Waynflete girls hold serve in opener; Flyers down Falmouth, 18-10
FALMOUTH—The feeling in many quarters holds that the longtime powerhouse Waynflete girls' lacrosse team is vulnerable this spring and perhaps ripe to be toppled in Western Class B for the first time since the sport went to two classes five years ago.
Don't believe it.
Tuesday night, in their opener, against one of the teams hoping to end their reign, the Flyers overcame a slow start and went on to a stunningly emphatic 18-10 victory at host Falmouth, suggesting they'll be writing that familiar script to the triumphant movie we've seen so many times before.
Waynflete, as it has done seemingly since the beginning of recorded lacrosse time, won this one in the draw circle, by collecting ground balls and behind its balanced, potent offense and stifling defense.
Senior Scout Haffenreffer won 22 of 29 draws, sophomore Sadie Cole scored six times, classmate Martha Veroneau added five goals and sophomore goalie Katherine Torrey made eight clutch saves as the Flyers started 1-0 and dropped the Yachtsmen to 1-1 in the process.
"It was a really good first game for us," said Cole. "We came out strong. It started out a little dicey, but we know how to pull it together. We played as a team."
Still the one
Waynflete has won 210 games and 10 state titles since Cathie Connors took over as coach in 1993, but 2010 was not a championship season. Despite 12 victories, the Flyers were stunned by North Yarmouth Academy in the state final, 7-3.
Waynflete wasn't hit hard quantity-wise by graduation, but in quality, the loss of Amy Allen and All-American (along with 2010 Winter and Spring Female Athlete of the Year) Morgan Woodhouse was quite a blow, leading the pundits to assume the Flyers would come back to the pack.
One of the two teams hoping that would be the case (Cape Elizabeth being the other), is Falmouth, which is coming off a program-best 10-4 campaign, which ended with a loss to Waynflete in the Western B Final.
With an abundance of talented athletes returning, the Yachtsmen felt they were ready to make the jump.
Falmouth opened April 14 with a 16-7 home win over Greely. Sophomore Alex Bernier led the way with seven goals, while classmate Molly Ryan scored five times.
Waynflete was supposed to play host to Cape Elizabeth that same day, but poor field conditions postponed that contest to May 17.
Last year, the Flyers rolled to a 15-5 victory at Falmouth in the regular season, then held off the Yachtsmen 11-6, in the Western B Final. Waynflete also beat Falmouth in the 2009 semifinals, 12-4, and had captured all 12 prior meetings between the schools, with last year's regional final the only one that was even remotely close.
Tuesday, Waynflete stayed perfect in 13 all-time meetings against Falmouth, winning in its first contest on the Yachtsmen's new turf field.
Early on, Torrey and her counterpart, Falmouth senior Jen Greene, carried the play, each making three nice saves, but offense soon took center stage.
The hosts actually scored the first two goals and gave their followers hope as Bernier (from sophomore Geneva Waite) struck 7 minutes, 49 seconds into the 25-minute first half and junior Sam Smithwick (from Bernier) beat Torrey with 15:29 to go, but that would be the Yachtsmen's high-water mark.
Just 13 seconds after Smithwick's goal, in a sign to come, Haffenreffer won the draw and fed Cole, who raced in for a score.
With 14:20 remaining in the half, Veroneau scored for the first time, unassisted, and the game was tied, 2-2.
With 12:14 left, Veroneau put Waynflete on top for good, on a free position shot. Cole added a free position goal with 11:27 remaining and Falmouth coach Robin Haley called timeout.
To no avail.
With 9:48 to go, Veroneau set up Haffenreffer for a goal and a 5-2 lead. A free position goal from senior Jess DiPhillippo snapped the Flyers' 5-0 run and made it 5-3 with 6:42 remaining, but senior Liv Chap (from Veroneau), Veroneau (from Haffenreffer), Cole (unassisted) and Veroneau (unassisted) scored in a 2 minute, 49 second stretch to make it a 9-3 game.
"At first, we were running it in a lot, but then, Martha, Scout and Izzer started doing draw-and-dumps which really worked," Cole said. "Whenever we have a transition down the field, side to side, it works really well. Perfecting that will take us to the next level. It was hard to get started, but we know each other well and we know how to come together. I think since we haven't lost that many players that we still have a lot of skill. Anyone on offense can score. Everyone is a really solid player."
