PORTLAND—The Greely boys’ soccer team has found it difficult to finish against good teams this year, but in a positive sign, the Rangers began to put it together Wednesday afternoon.
In an interclass test at defending Class C state champion Waynflete, Greely got a goal from sophomore Ben Ingraham just 95 seconds in, then got a pair of tallies from freshman Jacob Nason and a late tally from junior Matt Crowley in the second half to pull away for a 4-1 victory in the rain at Fore River Fields.
The win improved the Rangers to 8-4 on the season and dropped the Flyers to 9-2-1.
“It was workmanlike,” said Greely coach Mike Andreasen. “We needed this to help distance ourselves a little bit. That’s what we did. The score looks like we won comfortably, but we didn’t.”
Greely and Waynflete have been among the state’s top boys’ soccer powers for decades, but prior to Tuesday, had met just once (a 1-0 home win for the Flyers, Oct. 14, 2010).
Both teams are in the hunt this fall and have earned impressive victories.
The defending Class C state champion Flyers opened the season with nine wins and a tie in their first 10 outings, including a 5-0 romp at rival North Yarmouth Academy and a 2-0 home win over the Panthers Friday. Saturday, however, Waynflete fell from the unbeaten ranks with a stunningly decisive 8-2 loss at Richmond. In that one, the Flyers led, 2-0, before everything fell apart in a flurry of penalty kicks, a yellow card and a red card.
The Rangers, Western A quarterfinalists in 2011, have been up-and-down, with the losses being painful. After winning their first two games, Greely was a mere 3.4 seconds away from earning a huge home victory over Falmouth, but the Yachtsmen tied the score, forced overtime and won in the second OT, 3-2. The Rangers also suffered a 1-0 loss to York, a 1-0 setback to Yarmouth and last Tuesday fell again by that margin, 1-0, to visiting Cape Elizabeth.
They squads were scheduled to meet Tuesday, but poor field conditions moved the game back 24 hours. Both teams were playing shorthanded (senior All-State standout Peabo Knoth was unavailable for the Flyers and the Rangers were without injured junior Ted Hart).
Wednesday, Greely struck early and never looked back.
Waynflete had the ball to start the game and possessed momentarily, but the Rangers won control and counteratttacked. Crowley beat a defender and dribbled the ball into the middle of the penalty area. After a defender came out to meet him, Crowley passed to Ingraham, who was unmarked on the right wing. Ingraham dribbled in and went one-one-one with Flyers freshman goalkeeper Tommy Silk before firing a low shot to Silk’s right that wound up just inside the left post for a 1-0 lead with 38:25 to play in the first half.
(“Ben) was unmarked,” said Crowley. “He did a good job keeping the shot low and on net and put it back post.”
Each team had good looks the remainder of the first half, but neither could convert.
Just four minutes after the goal, Greely senior Nicholas Shain fired a low shot that Silk saved.
In the 10th minute, the hosts’ first good chance saw senior Jack Cutler head senior Max Belleau’s serve just wide of the goal.
With 29:45 left in the first half, Flyers senior Paul Runyambo sent a high floater on frame that Rangers senior goalkeeper Elijah Leverett leaped to snare.
A minute later, Waynflete junior Henry Cleaves fired a blast that deflected off a Greely defender, but Leverett managed to punch the ball away.
After Flyers junior Joey Schnier blocked a Nason shot, Nason redirected a loose ball just wide and Waynflete junior Timmy Bollinger broke up a rush by Ingraham, the hosts had a good look, but freshman Ahmed Mohamed shot just wide on a loose ball after a corner kick.
In the 30th minute, a free kick by Shain went just wide with sophomore Mitchel Donovan bearing down.
A minute later, at the other end, Cleaves made a nice move around a defender, passed the ball away, got it right back and appeared headed for a one-on-one with Leverett, but was brought down in the box. Much to Waynflete’s chagrin, no foul was called. Instead, the official explained that Cleaves slipped, as opposed to being tripped.
Late in the half, Donovan and Crowley managed low shots that Silk saved and the game was 1-0 at the break.
Chances were fewer in the second half, but Greely would eventually open it up.
Early on, Nason forced Silk to make a diving save and Rangers junior Aidan Black forced Silk to make another tough save.
With 30:01 to go in regulation, Greely junior defender Sam Porter headed away a serve from Waynflete senior Mohammed Suja.
In the 57th minute, a Flyers corner kick saw Max Belleau’s shot deflected out for another corner kick, which Porter cleared, only to set up a third corner kick, which didn’t result in a shot.
With 21:46 to play, a high serve by Runyambo forced Leverett to make a leaping save.
With 16:01 left, Nason hit the post, but the Rangers kept the pressure on, senior Steven Volta passed to Nason and this time, with 15:46 left in regulation, Nason beat Silk to make it 2-0.
With 12:43 to go, Nason eluded the defense and buried a shot to make it 3-0.
“I feel like (Nason) possessed the ball well, settled and distributed,” said Crowley. “He started shooting in the second half and scored.”
