Falmouth sophomore Lou Mainella gets a lift from senior George Gilbert after a Yachtsmen goal during Thursday’s 12-7 win at Yarmouth. Falmouth stayed undefeated by passing another key test.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.


Falmouth 12 Yarmouth 7

F- 3 4 3 2- 12
Y- 2 1 2 2- 7

First quarter
9:58 F Scribner (unassisted)
6:40 Y May (M. Beatty) (MAN-UP)
6:03 Y Jacobs (unassisted)
5:36 F Gilbert (unassisted)
2:39 F Gilbert (unassisted) 

Second quarter
8:36 Y LeBlanc (Jacobs)
3:28 F Gilbert (unassisted)
2:09 F Russell (Mainella)
44.8 F Scribner (Hickey)
14.9 F Mainella (Norris) 

Third quarter
11:31 F Russell (Mainella)
9:44 F Gilbert (unassisted)
5:59 Y H. Venden (M. Beatty) (MAN-UP)
1:02 Y Conrad (unassisted)
29.8 F N. Farnham (unassisted) 

Fourth quarter
10:41 F Scribner (Fitzgerald) (MAN-UP)
7:30 Y Conrad (unassisted) (MAN-DOWN)
7:01 F N. Farnham (Scribner) (MAN-UP)
4:21 Y Chappell (unassisted) 

F- Gilbert 4, Scribner 3, N. Farnham, Russell 2, Mainella 1
Y- Conard 2, Chappell, Jacobs, LeBlanc, May, H. Venden 1

F- Mainella 2, Fitzgerald, Hickey, Norris, Scribner 1
Y- M. Beatty 2, Jacobs 1

Faceoffs (Falmouth, 14-9)
F- Pierce 11 of 16, Hickey 3 of 7
Y- Tillotson 8 of 21, Conrad 1 of 2

Ground balls (Falmouth, 35-20)
F- Pierce, Scribner 6, Hickey, Russell 4, Engelberger, Mainella 3, Chapman, Reed 2, N. Farnham, Masciangelo, Nolan, Norris, Zinn 1
Y- M. Beatty 3, Conrad, Grant, Mallett, Newberg, H. Venden, J. Venden 2, Harke, LeBlanc, Pidden, Tillotson, Winkle 1

F- 13
Y- 21

F- 42
Y- 20

Shots on cage:
F- 21
Y- 12

F (Chapman) 2 (Tucker) 3
Y (Harke) 9

YARMOUTH—Whether or not Falmouth has the best boys’ lacrosse team in the state will be determined on Wednesday, but one thing is certain as we near the midway point of the 2016 season.

The Yachtsmen have the pieces in place to be something special.

Thursday evening, Falmouth had the daunting task of facing Yarmouth on its home turf, but the Yachtsmen were up to the challenge, once again tickling the twine with abandon, but on this night, Falmouth’s defense was every bit as impressive as its offense.

The Yachtsmen trailed for all of 3 minutes, 18 seconds and went ahead to stay with 3:28 remaining in the first half on an unassisted tally from senior captain George Gilbert.

The game turned for good just before halftime, when the Clippers threatened to cut the deficit to one, but Falmouth sophomore defensive standout Brendan Hickey forced a turnover, ran into the offensive zone and set up junior Jack Scribner for a goal, which was followed 30 seconds later by a goal from sophomore Lou Mainella to produce a somewhat comfortable 7-3 advantage at the break.

Goals from junior Devin Russell and Gilbert early in the second half opened things up even more and the Yachtsmen went on to a 12-7 victory.

Gilbert scored four goals, Scribner added three and Falmouth won its fifth game without a loss this spring, dropping Yarmouth to 2-3 in the process.

“It was a great win,” Gilbert said. “It feels good. They’re always tough here. We came in with our game plan and we stuck with it. We know their tendencies. That helped coming in here.”

Another positive step

While Falmouth-Yarmouth boys’ lacrosse lacks the history and intensity of the schools’ boys’ soccer rivalry, the games have been pretty close the past several seasons (see sidebar, below). Last spring, the Clippers held on for an 8-6 victory in Falmouth (Joe Oliva had five goals) to improve to 11-5 all-time in the series, which dates to 2003.

Falmouth once again is fielding a standout team and the Yachtsmen’s first four games this spring saw them produce 66 goals. Falmouth opened with wins over visiting Freeport (19-6), Kennebunk (10-5) and South Portland (21-10), then Monday, the Yachtsmen pitched a 16-0 shutout at North Yarmouth Academy.

Yarmouth, meanwhile, has been up and down. The Clippers defeated visiting York in their opener, 14-3, then lost at home to nemesis Cape Elizabeth, 15-5, and at home to defending Class A champion Brunswick (11-7), before bouncing back Tuesday with a 16-10 victory at Greely. 

Thursday, Falmouth’s ability to possess and its consistency on both sides of the ball proved to be too much.

The Yachtsmen got the game’s first goal, when Scribner scored unassisted two minutes in, but Yarmouth tied the score man-up, when senior Matthew Beatty set up sophomore Cooper May, who beat Falmouth sophomore goalie Ethan Chapman with 6:40 left.

Thirty-seven seconds later, the Clippers took their lone lead, as junior Bill Jacobs scored unassisted.

Gilbert’s first goal, with 5:36 left in the first, tied the score and Gilbert scored unassisted again with 2:39 remaining to make it 3-2 Falmouth.

Yarmouth evened the game for a final time with 8:36 to go in the first half, when Jacobs set up junior Remi LeBlanc.

Both teams had multiple possessions over the next five minutes, but it wasn’t until 3:28 remained, that the Yachtsmen broke through and went on top for good on Gilbert’s third unassisted tally.

Falmouth extended its lead with 2:09 to go in the half, as the Clippers had some momentary confusion on defense and that allowed Mainella to set Russell in front for a shot which beat Yarmouth freshman goalie Liam Harke for a 5-3 lead.

With less than a minute remaining, out of a timeout, Jacobs tried to pull the Clippers closer, but Hickey forced a turnover and if that wasn’t enough, the sophomore raced into the offensive zone and threw a pinpoint pass to Scribner, who caught the ball on the fly, then, with 44.8 seconds showing, beat Harke for a three-goal advantage.

“You have no idea how much fun that is,” Hickey said. “It was cool to get an assist. The points will come, but the victories are always special.” 

“That was huge to turn away that goal,” said Falmouth coach Mike LeBel. “That would have turned the momentum. They could have come out of halftime flying and who knows what would have happened. Hickey has game-changing ability. He can do everything. I just tell him and he does it.”

The Yachtsmen weren’t done, as Hickey won the ensuing faceoff and with 14.9 seconds on the clock, junior Henry Norris set up Mainella to make it 7-3 at halftime.

Falmouth won eight of 12 first half faceoffs and had an advantage in ground balls and shots.

The Yachtsmen, who were bolstered at the start of the second half by the return of junior goalie Liam Tucker, who missed the first four-and-a-half games with injury, would gradually pull away.

After sophomore Spencer Pierce won the opening third quarter faceoff for Falmouth, Mainella set up Russell for a goal and an 8-3 lead.

Gilbert scored unassisted again with 9:44 left in the frame and the Yachtsmen had a six-goal advantage.

“We were dodging one-on-one and scoring, feeding people and scoring,” Gilbert said. “Everything was clicking. Our offense is clicking. We’ve tried some new offenses and it’s working.”

It took until 5:59 remained in the third for the Clippers to snap a 14 minute, 37 drought and Falmouth’s 6-0 run, as Beatty set up sophomore Henry Venden for a man-up goal, cutting the deficit to 9-4.

An unassisted tally from senior Walter Conrad with 1:02 left pulled Yarmouth closer, but with 25.8 seconds on the clock, sophomore Nick Farnham scored unassisted to put the Yachtsmen ahead, 10-5.

The Clippers had a chance to cut into their deficit when Falmouth took a delay of game penalty early in the final stanza, but Tucker robbed Venden and with 10:41 to play, Scribner scored a man-up goal (from junior George Fitzgerald) and Falmouth once again had a six-goal lead.

Conrad tried to rally his team by scoring man-down with 7:30 left, but 29 seconds later, Scribner set up Farnham for a man-up goal to make it 12-6.

With 4:21 remaining, sophomore Silas Chappell scored unassisted to pull Yarmouth back within five, but the hosts couldn’t get any closer and the Yachtsmen slammed the door on their 12-7 victory.

“We’re always happy to win,” said Hickey. “It’s a good road victory for us. It’s the toughest test we’ve had. We knew Yarmouth is tremendous. They always produce great teams. We wanted to pressure them and beat them down slowly but surely.”

“It’s always great beating Yarmouth on their field, because they always play their best here,” LeBel said. “They have a lot of athletes. They’re well-coached. The key for us was keeping it out of their offensive sticks. We won time of possession. We’re getting our second line middies into the game more. We’re running four guys on the first line and that gives us a lot of depth.”

Falmouth got four goals from Gilbert, who has hit his scoring stride after a slow start to the season.

“I had troubles at the beginning of the season,” Gilbert said. “I had to learn to play with the guys I’m playing with.”

“George has just simplified his game,” LeBel said. “He’s able to score a lot more.” 

Scribner had three goals, while Farnham and Russell scored twice and Mainella tickled the twine once. Mainella had two assists, while Fitzgerald, Hickey, Norris and Scribner had one each.

