In order to complete a perfect season built on a prodigious attack and “pedal to the metal” mentality, the Kennebunk girls’ lacrosse team tapped a few hidden talents Friday night.

Junior goalie Lily Hansen came up with two clutch saves and the Rams followed with an extended stall to preserve a one-goal lead. They earned their first Class A state championship with a 9-8 victory over Falmouth in a thrilling finale at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

“It means so, so much,” said Hansen, who made five of her six saves in the second half, the last two in rapid succession to deny Falmouth’s Eva Clement (free position) and Sloane Ginevan (rebound) with a little more than five minutes remaining. “Especially after COVID, this was such a special year because this was the one normal thing we had. So it’s amazing.”

Kennebunk (16-0) took its foot off the gas over the final five minutes and played keep-away, retaining possession until six seconds remained. Falmouth’s Heather Stucker flung a desperate heave from her own end that bounced past Hansen as time expired.

“That stall is something we’ve practiced all year for a theoretical situation, which presented itself (Friday),” said Kennebunk senior Lily Schwartzman, who had a goal and an assist and helped the Rams earn an 11-8 advantage in draws. “So we were prepared. But our coaches always prepare us for any possible situation, which is why we are as successful as we are.”

Kennebunk won the regular-season meeting 17-11 in late May and cruised through its first three playoff games, all of them reaching running time. Falmouth (12-4) ended its regular season with an overtime victory against Scarborough and did likewise against Windham in the North final.

“We knew that this game would be different,” Schwartzman said. “We prepared ourselves for this to be a tough game.”

It didn’t start that way. Schwartzman won the opening draw to Emily Archibald, who passed to sophomore Ruby Sliwkowski, and Sliwkowski barreled toward net, drawing a foul. She converted the free position shot for a 1-0 lead.

Although Kennebunk quickly made it 2-0 when Sliwkowski fed Schwartzman, Falmouth buckled down and kept things close. Whitney Adams curled in from behind the net for the first of her three goals to make it 2-1. She scored again with 10 seconds left in the half to make it 5-2 at intermission, with Falmouth goalie Patty Riley notching eight of her 10 saves.

“We did a pretty good job of containing their big threats,” Falmouth Coach Ashley Pullen said. “They’re hard to shut down entirely, but we really kept the damage to a minimum.”

Falmouth opened the second half with three goals – two by Ginevan and one by Adams – to tie the score at 5. A switch to Kinsey Barry taking draws with Clement and Ginevan on the circle prevented Kennebunk for mustering a shot for the first eight minutes after intermission.

Sliwkowski broke the tie, however, and then Kennebunk took advantage of a Falmouth yellow card because of a dangerous follow-throw. The Rams scored twice with a player advantage, by Skylar Maloney and Sliwkowski again.

A minute later, Schwartzman fed Sliwkowski on a pick-and-roll to make it 9-5, and the outcome seemed determined.

Instead, Falmouth stormed back with three goals in three minutes to make it 9-8 with 7:46 remaining.

“We couldn’t have come any closer, really and truly,” Pullen said. “As it often is in a game like this, it’s one bounce or one save or one post or one possession that makes all the difference. We gave it everything we had and came up a tiny bit short.”

Falmouth had two more possessions, but the tying goal remained elusive. First came a wide shot from free position, and then Hansen made her clutch stops against Clement and Ginevan, each of whom had scored twice.

“That was the difference between the win and the loss,” Sliwkowski said of Hansen. “Her clears, her saves in big moments, and her attitude. She never let it get in her head. That’s one of the reasons that we won the state championship, because of her. And, because we know how to work together. We know how to fight to the end.”


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