WINDHAM—Falmouth’s girls’ lacrosse team has discovered the recipe for victory this spring.

Rely on its offense to build an early lead, then turn to the defense late in the game to slam the door.

It isn’t always pretty, but it works.

It worked like a charm a week ago when the Navigators handed Kennebunk its first loss in five years and it worked again Friday evening at Windham.

Falmouth surrendered the first goal, but erupted to score five times in just over seven minutes in the first quarter to seemingly seize control.

The Navigators were up, 5-2, at the start of the second period, but the unheralded Eagles got a goal back, then pulled within one early in the third quarter.


Falmouth then, momentarily, rediscovered its offense, as senior standout Peaches Stucker set up classmate Mallory Kerr for a goal and freshman sensation Riley Davis struck as well, but Windham answered to pull within two going to the final stanza.

And there, with 8:54 to go, a goal from sophomore Neve Ledbetter cut the deficit to just one again.

The Eagles had chances late to draw even, but Navigators junior goalie Amelia Brann made two huge saves and the Navigators were able to stall and milk the final three minutes to escape with a 7-6 victory.

Davis led the way with three goals and Falmouth continued its best-ever start to a season with its 12th consecutive victory and in the process, the Navigators ended Windham’s regular season at 11-3.

“I told the girls in the huddle at the end of the game that there’s a lot of coaches who would give anything to have the experience of winning close games and that’s something that’s so valuable going into the playoffs,” said Falmouth coach Ashley Pullen. “Knowing we’ve been in these intense games and being able to finish and close the door has been huge.”

Doing what it takes


Falmouth began the season viewed as a threat to Kennebunk in Class A, but it didn’t take long for the Navigators to first, move into top contender status and then, suddenly wear the bulls-eye as the favorite

Falmouth started with a 15-5 home win over Thornton Academy, then made a statement with an 8-7 home win over Yarmouth, the team which upset the Navigators in last year’s Class A state semifinals. Falmouth then defeated host Scarborough (15-3), host York (12-3), visiting Gorham (12-5), visiting Greely (10-3), host Oxford Hills (17-4), host Cheverus (10-8) and visiting Biddeford (8-6). Last Friday, the Navigators became the first team in five years to beat Kennebunk, snapping the host Rams’ state record 58-game win streak, 4-3. There would be no letdown, as Tuesday, Falmouth dispatched visiting Marshwood with ease, 19-8.

“That (Kennebunk) win was pretty big,” Brann said. “It gave a lot of confidence to our team and we needed that going to the rest of the season. I expected we’d stay focused.”

Windham, meanwhile, as has been the case for several years now, has been very competitive against a challenging schedule.

After losing to Kennebunk in the opener (17-3), the Eagles rattled off victories over Oxford Hills (20-6), Biddeford (16-5), Lewiston (20-3), Deering (21-2) and Gorham (12-11), Windham then had host Yarmouth on the ropes before dropping a 14-13 decision, but the Eagles bounced back to defeat Portland (15-7), Bonny Eagle (18-3), Thornton Academy (15-9), Marshwood (14-11), Cheverus (15-14) and Sanford (18-3).

Last year, Falmouth came to Windham and prevailed, 18-9.


Friday, on a windy but comfortable evening (77 degrees at the start), the Eagles hoped to snap a five-game skid in the series and beat the Navigators for the first time since April 19, 2021 (11-9 at home), but instead, Falmouth took another step closer to its first perfect regular season.

Windham sophomore Neve Ledbetter is defended by Falmouth junior Keira Alcock during the Navigators’ 7-6 victory Friday. Hoffer photos.

Falmouth got the first look, but Stucker missed wide on the game’s first shot.

The Eagles then struck first, with 9:53 left in the first period, as in transition, Ledbetter delivered a nice pass to sophomore Abby Trainor, who beat Brann.

That proved to be Windham’s highwater mark.

With 8:39 on the clock, the Navigators began a five-goals-in-just-over-seven-minutes surge, as junior Maisy Clement tied the score with a free position shot, beating Eagles senior goalie Riley Small.

A mere 53 seconds later, Davis’ first goal, unassisted, put Falmouth in front for good.


The Navigators added to their lead, as sophomore Liesl Boothby set up junior Keira Alcock for a goal with 5:41 on the clock, Davis found Alcock for another goal 16 seconds later and then, with 1:35 to go in the opening stanza, Stucker threaded a pass through traffic as only she can to Davis, who finished for a seemingly comfortable 5-1 advantage.

Fourteen seconds later, off a draw win from sophomore Brianna Duarte, Trainor scored unassisted to pull Windham within 5-2.

Falmouth’s offense went cold in the second quarter, as senior Mallory Kerr hit the post and Small twice denied Stucker and also saved bids from Clement, Alcock and Davis.

After Trainor hit the post, the Eagles crept closer with 1:06 left in the half, as senior Marlie Ennis got the ball from senior Mallory Muse and found the net, ending a 12 minute, 15 second scoring drought to make the score 5-3 heading to the break.

Windham senior goalie Riley Small prepares to save a free position shot from Falmouth junior Maisy Clement.

The Navigators rediscovered their offense in the third period, but couldn’t shake Windham.

The Eagles cut the deficit to one when Trainor took a free position shot from the side, ran in and sent the ball past Brann and in with 8:25 left in the quarter.