Waynflete never buckled, however, and got a goal back with 9:27 remaining, when sophomore Elyse Bayizere beat Leverett to a loose ball before banging it home to cut the deficit to 3-1.
The Flyers almost got back within a goal with 5:02 left, but a feed from Mohamed, intended for Cutler, was broken up by Greely junior Patrick O’Shea.
Waynflete earned a free kick just outside the Rangers’ box in the 77th minute. Senior Kevin Kanakan’s boot wound up loose in the box, but Porter was there to clear it.
“We knew they were really good moving the ball up and down,” Porter said. “We were just trying to watch out for through balls and control (Kanakan), who had good footwork. (The weather and field conditions were) really bad out there. We had to muck it out.”
“Defensively, until we had that miscommunication at the end, we were good,” Andreasen said. “Porter and (senior Nicholas) Dunnett do a great job every night.”
Then, with 1:56 remaining, Crowley and sophomore Miles Shields played give-and-go in transition and Crowley finished to give Greely a 4-1 lead.
“I got a cross,” said Crowley. “I just took a touch and tried to put it back post. It got deflected. It felt good to finish one.”
“It’s nice to see Crowley rewarded,” Andreasen said. “His numbers have been down this year. He didn’t play in the Cape game. The whole midfield was a mess without him. He doesn’t have to put gaudy numbers up. He just battles.”
The Rangers ran out the clock from there.
“I feel like we moved the ball more today,” Crowley said. “We weren’t selfish and we played smart.”
“That was big for us since Class A is shrinking,” Andreasen said. “Cape is coming on. Cheverus is coming on. Portland’s coming on.”
Waynflete coach Brandon Salway felt his team played well most of the game.
“I thought we were competitive for 60 minutes, then I don’t know what happened,” Salway said. “It was good for us. Showed us what we need to work on. We had some chances. We were right there. Defensively we have some work to do. We had people back, but it was poor communication. We talked about it at halftime and it didn’t really get better. We’re not making the big plays we need to make at this time of year. That’s going to have to change or it will be a short postseason.”
Knoth’s absence was felt.
“I think (Peabo) would’ve made a big difference,” Salway said. “Just his ability to hold the ball up front, the way he creates for other people. He would have helped us offensively, but we still would’ve given up the same amount of goals.”
“Waynflete is very good in the midfield, but they seemed to lack a finisher today,” Andreasen said. “With Peabo, they’re a good team, regardless of class.”
Greely finished with an 8-4 advantage in corner kicks. Leverett made two saves.
Silk made five saves in what will likely be his last action for awhile. Senior goalkeeper Zander Majercik, who missed five games with a hand injury, is set to return.
“Zander just got cleared,” said Salway. “He’s pretty excited. Tommy was terrific. Great experience for him. It’ll give him a jump start for next year. He did better than we anticipated. He got on the job training and did a great job. Zander’s a great leader for us and I think we need that right now.”
Waynflete (fourth in the Western Class C Heal Points standings at press time) hosts Lake Region Thursday, then wraps up its regular season with another difficult challenge versus a Western A foe, host Cape Elizabeth, Monday. The Flyers would love to move up, but are more concerned with regaining some momentum heading into the postseason.
“We need to improve,” Salway said. “It looks like we’re 3 or 4. At this point, I’m not sure it matters. I’m more concerned with how we’re playing. We’ve proved we can play anywhere, but we have to improve defensively.”
Greely (sixth in the Western A Heals) is back in action Thursday night, when it visits Yarmouth. The Rangers close the regular season with another tough test, at Falmouth, Saturday.
“I feel like we just need to play smarter,” Crowley said. “In the (first) Falmouth game, there were a few things we could have done in the last few seconds to prevent the goal. Against Yarmouth, we just didn’t mark up on a corner. I feel like we’re sort of breaking through and hopefully we’ll keep it going through playoffs.”
“I think we’re in really good position,” said Porter. “We have to bring it every day, which I’m sure we will. We’ll be fired up for those games. I think we have to prove ourselves now.”
“We have three big games in four days,” Andreasen added. “If we can’t get up for Yarmouth tomorrow, something’s wrong. We played them well before. We had a breakdown early, then played well. If we win out, we could go 3 or 4. We’re probably 5 or 6 with this win. We play two of the best teams around, but I think we’re pretty good too. “
Waynflete senior Paul Runyambo sends the ball forward.
Waynflete sophomore Elyse Bayizere and Greely senior Nicholas Shain meet in the air.
Greely junior Matt Crowley and Waynflete senior Paul Runyambo battle for possession.
Waynflete senior Max Belleau fires the ball as Greely sophomore Ben Ingraham closes in. Ingraham had the game’s first goal.
Waynflete sophomore Elyse Bayizere stretches to play the ball.
Greely freshman Jacob Nason eludes sliding Waynflete freshman goalkeeper Tommy Silk while Flyers sophomore Harry Baker-Connick (leaping) and junior Carter Burrowes give chase. Nason scored two second half goals to help the Rangers to a 4-1 win.
More photos below.