(Ed. Note: For the complete Cheverus-Scarborough and Waynflete-Monmouth Academy boys’ soccer game stories, with additional photos, see theforecaster.net)
Waynflete’s boys’ and girls’ soccer teams made the long trip to Presque Isle last weekend, both hoping to come home with a shiny Gold Ball.
Instead, both teams’ seasons ended in disappointment and in overtime as those title dreams were dashed.
Cheverus’ boys’ squad didn’t get a chance to defend its title, as the Stags were eliminated by Scarborough in last week’s regional final.
Waynflete’s boys’ team exceeded the hype this fall, winning 11 of 14 regular season games, including an upset of eventual Class B champion Yarmouth, and earning the No. 2 seed in Class C South.
After surviving No. 7 Carrabec in a quarterfinal round tilt which went to penalty kicks on a Tuesday and wasn’t officially completed until nearly 48 hours later, the Flyers beat No. 6 Sacopee Valley in the semifinals to earn the right to host No. 4 Monmouth Academy in last Wednesday’s regional final.
Waynflete got the only goal it needed 8 minutes, 4 seconds in, when senior Cullen Bollinger found the net with a perfect strike from 30 yards out.
“A fast start was very important,” Bollinger said. ” Some of our games, we were complacent coming out, but we hit the ground running and that helped us. I saw no defenders in front of me and I saw that right side open, so I aimed and struck it well. It was one of my better goals.”
The Flyers kept the pressure on and after a series of near-misses, doubled their lead with 8:59 remaining in the first half when senior Aaron Lee pounced on a failed clear and finished.
“The defender headed it, but it wasn’t very hard,” Lee said. “I wondered if I should trap it, but I took a touch with my head and I got past him and the goalie came out. At that point, I thought I’d get a shot, but the ball dropped a little bit farther than I thought, so I put a body on him and got a step and laid it in.”
Waynflete knew full well that Monmouth Academy was capable of rallying from two goals down, so it continued to push and when senior Tommy Silk set up Lee for a goal with 28:05 to play, the Flyers were firmly in the driver’s seat. With 1:28 left, Bollinger added one more pretty goal, with his left foot, for good measure, and Waynflete, behind a stellar defensive effort led by senior Willy Burdick which didn’t allow a single shot on frame, went on to a 4-0 victory.
“We knew we wanted another shutout,” Burdick said. “We didn’t want to give up a goal in playoffs. We haven’t given one up yet. To have no shots on goal was awesome.”
“You can see when a group really wants it and you could see it with the seniors today,” said Waynflete coach Brandon Salway. “It’s nice to see a group like this be rewarded. This group wanted to extend the season as long as they could. It’s nice to be together for a couple more days.”
Saturday, in the Flyers’ first state game in four years, played in Presque Isle against undefeated Washington Academy, a squad which beat Waynflete, 2-1, in the 2008 state final, the Flyers weren’t able to finish the job.
Waynflete couldn’t generate many offensive chances, but standout senior goalkeeper Milo Belleau and his defense held the Raiders at bay and after 80 scoreless minutes, the game went to overtime. Just a little over two minutes in, the Flyers’ season came to a crashing halt, as Oneko Lowe took a pass and fired a quick shot past Belleau (eight saves) and into the goal for a 1-0 victory.
“It was really tough,” Salway said. “They had just one player (Lowe) we had a tough matchup with. He was really dangerous. He had great speed and a great shot. We rotated a few people on him, then man-marked him with Ilyas (Abdi), which took (Ilyas) out of the offense. It just takes one chance unfortunately.
“We had quite a few chances in the first half. Aaron went one-on-one with the goalie, but shot just wide. They carried play in the second half.”
Waynflete’s season ended at 14-3-1.
“It was good to see how much the guys cared,” Salway said. “I handed the floor over to them after the game and they were unbelievably composed. They said some impressive things that picked me up.
“This group did so many things right. This year’s schedule was quite daunting on paper and our record surpassed our expectations. I wanted it for the kids. The loss is disappointing, but it was a great group to coach. Losing doesn’t make them less of a great team. It was a fantastic team and a fantastic season. We just lost to a great team.”
Waynflete will be hard-hit by graduation, as 11 special seniors depart.
“The seniors were an impressive group,” Salway said. “Milo played the final with the flu, but he was so impressive. He and Willy anchored the defense. Cooper Chap and Abel Alemayo were rock-solid. Aaron helped change our fortunes. We switched him from defense to offense and he helped put pressure on. Cullen had his season. He played great in the championship game. Jack Weston had a terrific year. He was a playmaker and scored that great goal against Yarmouth. Ahmed Mohamed had to deal with an ACL injury a couple years ago and it was so impressive how he came back. Christian Kabongo had to deal with a lot of things physically. He had a great playoffs for us. It was great to get Tommy Silk back this year. He did everything we asked. He was great for chemistry and had a great season on the field. Pieter Stockmeyer didn’t play a lot, but he had some great things to say after the state game.”
The Flyers will start anew in 2016 and will be heard from again.
“We have some eighth graders who will hopefully step up and play,” Salway said. “It will be very difficult to replace some of these guys and we’ll have holes to fill, but we always seem to fill them. We’ll start from scratch and hopefully, we’ll be competitive.”
Waynflete’s girls’ team went 10-4 in the regular season, but only earned the No. 6 seed in Class C South. The Flyers then went on a stirring run which took them all the way to Presque Isle for the state final.
