FALMOUTH—For a game that had few postseason implications, Thursday afternoon’s Falmouth-Thornton Academy boys’ lacrosse battle sure felt like a playoff game.

And by game’s end, the Golden Trojans learned why the Navigators have emerged as the team to beat in Class A.

Falmouth, pegged by many to still be a year away when the season commenced, wound up a goal shy of a perfect regular season record thanks to the brilliance of sophomore faceoff specialist Peter Kearns, a solid defensive effort and another balanced offensive attack, paced by five goals from sophomore Hayden Davis.

Thornton Academy scored the first goal, but a four-goals-in-five-minutes surge from Falmouth, highlighted by two goals from Davis, produced a 4-2 lead after one quarter.

Davis scored twice more in the second period and senior captain Cole Allan found the net as well, helping the Navigators hold a 7-4 advantage at the break.

Falmouth only managed one goal in the third quarter, but thanks in large part to the goalkeeping of junior Cam Sinclair and the work of his defensive mates, managed to extend its lead.


Then, in the fourth, the Navigators put it away, as junior Gio Guerrette scored twice and Davis scored his final goal to bring the curtain down on a statement-making 12-5 victory.

Five different players scored for Falmouth, which won over 80 percent of the faceoffs and in the process, closed the regular season at 13-1, secured the top seed for the upcoming Class A state tournament and dropped the Golden Trojans to 11-3 in the process.

“We didn’t want to leave anything to chance,” said Navigators coach Dave Barton. “We’ve talked all week about TA being one of the best teams we’ll have a chance to play and all we can do is play them today. What I love about this group, they love to compete. Whether (our playoff seed was) locked up or not, it didn’t matter to the guys.  This is what we need. Games like this make us better.”

Playoff tune-up

Falmouth and Thornton Academy came into Thursday’s finale mostly with pride at stake and while the two coaches didn’t show all their cards, there was no lack of intensity when the rivals took the field, as both sought to close on a high note.

The Navigators started the season by blanking visiting Marshwood (17-0), then they rolled over visiting Deering (21-1), host Scarborough (14-2) and host Noble (17-4). After a 7-6 home loss to three-time Class A champion Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth got back on track and defeated host Windham (20-5), visiting Kennebunk (17-2) and visiting Brunswick (18-1). The Navigators truly arrived with an 11-10 win at Cape Elizabeth, which snapped the Capers’ three-year, 32-game win streak. Falmouth then downed host Yarmouth (14-8), visiting South Portland in a playoff rematch (16-3), host Bonny Eagle (15-1) and host Gorham (16-1).


Thornton Academy, meanwhile, started with 16-6 win over Deering, then defeated Gorham (24-3), Kennebunk (19-5), Brunswick (16-3), Scarborough (9-6), Windham (19-4) and Noble (20-6) before losing at Cape Elizabeth (16-9). The Golden Trojans rebounded to knock off South Portland (19-9), then lost to York, 11-10. Next up was the biggest win of the year to date, 10-5 over visiting Cape Elizabeth, which was followed by victories over Biddeford (23-4) and Marshwood (16-4).

A year ago, Falmouth won at Thornton Academy, 12-8.

Thursday, on a cloudy but comfortable 61-degree afternoon, the Navigators spread the ball around and had a big edge in possession to finish the regular season with a flourish.

The Golden Trojans, who won the opening faceoff, took their lone lead with 9:52 left in the opening stanza, as senior Jake Marcotte scored unassisted.

Falmouth then came to life, as after Allan had a shot saved by Thornton Academy junior starting goalie Drew Maxcy, Davis got the ball from Yale, dodged a defender, then buried a shot to tie the score with 8:13 to go.

Marcotte had a good look to put the Golden Trojans back in front, but he was denied by Sinclair.


Then, with 4:07 left in the quarter, a bounce shot from Allan, set up by Davis, put the Navigators ahead to stay.

