BOX SCORE

Thornton Academy 4 Falmouth 1

TA- 0 1 1 2- 4
F- 0 1 0 0- 1

First quarter
No scoring

Second quarter
11:25 F Drum (Barnard)
11:10 TA Marcotte (Veroneau)

Third quarter
5:42 TA Marcotte (Veroneau) (MAN-UP)

Fourth quarter
6:58 TA Veroneau (Marcotte)
29.5 TA Flynn (unassisted)

Goals:
TA- Marcotte 2, Flynn, Veroneau 1
F- Drum 1

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Assists:
TA- Veroneau 2, Marcotte 1
F- Barnard 1

Faceoffs (TA, 5-3)
TA- Michaud 5 of 8
F- Guerrette 3 of 8

Ground balls:
TA- 34
F- 33

Turnovers:
TA- 27
F- 32

Shots:
TA- 30
F- 18

Shots on cage:
TA- 18
F- 12

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Saves:
TA (Parenteau) 11
F (Noyes) 14

FALMOUTH—Thornton Academy’s boys’ lacrosse team prides itself on defensive excellence and while the Golden Trojans have produced some terrific efforts on that side of the ball over the years, what they pulled off Saturday afternoon on Falmouth’s turf field was simply breathtaking.

As Thornton Academy held a Navigators team, which scored 16 goals in its first game, to a single tally.

In 48 minutes of game action.

While the Golden Trojans didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard themselves, they did show enough spark on the offensive side of the ball in the second half to earn a key early-season victory.

Neither team scored in the first period, but Falmouth seemingly got going 35 seconds into the second quarter, as senior Robby Drum scored, but shockingly, that would be it for the Navigators’ scoring on the day.

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A mere 15 seconds later, sophomore Jacob Marcotte answered for Thornton Academy, but that would be it for first half offense and the game went to the break deadlocked, 1-1.

The game stayed that way until 5:42 remained in the third period, as Marcotte scored again, giving the Golden Trojans the lead for good.

With Thornton Academy’s defense limiting Falmouth’s looks and junior goalie Jacob Parenteau stopping just about every shot he did see, the Golden Trojans put it away in the final stanza, as Marcotte set up sophomore Noah Veroneau for a goal with just seven minutes left and senior Ronan Flynn iced it with 29 seconds to go as Thornton Academy went on to a 4-1 victory.

The Golden Trojans bounced back after a tough loss at South Portland earlier this week, improved to 2-1 and dropped the Navigators to 1-1 in the process.

“I wouldn’t have expected this,” said Thornton Academy coach Ryan Hersey. “We did very well defensively. (Falmouth) tried to get a lot in the middle, but credit to the defense. They were right there chopping on sticks and making sure the middle was covered. We had so many deflections today.”

June lacrosse comes early

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When Falmouth and Thornton Academy square off, memorable games tend to ensue and you never truly know what to expect.

The Golden Trojans made the plays late to edge the then-Yachtsmen in both the 2018 and 2019 Class A state finals.

After the 2020 season was cancelled by COVID, Falmouth and Thornton Academy renewed acquaintances last season and played two exciting games, with Falmouth taking both of them, 9-8 at home and 9-8 (in overtime) in Saco.

Thornton Academy went on to lose to Scarborough in the Class A South quarterfinals, while Falmouth decisively lost to Cape Elizabeth in the Class A state final.

The Navigators opened their 2022 season Thursday with a decisive 16-2 win at Kennebunk, as senior Xavier Grenier led the way with four goals.

The Golden Trojans, meanwhile, opened with a 14-3 victory at Windham, but Wednesday, they let a late lead slip away in an 11-10 loss at resurgent South Portland.

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Saturday, on a 56-degree afternoon, Thornton Academy completely frustrated Falmouth from start to finish to get back in the win column.

Thornton Academy senior Blaine Buda keeps a close eye on Falmouth senior Jay Thomas during the Golden Trojans’ 4-1 victory Saturday. Hoffer photos.

The tone was set early in the game, when each team turned the ball over five times before registering a single shot.

The visitors finally got a couple looks in the fifth minute, but Falmouth senior goalie Drew Noyes denied bids from juniors Ethan LeBlanc and Cameron Raymond.

Falmouth’s first shot came with 5:07 left in the opening period, but Grenier’s shot was saved by Parenteau.

The Navigators went man-up on a couple occasions late in the quarter, but couldn’t convert and in a rarity, the first 12 minutes ended with zeroes on both sides of the scoreboard.

The first minute of the second period saw both teams finally break through.

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With 11:25 to play in the first half, Drum took a pass from sophomore Caden Barnard and fired the ball past Parenteau to break the ice.