Waynflete downed No. 11 Boothbay (7-0), No. 3 St. Dom’s (5-0) and second-ranked Madison (4-1) to reach last Wednesday’s regional final at No. 4 Monmouth.
There, goals from Lydia Giguere and Ava Farrar gave the Flyers an early 2-0 lead, but the Mustangs answered with a pair of goals to force overtime, where Waynflete prevailed, 3-2, on a goal from senior Arianna Giguere, who has scored so many big goals in her career.
“My idea on that was just to pressure the keeper no matter what,” Giguere said. “When the ball popped out of her hands, I couldn’t believe it, but I was right there to put in in and that was that. We never gave up throughout the entire game. We took it upon ourselves to really focus on what our goal was, and we weren’t going to stop at anything until we got there.”
“We had a feeling we were a good team,” Waynflete coach Todd Dominski said. “In the playoffs, our confidence kept growing and growing and growing. The girls realized that as a team they were so much stronger than as individual players.”
Waynflete, which won Class C titles in 2012 and 2013 before losing to Sacopee Valley in last year’s semifinals, hoped for third championship in four seasons Saturday in Presque Isle when the Flyers met Orono, a squad they beat to win Gold Balls in 2008 and 2013.
Just like the game two years ago, Waynflete dug a 2-0 hole, but as they did in 2013, the Flyers roared back and drew even behind goals from Isabel Canning (on a penalty kick) with just over 11 minutes remaining and Arianna Giguere with 5:06 to play in regulation.
The game would go to overtime, then to a second, where Orono scored on a rebound to win it, 3-2, ending Waynflete’s season at 14-5.
“The girls fought really hard to get the two goals back,” Dominski said. “We had one really good chance in OT when Ari got in behind the defense, but their keeper cut off the angle and she pushed it just wide. It would have been fitting if she scored, since she’s scored more game-winners than anyone who ever played for me. They popped in their chance when they had it. (Goalkeeper) Ali Pope fell to the turf and the ball fell out of her hands. There’s nothing she could have done about it. We had advanced in the regional final with the same kind of goal.
“It was a good run for us. We got our feet back under us after the first Sacopee Valley game (a 7-0 loss). We trended in the right direction and played as a team. We hit our stride with goal-scoring going into the playoffs.”
The Flyers lose six seniors, including Arianna Giguere, 2013 state game hero Esme Benson, Marijke Rowse and Christian Brooks, but will be in the hunt again next fall.
“The seniors were key contributors, but we return quite a bit,” Dominski said. “I’m happy how our younger kids have developed. Some freshmen played in the state game. We’ll have Ali back for a fourth year in the system. She’s worked hard to get as good as she is.”
Cheverus stole the headlines in 2014, soaring from the No. 7 seed all the way to a state title.
This fall, the Stags, after a 7-3-4 regular season, again earned the No. 7 seed and embarked on a similar run, but couldn’t quite duplicate last year’s magic.
After beating No. 10 Marshwood (4-0) in the preliminary round and upsetting No. 2 Gorham (2-1) in the quarterfinals and sixth-ranked South Portland (1-0) in the semis, Cheverus went to No. 1 Scarborough for the regional final, just as it did a year ago.
While last year, the Stags rallied, then stunned the Red Storm, 3-2, in double overtime, this time, they couldn’t solve the perennial powerhouse.
Scarborough scored in the eighth and 16th minutes and Cheverus couldn’t answer. The Stags’ best chance came with 13:40 left in regulation, but Alex Nason’s deflected shot was denied by Scarborough’s diving goalie and the Red Storm went on to the 2-0 victory, ending Cheverus’ season at 10-4-4.
“I thought they came out pretty strong in the first half and they were the better team for sure,” said Stags coach Colin Minte. “We made two mistakes and against Scarborough, you can’t do that. I wouldn’t say our luck ran out. It was more the bounces didn’t go our way. I’m proud of how my guys played in the second half. I thought we played phenomenal. We made some tactical changes.”
Cheverus has rewritten the script on flipping the switch come playoff time and while this year’s team couldn’t quite finish, it had a lot to be proud of.
“Once playoffs roll around, our guys realize it’s win-or-go-home and we had that mentality all playoffs,” Minte said. “We had some special wins against some great teams. I think it’s tough to come back as defending champions. You can’t sneak up on anyone. Everyone wants to play you and everyone wants to beat you. I thought we held our own. I told the guys, I’m so proud of them. I’m proud we made it so far, because it’s not easy.”
The Stags graduate an abundance of standouts, 15 seniors total, but don’t write this squad off when looking at 2016.
“It’s a special group,” Minte said. “Great guys. Great leaders. We’ll miss some phenomenal players next year, but we have some good young players coming into the system. Some you saw tonight. Some you’ll see next year. There’s a lot to look forward to. We’ve set a new standard for Cheverus soccer. We want to be in this position every year. There’s a lot of good teams out there, so it’s easier said than done.”
Sun Journal reports were used in compiling this story.
Waynflete senior Aaron Lee eludes the Monmouth Academy goalkeeper en route to a goal in the Flyers’ 4-0 win in last week’s Class C South Final. Waynflete then dropped a 1-0 overtime decision to Washington Academy in the state final.
Waynflete sophomore Lydia Giguere fights for the ball during last week’s overtime win at Monmouth Academy in the Class C South Final. The Flyers went OT again in the state game, but lost to Orono, 3-2.
Cheverus senior Jonathan Bernier boots the ball during the Stags’ 2-0 loss at Scarborough in last week’s Class A South Final.