Falmouth junior Shane Allen and Thornton Academy senior C.J. Labreck fight for possession during the teams’ Class A boys’ lacrosse state final Saturday. Allen won 15 of 18 faceoffs, but in overtime, his stick was ruled illegal and Labreck wound up scoring to give the Golden Trojans an 8-7 win and a repeat championship.

Derek Davis / Portland Press Herald photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Class A State Final

Thornton Academy 8 Falmouth 7 (OT)

F- 0 4 2 1 0- 7
TA- 2 2 2 1 1- 8

First quarter
9:27 TA Labreck (unassisted)
22.7 TA Edborg (unassisted)

Second quarter
10:34 F Derhak (Tucker)
10:02 F Tucker (St. Louis)
8:34 F Eng (unassisted)
4:31 TA Levasseur (McAlary)
3:20 F Kerr (Tucker)
1:36 TA Labreck (Alexander) (MAN-UP)

Third quarter
4:59 F Eng (Kerr)
2:40 TA Labreck (Edborg) (TWO MEN-UP)
2:11 TA Edborg (unassisted)
1:22 F Tucker (St. Louis) (MAN-UP)

Fourth quarter
4:50 TA Labreck (unassisted)
22.6 F Tucker (Eng)

Overtime
3:18 TA Labreck (unassisted) (MAN-UP)

Goals:
F- Tucker 3, Eng 2, Derhak, Kerr 1
TA- Labreck 5, Edborg 2, Levasseur 1

Assists:
F- St. Louis, Tucker 2, Eng, Kerr 1
TA- Edborg 2, McAlary 1

Faceoffs (Falmouth, 15-3)
F- Allen 15 of 18
TA- Pelletier 0 of 9, Labreck 3 of 7, Cote 0 of 1, Edborg 0 f 1

Ground balls:
F- 37
TA- 21

Turnovers:
F- 19
TA- 13

Shots:
F- 17
TA- 26

Shots on cage:
F- 14
TA- 18

Saves:
F (Noyes) 10
TA (Patry) 7

PORTLAND—For weeks, it’s been Falmouth’s boys’ lacrosse team against the world.

And Saturday afternoon at Fitzpatrick Stadium, the Yachtsmen had the world on the ropes, as they had a golden opportunity to pull off an improbable victory against defending state champion Thornton Academy.

But with the stage set for an indescribably sweet triumph, a controversial decision led to the decisive goal in overtime which instead, left Falmouth crestfallen and its quest for a first Class A state championship unfulfilled.

The Yachtsmen, who suffered through an uncharacteristically challenging regular season and were written off by virtually everyone outside of their inner circle, gave Thornton Academy a battle for more than 48 minutes in one of the more memorable state finals ever contested in Maine.

But what happened before and during the 49th minute is what will be most remembered.

Falmouth set the tone early as junior Shane Allen was unstoppable in the faceoff circle and while the Golden Trojans scored the game’s first two goals, from senior standout C.J. Labreck and junior Sam Edborg, the Yachtsmen roared back in the second period, as junior Zach Derhak, senior Reilly Tucker and sophomore Jonah Eng scored for the lead.

Thornton Academy drew even on a goal from senior Thomas Levasseur, but sophomore Wyatt Kerr gave Falmouth the lead back before a Labreck man-up tally forged a 4-4 tie at halftime.

The second half would be more of the same.

After Eng put the Yachtsmen back on top in the third period, the Golden Trojans got goals from Labreck and Edborg to regain the lead, only to see Falmouth tie it up again when Tucker scored man-up late in the frame to make it 6-6.

With every possession gaining more importance in the fourth quarter, Labreck put Thornton Academy up by one with 4:50 to play, but the Yachtsmen refused to buckle and Tucker tied the score with 22.6 seconds left.

Falmouth nearly won it in regulation, but senior Riley Reed’s shot was saved by Golden Trojans senior goalie Ean Patry and the contest would go to overtime.

But before that could happen, mayhem ensued, as Thornton Academy coach Ryan Hersey asked for Allen’s stick to be checked and it was deemed illegal. The Yachtsmen, who were apoplectic about the timing of the request, never got a chance to win the overtime faceoff and sure enough, 42 seconds into the sudden victory session, Labreck scored to end it, giving the Golden Trojans a scintillating 8-7 victory.

Labreck scored five goals to help Thornton Academy finish 14-1, win the program’s second title in succession and end Falmouth’s roller-coaster ride of a season at 10-6 in the process.

“There’s just something about this group,” said Yachtsmen coach Dave Barton. “They just liked being together and playing together. I’ve been at this game a long time and this team goes to the top. I’ll always remember 2019.”

Different avenues

The Class A state finalists wound up the same as last year, but the Golden Trojans and Yachtsmen took different routes back to Fitzpatrick Stadium (see sidebar, below, for links to previous stories).

Falmouth captured its first five games, but the Yachtsmen, hindered by the loss of standout junior attack Tommy Fitzgerald to a knee injury and challenged by a daunting schedule, won just twice in their final seven outings to wind up fifth in Class A North, the program’s lowest ranking in 11 years.

Regardless, Falmouth caught fire when it mattered most and had no trouble dominating the regional tournament field, dispatching No. 4 Bangor, 17-3, in the quarterfinals, eliminating top-ranked Windham, 16-5, in the semifinals, then beating No. 2 Portland Wednesday at Fitzpatrick Stadium in the regional final, 15-4.

Thornton Academy wasn’t able to match its undefeated run of a year ago, dropping an overtime decision at Cape Elizabeth April 29, but the Golden Trojans just got better as the season went on and excelled in the Class A South playoffs as the second seed, ousting No. 7 Scarborough, 12-5, in the quarterfinals, beating No. 6 Kennebunk, 10-1, in the semifinals, then handing the top-ranked Capers their first setback Wednesday, 8-5, in the regional final.

On May 28, in the teams’ lone regular season contest, the game was tied, 1-1, after one quarter, but visiting Thornton Academy went up, 5-1, at halftime and led, 7-2, after three quarters and didn’t look back en route to a 10-4 victory.

The squads had played just once before in the playoffs and that was last year’s state final, which saw Falmouth lead much of the way, including 11-9 early in the fourth period, but a 5-0 Golden Trojans’ surge was just enough to spell the program’s first championship, 14-12. Labreck scored six times in that one to lead the way.

Saturday, Thornton Academy was appearing in its second state final, while the Yachtsmen were competing in their fifth. Falmouth was hoping for a fourth crown (having won Class B in 2011, 2012 and 2016), but despite a heroic performance, the Yachtsmen went home with the runners-up plaque for the second year in a row.

And rest assured, the lacrosse community will be talking about this one for a long, long time.

On a breezy, but pleasant 70 degree afternoon, Falmouth served notice in the game’s opening seconds that it wasn’t just happy to be there.

Allen won the opening faceoff and the Yachtsmen eventually worked the ball around to Tucker, who fired a shot which Patry denied.

Thornton Academy then rushed into the attacking zone, but Edborg missed high.

The Golden Trojans kept possession, however, and with 9:27 to play in the opening stanza, Labreck, in a sign of things to come, scored unassisted for a 1-0 lead.

Allen won the next faceoff as well, but Falmouth couldn’t keep possession.

Yachtsmen sophomore goalie A.J. Noyes stood tall early, denying Labreck and Levasseur and after Patry robbed Tucker on the doorstep, Noyes saved a bid from senior Gavin Tanis.

In the final minute, Falmouth senior Peter Alexander looked to tie the score, but Patry made the save and at the other end, with 22.7 seconds showing, Edborg scored unassisted to make it 2-0 after one quarter.

Allen won the opening faceoff of the second period and the Yachtsmen offense eventually roared to life.

With 10:34 left in the first half, after 13-plus scoreless minutes, Tucker set up Derhak for a long shot which Patry couldn’t save and Falmouth was on the board.

And just getting started.

Allen won possession again and 32 seconds later, senior Iyendae St. Louis passed to Tucker, whose play was transcendent all postseason, and Tucker finished to tie the score.

After another Allen faceoff win, the teams traded turnovers and with 8:34 left in the half, Eng scored unassisted for the Yachtsmen’s third goal in two minutes, good for a 3-2 lead.

Falmouth had a chance to score again when Allen again won the faceoff, but Patry denied sophomore Kurt Robaczewski.

Thornton Academy finally returned to the scoring column with 4:31 to go before halftime, as junior Alec McAlary set up Levasseur with the tying goal, but Allen won the ensuing faceoff and with 3:20 left, Tucker found Kerr, who put the Yachtsmen back on top.

The Golden Trojans would answer again, man-up, with 1:36 remaining before the break, as Edborg got the ball to Labreck and Labreck shot past Noyes to make it 4-4.

Labreck nearly put Thornton Academy back on top just before halftime, but Noyes twice came up huge with saves and an entertaining contest went to the break dead even.

And this heavyweight battle was just warming up.

Neither offense could do much of anything for most of the third period.

The Golden Trojans replaced sophomore Caleb Pelletier in the faceoff circle with junior Cameron Cote, but Allen started the second half with his 11th straight victory.

The contest then devolved into a series of turnovers and penalties for several minutes.

After Levasseur hit the post and Noyes denied Tanis, St. Louis tried to put Falmouth on top, but Patry made the save.

