Waynflete knocks Yarmouth from unbeaten ranks
PORTLAND—The Waynflete and Yarmouth girls' lacrosse teams could very well meet on the afternoon of June 18 at Fitzpatrick Stadium with a Class B state championship on the line.
If that potential showdown matches Thursday afternoon's battle at Fore River Fields, local fans will get their money's worth.
The Clippers entered the game absolutely sizzling, winners of three straight tough road games to start the season, averaging 16 goals per contest. The storied Flyers were 2-1, still seeking an identity, but once again, as has so often been the case over the past two decades, Waynflete was at its best on the big stage.
The Flyers shook off an early 4-1 deficit and the loss of senior leader Scout Haffenreffer to injury, closed the first half on a 6-1 run, thanks to four goals from sophomore Sadie Cole, and held off the expected Yarmouth rally in the second half to eke out an 11-10 decision amid a steady drizzle in the first of three possible meetings between the powers this spring.
Cole led all scorers with five goals, senior Mica Thompson had three, sophomore Martha Veroneau added two goals and four assists and sophomore goalie Katherine Torrey made eight clutch saves as Waynflete improved to 3-1, dropping Yarmouth to 3-1 in the process.
"It's a really exciting win," said Cole. "We realized as a team we have the potential to pull through."
Waynflete and Yarmouth are two of the state's most accomplished programs, with a combined 11 state titles since the Maine Principals' Association began sanctioning girls' lacrosse in 1998.
Last year, the Flyers reached the state final, but lost to North Yarmouth Academy, 7-3. Waynflete opened 2011 with an impressive 18-10 victory at Falmouth, but Saturday, the Flyers were upset at home by Kennebunk, 12-10. They bounced back with an 18-3 triumph at Freeport Tuesday.
Yarmouth also had its 2010 season end at the hands of NYA, 9-5, in the Eastern B Final. This spring, the Clippers are considered by many to be the team to beat and they certainly sparkled in the early going, winning at NYA (16-9), defending Class A champion Scarborough (16-11) and Cape Elizabeth (16-6) behind an absolutely dominant offensive attack, led by three standout senior midfielders, Becca Bell, Devin Simsarian and Danielle Torres.
Although it wasn't easy, the Flyers made it six in a row Thursday.
Just 1 minute, 11 seconds into the 25-minute first half, Torres (from Bell) got the scoring started. Cole tied the score with a goal off a rebound at the 21:11 mark, but Torres (unassisted, at 19:06), senior Mariah Lanfer (from Torres, at 18:48) and Bell (from senior Natalie Salmon, at 13:06) struck to seemingly put the Clippers in control, up 4-1.
Even worse for the hosts was a head injury to Haffenreffer, who got hit with a shot and had to sit for the rest of the half.
The Flyers could have buckled and succumbed to the powerful Clippers, but instead, they went on a run.
An unassisted goal from Veroneau with 12:46 left in the half got things started. After Cole hit the post, she took a pass from Veroneau at 9:58 and beat Yarmouth senior goalie Steph Moulton to cut the deficit to 4-3.
"It woke us up, knowing we were down, and we knew we had to kick it into gear," Veroneau said. "Scout went out and we knew we had to step it up for her."
Clippers coach Dorothy Holt called timeout, but it didn't help.
With 7:24 remaining in the half, Cole tied the score on a free position. With 6:11 showing, Cole (from Veroneau) scored and just like that, Waynflete was ahead to stay. Cole completed her single-handed onslaught with 4:58 left with another free position goal for a 6-4 advantage.
Simsarian (from Lanfer) got one back with 3:34 remaining, but with 2:23 to go, junior Lucy Crane (from senior Liv Chap, in transition) answered and the Flyers took a 7-5 lead to the break.
"I'm just so psyched that the girls, when Scout was out, scored some goals," said Waynflete coach Cathie Connors. "We were concerned and we had a key player out. I'm so psyched we kept our cool. That's what it's about. I'm so proud of them. It was amazing."
While Yarmouth was winning most of the draws in the first half, it shot itself in the foot repeatedly with unforced turnovers, a trend that would continue in the second half.
"We had a little bit of a breakdown," said Holt. "I think we looked at the score and saw we were up 4-1 and were like, 'What do we do?' Then we started to play their game and not our game and we made some mistakes. We'll learn from them."
Haffenreffer returned to action after halftime and Waynflete extended its lead to 8-5 when Thompson made a great catch of a high Veroneau pass and one-timed it past Moulton.
Simsarian (from Salmon) cut the deficit to 8-6 with 20:01 to play, but 44 seconds later, Thompson scored again (this time from Haffenreffer) to make it 9-6. An unassisted goal after a turnover by junior Claudia Lockwood with 15:08 showing pulled Yarmouth back to within two, but after Veroneau hit the post and Torres was robbed by Torrey on one shot and stopped again by the goalie on a free position bid, Veroneau scored unassisted (with the Flyers down a player) and Veroneau set up Thompson for a goal with 7:41 to play to make it 11-7 and seemingly clinch the win.
Not so fast.