Fifty-seven seconds later, Davis added an unassisted goal and with 2:42 remaining, Gio Guerrette managed to fire a shot around a defender and past Maxcy and in to make it 4-1.

Thornton Academy answered just before the end of the frame, as senior Adam Donovan scored unassisted with 8.7 second showing, but the Navigators were up by two heading to the second period.

There, Davis added to the lead by scoring unassisted, ripping a shot upper corner, top shelf, past sophomore Colin Pennell who had come on to play goalie, just 55 seconds in.

After Pennell saved shots from junior Joey Guerrette and junior Ty Garlock, junior Jack DeLeo scored unassisted with 7:16 to go in the half, pulling the Golden Trojans within two.

But Falmouth countered, as Allan scored unassisted 24 seconds later and with 4:50 on the clock, sophomore Ian Christie set up Davis for a goal and a 7-3 lead.


The visitors crept back within three, as senior Noah Veroneau set up DeLeo for a goal with 3:15 left and after Joey Guerrette missed wide, then had a shot saved by Pennell, the game went to the break with the Navigators ahead, 7-4.

Kearns won 12 of 13 first half faceoffs and Falmouth enjoyed a 21-11 shots advantage, but it hadn’t gained enough separation to feel comfortable.

Thornton Academy had ample chance to get right back in the game in the third quarter, as the Navigators turned the ball over five times, but despite having several good looks, it couldn’t score.

Sinclair set the tone a minute in by denying Veroneau.

Sinclair then saved shots from Marcotte and Veroneau.

Then, with 4 minutes remaining in the frame, Yale set up Joey Guerrette for a goal and an 8-4 lead.


The Golden Trojans won the ensuing faceoff, their first victory in 14 tries, but Veroneau had a shot saved by Sinclair, then DeLeo missed wide.

Down the stretch, Veroneau shot wide and sophomore Benjamin White was denied by Sinclair, allowing Falmouth to take an 8-4 advantage to the final stanza.

“We love to play defense,” said Navigators junior defenseman and captain Miles Thaxter. “We’re just a bunch of dogs. We just get out there and just play.”

“The big word for us was poise and I wasn’t necessarily pleased with our poise on offense in the third quarter,” Barton said. “We didn’t play a lot of offense and it was our fault. We could have done one of two things. We could have let that spiral, but credit to our guys for buckling down.”

“The third quarter, the last six minutes, we must have possessed five minutes,” said Thornton Academy coach Ryan Hersey. “We didn’t get great opportunities, but we got good opportunities. We just couldn’t put it in. Their goalie came up with some big saves to keep us from getting back in the game.”

The Navigators then ended all doubt in the fourth quarter.


Kearns wasn’t able to take the opening faceoff of the fourth period, but senior Will Gale won possession and the ball came to Gio Guerrette, who scored unassisted 25 seconds in.

Thornton Academy came right back, as senior Cody Southwick won the ensuing faceoff to Marcotte, who set up Veroneau for a goal with 11:27 to play, cutting the deficit back to four goals, but the Golden Trojans wouldn’t score again.

After Allan hit the post and Gio Guerrette and Joey Guerrette each had a shot saved by Pennell, Davis set up Yale for a goal with 6:31 on the clock.

Sinclair then made his final two saves, on shots from sophomore Will Edborg and DeLeo.

With 2:21 remaining, Gio Guerrette scored just inside the far post and with 1:47 left, Davis’ final goal brought the curtain down on Falmouth’s 12-5 victory.

“This shows that we always love to compete,” Allan said. “We’ve worked hard. The whole group is willing to put the work in.”


“We just look to the next game,” Thaxter said. “This was circled on the calendar like any other game. We came out and competed and that’s what we love to do.”

“We say a lot that if we get scored on, we at least want to make teams earn it,” Barton added. “They’re a really good team. We talked all week about defending their known (scorers), Noah, Jake, Jack, because they’re great players. They got some (goals) early due to some lapses on our end, then we tightened up in the second half for sure.”

