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Waynflete denies Falmouth in battle of unbeatens

Sports

Waynflete denies Falmouth in battle of unbeatens

FALMOUTH—The Falmouth girls' lacrosse team is getting closer, but still can't solve the puzzle that is the Waynflete Flyers.

In Friday night's battle of two undefeated Western Class B powerhouses, perhaps the two best teams in the state, the Flyers shot to an early lead, going up 7-1, then withstood a Falmouth rally before taking a 9-5 advantage to the half.

In the second half, Waynflete appeared ready to coast, up, 12-6, but the Yachtsmen again made things interesting, twice drawing within three goals, but they could get no closer and the Flyers went on to a 13-10 victory, staying unbeaten all-time against Falmouth.

Waynflete got four goals each from junior Martha Veroneau and sophomore Walker Foehl, three tallies from junior Sadie Cole and nine timely and clutch saves from junior Katherine Torrey as it improved to 6-0, dropping Falmouth to 5-1 in the process.

"It was a very fun game," Torrey said. "I'm really proud of how I did and how the team did. It was a fantastic game. Falmouth's a great team. They put up a fantastic fight. It feels good to win."

History repeats

Entering the game, not only had Falmouth never beaten Waynflete, the Yachtsmen had never even pushed the Flyers in the final moments.

Dating back to 2002, Waynflete had won all 13 meetings (please see sidebar), with the closest games being an 11-6 Flyers' victory in the 2010 Western Class B Final and a 12-8 Waynflete triumph in the second of two games a year ago (the Flyers also won the first, 18-10, as both games were played at Falmouth due to poor weather conditions, necessitating use of the Yachtsmen's turf).

Both teams had dazzled coming into this one.

Falmouth, which was upset by Cape Elizabeth in the semifinals last season, opened 2012 with a 12-2 win at Yarmouth (its first ever victory over the Clippers), dominated host NYA, 17-3, held on for a 13-10 win at Marshwood, then exploded for 19 goals in Monday night's 19-7 home victory over Yarmouth.

Waynflete, which has never gone three straight years without a state championship, fell in the 2010 Class B state final to NYA and in a 9-8 thriller to Yarmouth last spring, has demonstrated great skill and balance to date. The Flyers opened with a 15-5 home victory over NYA, a 13-2 home win over Yarmouth, then won at Wells, 15-7, and in their lone scare to date, 10-8, at Kennebunk, before breezing past visiting Fryeburg, 17-3, Tuesday afternoon in the rain.

Friday night, the weather was once again frightful and Falmouth gave Waynflete something to think about, but in the end, the Flyers survived.

The Yachtsmen had some good chances early, but junior Angela Mallis' free position was saved by Torrey and after Torrey's subsequent clear was stolen by junior Alex Bernier, the goalie came up huge again with a clutch save to keep the game scoreless.

"It's always good to get saves early so I can fall in a relaxation mode," Torrey said.

Waynflete broke the ice and took the lead for good when Veroneau scored unassisted with 20 minutes to play in the first half.

Veroneau struck again on a free position at the 18:57 mark for a 2-0 lead.

Falmouth broke into the scoring column 25 seconds later when Bernier set up senior Vanessa Audet for a goal.

The Flyers then erupted for five unanswered goals to take control.

Veroneau got the run started with her third goal, scored unassisted at 16:47.

Fifty-eight seconds later, after a pretty give-and-go, Cole finished a Veroneau feed and it was 4-1.

Yachtsmen coach Robin Haley called timeout, but Waynflete kept scoring.

With 13:26 left before halftime, Cole set up Foehl, who shot past Falmouth senior goalie Moie Aaskov for a 5-1 lead.

At the other end, Yachtsmen junior Geneva Waite had a chance to cut into the deficit, but her free position shot was saved by Torrey.

"Early on, we had some good shots and (Torrey) came up big," lamented Haley. "She was the difference in this game. We're used to scoring early goals, so that was different."

With 12:05 remaining, Foehl spotted junior Isabel Agnew open behind the defense and Agnew finished to push the lead to five. Thirty seconds later, the clinic continued as sophomore Ella Millard hit the post with a shot, but scooped up the rebound and scored to make it 7-1.

Falmouth was reeling, but would bounce back.

After junior Molly Ryan was denied by Torrey on a free position, Bernier set up senior Megan Fortier for a goal at the 9:10 mark, ending the 5-0 run. Twenty-four seconds later, Fortier finished unassisted to cut the deficit to 7-3.

With 7:01 to go before halftime, Bernier set up Waite for a goal and Waynflete coach Cathie Connors called timeout.

It didn't help as the Yachtsmen drew within 7-5 on an Audet goal (assisted by Fortier).

"We started out slow and they started out fast and strong," said Haley. "When we play Waynflete, Waynflete always brings their 'A' game. We just struggled in the midfield and on defense early on. It's tough to get back those goals when it's that type of score. I'm glad we came back and got within two. We stayed in it. The difference is we kept our heads. We didn't succumb. That speaks volumes to what we can do if we keep working hard."

Just when it appeared the hosts could come all the way back, the Flyers, more specifically Veroneau, restored order.

