PORTLAND—The Kennebunk girls’ lacrosse team has been one of the state’s best over the past decade, but the Rams haven’t been able to solve one particular nemesis.
The Waynflete Flyers.
Over the years, Kennebunk has lost its share of painful games and has seen too many seasons end courtesy of Waynflete, but Saturday afternoon at Fore River Field, the Rams got a small measure of revenge.
In a game that featured playoff intensity and back-and-forth excitement, Kennebunk scored three times in a 4 minute, 10 second span late in the contest to take the lead for good, then held off the expected Flyers’ rally to beat Waynflete for the first time since 2003.
Senior Camille Auger scored four times and junior Kate Graydon struck for the go-ahead goal as Kennebunk improved to 3-0 on the young season, dropping the Flyers to 1-1.
“It’s so exciting,” said Auger. “This is like winning states. For starters, I think we wanted it. We just said, ‘We’re not losing.’ We took that out of our state of mind.”
Kennebunk beat Waynflete in the 2002 regional final and 2003 regular season, but since then, the Rams suffered one loss after another to the Flyers, including playoff defeats in the 2004 (triple overtime) 2005 and 2006 regional finals. Kennebunk lost to Yarmouth in the 2002 state final and 2007 Class B Final and after moving up in class, fell to Brunswick in the 2008 and 2009 Class A state games. Last year, the Rams were ousted, 11-3, by Scarborough in the semifinals.
In the past decade, Waynflete was winning titles more seasons than not, including back-to-back Class B crowns in 2008 and 2009. Last year, the Flyers went 12-3, but lost, 7-3, to North Yarmouth Academy in the state game.
So far this season, both teams have impressed.
Kennebunk opened with an 8-5 victory at Thornton Academy, then blanked visiting Deering, 17-0.
Waynflete’s first game resulted in an emphatic 18-10 win at Falmouth, thanks in part to six goals from sophomore Sadie Cole.
Last year, the Flyers downed the host Rams, 11-6, their ninth win in a row against their rival.
There wouldn’t be a 10th.
Kennebunk set the tone just 1 minute, 24 seconds in when Auger scored for a quick 1-0 lead.
Waynflete tied the score 37 seconds later when junior Lucy Crane fed senior Mica Thompson for a goal. With 19:28 left in the 25-minute first half, Thompson (from sophomore Martha Veroneau, in transition) beat Rams senior goalie Kellie Renk for a 2-1 lead.
After Auger (on a fastbreak) tied the score, Veroneau cut through five defenders and beat Renk with 14:44 to go before halftime to make it 3-2 Flyers.
Auger set up senior Taylor Crowley for a goal that tied the game with 13:02 to play, but Veroneau answered with an unassisted goal, then set up senior Liv Chap for a goal in transition to give the hosts their biggest lead, 5-3, with 10:28 remaining in the half.
Kennebunk battled back, however, getting goals from Crowley (assisted by Auger) and Auger (assisted by senior Emily Kessel) in a 49-second span to tie the score. The Rams then took the lead into the break when senior Rose Bryant scored unassisted with 2:05 remaining.
“We knew if we took out (Veroneau) and (Cole), it would be tougher for (Waynflete) to clear,” said Kennebunk coach Annie Barker. “We figured that out and the one-on-one thing and we shot a lot of shots at the goalie, but we knew if we kept shooting, we hoped to get ahead.”
Kennebunk might have had an insurmountable lead at halftime were it not for Waynflete sophomore goalie Katherine Torrey, who made eight saves (nearly all of them point blank) in the first 25 minutes.
“Katherine did a great job,” said Flyers coach Cathie Connors. “I’m super proud of her. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
The second half was breathtaking throughout.
Waynflete tied the score at 6-6 when Chap picked up a loose ball in front of the goal and fired a shot past Renk just 1 minute, 35 seconds into the stanza, ending a 12 minute, 3 second drought.
Less than a minute later, however, the Rams answered and went back on top, 7-6, thanks to a free position goal from Kessel.
Again, the Flyers responded as Cole found Thompson, who made a nice catch and shot, with 22:07 to go.
Kennebunk went back ahead, 8-7, on an unassisted Kessel goal with 16:38 remaining, but again Waynflete tied the score as Thompson set up junior Maddy Agnew for a goal with 14:15 to play.
This time, the Flyers managed to get the next goal as well, taking a tenuous 9-8 advantage on a high shot from senior Scout Haffenreffer with 12:46 left.
The Rams answered and drew even when Auger (from Crowley) scored with 9:41 showing.
With 8:17 to go, junior Kate Graydon struck (from senior Molly Centore) and Kennebunk was on top to stay.
