the ball over on the offensive possession. DeLorenzo then won the ball back, stepping in front of Stucker as Falmouth tried to clear, but again the Rams turned the ball over before getting their offense set up.

“The fourth we were just throwing the ball away,” Seavey said. “We weren’t running the offense, and that’s a recipe for disaster in the playoffs. If you can’t hold possession, you’re going to be in trouble against any team.

“Some of our guys were tired, and they made some bad mental decisions. That’s all it takes to make a couple bad passes and change the whole game.”

Brad Gilbert then all but wrapped things up with his only goal of the game with 2:17 remaining, darting left before shooting back across his body and finding the far bottom corner of the net.

“The whole left side was open,” Brad Gilbert said. “I kind of baited them to the right, got my hands free and just shot it as hard as I could.”

Stucker also added a goal in the final minute to make it a 12-9 final, a far better showing than Kennebunk’s first trip to Falmouth this spring, but still not enough for a regional final berth.

“I think we anticipated that Kennebunk would get a little tired toward the end. They have some really talented players, but I don’t think they’re as deep as we are,” LeBel said. “But I was very impressed. To get them back up here on turf, I didn’t think they’d respond quite this way, but they played with a lot of intensity and a lot of passion.”

— Staff Writer Cameron Dunbar can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 323 or [email protected]



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