The Clippers refused to give up and almost came all the way back.
First, with 6:07 to go, Salmon ran around the cage and beat Torrey with a shot to make it a three-goal game. Just 37 seconds later, Salmon fed Torres for a goal and just like that, it was 11-9.
Waynflete won the ensuing draw and managed to run some time off the clock before giving the ball back. Yarmouth, however, couldn't generate an attack until time was winding down.
Finally, with 19 seconds to go, Simsarian scored on a free position making it 11-10.
The Clippers called timeout hoping to complete the dramatic rally.
It wasn't to be as Haffenreffer won the crucial draw. The Flyers did give the ball back to Yarmouth with seven seconds left, but the Clippers weren't able to transition in time and Lockwood's 40-yard prayer as time expired (it wouldn't have counted as the ball has to be in the net when the clock hits zero) was easily snared by Torrey.
Waynflete 11 Yarmouth 10
"It's really exciting," said Veroneau. "Obviously, we wanted possession. If they got it, we wanted to check them so they couldn't get an easy shot or pass. Those last seconds took forever."
"I don't think we trusted ourselves as much against Kennebunk, but everyone trusted each other today and it turned out better," said Cole. "When Scout got hurt, it motivated to rest of us to pull it together and realize we can beat Yarmouth. We've been practicing our transition a lot and it really worked for us today. It was pretty nervewracking, but I trust my teammates a lot and I trust that my coach knows the right thing to do."
"(Yarmouth's) a great team," said Torrey. "We're fortunate to win it. One of the things that is so great about this team is the trust we have in each other. I think that really pulls us together and keeps us strong. I'm so proud of everyone. Cathie's such a great coach. We thought we had to keep our heads up and do our best. We pulled it off. I was hoping the clock would run out and we'd get it done. Every win feels so great. We really proved ourselves out there."
"It was scary at the end, but it's good," Connors added. "We practice that situation. We worked a lot on slowing their midfield. (Yarmouth's) so well coached and their transition is so great. The message was to get the ball and hang on to it. We're still getting used to each other. It's big for confidence. It shows us what we need to work on. I feel like it will give us a little push."
Cole didn't score in the second half, but led all scorers with five goals. Thompson added three, Veroneau two and Crane one. Veroneau also had four assists, while Chap and Haffenreffer each registered one. Veroneau led all players with 10 ground balls. Chap had six. Torrey stopped eight shots, most of them point blank.
"Katherine made some big saves," Connors said. "She made the saves that counted, that's for sure."
"I feel more confident this year," said Torrey, now in her second year in the cage. " I tried to relax and do my best. You have to keep strong in your head. It was really tough as a freshman to come on to a team that's been so successful in the past. Being a sophomore, I'm used to everything and I just love everyone on the team."
"We knew we'd have our work cut out for us today," said Veroneau. "We came and gave it our all. We worked on moving the ball around a lot. We work really well toegether as a unit. That's one of our strong points."
For Yarmouth, which was held six goals below its average, Simsarian and Torres tied for high-scoring honors with three goals apiece. Bell (who's already had games of six and seven goals this spring) was held to one. Lanfer, Lockwood and Salmon also scored once. Salmon had three assists. Bell and Torres one. Bell and Torres both had eight ground balls, junior Jeanna Lowery grabbed seven and Lockwood and Salmon both finished with five. Moulton made five saves.
"We played a really good second half," said Holt. "For me, that's huge. Normally, in past years, we fell apart in the second half. This year, we're coming back. We proved we can play with (Waynflete). We just ran out of time. We had too many turnovers and too many fouls.
"Waynflete played a great game. Their goalie came up with three or four key saves. That was the game right there. To be this close here is great. Cathie's a great coach and her girls played really well. At least we know we can be on the same playing field. That's what matters and it's still early."
The Clippers won 14 of 23 draws as Bell went 12-for-19 and Simsarian and Torres each finished 1-of-2. Haffenreffer won 7-of-12, none more pivotal than the final one, and Cole was 2-for-11.
Yarmouth was done in by 19 untimely turnovers (Waynflete had 20). The Clippers had a 45-38 edge in ground balls. The Flyers had a 23-19 advantage in shots on goal, but Yarmouth put 18 on frame, to just 16 for the hosts.
The Clippers, after a trip to Florida and four straight road games, finally get to go home to their turf field Saturday when they host a Falmouth team, which figures to be sky-high with confidence after Thursday's home win over NYA. Yarmouth also hosts Freeport and Marshwood next week.
"We have a few things to work on," Holt said. "We finally get to go home. To be 3-1 after four tough road games is not bad."
Waynflete turns right around and faces another stern test from a team from Yarmouth as NYA pays a visit Saturday afternoon, in a Class B state final rematch.
This time around, the Flyers are seeking revenge.
"NYA's a really strong team again, as they've been in past years," Veroneau said. "We're looking forward to it."
"We still have so many big games," said Cole. "Every one will be a battle. I think we all learned we can beat any team. That's what we take out of this."
"I'm looking forward to playing them and seeing how it will go," Connors added.