But Falmouth answered 41 seconds later, as Stucker set up Kerr for a goal to snap a 17:41 scoring drought.

With 5:15 on the clock, Small robbed Alcock, but five seconds later, Davis pounced on the rebound and scored to make it 7-4.

But the Navigators couldn’t score the rest of the way and as a result, they had to hang on for dear life down the stretch.

With 4:32 remaining in the quarter, Ledbetter delivered a gorgeous pass to junior Grace Joly, who found the net.

The Eagles had chances to get even closer, but Trainor hit the post, Ledbetter shot high, Brann robbed Trainor and on a free position, Davis got in and disrupted a Trainor shot at the last moment.

“The stick (Riley) gets in on the free position shots isn’t something that will show up in stats, but it’s so big,” Pullen said. “They’re capable of scoring on free position shots, but she has such a fast first step to get to the shooter’s stick and that’s huge.”


The fourth period saw Windham continue to place Falmouth on its heels, but the Navigators refused to buckle.

With 8:54 left, Ledbetter fought through the defense and finished to make the score 7-6.

A minute later, Muse had a look at a free position to tie the score, but Brann made the save.

When Stucker had to leave the game with 4:13 to play after picking up her second yellow card, the Eagles had an opportunity to complete the comeback, but with 3:01 on the clock, Brann robbed Ennis to preserve the lead.

“We let them shoot a lot and (Amelia) saved it,” Davis said. “We couldn’t have a better goalie. She’s amazing.”

After Falmouth transitioned the ball into its offensive zone, Pullen called timeout with 2:38 to go.


The Navigators then, once again, perfectly executed a game-ending stall.

Twice the ball hit the ground, but junior Audrey Farnham, then Davis, scooped the ball up to keep possession and Falmouth managed to run out the clock and celebrate a 7-6 victory.

Falmouth players rush to junior goalie Amelia Brann at the final horn.

“Peaches is an amazing teammate to have on the field and it was definitely a big loss not to have her, but I had faith in my team and we pulled it off and I’m proud of us,” said Davis.

“It was a little stressful, but we secured the win,” Brann said. “We’re such a strong team overall.”

“I’m very proud of the players who executed the stall tonight,” Pullen said. “I told them in the timeout that I had faith in everyone. We’ve had practice doing it. We just had to go out and execute in a high-pressure situation.

“We knew coming out of the Kennebunk win that these two games this week were huge. I’m really happy how the girls rose to the occasion.”


Davis paced the Navigators’ offense with three goals and an assist. Alcock scored twice and Clement and Kerr each added one goal.

Stucker had two assists and Boothby finished with one.

Brann made six critical saves.

“I feel like sometimes I play best when I have to lock in and do well for my team,” Brann said.

“(Amelia) made huge, huge saves,” Pullen said. “That momentum of having your keeper making the save, as opposed to having a goal go in, is everything and was a huge piece of why we put this one in the win column.”

Falmouth had a 33-19 advantage on ground balls (Davis had a game-high eight), a 21-16 edge in shots (14-12 on frame) and overcame 15 turnovers.


“We have work we need to do on the offensive end, for sure,” Pullen said. “We have to be more efficient with our attacking possessions and the shots we take. Hats off to our defense for holding a very skilled Windham offense to six goals. I was really proud of how they played today and how they’ve evolved over the course of the season. I’m really proud of the work they’ve put in individually and as a unit.”

Windham got three goals from Trainor and one apiece from Ennis, Joly and Ledbetter, who also had a pair of assists. Muse had an assist as well.

Joly and Trainor each had five ground balls.

Small made seven saves.

Duarte won 11 of 17 draws.

The Eagles committed 16 turnovers.


“The biggest thing was we came out in the first period and turned it over seven times and they got five (goals), but we clawed back,” said Windham coach Matt Perkins. “(Brann) made some key saves at the end. Kudos to her. We had some good looks.

“I’m pleased. We took some major steps forward and who knows, maybe we’ll see them again. When you play top tier teams, getting the girls to believe is half the battle.”

Title time

Windham (currently ranked fourth in the Class A state Heal Points standings) now awaits its final playoff seed and first postseason opponent.

“We’ve said since week one that we have as much grit as any team,” Perkins said. “We refuse to lose and we battle and keep going. We took some major steps forward this year and we’re really excited for the playoffs. We’re in a good spot.”

Falmouth, meanwhile, hopes to close the season with wins at Portland Monday and at home versus Massabesic next Friday and finish first in Class A (the Navigators were second to Kennebunk at press time).

“We’ll stay locked in during practice,” Brann said. “We make sure we stay on top of our mental game, as well as our physical game.”

“We’ll figure the offense out,” said Davis. “It comes with time. I think we’ll do great in the playoffs. We just have to play our game. We can’t control what the other team will do, but we can control what we’re going to do. We have amazing coaches and captains.”

“(Going undefeated is) honestly something we haven’t talked about,” added Pullen. “I feel like it’s cliche to say we’re taking it one game at a time, but we won’t talk about it until we’re at the state game, talking about winning that state game. We knew today was huge for us to finish where we want to finish. We’ve done everything we possibly could do to have that scenario play out and we have to finish next week too.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at

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