FALMOUTH—Yarmouth’s lacrosse team has come of age.

Has it ever.

The Clippers capped a season of growth in breathtaking fashion Wednesday afternoon in a Class A state semifinal round contest against a Falmouth squad which had beaten them decisively less than a month ago.

This time around, visiting No. 3 Yarmouth came in confident, started fast and rode a tremendous effort from players all over the field, veteran and newcomers alike, for one of the most inspirational victories in the storied program’s history.

Junior Lauren Keaney scored to put the Clippers ahead to stay midway through the first half, then Keaney set up junior Brooke Boone for a goal before scoring another for a 4-2 halftime lead.

The second-seeded Navigators, who put up 20 goals in their victory at Yarmouth last month, then fell behind by three when junior Neena Panozzo scored five minutes into the second half, but they rallied to make things interesting, as sophomore Maeve Ginevan struck twice in 18 seconds to cut the deficit to 5-4 with 17:42 to go.


Yarmouth refused to buckle, however, got a huge free position goal from one of its two seniors, Sadie Carnes, then opened it up behind goals from Panozzo and Boone before three huge late saves from freshman goalie Grace Keaney slammed the door on an 8-5 victory.

Boone, Lauren Keaney and Panozzo all scored twice as Yarmouth improved to 13-4, snapped Falmouth’s win streak at 15 games, ended its season at 15-2 and in the process, advanced to the Class A state final, its 10th consecutive state game trip, where it will meet two-time reigning champion Kennebunk (16-0), the top seed, Saturday at a time to be announced at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.

“I can honestly say that this one is amazing,” said longtime Clippers coach Dorothy Holt after her 213th career victory, which might have been her piece de resistance. “We had nothing to lose and I told the girls they deserved to win the game. I would say this is the best because everyone counted us out today.”

Surprise, surprise

Yarmouth, which made it all the way to the state final in its first year in Class A last spring, has an abundance of youth this season, but the Clippers came along nicely, winning 10 games in the regular season and losing only to Greely (twice), Kennebunk and Falmouth (see sidebar for links to previous stories).

“We used (our losses) as motivation to work harder,” Boone said. “We kind of got down on ourselves after losing to Greely and Falmouth, but we came together and knew we had nothing to lose.”


“We were just really young and it took us a long time to come together and realize it takes all of us to win games,” Holt said. “We played a little bit individually at the beginning, then the girls started to trust each other.”

Yarmouth held off No. 14 Cape Elizabeth (14-10) in the preliminary round, then ousted No. 11 Gorham (11-6) in the state quarterfinals Saturday to advance.

Falmouth, meanwhile, shook off a season-opening home loss to Kennebunk with 13 straight wins to close the regular season, then handled No. 15 Massabesic (16-2) in the preliminary round and No. 7 Biddeford (18-6) in the quarterfinals to march on.

Back on May 18, the visiting Navigators broke up a close game with 13 second half goals and rolled to a 20-9 victory, as senior Sloane Ginevan scored seven times and senior Lucy Taylor added five goals.

The teams had met just once before in the playoffs, in last year’s Class A North Final, a 14-5 Yarmouth win.

Wednesday, on a pleasant afternoon (67 degrees at the start), the gap closed before the first draw was contested because Sloane Ginevan was unavailable, as she was at the University of Notre Dame, where she is taking classes in advance of playing for the Fighting Irish next year.


The Clippers were full of confidence regardless and quickly showed they were in it to win it and to the surprise of most, win it is exactly what they’d do.

Falmouth junior Peaches Stucker protects the ball from Yarmouth sophomore Madeleine Jones early in the Clippers’ 8-5 upset win in Wednesday’s Class A state semifinal. Hoffer photos

Grace Keaney got some early confidence when she robbed Falmouth junior Peaches Stucker two minutes in.

After Yarmouth was able to kill a player-down situation, it took the lead with 18:15 to go in the first half, as junior Aine Powers set up sophomore Madeleine Jones for a shot that Navigators senior goalie Patty Riley couldn’t stop.

Falmouth quickly answered, as Stucker buried a free position shot with 17:03 remaining.

After Riley robbed Carnes, the Clippers went up a player and took advantage, as Lauren Keaney scored unassisted with 12:32 on the clock to put Yarmouth ahead for good and 51 seconds later, Keaney set up Boone for her first goal and a 3-1 lead.

After Grace Keaney saved a shot from sophomore Audrey Farnham and Taylor hit the post, the Clippers extended their lead even further, as Powers threaded a nice pass in front to Lauren Keaney, who backhanded a shot past Riley to make it 4-1.


“The fast start was great,” Carnes said. “We just wanted to play Yarmouth lacrosse and we did that. We gave 110 percent today.”

After Riley prevented the deficit from growing even steeper by saving a free position shot from Boone, the Navigators snapped a nearly 15-minute scoring drought, as sophomore Maisy Clement found Maeve Ginevan for her first goal with 2:47 remaining.

Yarmouth tried to answer, but Riley denied Panozzo and Lauren Keaney to keep the score 4-2 at halftime.

Yarmouth junior Kadin Davoren races up the field in the second half.

Maeve Ginevan tried to spark a rally to start the second half, but as she did to start the contest, Grace Keaney came up with a key early save.

Then, with 19:51 to go, Lauren Keaney set up Panozzo for her first goal to make it 5-2.

The Clippers tried to pull away, but Riley denied Keaney 40 seconds later.


After Jones was sent off with a yellow card, Falmouth’s offense struck twice in 18 seconds, as first Clement set up Ginevan out of the restart for a goal with 18 minutes left and with 17:42 remaining, Ginevan scored again, this time from senior Adelaide Tolley, to make things most interesting.

The Navigators couldn’t get a look at a game-tying shot, however, as they picked up a yellow card with 14:57 left and Yarmouth capitalized.

First, Carnes scored on a free position two seconds later.

“I didn’t really know what I was going to do at first, then decided to just shoot and hope for the best and it went in,” Carnes said.

Then, after Powers missed just wide off the draw, then sent a free position shot just wide, Lauren Keaney found Panozzo for a 7-4 lead with 13:51 on the clock.

The Clippers, gaining confidence by the minute, kept the pressure on and after Boone hit the post and Panozzo just missed, they were content milking several minutes off the clock.


Falmouth finally got the ball back, but Yarmouth freshman Celia Zinman forced a turnover, then fed Boone for a goal with just 3:46 to go.

“Usually we panic on offense, but we knew we had to settle the ball and be patient,” Boone said. “We worked on that in practice this week.”

The Navigators refused to go quietly and Taylor scored unassisted with 1:23 remaining.

Tolley and Stucker then had great looks to make it even closer, but Grace Keaney came huge, denying both shots, then robbing Stucker one final time with just 28 seconds on the clock.

“I go off the energy from big saves,” Grace Keaney said. “When I make one, I know I can make the next one.”

Yarmouth managed to run out the clock from there and at 5:23 p.m., it raced on to the field to celebrate its 8-5 victory.


Yarmouth mobs freshman goalie Grace Keaney following the final horn.

“We knew we had nothing to lose, so we came together and trusted each other,” said Boone. “We stayed strong. A fast start set us off and we knew we could do it. We didn’t want the seniors to end on a bad note, so we just stayed together.”

“I think we’re a little surprised how this went, in the best way possible,” said Carnes. “We’ve worked super-hard in the past few weeks and it really paid off today. We practice a lot of how to deal with pressure and run out of trouble and we did a great job of that today. I couldn’t be more proud of this team.”

“Hard work pays off,” Holt added. “We came in with a plan and worked hard and the plan worked. There’s not one superstar on the team, it’s all of them. Even the girls on the bench push the starters. We had to communicate on defense and not rush the ball on attack. When we turn the ball over, it turns into a goal. We’re playing basic lacrosse right now because that works. We’re not fancy. In years past, we could get fancy. This team gritted it out. Every 50-50 ball, someone was there. Every draw, someone was there. Playoff time is our favorite time and it showed today. I have a lot of young players who don’t know what this is like and to have them experience it and see that hard work pays off, it’s amazing.”

