Waynflete fends off Kennebunk
KENNEBUNK—After winning three times with ease this spring, the Waynflete girls' lacrosse team got a major test Saturday at Kennebunk in the renewal of the state's best interclass rivalry.
While the Flyers managed to lead almost throughout, the Rams never went away and the longtime combatants produced another drama which came down to the waning moments.
After junior Sadie Cole scored her fifth goal early in the second half, Waynflete appeared home free, up 8-4, but Kennebunk, behind a sensational individual effort from junior Rose Bryant, scored four times in just over six minutes to draw even.
The Flyers were true to the test, however, and junior Martha Veroneau put her team ahead to stay with 11:11 remaining scoring after a dazzling individual effort which saw her utilize the skills that make her one of the state's premier basketball players.
The Rams had chances to answer, but couldn't hold on to the ball and finally, with 2:54 to play, a Veroneau free position goal gave Waynflete some breathing room. The Flyers managed to hold on from there and improve to 4-0 with a 10-8 victory, dropping Kennebunk to 1-1 in the process.
"We went out and came together as a team and pulled it out," said Veroneau, who nearly matched Cole's five goals with four of her own. "Kennebunk's a really good team. Well coached. It went down to the final buzzer. This is the first time we've had to push ourselves mentally that far. It's good experience, especially moving on from here."
Quite a show
Waynflete and Kennebunk have been fierce rivals dating back to last century, with the Flyers long playing the role of the Rams' nemesis.
Kennebunk did beat Waynflete in the 2002 regional semifinals, 7-6, but the Flyers eliminated the Rams in the regional final in 2004 (8-7, in a triple-overtime epic), 2005 (11-6) and 2006 (14-8).
Waynflete also downed Kennebunk in six straight regular season meetings from 2005 through 2010, before the Rams finally got the best of the Flyers last spring, 12-10.
Waynflete went on to once again play in the Class B state final, only to lose to Yarmouth, 9-8.
Kennebunk advanced to the Western A Final last season, but lost to eventual champion Scarborough, 9-6.
The Rams opened the 2012 season with a 14-8 victory at Portland Thursday.
The Flyers, meanwhile, hadn't been tested, dominating visiting North Yarmouth Academy (15-5) and Yarmouth (13-2) before downing host Wells, 15-7, the 225th career victory for coach and dynasty builder Cathie Connors.
Saturday, Waynflete found itself pushed for 50 minutes, but answered the bell.
Kennebunk took an early 1-0 lead, its lone advantage of the game as it would turn out, when senior Lauren Errico scored unassisted.
The Flyers drew even 39 seconds later when Cole scored her first goal, finishing after winning a ground ball.
The Rams looked to go back on top with just under 19 minutes to play in the half, but Waynflete junior goalie Katherine Torrey first denied senior Kate Graydon, then did the same to senior Alyssa Fallon.
The Flyers went ahead with 17:36 to go in the half when Cole scored on a free position.
Veroneau scored her first goal (unassisted) with 16:13 to play before halftime.
After Kennebunk cut the deficit to one on Bryant's first goal of the game (from senior Alli Bush in transition), Veroneau set up Cole for a goal and a 4-2 lead.
Again the Rams cut the deficit to one when Bryant raced in off a draw win and fired a shot that Torrey slowed, but couldn't stop.
Waynflete answered right back on a Veroneau unassisted tally and with 7:29 remaining in the half, sophomore Leigh Fernandez passed up a tough angle free position shot and instead passed to Cole, who finished to make it 6-3, inducing a timeout from longtime Kennebunk coach Annie Barker.
The Rams cut the Flyers' lead to 6-4 when Fallon (from Graydon) scored with 3:41 left, but the rest of the half would be a study in frustration for the hosts.
After winning the ensuing draw, Kennebunk ran nearly three minutes off the clock, but couldn't solve the Waynflete zone defense and a pass was intercepted by Torrey, allowing the Flyers to transition to offense.
With 32.4 seconds showing, Veroneau fed sophomore Walker Foehl for a goal and a 7-4 lead.
Again, the Rams won the draw and had a chance to score, but they couldn't get a shot off before the horn and they went into the break down three.
Early in the second half, Waynflete looked as if it was in control after Cole took a pass from Foehl and scored with 23:38 to play.
Instead of buckling, Kennebunk, more specifically Bryant, answered.
Bryant scored on a free position with 19:34 to play, cutting the deficit to 8-5.
With 16:14 showing, Bryant scored unassisted and the Flyers' lead was down to 8-6.
Exactly a minute later, Bryant split the defense and scored unassisted to make it 8-7, forcing Connors to call timeout.