Seconds after a controversial offsides call (where both teams were ruled for having one player offsides, but Waynflete emphatically argued that two Rams were illegally positioned), Centore scored on a rebound shot with 5:31 left for an 11-9 lead, but a free position goal from Cole 32 seconds later pulled Waynflete back to 11-10.
Centore tried to extend the lead on a free position with 3:12 left, but Torrey made the save. The Flyers had a great chance to draw even with 2:06 to go, but Haffenreffer’s bid was denied by Renk, who made her biggest save of the afternoon.
Then, while trying to run out the clock, Kennebunk managed to make it a 12-10 game when Auger set up Bryant with 51 seconds remaining.
Waynflete hoped for a quick goal to keep hope alive, but Graydon won the ensuing draw and the Rams salted away their eagerly awaited win.
“I’ve never seen our defense play so well,” Auger said. “On offense, we worked well and found the open cutter. The last minute was so scary. The game of lacrosse is so fast. Anything can happen.”
“It feels good,” Barker added. “We did a lot of things well. It’s always an exciting game (when we play Waynflete). This is probably the strongest bench I’ve had in a long time. We’re mature. We’ll build on this.”
Kennebunk got four goals from Auger, two apiece from Bryant, Crowley and Kessel and one each from Centore and Graydon. Auger had three assists, while Centore, Crowley and Kessel all had one. Renk made three saves. Auger had a game-high nine ground balls, while Centore grabbed seven and Bryant had six.
For Waynflete, Thompson led the way with three goals. Chap and Veroneau both had two, while Agnew, Cole and Haffenreffer had one goal apiece. Veroneau finished with two assists, while Cole, Crane and Thompson each had one. Torrey played the best game of her young career, making 19 saves. Veroneau had a team-high six ground balls. Chap and Haffenreffer both finished with four.
“I think we played the best we can play,” Connors said. “In the second half, we had some funky stuff going on. We struggled a bit in the first half, but I think Kennebunk was incredible. They’re always a strong team. Their defense was great. They played well.”
The team stats favored the Rams.
Kennebunk won 13 of 24 draws. Graydon captured 8-of-13, Bryant won 5-of-7 and Centore was 0-for-4 against Haffenreffer (11-of-24), who won the vast majority of her opportunities in the circle versus Falmouth. The Rams only turned the ball over a dozen times against the storied Waynflete defense. The Flyers had 19 turnovers. Kennebunk outshot Waynflete, 40-15 (31-13 on frame).
Waynflete returns to action Tuesday at home versus Freeport. Thursday, the Flyers host sizzling Yarmouth.
“We’ll take so much from this,” Connors said. “There were a few things we had problems with that we can work on. It was fun.”
As for Kennebunk, it’s idle until Thursday, when it plays at Bonny Eagle.
Look for the Rams to build on this victory. Perhaps all the way to that elusive championship next month.
“This definitely boosts our confidence,” Auger said. “We’re excited. We thought we were really good and now we know we can do this. I think we’ll have a great season.”
“We still have work to do,” Barker added. “We’re not there yet. Hopefully we’ll stay smart. We have skills. We can do special things if we stay disciplined.”
K- 6 6- 12
W- 5 5- 10
23:36 K Auger (unassisted)
22:59 W Thompson (Crane)
19:28 W Thompson (Veroneau)
15:18 K Auger (un)
14:44 W Veroneau (un)
13:02 K Crowley (Auger)
11:34 W Veroneau (un)
10:28 W Chap (Veroneau)
9:37 K Crowley (Auger)
8:48 K Auger (Kessel)
2:05 K Bryant (un)
23:25 W Chap (un)
22:31 K Kessel (free position)
22:07 W Thompson (Cole)
16:38 K Kessel (un)
14:15 W Agnew (Thompson)
12:46 W Haffenreffer (un)
9:41 K Auger (Crowley)
8:17 K Graydon (Centore)
5:31 K Centore (un)
4:59 W Cole (free position)
:51 K Bryant (Auger)
K- Auger 4, Bryant, Crowley, Kessel 2, Centore, Graydon 1
W- Thompson 3, Chap, Veroneau 2, Agnew, Cole, Haffenreffer 1
K- Auger 3, Centore, Crowley, Kessel 1
W- Veroneau 2, Cole, Crane, Thompson 1
K- (Renk) 3
W- (Torrey) 19
Draws (Kennebunk, 13-11)
K- Graydon (8-of-13), Bryant (5-of-7), Centore (0-for-4)
W- Haffenreffer (11-of-24)
Ground balls (Kennebunk, 48-28)
K- Auger 9, Centore 7, Bryant 6
W- Veroneau 6, Chap, Haffenreffer 4
Shots on frame: