Windham senior Lily Savard races up the field as Falmouth senior Avi Fishman gives chase late in the Eagles’ 11-9 home win Monday morning. Michael Hoffer / For The Forecaster

WINDHAM—For Windham, it was the season opener it had dreamed of.

For Falmouth, it was a reality check.

Monday morning, the Eagles took the field for the first time in nearly two years and faced the daunting task of slowing a Yachtsmen squad which has not only won the past two Class A state championships, but looked unstoppable in its opener last week.

But something about playing Falmouth in Windham brings the best out of the Eagles and they put on a show and earned an inspirational victory.

Windham set the tone early, forcing a pair of Yachtsmen turnovers before senior standouts Riley Beem and Julia McKenna each scored for a 2-0 lead.

Falmouth, behind its sophomore standout Sloane Ginevan, roared back with three quick goals and after McKenna drew the Eagles even, a free position goal from sophomore Lucy Taylor midway through the first half gave the Yachtsmen a 4-3 lead.

But that would be as good as it got for the visitors, as Beem scored to tie it and senior Emma Yale and Beem added goals for a two-goal advantage. After Ginevan answered, Windham appeared primed to take a two-goal lead and momentum to the half when junior Sidney McCusker scored with 11 seconds remaining, but Ginevan won the ensuing draw, raced in and set up junior Molly Scribner for a goal at the horn and Falmouth was within one, 7-6, at halftime.

When Scribner scored on a free position four minutes into the second half to tie it, the Yachtsmen were on the brink of regaining control, but it never happened, as McKenna put the Eagles ahead to stay with 20:16 to go, then Beem and McKenna added goals for a 10-7 advantage.

Again, Falmouth responded, as goals from Ginevan and Taylor cut the deficit to one, but Windham senior goalie Logan Carper refused to let the Yachtsmen draw even again and with 7:16 left, Yale scored for some breathing room and the Eagles went on to an 11-9 victory.

Windham got four goals apiece from Beem and McKenna as it started its season in style and in the process, dropped Falmouth to 1-1.

“You look at the schedule and see we open with Falmouth and you think, ‘Really?'” said Eagles coach Matt Perkins. “They’re such a good team. Everyone had to step up today and the girls did a great job.”

Still the same

Falmouth’s girls have been the state’s premier program two years running and even though the Yachtsmen missed a whole year and have a lot of new names on the roster, their winning ways figure to continue for the foreseeable future.

Falmouth opened last week with a 14-3 home win over Gorham, as senior Eva Clement scored six times.

Windham, meanwhile, had yet to play a countable contest.

Two years ago, the Eagles were the only team to beat the Yachtsmen, prevailing, 7-6, in the regular season. The teams then met again in the Class A North Final, where Falmouth avenged its setback, 13-6, before going on to down Kennebunk in the state game, 5-3.

Monday morning, on a beautiful mid-April day, with the game time temperature at 55 degrees and climbing into the 60s, Windham played like a veteran squad with multiple games under its belt as it frustrated the Yachtsmen most of the way.

After Falmouth turned the ball over on each of its first two possessions, then took a yellow card, Beem broke the scoring ice with 23:07 to go in the 25-minute first half, beating Yachtsmen sophomore goalie Victoria Abbott on a free position shot.

After another Falmouth giveaway, the Eagles made it 2-0, as McCusker set up McKenna for her first goal with 21:44 on the clock.

The Yachtsmen then settled down and kicked their prolific offense into gear, as with 20:03 remaining in the half, Clement fed Ginevan for a goal.

Then, a mere 10 seconds later, after Ginevan got the ball off the ensuing draw, she raced in and beat Carper to tie it.

With 17:08 to go before halftime, Falmouth went on top for the first time, as again Clement set up Ginevan for the goal.

Ginevan, a basketball standout for the Yachtsmen, is getting her first opportunity to play varsity lacrosse this spring and has made the most of it.

“It’s very nice to have Sloane,” said Falmouth coach Ashley Pullen. “She’s a very talented athlete. She has great stick skills and power. She’s a huge asset for us in the middle.”

Scribner tried to extend the Yachtsmen’s lead moments later, but Carper made the save.

Then, at the other end, McKenna tied the score, 3-3, with an unassisted goal with 13:42 to go.

A mere 44 seconds later, Falmouth took its last lead, as Taylor converted a free position.

Abbott then kept the Yachtsmen ahead, denying McKenna twice and Beem once, but with 7:09 left in the half, Beem took a feed from senior Carissa O’Connell and finished to make it 4-4.

After Abbott denied Beem on a free position, junior Lydia Hill got a chance to take a free position for the Eagles, but instead of shooting, Hill passed to Yale, who finished to put Windham back on top with exactly 5 minutes left.

After a second Falmouth yellow card, the hosts took advantage and with 4:36 to go before halftime, Yale set up Beem for a goal and a 6-4 lead.