Davis paced the Navigators with five goals and a pair of assists. Gio Guerrette found the net three times, Allan had two goals and Joey Guerrette and Yale (one assist) each added one goal.

Falmouth finished the regular season outscoring the opposition, 204 goals to 50.

“We have so many options on offense,” said Allan. “You can’t lock off one player. You have to be careful how you guard us because everyone’s a threat. We adapt to the challenge and we have guys who can step up.”

“It’s family style on offense,” Barton said. “We try to have everyone score. We understand Joey and Gio bring an element that a lot of teams can’t game plan for, but if you focus too much attention on them, Hayden is the smartest player we’ve ever had in this program and Cole is certainly no slouch. Evan Yale is going to rack up assists from behind, Ian Chrisite is tough to stop with a short stick and TJ inside can finish anything.


“What we’re most proud of is this offense has started to understand that we score as six and what you can do to a defense when all six guys are threats.”

Sinclair came up big with 11 saves.

Falmouth excelled in the faceoff circle, winning 17 of 21 opportunities, as Kearns won 14-of-17 and Gale went 3-for-4.

“(Peter) loves to compete and every single time he’s on that X, he’s there to dominate,” said Allan.

“It’s only (Peter’s) second year taking faceoffs and I think he’s the best in the state,” Barton said. “It’s a luxury to have him. I’m sure teams down the line will game plan and have some wrinkles for that, but Peter’s a great athlete. He’s studied the position a lot. In a game like this, faceoffs helped widen the gap.”

“(Kearns) was quick tonight and was right on that whistle and beat us consistently,” Hersey lamented. “We’re not used to going at least 50 percent.”


The Navigators had a 23-16 advantage on ground balls (Davis, Gio Guerrette and senior Elijah St. Louis all collected four).

“We have to get ground balls,” Barton said. “For us, ground balls is the stat we take such pride in. There’s so much in the game of lacrosse that you can’t control, but you can control effort and attitude and we believe ground balls are an effort and energy stat. We said at halftime that the team that picks up more ground balls in the final 24 minutes would win the game. We got a couple tough ground balls on the defensive end to steal possessions and some tough ground balls on the offensive end to extend possessions. When the games are biggest, ground balls are going be the difference.”

Falmouth had a slim 32-29 edge in shots (22-16 on frame) and overcame 17 turnovers.

Thornton Academy’s offense featured two goals from DeLeo and one apiece from Donovan, Marcotte and Veroneau.

Marcotte and Veroneau both had one assist.

Pennell made eight saves, while Maxcy saved two shots in his one quarter of work.


DeLeo, Edborg, senior Hunter Boudreau and senior Bo Preston all finished with two ground balls.

The Golden Trojans committed a dozen turnovers.

“This one was definitely circled as a game we were happy to see, as they were our final game before things get real,” said Hersey. “This is the first time we played our traditional zone against a team of this caliber. I thought we had them scouted pretty well, but they have a lot of offensive weapons that can make you pay if you don’t play on their hips and make them go to their opposite hand.”


Thornton Academy will be the No. 3 seed for the Class A state tournament and will host a state quarterfinal next Friday or Saturday.

“If we see Falmouth again, I hope we can make it a much more competitive game,” Hersey said. “We knew coming in tonight that we were seeded 3, so we’ll have to go through Cape. Just like 2018 and 2019, we want to make sure that there’s no doubt if we win, that we won it by beating the best teams.”

Falmouth wears the bulls-eye as the top seed and will begin its title quest at home in the quarterfinals next weekend.

“We want everyone’s best punch,” said Allan. “We like the challenge. We just have to keep putting in the work. I think we really want it.”

“Credit to the guys,” Barton said. “We’ve wanted this since our season ended a little early last year. I’m certainly proud of the guys. This was a great game and we’ll enjoy it tonight. Come tomorrow, everything from here on out is earned.”

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

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