Holt has made a career out of guiding Yarmouth to upset wins (and near upsets) in situations like Wednesday’s contest. Her masterclass in the semifinal will go up there with the likes of the Clippers’ win over three-time champion Waynflete (riding a 36-game win streak) in the 2006 Class B state final, a near-upset of the Flyers in the 2013 state game, an upset victory over Kennebunk in the 2015 Class B finale and a near-upset of the Rams in last season’s Class A state game.

“(Coach) has some crazy-magic that she works,” Carnes said. “We’ve had a different season from the past few, but she knows how to bring us together.”

“I trust these girls and they know I trust them,” Holt said. “They’re like my kids. I take a lot of notes, watch a lot of film. I have a great staff. We pick little things to work on and that makes the difference.”


Five different Clippers scored, as Boone, Lauren Keaney and Panozzo all had two goals and Carnes and Jones each finished with one.

Lauren Keaney also had three assists, while Powers finished with a pair.

Grace Keaney, who had never played goalie before this season and was thrust into action when junior Regan Sullivan was sidelined early in the year, made six huge saves.

“It was definitely scary, but the team has been welcoming and is always there to support me,” Keaney said. “I was definitely nervous, but I used that as motivation to get every ball. I just keep my head in it. I knew they’d score because they’re a good team, but when they did, I had to stay in it.”

“Grace made some crazy saves, especially at the end,” said Carnes. “She’s come so far, especially as a freshman. We’re so proud of her. We had a great defensive game too. We’ve worked a lot on our defense the last couple weeks.”

“Grace made huge saves,” Holt added. “We knew they’d shoot low. She’s worked on low shots and she came up big. We’ve been working with her. (Former Yarmouth goalie) Annalisa Carson has been working with her. It’s been fun to watch (Grace) grow. She has a really good defense in front of her. We knew they’d score and we just had to be up at the end of the game.


Powers won nine of 15 draws and had a game-high 11 ground balls, Yarmouth enjoyed a 21-12 shots advantage (15-11 on cage) and overcame 16 turnovers.

Abrupt ending

Falmouth’s offense featured three goals from Maeve Ginevan and one apiece from Stucker and Taylor.

Clement assisted on two goals, while Tolley had one.

Riley made seven saves.

The Navigators had a 30-26 edge on ground balls (Taylor scooped up nine, while Stucker had seven) and committed 18 turnovers.


“I think the two biggest things were they forced turnovers in midfield in transition and we really got hurt when they scored goals when we were short-handed,” Falmouth coach Ashley Pullen lamented. “We got within one, then we got a card and they scored twice. I made a decision not to pressure and I should have. I’m kicking myself for that.

“We definitely grew a lot over the course of the season. We scored some beautiful goals. We took our defense to a level it had never been at in my time here. We had some remarkable chemistry. We set the bar high even if we didn’t end up reaching our goal. We accomplished a lot this season.”

Falmouth will be hard-hit by graduation, as nine players depart, including some of the finest in the state.

“This is a really special group of seniors,” Pullen said. “They’ll be sorely missed. That’s the hardest part of this loss.”

The Navigators’ cupboard is not bare, however, and they’ll be right back in the title hunt in 2024.

“We’re a program that tends to have not a lot of rebuilding years,” Pullen said. “Our sophomore class is loaded. We have solid juniors who will be great leaders. We have great talent coming in as freshmen too.”


One final, huge mountain to climb

Yarmouth was a vastly different team when it lost, 15-5, at Kennebunk back on April 28 and the Clippers are now the final hope to prevent the Rams, now riding a historic 48-game win streak, from winning their third consecutive crown.

The teams have played eight previous times in the tournament, with Yarmouth holding a 5-3 edge. Six of those meetings came in state finals, including last year, when the Rams prevailed, 11-8.

Kennebunk will be a heavy favorite Saturday, but the Clippers are ready for the challenge.

“I’m definitely nervous, but I’m excited to play Kennebunk Saturday and show them what we’ve got,” Grace Keaney said.

“We just have to do what we did today,” said Boone. “We’ll use each other’s positivity, stay together and work together.”

“I’m really happy I get another chance at states with this team,” said Carnes. “We just have to play Yarmouth lacrosse and play like it’s our last game, which it is. We’re excited to have another chance.”

“We know how good they are,” Holt added. “We know what we have to work on. We’ll be there.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net.

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