Greely flips the script, breaks Waynflete’s heart in quarterfinals

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Greely senior Courtney Sullivan (10) hugs freshman Sam Goldburg after Goldburg’s goal with 2:27 to play puts the Rangers ahead to stay in Saturday’s 6-5 home win over Waynflete in a Class B state quarterfinal. Greely will next meet Cape Elizabeth in the semifinals.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Greely 6 Waynflete 5

W- 1 4- 5
G- 2 4- 6

First half
13:56 G Morrison (free position)
6:59 W Olney (Stockford)
40.1 G Van Curan (Clement)

Second half
20:17 W Olney (free position)
18:56 W Olney (unassisted)
18:33 G Sullivan (unassisted)
15:41 W Burdick (Wildes)
10:02 W Olney (unassisted)
7:17 G Sullivan (unassisted)
4:19 G Morrison (Sullivan)
2:27 G Goldburg (Sullivan)

Goals:
W- Olney 4, Burdick 1
G- Morrison, Sullivan 2, Goldburg, Van Curan 1

Assists:
W- Stockford, Wildes 1
G- Sullivan 2, Clement 1

Draws (Waynflete, 7-6)
W- Wildes 7 of 13
G- Goldburg 4 of 9, Sullivan 2 of 4

Ground balls:
W- 23
G- 25

Turnovers:
W- 15
G- 13

Shots:
W- 13
G- 17

Shots on cage:
W- 10
G- 12

Saves:
W (Akers) 6
G (Perfetti) 5

CUMBERLAND—If you closed your eyes, it felt like 2004, or perhaps 2005.

With one enormous exception.

The Greely and Waynflete girls’ lacrosse teams did battle in a Class B state quarterfinal Saturday afternoon at Glenn A. Hutchins Field and as has been the case so many times when the teams met in the month of June, there was little separation  between the teams and the sixth-ranked, upset-minded Flyers had the third-seeded Rangers on the ropes.

Until, suddenly and decisively, everything changed.

Instead of adding to its litany of gutwrenching playoff defeats at the hand of Waynflete, Greely rallied and delivered a slice of long-overdue heartache to the Flyers.

After a first half that was almost devoid of offense (junior Jayme Morrison gave the Rangers the lead, senior LZ Olney drew Waynflete even and a late goal from senior Greta Van Curan gave Greely a 2-1 halftime edge), both teams stepped up big time and again in a nervewracking second half.

Olney scored two quick goals, one on a free position, another unassisted, to give the Flyers their first lead, but with 18:33 to play, Rangers senior standout Courtney Sullivan tied the score.

Waynflete went back on top with 15:41 left, when senior Izzy Burdick scored and when Olney added her fourth goal with 10:02 on the clock, it looked like the Flyers were going to spring the signature upset of the girls’ tournament to date.

But Greely, led by the indefatigable Sullivan, who already willed her girls’ hockey team to a state title back in February, roared back and lived to play another day.

With 7:17 on the clock, Sullivan scored unassisted to give the Rangers life and with 4:19 left in regulation, Sullivan threaded a pass to Morrison, who scored to tie the game for the fourth time, 5-5.

Greely got the ball back again and with 2:27 to go, Sullivan found freshman Sam Goldburg, who scored to put the Rangers ahead to stay, but Greely freshman goalie Hannah Perfetti, who, like nearly all of her teammates, wasn’t alive the last time the Rangers knocked off the Flyers in the postseason, had to make two huge saves to secure it and Greely held on and survived and advanced, 6-5.

Morrison and Sullivan had two goals apiece and the Rangers beat Waynflete in the playoffs for the first time since 2000, improved to 9-4, ended the Flyers’ season with a misleading record of 6-7 and in the process, advanced to battle No. 2 Cape Elizabeth (8-5) in the state semifinals Wednesday, in Cape Elizabeth, at a time to be announced.

“This is such great lacrosse, the way it should be in the playoffs,” said Greely coach Becca Koelker, who, as Becca Lambertson, suffered her share of painful losses to Waynflete as a Ranger back in the day. “Every team you face is as good as the last one and we wouldn’t want it any other way.”

Like the old days…almost

Greely and Waynflete once met regularly in the playoffs, doing battle seven times in a decade between 1997 and 2006.

The first encounter came in the 1997 Division I state final, a 7-5 Waynflete win.

The next year, the Maine Principals’ Association began sanctioning the sport and the Flyers and Rangers were lumped together in the same region.

In 1998, during Waynflete’s undefeated run to a championship, the Flyers crushed Greely, 17-6, in the semifinals.

After a year’s hiatus, the teams met again, this time in the 2000 semifinals, where the Rangers beat Waynflete for the only time in June, 10-9, in overtime.

The squads didn’t square off in 2001 or 2002, but would battle each of the next four seasons in increasingly dramatic and memorable games.

In the 2003 regional final, title-bound Waynflete rolled, 15-7.

The next year, in the semifinals, the Flyers, who had lost both regular season meetings, upset host Greely in a defensive struggle, 5-2, and went on to the championship.

In 2005, on a sizzling hot day, Waynflete only scored five goals in the semis, but that was two better than the Rangers and again, the Flyers advanced and ultimately celebrated another crown.

The 2006 semifinal game was one of a kind. For starters, due to poor field conditions at Waynflete, the contest was played at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

At 8 a.m.

Underdog Greely led most of the game, but the Flyers, behind their storied “Magnificent Seven” seniors, then riding a 34-game win streak, improbably snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with an epic rally in the waning moments and pulled away to win in overtime, 8-5. The run ended two games later with a state final loss to Yarmouth.

Waynflete then won, 16-5, in the 2008 Western B Final and held on for a 12-11 victory in the 2011 Western B semifinals in the most recent encounter.

This year, both squads have turned heads in a deep and balanced Class B.

Waynflete started fast with three wins, then struggled down the stretch and finished .500 for the first time (see sidebar, below, for links to previous game stories) to earn the No. 6 seed in the region.

Greely wound up with eight wins in 12 games and closed with a thrilling double-overtime victory over Cape Elizabeth last Saturday to wind up third in the region.

The teams met May 2 in Cumberland and the Rangers prevailed, 7-5.

Saturday, on a beautiful 76 degree afternoon, the first postseason showdown between the rivals in seven years was very much worth the wait.

Even if it created no shortage of angst on both benches.

For much of the first half, Greely controlled possession, but couldn’t break the ice.

After Van Curan fired a free position shot wide, Morrison was denied by Waynflete sophomore goalie Avis Akers and Goldburg and Morrison both missed wide with shots.

Finally, with 13:56 to go in the half, Morrison was awarded a free position and fired a shot which Akers couldn’t stop for the game’s first goal.

The Flyers hoped to answer, but Olney twice missed wide.

She didn’t miss a third time, as with 6:59 to go, Olney finished a feed from senior Ya Stockford, solving Perfetti to make it 1-1.

Waynflete got the ball back and hoped to go ahead for the first time, but Burdick was hurt on a play in which Rangers sophomore Ellie Holt was given a yellow card.

The Flyers couldn’t take advantage and while Burdick soon returned to action, the visitors weren’t able to score, as senior Laura Baginski had a free position shot saved by Perfetti and Baginski missed high.

Then, with just 40-1 seconds on the clock, junior Brooke Clement, from behind the goal, fed Van Curan for a one-timer which got past Akers and Greely took a 2-1 lead to halftime.

Both offenses showed more life in a second half that was riveting down to the final horn.

The Rangers hoped to extend their lead early in the half, but in transition, after Sullivan set up Clement in a near carbon copy of the duo’s game-winner in double overtime last week against Cape Elizabeth, Clement was stopped cold in front by Akers.

Back came the Flyers and with 20:17 remaining, Olney was awarded a free position and finished to tie it, 2-2.

After Akers robbed Morrison, Olney won a ground ball and wouldn’t be denied, racing in before shooting past Perfetti to give the visitors their first lead, 3-2, with 18:56 on the clock.

The lead lasted all of 23 seconds, as Sullivan got the ball off the draw found a seam in the defense and raced in and beat Akers high to tie the score again.