“I thought we’d have an effective offense, but I didn’t think we’d score this many goals,” LeBel said. “We’ve changed our philosophy in practice and it’s worked for us. We can focus on offense now that we have solid goalie play and solid defensive play.”

Tucker made three saves and Chapman had two.

“It’s great having Liam back and Chad’s been great for us,” Hickey said. “I’m confident with either one.”

“It’s great to get Liam back,” LeBel said. “It helps Ethan. We have a tremendous amount of confidence in Ethan. We didn’t want Liam back because we didn’t think Ethan could do the job. Liam gives us a different look. He can make big, miraculous saves and he’s better in the clearing game. In the second half, when they were going to pressure us on the clear, we had an experienced goalkeeper who could handle the ball and see the field well.”

Pierce and Hickey combined to win 14 of 23 faceoffs.

“We had a good plan for faceoffs,” LeBel said. “It’s one thing to win the clamp, but you also have to have a guy who can scoop it and get it to your attack too.” 

The Yachtsmen had a 35-20 advantage in ground balls (Pierce and Scribner led the way with six apiece), Falmouth forced 21 turnovers while committing 13 and outshot the Clippers, 42-20 (21-12 on cage).

If that wasn’t enough, Falmouth’s defense had its best effort of the year.

“Coach LeBel is a defensive guy and we knew we had a good defense coming in,” Gilbert said. “We take great pride in our defense.”

For Yarmouth, Conrad scored twice and Chappell, Jacobs, LeBlanc, May and Venden had one goal each. Beatty had two assists and Jacobs finished with one. Harke made nine saves. 

“We made mental errors and they capitalized, but I’m encouraged because we are very injured and we had a lot of starters missing tonight,” said Clippers coach David Pearl. “We had a lot of young guys all over the field. I’m proud of how they played. We showed the resilience we’ve talked about. We battled. We’re dedicated to getting better. We’ll only grow from this. We may see them again and we’ll be ready. I enjoy coaching these guys.”

Eyeing June

Yarmouth faces a couple tough road tests next week, at NYA and Scarborough. Home games with Lake Region, Kennebunk and NYA and trips to Waynflete and Cape Elizabeth also remain.

“I wouldn’t have our schedule any other way,” Pearl said. “I enjoy seeing good lacrosse. We circle these games on our calendars. We have a lot of work ahead of us.”

Falmouth will get a true test as to just how realistic its title hopes are when it measures itself at Cape Elizabeth for the first of a likely three meetings with its nemesis this spring Wednesday night. Home games versus Fryeburg Academy and Wells follow. Trips to Messalonskee and Kennebunk and home tilts versus Greely and Cape Elizabeth fill out the schedule.

“There are always areas of the game we can improve,” Hickey said. “We have great coaching and great skill and we’re trying to improve every day. Cape is always a battle. It’ll be fun.”

“We have the same goal every year, but we’re not getting ahead of ourselves,” Gilbert said. “We’re hoping to come out with a victory at Cape. We’ll go in with some confidence and hopefully come out with a victory. We’re excited about that game.”

“I haven’t seen Cape play yet,” LeBel added. “It’ll be a really good test. I couldn’t really give any predictions, but it’ll be a good game.”

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

Yarmouth sophomore Cooper May fires a shot.

Yarmouth sophomore Justin Winkle sends Falmouth sophomore Nate Arrants flying.

Yarmouth freshman goalie Liam Harke awaits a shot from Falmouth senior George Gilbert.

Falmouth junior Devin Russell sends a shot on goal.

Falmouth junior Andrew Langdon is pressured by Yarmouth senior Walter Conrad.

Yarmouth senior Matthew Beatty is smothered by Falmouth senior Jack Engleberger.

Yarmouth junior Anders Newberg looks to pass as Falmouth junior Seth Masciangelo defends.

Recent Falmouth-Yarmouth meetings

Yarmouth 8 @ Falmouth 6 

Falmouth 17 @ Yarmouth 12

@ Yarmouth 10 Falmouth 9 (OT) 
Yarmouth 15 @ Falmouth 14 (OT)

@ Falmouth 14 Yarmouth 7
Falmouth 12 @ Yarmouth 6

Falmouth 14 @ Yarmouth 5
@ Falmouth 17 Yarmouth 0

Yarmouth 7 @ Falmouth 4
@ Yarmouth 8 Falmouth 6

Yarmouth 18 @ Falmouth 5

@ Yarmouth 17 Falmouth 2

@ Yarmouth 13 Falmouth 2

@ Yarmouth 19 Falmouth 6

@ Yarmouth 18 Falmouth 1

Yarmouth 13 @ Falmouth 2

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