Falmouth hoped to gain a little momentum when DiPhillippo set up Bernier for a score with a fraction of a second left, but that only cut the deficit to 9-4 at the break.
In the first half alone, Haffenreffer won 9 of 12 draws and Waynflete forced 10 turnovers, leading to a 17-12 Flyers' shots advantage and the five-goal lead.
"The draws absolutely killed us," lamented Haley. "That and dropping the ball. We just couldn't seem to get it done."
The Flyers put the win away in the second half.
The visitors pushed their lead to 10-4 when senior Mica Thompson made a great catch of a high pass from Veroneau and beat Green with a shot.
Falmouth made things interesting as DiPhillippo set up Bernier for a goal and Waite scored on a free position to cut the deficit to 10-6 with 17:18 remaining, but the Yachtsmen would get no closer.
A Cole free position goal with 14:50 to play restored order. Twenty-two seconds later, Haffenreffer assisted on a goal by senior defensive specialist Izzer Berrang.
Falmouth senior Laura Fay got a goal back with 12:07 to play, but 36 seconds later, Haffenreffer, after yet another draw win, assisted on a Cole goal. With 10:08 to go, Veroneau set up Chap and it was 14-7.
After junior Vanessa Audet scored unassisted for the hosts, Cole scored on a free position and Veroneau converted an unassisted goal 14 seconds later to make it 16-8.
Sophomore Angela Mallis (free position) and Fay (from Bernier) scored to pull the Yachtsmen within six, but Thompson (from Cole) and Berrang (from Cole) scored in the waning moments to bring down the curtain on Waynflete's 18-10 win.
"It was really exciting," Haffenreffer said. "We were really surprised and we're psyched to see we're playing this well in our first game. Falmouth's really good. All of us worked together."
"I'm really proud of them and very pleased with our teamwork today, especially not playing at all over break," said Connors. "We had to get in a groove and figure out where to cut and what worked and what didn't. I was psyched with the defense. Falmouth has a beautiful fastbreak. We had to compromise and take away a little bit of the midfield and stay in our zone. They're very strong and fast. I felt it could turn around quickly. I felt they could score seven goals in five minutes."
Waynflete got six goals and two assists from Cole, five goals and four assists from Veroneau, two goals each from Berrang, Chap and Thompson and one from Haffenreffer (along with three assists). Torrey had eight saves.
"I'm very pleased with Katherine," Connors said. "She had a great game. The low D played great together. Izzer hustled up and down. Scout was huge. Her draws were everything. We try to play a possession game. We kept it moving. It wasn't a one-man show. I love that we played like a team. All the offensive players had a run in one way or another."
Cole led the team with 10 ground balls. Veroneau finished with eight, Haffenreffer seven and Berrang six.
The team stats were relatively even, with the exception being the emphatic 22-7 draws disparity. Haffenreffer won all 22.
"I did some draws last year," Haffenreffer said. "I've worked on my skills over the summer. It's built up to now. I kind of do my own thing, my own technique. I put my own quirk on it."
Waynflete had more shots (35-23) and more shots on frame (27-18). The Flyers forced 18 turnovers (while giving it up 19 times) and ground balls were even, 47-47.
Falmouth was led by three goals and two assists from Bernier. Fay finished with two goals, while Audet, DiPhillippo (two assists), Mallis, Smithwick and Waite (one assist) all scored once. Greene made nine saves. DiPhillippo led everyone in ground balls, with a dozen. Bernier and Fay each had five.
"We had a couple spurts here and there," Haley said. "Scoring 10 goals on them isn't easy to do. As long as Waynflete doesn't have the ball, they can't score, but they had it a lot and they'll execute 99 percent of the time. I was hoping we'd get them tonight. It didn't show that they hadn't played last week."
Big games to come
The Yachtsmen are back in action Saturday at Massabesic. Falmouth will look ahead to its rematch at Waynflete, May 19.
The Flyers, meanwhile, won't rest on their laurels from this one. They host longtime rival Kennebunk Saturday and have home showdowns versus powerhouse Yarmouth and defending Class B champion North Yarmouth Academy (in a state final rematch) late next week.
"I think we have a good chance," Cole said. "We have a tough schedule. Every game's a battle. I look forward to the more intense games."
"We're so excited about the rest of the season," Haffenreffer said. "We have a very tough schedule this year, but if we work hard, I think we can make it far."