Undaunted, Waynflete responded, as after Baginski had a shot saved by Perfetti, Burdick took a pass from sophomore Anna Wildes scored for a 4-3 advantage with 15:41 to play.

Olney then had a free position saved by Perfetti and Wildes missed wide, but with 10:02 remaining, Olney scored unassisted and Koelker had to take a timeout, down two goals.

The Flyers were excited with their advantage, but only had to think back to a game at Falmouth May 19 that they led by two goals in the second half only to lose by one.

And despite longtime Waynflete coach Cathie Connors doing everything she could to prevent it, history would ultimately repeat itself.

Out of the timeout, Sullivan stepped into the draw circle and won possession to herself, but the Rangers would turn the ball over and Waynflete ran the clock under eight minutes before giving the ball back.

That turnover proved game-altering, as Sullivan ran in and scored unassisted and with 7:17 still to play, Greely only trailed by one.

“We felt like we had to win every draw because the game was so close,” Sullivan said. “The people on the circle worked so hard. Everyone really wanted it.”

“With 10 minutes left, I told (Courtney) she had to take control of the game and she responded,” Koelker said. “She’s the kind of athlete who if you ask them to do something for you, she does it.”

Connors called timeout to stem the tide, but Sullivan won the ensuing draw and Van Curan raced in with a great look. Akers would deny the shot and preserve the lead and also saved a bid from Clement, but the Rangers stayed on the attack and stayed patient and with 4:19 on the clock, Sullivan found Morrison, who wouldn’t be denied, scoring to make it 5-5.

Connors used her last timeout and Wildes won the ensuing draw, but again the Flyers couldn’t hold on to the ball.

Greely went back on offense and again was patient until Sullivan spotted Goldburg open in front, hit her with a pinpoint pass and Goldburg tickled the twine with 2:27 remaining to give the Rangers the lead for good, 6-5.

“I just saw cutters and there was an open space and I went,” Goldburg said. “I owe it all to ‘Court,’ who made an awesome assist to me. It’s been amazing being a part of this team. I love it. It’s my favorite thing. I owe it all to my teammates. They’re always there to pick me up. We all push each other.”

“We do a really job cutting and we have such good team chemistry that the girls know when a pass is coming,” Sullivan said.

“Such composure by (Sam) to find the back of the net in that situation,” Koelker added.

Wildes won the ensuing draw to Stockford, who raced in and shot, but Perfetti made the stop.

Waynflete kept possession and Burdick had a look to tie it, but Perfetti saved that one too.

Greely then got possession and out of a timeout, the Rangers were able to transition up the field and thanks in part to Van Curan collecting a ground ball and eluding the defense, Greely ran out the clock and at 6:23 p.m., celebrated a hard-fought 6-5 victory.

“It didn’t look good, but we worked together as a team,” Van Curan said. “We have such great team chemistry and that helped us dig deep in the last few minutes and pull it out. We knew the game wasn’t over and we’d been in tough situations before. It’s hard when girls are coming at you from all sides, but it’s all about staying composed.”

“We practice the stall every practice and we executed it just the way we practice,” Koelker said. “Our girls believed the whole game. We knew we had a lot left in us to finish. (Waynflete) played such a great game. They made us adjust our plan and our team responded so well. We knew it would be tough. They’re so well-coached and I feel like they’re going to show up in the playoffs regardless of what happened during the season.”

Morrison and Sullivan had two goals apiece and Goldburg and Van Curan each scored once.

Sullivan had two assists and Clement finished with one.

Perfetti made five saves and every one was crucial.

Sullivan finished with a game-high seven ground balls, as the Rangers enjoyed a 25-23 advantage.

Greely ousthot Waynflete, 17-13 (12-10 on cage) and only committed 15 turnovers.

So close

Waynflete got four goals from Olney and one from Burdick. Stockford and Wildes each had assists.

Akers made six saves.

Sophomore Emily Wagg had a team-high six ground balls.

Wildes won 7 of 13 draws.

The Flyers turned the ball over 15 times and their upset bid fell agonizingly short.

“I can’t say something didn’t work, they just wanted it, but we wanted it too,” Connors said. “We shifted the draw in the second half and talked about marking up in the midfield and we did so much better. We were able to get the ball back and have opportunities. The girls fought right to the end. We had chances. Things just didn’t go our way. I’m really proud of them. I have no regrets.”

Waynflete had the opportunity this spring to drop to Class C, like the school’s boys’ team, but Connors elected to stay in Class B, to remain with the Flyers’ traditional rivals.

Waynflete’s record might not reflect it, but the program more than held its own.

“I have no regrets staying in B,” Connors said. “I’m not sure C is any easier. I love playing teams like Greely and Cape and Yarmouth.”

The Flyers graduate several top players, including Baginski, Burdick, Olney, Stockford and Claire Dubois.

“I just feel so badly for the seniors,” Connors said. “Saying goodbye to the seniors is the hard part.”

Waynflete has a solid young nucleus, which figures to be bolstered next spring by the arrival of a freshman named Jessica Connors, the coach’s daughter, who was just a baby/toddler during some of the Flyers’ biggest wins over Greely years ago.

“She has to make the team first,” said Cathie Connors, sounding like a typical mother/coach.

“The younger kids have come so far. This year was a good building block.”

Semifinal showdown

Greely will meet Cape Elizabeth Wednesday with a trip to next Saturday’s Class B state final on the line.

The Rangers won the regular season meeting June 2 on Clement’s goal in the second overtime.

The Capers have won two of three prior playoff meetings, with a 17-10 victory in the 2013 Western B semifinals the most recent.

Winning in Cape Elizabeth won’t be easy, but Greely, after consecutive heartstopping victories, believes it isn’t done yet.

“This means a lot, but we’ve got bigger games down the line,” said Van Curan. “We have to keep our eyes ahead of us. It means a lot to make it so far.”

“We have to keep playing the way we’re playing and keep working hard,” Sullivan said.

“We have to take care of the basics, win draws, get possessions, take care of the ball,” Koelker said. “We went from not making playoffs last year to making the final four. It feels good. I’m so proud of the girls.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Waynflete senior Izzy Burdick is hounded by Greely sophomore Ellie Holt, left, and senior Nettie Cunningham.

Waynflete senior Laura Baginski shoots while Greely junior Maddy Perfetti defends.

Greely senior Greta Van Curan drives on Waynflete sophomore Abby Aleshire.

Waynflete sophomore Anna Wildes shoots as Greely freshman Sam Goldburg defends.

Waynflete senior LZ Olney beats Greely freshman goalie Hannah Perfetti.

Greely senior Courtney Sullivan shoots and scores.

Two of the state’s top sophomores, Waynflete’s Emily Wagg and Greely’s Ellie Holt, fight for possession.

Greely freshman Sam Goldburg and Waynflete sophomore Clara Sandberg battle for the ball.

Waynflete sophomore Anna Wildes hugs senior LZ Olney after one of Olney’s four goals in her swan song.

Greely mobs freshman goalie Hannah Perfetti at the final horn.

Previous Greely game stories

@ Greely 8 Gorham 7

@ Yarmouth 12 Greely 10

@ Greely 11 Cape Elizabeth 10 (2 OT)

Previous Waynflete game stories

@ Waynflete 9 Cheverus 3

@ Waynflete 10 Marshwood 5

Cape Elizabeth 16 @ Waynflete 6

@ Falmouth 8 Waynflete 7

Yarmouth 13 @ Waynflete 6

Previous Greely-Waynflete playoff results

2011 Western B semifinals
@ Waynflete 12 Greely 11

2008 Western B Final
@ Waynflete 16 Greely

2006 Western B semifinals
Waynflete 8 Greely 5 (OT) (Played at Fitzpatrick Stadium)

2005 West Division semifinals
@ Waynflete 5 Greely 3

2004 West Division semifinals
Waynflete 5 @ Greely 2

2003 West Division Final
@ Waynflete 15 Greely 7

2000 state semifinal
Greely 10 @ Waynflete 9 (OT)

1998 state semifinal
@ Waynflete 17 Greely 6

1997 Division I state final
Waynflete 7 Greely 5

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.