Finally, with 4:59 left in the quarter, Kerr set up Eng and the Yachtsmen retook the lead, 5-4.

Labreck then entered the faceoff circle, but once again, Allen prevailed.

Falmouth wasn’t able to stretch its lead, however, as it turned the ball over, then took a pair of 30 second penalties, giving Thornton Academy a 6-on-4 opportunity.

The Golden Trojans would cash in, as Edborg set up Labreck for a goal with 2:40 left.

And then something happened which hadn’t occurred all day.

Thornton Academy won the faceoff.

Labreck did the honors and it led to a goal 29 seconds later, as Edborg scored unassisted to put the Golden Trojans back in the lead, 6-5.

It didn’t last, as the Yachtsmen went man-up and with 1:22 on the clock, St. Louis found Tucker, who beat Patry to tie the score for the fifth time.

That set the stage for a fourth period which would ultimately decide nothing.

Labreck won the opening faceoff, but Thornton Academy turned the ball over.

Kerr then had a great chance to give Falmouth the lead, but with 9:14 on the clock, Patry made a clutch save.

At the other end, Noyes denied Labreck.

The Golden Trojans went man-up after a Yachtsmen offsides penalty, but Noyes saved shots from both freshman Preston Biggs and Levasseur to preserve the tie.

After Edborg missed twice, Tanis hit the crossbar and McAlary shot just wide.

Then, with 4:50 to go, Thornton Academy broke through, as Labreck beat Noyes with a low rocket, unassisted, and the Golden Trojans were on the brink of a repeat.

But the Yachtsmen simply refused to go without a fight and eventually battled back.

Allen won the ensuing faceoff and Alexander fired a shot that went just wide.

After Kerr missed just wide, Kerr tried again and Patry made the save.

Tucker kept possession by winning a ground ball, but with 2:50 on the clock, junior Sawyer Wirsing intercepted a pass to give Thornton Academy the ball back.

The Golden Trojans hoped to run out the clock, but Reed forced a turnover and the Yachtsmen had another chance.

With 48.2 seconds to go, Falmouth appeared to tie the score, as Tucker set up Alexander, but the goal was waved off due to a crease violation.

On the play, however, Thornton Academy senior defenseman Eli Arsenault was called for a 30-second pushing penalty and the Yachtsmen called timeout to set up the equalizer.

Falmouth threw the ball away, but got it right back and with 22.6 seconds remaining, Tucker took a pass from Eng and fired a shot past Patry to tie the score for the final time, 7-7.

And then, the Yachtsmen nearly won it.

Allen won what proved to be the game’s final faceoff, the ball was scooped up by Reed and Reed, who is never shy to enter the offensive fray, saw open turf in front of him.

Reed raced into the attacking zone, then with 10.7 seconds showing, he unleashed a shot that could have lived in program lore, but instead, Patry coolly made the save.

“I thought (Riley) had it,” Barton said. “It would have been perfect for a guy who meant so much to our program to score there.”

Falmouth got one final chance and Kerr fired a shot with 3.2 seconds to go, but it sailed high and the game went to overtime.

But much would transpire before it did.

In the five-minute break between the end of regulation and the start of overtime, Hersey asked the officials to have Allen’s stick checked.

They did and deemed it illegal, meaning Allen had to sit for three minutes, his stick had to come out of the game and perhaps worst of all for the Yachtsmen, the Golden Trojans were given possession to start overtime instead of having a faceoff.

The rule states that coaches can call for a stick check at any time, but there was a prevailing feeling among neutral observers and certainly among the Falmouth cheering section, that doing so at that point of the game violated a code of sportsmanship.

Barton declined comment on the brouhaha after the game.

Hersey explained that Thornton Academy had been on the wrong side of a similar situation in the past and that he felt it was the right call to make.

“We had a stick check on us in 2014 (in the Class A South Final at South Portland) and that lost us a game,” Hersey said. “We’ve had it in the back of our pocket and it’s one you have to call in a close game when a guy is winning everything. We were in a tie game and we had to make sure his stick was legal. He was dominating us on faceoffs and not only that, but when he got the ball, we couldn’t get it away. We had to make sure he was playing with a legal stick.”

Falmouth asked to have Labreck’s stick checked as well, but it was deemed legal and overtime began.

The Golden Trojans worked the ball around the perimeter, then it came up top to Labreck, who ran to his right, got just a little space around a defender, then launched a low rocket to Noyes’ right that got past the goalie and tickled the twine.

“I felt very confident,” said Labreck. “As soon as I took a step, I saw a short pole and I knew I had to shoot around him. Luckily, it went in the net. That goal means the most to me, winning a game in overtime. It’s very special. I knew it was time we needed to win. I made sure I got the ball and put it in the back of the net.”