But Bryant wasn't finished.
With 12:59 to go in regulation, the standout scored unassisted and the game was deadlocked, 8-8.
"(Bryant) was really good," Veroneau said. "She's hard to stop."
Suddenly Waynflete's character and ability to overcome adversity were put to the test.
The Flyers passed with flying colors.
Veroneau would lead the way.
After a long possession, Veroneau looked as if she had no room to maneuver, but she managed to dig into her basketball bag of tricks and elude a defender with a pretty move. She got position, raced in and fired past Rams junior goalie Lizzie Stockbridge to put Waynflete ahead for good, 9-8.
"I know I can take some people," Veroneau said. "I saw a lane and tried to take it in. I got a step."
"I had complete faith in (Martha)," Cole said. "I knew she'd take it in. She's always the one who takes that."
The next seven-plus minutes featured three turnovers by the hosts and a pair by the Flyers.
Finally, with 2:54 to go, Veroneau was awarded a free position and she wasn't about to be denied, finishing to push the advantage to 10-8.
"I usually just huck it in there and hopefully it goes," Veroneau said.
After a Kennebunk timeout, Waynflete won the draw and managed to run two minutes off the clock. The Rams had one last chance, but they gave the ball away and the Flyers were able to run out the clock on their 10-8 triumph.
"It's very exciting," Cole said. "We had kind of an off game against Wells. We had a really productive practice yesterday. We came out and executed well. Kennebunk's one of the best teams in the state. I wasn't surprised they came back. We just stayed composed and played our game. These are my favorite types of games. I'm really proud to see everyone pull through. It's one of our biggest games. Getting an opportunity to play one of the best Class A teams is fun."
"I'm really psyched how we were patient," said Connors. "The offense played well. We did a lot of work with the defense. Today, it clicked. That's what we worked on in practice yesterday. We took better care of the ball. I was glad to see them pull that together."
Cole and Veroneau are two of top offensive forces in the state and that tandem was on display as they combined for nine goals.
"They work so well together and so do Walker and (sophomore) Ella (Millard)," said Connors.
Foehl had the other Waynflete goal. Veroneau finished with two assists, while Fernandez and Foehl each had one. Torrey made six saves.
The Flyers were able to win 12 of 20 draws, as Cole was successful on 8 of 12 tries, Foehl won 3 of 5 and Veroneau went 1 of 3.
Waynflete also had a 35-32 advantage on ground balls. Veroneau had a game-high 11, while Cole finished with eight.
The Flyers only turned the ball over 13 times, while forcing 15. They had a 17-15 advantage in shots on goal (16-14 in shots on cage).
Waynflete's 4-0 start hasn't come as a shock, at least to those involved.
"I'm not surprised," Cole said. "Cathie somehow can always pull together an amazing team. We have good leaders. Everyone's ready to learn."
"We have Cathie leading us," Veroneau said. "She's going to have a good team every year because she's really a good coach and is capable of pulling teams together no matter what she has. Our defense is really coming together. To play so well this early is really impressive."
For Kennebunk, Bryant stole the show with six goals. Errico and Fallon each had one. Bush and Graydon had assists. Stockbridge stopped six shots. Graydon went 5 of 12 on draws. Bryant won 2 of 6 opportunities, while Truman went 1 for 2. Bryant also led the Rams in ground balls with eight. Bush grabbed seven.
"I'm very pleased with the effort," said Barker. "What we lost the most last year was defense. It's young. They're coming. They couldn't react quickly enough. The foot speed and communication just isn't there yet. My goalie's a field player who never played goalie before, but she'll be fine. I think we've filled in nicely."
Big games to come
Kennebunk returns to action Tuesday at Westbrook. The Rams return home Thursday to face Bonny Eagle. Pivotal contests remain at Falmouth (May 12), at home versus Massabesic (May 14), at home against two-time defending Class A state champion Scarborough (May 24) and at home versus Thornton Academy (May 29).
"I think we'll be there," said Barker. "It is a work in progress. We should be OK."
As for Waynflete, it knows it still has room to get better.
"On attack, we need to work a little more knowing when to pass," Cole said. "We all trust each other so much. Sometimes we pass when we shouldn't."
"We've worked a lot on defense since we have so many new people," Veroneau said. "On offense, we want to have a couple more plays and work a little bit more. We can always improve."
The Flyers host Fryeburg Academy Tuesday, then face a Heal Points-rich showdown at Falmouth Friday night.
"I'm really excited for that," Cole said. "That'll be huge. It'll definitely be a big test."