But Falmouth’s momentum lasted just long enough for senior Cole Michaud to win the ensuing faceoff, Veroneau to collect the ball, then set up Marcotte for a goal to to tie the game, 1-1, 15 seconds later.

Neither team could score again before halftime, although Thornton Academy saw Marcotte hit the post, Veroneau had a shot saved by Noyes, then Flynn was robbed by Noyes on the doorstep and at the other end, Parenteau saved shots from Drum and Grenier (on the doorstep).

In the first 24 minutes, the teams combined for 31 turnovers and only 15 shots on cage, as Parenteau made seven saves and Noyes stopped six shots.

Both goalies continued to stand tall at the start of the second half, as Noyes denied LeBlanc and Parenteau stymied Barnard.

Then, with 6:06 on the clock, Falmouth senior Max Hau was sent off for 30 seconds for holding and the Golden Trojans took advantage, as 24 seconds later, Veroneau set up Marcotte for a second goal and Thornton Academy had the lead for good.

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Later in the third, Noyes prevented the deficit from growing by saving shots from senior Cody Ruff, Flynn and Veroneau, while the Navigators failed to draw even, thanks to Parenteau saving a late-second shot from senior Jay Thomas.

It was still anyone’s game entering the final period and Falmouth nearly drew even with 7:50 to go, but Parenteau stopped a back-handed bid from senior Rory Skillin-Lanou.

Then, 52 seconds later, in transition, Marcotte, after twice being the beneficiary of Veroneau assists, returned the favor by setting up Veroneau for a little breathing room.

“Offensively, we’ve got to be more consistent,” Hersey said. “We have to be more patient. In the second half, we started running our motion offense and that seemed to get us some better looks.”

Noyes tried to keep the Navigators in it by saving shots from Flynn and Veroneau, but Falmouth just couldn’t generate any chances and with 29.5 seconds remaining and the Navigators’ defense selling out to try and get the ball back, Flynn got free and beat Noyes to clinch it.

Thornton Academy then ran out the clock and celebrated its 4-1 victory.

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Thornton Academy rushes junior goalie Jacob Parenteau to celebrate at the final horn.

“This is big,” said Hersey. “Being 2-1 is a lot better than 1-2. South Portland and Falmouth are teams we’ll see deeper in the playoffs. I’m glad to get back on the winning side. Last year, their outside shooters were able to extend us out. I don’t know if they that have yet. We gave up the one outside goal, we really made sure the middle of the zone was covered.”

Marcotte paced the Golden Trojans’ offense with two goals and an assist. Veroneau had a goal and two assists and Flynn also scored.

Parenteau made 11 clutch saves.

“We’ve been working on our clearing and keeping pressure on the ball all week, working on a tight zone.” Parenteau said. “It’s very nice to have those (defensive) guys in front of me. They get ground balls and intercept passes. It feels good to bounce back today after that South Portland loss.”

“(Jacob) made a bunch of saves and they were aggressive, so credit to them, they made great adjustments,” Falmouth coach Dave Barton said. “We were way too predictable offensively and they jumped the ball right away. (Seniors) Alex (St. John) and Hayden (Whitney) down low are physical and we know that. As much as I’d like to say it was self-inflicted, they did a great job.”

Thornton Academy had a 34-33 edge in ground balls (St. John had a game-high nine), won the faceoff battle, 5-3, enjoyed a 30-18 shots advantage (18-12 on cage) and overcame 27 turnovers while forcing 32.

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For Falmouth, Drum scored the only goal and Barnard had the lone assist.

Senior Cooper Bush had a team-high five ground balls.

Noyes stopped 14 shots.

“Drew played well and defensively, we played well, “Barton said. “The best recipe for defense is to not play a lot of it and today, we played too much. We threw the ball away too much, but they covered us well, they’re a physical team. It’s just a stick-work thing.”

Steadily improving

Thornton Academy returns to action Wednesday at home versus Portland.

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“I think we’re doing well and we’re progressing every week,” said Parenteau. “We have to keep working on our clears and our offense and moving the ball and catching.”

“We just have to be more consistent,” Hersey said. “We have bursts when we’ll score four or five goals in a few minutes. You never know when it’s going to come. We have two different stretches coming up where we have more than a week off which will help us. We have to get back to the basics.”

Falmouth has a tough road test at Gorham Wednesday, then will get a chance to measure itself against reigning champion Cape Elizabeth at home May 2.

“I absolutely love this group,” said Barton. “They won’t back down from anybody. They’re as tough a group as we’ve ever had, but toughness only gets you so far and our sticks failed us today. We’ll learn from it and get back out there Monday, then it’s all eyes on Gorham.”

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

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