“C.J. played a phenomenal game,” said Hersey. “He played like the best player in the state.”

At 5:16 p.m., Thornton Academy was state champion again, 8-7.

“We came out as nervous as last year, but we got over the nerves and scored two goals right away, then we had a drought,” Labreck said. “We told ourselves this was our time. They stuck with us through the fourth quarter.  It was a little frustrating, but we couldn’t keep our heads down. When we got the ball, we knew we had to capitalize and our defense did a great job holding them. This is what every little kid dreams of, to go to a championship and win. I wanted to go out with a bang and I did that.”

“I told the guys we needed to go out and execute,” Hersey said. “The guys didn’t run what we wanted them to run, but we spend 20, 25 percent of our practices every day on unsettled situations like that. I’m proud of the boys. I’m proud of how they played. They put in a lot of work and sacrifice. I’m so grateful for their efforts.”

Labreck, who will play at Monmouth University in New Jersey next year, capped his stellar high school career with a game-high five goals.

“(Falmouth) played me so well all day,” Labreck said. “Riley did a great job coming at me. I admire him. He’s a great pole. He’ll do big things.”

Edborg scored twice and Levasseur added one goal.

Edborg had two assists and McAlary added one.

Patry made seven critical saves.

Labreck and freshman Alex St. John led the team with three ground balls apiece.

The Golden Trojans outshot the Yachtsmen, 26-17 (18-14 on cage) and only turned the ball over 13 times.

“Falmouth executed a great game plan,” Hersey said. “They did a great job making us work very hard for everything we got. I knew they’d play us tough. I think we could have played better in a number of different aspects. Our defense made them make mistakes with our pressure, but they did a good job passing around us. We had to let them to come to us in the second half.”

The Golden Trojans will take a major graduation hit this year, but the program has established itself as elite and figures to be in the title hunt every single year.

A three-peat is not out of the question.

“We’ve tried all year to get our freshmen, sophomores and juniors to develop,” Hersey said. “We’re hoping they’re ready to take the reins next year and continue it on. We’ll need some people to step up.”

Pride

Falmouth, meanwhile, was led by Tucker, who had three goals and a pair of assists in his swan song.

Eng added two goals and one assist, Kerr had one goal and one assist, Derhak had one goal and St. Louis assisted on three goals.

Noyes made 10 saves.

Allen won 15 of 18 faceoffs in a dominant performance.

The Yachtsmen had a 37-21 advantage in ground balls (Reed had a game-high 10 and Allen collected nine) and turned the ball over 19 times.

“Nobody thought we could win except our guys,” Barton said. “People wrote us off and that’s when we went to work. I hope we taught the guys a lot, but they taught the coaches a lot about what it means to really buckle down when the chips are stacked against you. The boys bought in. It’s a special group of guys who deserved a better fate, but they have bigger things ahead for them in their lives.

“We had a great game plan. Shane was unbelievable. We won faceoffs and got timely stops, but we just couldn’t get one more stop. We knew they’d pressure us, but guys like Shane and (sophomore) Sam Gearan and Riley Reed did a great job. The boys played their hearts out. The guys are upset, but they handled adversity. Freshman through seniors, this is an incredible group of kids with incredible character.”

As always, graduation will take its toll on the program, but as always, the Yachtsmen have plenty of hungry players awaiting their turn to lead this squad back to the pinnacle.

“The younger guys will bottle this up,” Barton said. “They know we have to get back to work and hopefully, we’ll make another run at it.”

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

Thornton Academy senior C.J. Labreck tries to retain possession between Falmouth senior defenders Riley Reed, left, and Gibson Scott.

Thornton Academy senior C.J. Labreck celebrates after scoring one of his five goals.

Thornton Academy rushes the field to celebrate its overtime win.

Thornton Academy senior captains Ean Patry, left, Eli Arsenault and Thomas Levasseur show off the championship trophy.

Previous Falmouth stories

Season Preview

Falmouth 14 Scarborough 9

Cape Elizabeth 9 Falmouth 4

Yarmouth 10 Falmouth 4

Brunswick 12 Falmouth 9

Falmouth 16 Windham 5

Previous Thornton Academy stories

Cape Elizabeth 8 Thornton Academy 7 (OT)

Thornton Academy 8 Cape Elizabeth 5

Previous Falmouth state game results

2018
Class A
Thornton Academy 14 Falmouth 12

2016
Class B
Falmouth 13 Yarmouth 9

2012
Class B

Falmouth 7 NYA 4 

2011
Class B

Falmouth 15 NYA 4 

Previous Thornton Academy state game result

2018
Class A
Thornton Academy 14 Falmouth 12


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