Twenty seconds later, the Clement-to-Ginevan connection again paid dividends, as Ginevan scored to cut the deficit to one.

After Carper denied Yachtsmen senior Avi Fishman on a free position, then Carper robbed Ginevan on the doorstep, the Eagles took timeout and set up for a final shot.

The play worked perfectly, except for leaving too much time on the clock.

With 11 seconds showing, Beem found McCusker for a goal and a 7-5 lead.

But off the ensuing draw, Ginevan scooped up the ball, raced in, then passed to Scribner, who turned and shot at the horn (or after the horn if you asked Windham and its fans).

The ball eluded Carper and the goal counted to make it a one-goal game at halftime.

“(Falmouth) did a great job there,” Perkins said. “We ran a set play and scored, then we shouldn’t have given them a shot. We have to clean that up. Credit to them.”

In the first 25 minutes, Falmouth won 9 of 13 draws and had a 13-11 shots advantage, but 12 turnovers hindered the cause.

Falmouth senior Eva Clement is defended by Windham senior Alexis Hirning in the second half.

Falmouth carried its final-second goal momentum into the second half and drew even, but Windham still proved to be too much.

After Carper denied shots from Taylor, Ginevan and Clement, Taylor earned a free position with 21:03 to play and while Carper slowed the ball, she couldn’t prevent it from rolling into the goal and the game was tied.

But the Eagles refused to buckle and a mere 47 seconds later, after a long run, McKenna finished unassisted to put Windham on top for good, 8-7.

The Eagles won the ensuing draw, then with 19:35 remaining, McCusker found Beem in front and Beem finished to make it 9-7.

The Yachtsmen couldn’t respond and with 17:11 on the clock, after a nice spin move, McKenna scored again for a three-goal advantage.

Ginevan tried to spark a comeback with an unassisted goal with 14:12 to go.

Then, with 10:55 left, Clement fed Taylor for a goal and Falmouth was back within one 10-9.

But the Yachtsmen would draw no closer.

With 7:16 to play, Windham got a little breathing room, as O’Connell found Yale for an insurance goal.

Then, after winning the ensuing draw, the Eagles milked four minutes off the clock.

Falmouth would have a couple of chances to answer, but two more turnovers sealed its fate and Windham was able to run out the clock and celebrate its 11-9 victory.

“(Falmouth has) some great players and we’ll see each other again,” Perkins said. “They caused us to do some things that we haven’t seen yet. We were stressed and made some turnovers, but I thought second half we fixed some things and started recognizing more what they were doing. Our goalie stepped up and made some great saves. We started picking it up. We’re still learning each other.”

The Eagles’ offensive effort was paced by four goals apiece from Beem and McKenna. Yale added two goals and McCusker finished with one.

McCusker and O’Connell each had two assists, while Beem, Hill and Yale added one apiece.

Carper made nine critical saves.

Beem, O’Connell and Yale shared team honors in ground balls with four apiece.

Windham overcame 19 turnovers.

Falmouth got five goals and one assist from Ginevan and a pair of goals apiece from Scribner and Taylor, as well as four assists from Clement, but it wasn’t enough.

Abbott made six saves, the Yachtsmen won 13 of 21 draws, had a 37-26 edge in ground balls (Ginevan had a game-high 15 and Clement collected five) and out-shot the Eagles 26-17 (18-17 on cage), but 23 turnovers proved too much to overcome.

“It was great to face competition this strong this early,” said Pullen. “It helps gives us a bearing where we’re at and what we need to work on. We’ll use it as a learning experience. I think we could talk about a lot of different factors, but the reality is today Windham was the better team. They executed when they needed to execute and their keeper made some great saves. They won key draws when they had to win them and played more cleanly than we did. It is hard to play catch-up. I didn’t mind being down a goal at halftime. We had momentum, but we couldn’t quite pull ahead and tip the game in our direction. Credit to Windham. They’re very fast, very skilled and their game plan was well-executed.”

Just getting started

Windham is back in action Thursday with another challenge, at two-time reigning Class B champion Cape Elizabeth. A trip to Westbrook follows next Monday.

“It’s a tough week,” Perkins said. “We had Falmouth, then we have Cape. It’s a good week to see where we’re at. It’s a great start to get the win and hopefully keep growing. It’s just so relieving to be out here and be together. It’s so much fun. We have great leadership and some kids who push and they do a great job. I like this team a lot. We really hustle.”

Falmouth plays at Portland Wednesday, then is idle until going to always-strong Massabesic on the final day of April.

“We need to make some adjustments defensively and offensively and in transition,” Pullen said. “We have work to do on every sector of the field, but I’m confident in what we have to work with. We have a lot of talent and skill. It’s a matter of getting more time together. We just need more touches on the ball and to bring it together and execute.”

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

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