Waynflete girls' lax advances to state game; Flyers eliminate Falmouth, 11-6, in Western B Final
PORTLAND — They're back.
The Flyers of Waynflete will once again compete for the Class B championship after surviving a scare from Falmouth in the regional final Wednesday afternoon.
The two-time defending state champions trailed 2-0 early, found themselves down, 3-1, with less than 10 minutes to go in the first half, then finally kicked into gear, scoring three times to take the lead into the break, then pulled away in the second half to win, 11-6, thanks in part to some clutch saves from freshman goalie Katherine Torrey, three goals from senior Amy Allen and two goals apiece from junior Liv Chap and freshmen Sadie Cole and Martha Veroneau.
Waynflete improved to 12-2, ended Falmouth's best season ever at 10-4 and advanced to meet familiar foe North Yarmouth Academy (11-3) in the title tilt Saturday at 10 a.m., at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.
"Falmouth's a great team," said Allen. "They came out very strong. We came out a little on our heels. We really opened up the attack and showed we have a lot of weapons. We put some balls in the net and it worked out in our favor."
Closer than expected
While Waynflete has been the state's flagship program since girls' lacrosse was in its infancy, Falmouth has just recently become a top contender. Last spring, the Yachtsmen reached the semifinals, but despite a solid effort, lost, 12-4, at Waynflete.
This spring, Falmouth equalled its program-best by going 9-3 in the regular season, while the Flyers won 10 of 12 games (losing twice by a goal to NYA). The teams met back on May 12 and Waynflete, behind seven goals from senior Morgan Woodhouse (who was celebrating her 18th birthday), rolled, 15-5.
The Flyers, the top seed in Western B, had no trouble in their semifinal, downing visiting No. 4 Wells, 18-7, behind five Woodhouse goals. The second-ranked Yachtsmen, however, had to rally for an 11-10 semifinal victory over No. 3 Cape Elizabeth when junior Laura Fay's goal with just over a minute to go capped a rally from a late 10-8 deficit.
Wednesday, in just the second playoff meeting between the schools, the Flyers took care of business again, but it took awhile.
Just 1 minute, 3 seconds in, the Yachtsmen broke the scoring ice when freshman phenom Alex Bernier scored unassisted. The goal gave Falmouth confidence and the Yachtsmen kept Waynflete off the board for almost 12 minutes. With 16:51 to go in the 25-minute first half, the visitors grabbed a 2-0 advantage when junior Jess DiPhillippo set up senior Emma Sipperly for a goal.
Just like that, Flyers coach Cathie Connors, feeling her team was teetering, called a rare, early timeout.
"I was very worried," Connors said. "I've never called a timeout that early. We needed to change up the draw and calm down and play more of our passing game."
Waynflete finally got on the board with 13:05 left in the half when Veroneau scored on a free position, but with 10:25 to go, Sipperly set up Bernier for a goal and a 3-1 lead.
Moments after Woodhouse was robbed by Falmouth junior goalie Jen Greene, Cole got in the scoring column after taking a pass from Allen. Just 12 seconds later, with 8:34 remaining before halftime, Cole raced in off the draw and her shot saved by Greene, but Allen was right there to send it home, making it 3-3.
Yachtsmen coach Robin Haley called timeout, but it didn't have the same effect.
While Greene momentarily kept the game tied with a save on an Allen free position, she couldn't do the same on the next one, by Veroneau, with 4:53 to play. The goal gave Waynflete the lead for good, 4-3, an edge the Flyers took into the half after Torrey made a save on a DiPhillippo free position.
The Flyers gradually gained some breathing room in the second half.
On the opening draw, the ball came to Veroneau, who set up junior Mica Thompson for a goal and a 5-3 lead.
Falmouth, then pushed hard for an answer, but Fay was denied twice point-blank by Torrey in just over a minute span.
"I was nervous, but I just put everything I could into it," said Torrey. "(Falmouth) wanted it the whole game. They came out with a lot of intensity, but we brought our energy and came back in the second half."
"Katherine was the difference," Connors added. "She made some huge saves. We needed them."
An unassisted goal by Woodhouse (her lone tally of the day), after a pretty spin move, made it 6-3 with 17:37 to go. A little over a minute later, Cole set up Chap to push the lead to 7-3.
With 14:51 to play, the Yachtsmen snapped a 6-0 Waynflete run and a 20 minute, 34 second drought when Fay scored (from Sipperly), but Cole answered with a free position goal and Allen scored on a fastbreak, taking a pass from Veroneau after a Falmouth turnover and converting to make it 9-4 with 10:46 remaining.
"The first half was definitely a different game than the second half," Allen said. "We came out fired up and ready to go in the second half and it was definitely Cathie's halftime speech that did it."
Twenty-one seconds later, senior Meredith Quirk (from classmate Sarah Girouard) scored, but Allen (from Woodhouse) and Chap (from junior Scout Haffenreffer) answered to make it 11-4. Sipperly (from Fay) scored in the final minute to account for the 11-6 final as Waynflete advanced.
"(Falmouth was) excellent," Connors said. "I knew they'd be really strong. Their transition was great. Their shots were beautiful and they were shutting down our offense. I was really impressed. We pulled it together and saw the open player. We have a balanced attack. Everyone on offense is a shooter. The girls wanted it really bad and they fought for every ball."
Six different players had goals for the Flyers. Allen led the way with three (and one assist). Chap, Cole (one assist) and Veroneau (two assists) all scored twice and Thompson and Woodhouse (one assist) both had one goal. Torrey made six saves. Woodhouse led the team in ground balls with five.
Waynflete won 12 of 19 draws, forced 18 turnovers (while committing just 13) and had a 23-13 edge in shots on goal.
For Falmouth, Bernier and Sipperly (two assists) each had two goals, while Fay (one assist) and Quirk both had one. DiPhillippo and Girouard added assists. Greene made eight saves. The Yachtsmen had a 27-25 advantage in ground balls. Senior Jill Alvarez led the team with five.
"We looked pretty good early," Haley said. "I'm certainly disappointed that we lost, but I'm so proud of how we played today. We're getting to another level and that's what we wanted. We knew we had a shot, but we had a couple turnovers, they won draws and the momentum kicked in. We went into this game a lot different than the first time, knowing we could play better. We had more confidence. Our goal was to keep it close and we did."
Falmouth had a season to remember and has a very bright future. The Yachtsmen figure to be back in this game very soon.
"It's the best season we've had," Haley said. "We just keep trying to set goals. We graduate some really good players, but we have a really good nucleus coming back. We've set a precedent and have something to build on now. It's nice to be considered a top team and be compared with Waynflete, NYA and Yarmouth."
Waynflete and NYA have plenty of state final history.
The Flyers have beaten the Panthers in all five previous meetings, dating back to 2001. That year, Waynflete won, 9-5. The Flyers also won in 2004 (9-6), 2005 (5-4, in overtime), 2008 (12-8) and last year (9-5).
Waynflete knows it will need a strong 50-minute effort to win another title Saturday morning.
"We're going to take practice as serious as our game and work on what we need to do," Allen said. "It'll be a showdown."
"We have such a great team," said Torrey. "Everyone is so close. I'm so excited. I'm so proud of everyone. Cathie's such a great coach. We need to just play our best. That's what it will take."
"The older players wanted the younger players to know what it's like to stand on (Fitzpatrick Stadium for the state game)," Connors added. "We have to play hard for every second. We have to walk on the field ready to play."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com