After choosing not to shoot and to bring the ball out on a free position, Veroneau earned a second free position and this time beat Aaskov with a low shot to end the Falmouth run.

"We knew they'd put up a fight," Veroneau said. "We got some breathing room, but they were capable of making a run anytime, so we were on our toes the whole game. Early on we just tried to slow it down on offense and see what was open. That was the strategy, just to take it slow. It's a game of runs. Getting out to an early lead, we didn't know what to expect, but they came back at us. Cathie regrouped the team and we got back to where we started."

"That's what we expect from (Martha)," said Connors. "She turns it on when she needs to. She knows when to take charge and she's a very generous player too."

With 2:32 left in the half, Foehl (from senior Lucy Crane) scored a transition goal and the Flyers had a 9-5 advantage at the break.

"I knew any second (our big lead) could change, as it did," said Connors. "We worked on focusing to play to win and not to lose. They did a good job. I'm proud of them. (Both teams) did a good job regrouping."

Over the first 25 minutes, the Yachtsmen won nine of 15 draws and had a 20-15 advantage in ground balls, but committed 11 costly turnovers. Torrey's four key saves helped keep Waynflete ahead.

Falmouth hoped to put some pressure on the Flyers in the second half, but after running over two minutes off the clock, Cole took a pass from Veroneau and scored for a 10-5 lead at the 22:31 mark.

Just 14 seconds later, in transition, Cole fed Foehl for a goal and just like that, Waynflete had a six-goal lead again, 11-5.

The Yachtsmen answered when Fortier set up Bernier for a score at the 20:54 mark, but the Flyers were able to restore their six-goal advantage when Foehl made a great catch of a high Veroneau pass and finished with 16:04 to play, making it 12-6.

To its credit, Falmouth continued to push, but Torrey continued to fluster the hosts.

First, Torrey turned aside a shot from junior Mallis. Bernier then looked to have a sure goal, but again, Torrey made the save.

With 14:06 remaining, Bernier fired a rocket of a free position shot past Torrey, making it 12-7.

That awakened the Yachtsmen and Ryan scored on a free position with 9:46 to go and with 8:56 left, Fortier, from behind the goal, passed to Mallis, who one-timed a shot past Torrey to suddenly cut the deficit to 12-9.

With 6:45 to go, Fortier hoped to make it a two-goal game, but Torrey again made a clutch save.

That loomed large as Waynflete managed to run some time off the clock before Cole scored unassisted with 4:48 left, pushing the lead to 13-9.

Falmouth won the ensuing draw and Ryan set up Waite for a goal at the 4:30 mark, making it 13-10, but after the Flyers ran almost three minutes off the clock, a Ryan bid went just wide and Waynflete got possession back.

The Flyers were never threatened from there and ran out the clock on their statement-making victory.

"With the 7-1 lead, we fell into a great rhythm," Torrey said. "When they came back, we tried not to get shaken up. It's really important to stay focused and go at it for the rest of the game and that's what we did. Falmouth's a great team. I'm very proud of how we did. It was a very fun game to play. I'm looking forward to playing them again."

"We went out to win it," said Foehl. "Our passing was right on. We lost momentum at some points, but we tried to keep it going and talked as a defense. They're good and hard to stop, but we kept it together."

"It was a close one," said Millard. "We were really excited for it. We were lucky to come away with a win. It was a really even matchup. We were expecting a really, really close game and they gave it to us. We worked a lot on how to stop Alex and Megan. It showed us what we were made of. At times, when the game felt out of the control, together as a unit, we pulled it together. We were able to do that and it gave us a lot of confidence. The closeness of the game really showed us what we need to work on."

"I expected a really good game and that's what we got," Connors added. "(Falmouth's) phenomenal. They're a huge offensive threat. We had to make a ton of changes on defense before we got here. We let some things go a little bit in the midfield that we'll have to change up the next time we play them. We'd like to be able to not have to do that. They're so good. It was really fun."

Once again, Waynflete's offense was balanced and prolific as Foehl and Veroneau had four goals each, Cole scored three times and Agnew and Millard each had one tally.

Veroneau also had three assists, while Cole added two and Foehl one.

"We work in practice on playing together so we have so much comfort with each other on the field," Millard said. "It's second nature to find each other."

Then, there was Torrey who got every possible mile out of her nine saves and was a huge reason for her team's win.

"Katherine was phenomenal," Veroneau said. "The improvement from last season is just tremendous. We're lucky to have her. It's great on defense to know that if we slip up, Katherine is there to save it for us. We talk about the trust we have in everybody and Katherine's the core of that."

"I would say it was Katherine's best game," said Connors. "She made huge saves and some good clears. She's an important presence on defense. She'll draw a lot of confidence from that."

Falmouth got two goals each from Audet, Bernier, Fortier and Waite and one apiece from Mallis and Ryan. Bernier and Fortier also had three assists apiece, while Ryan added one. Aaskov made four saves.

"These were two very athletic teams," Haley said. "Between (Megan) and Martha Veroneau, they put on a great show. When you're (competitive like Megan), you'll be keyed up. Some others need to show that level of play. They have it within them. We can't just rely on Megan. Alex has been a player to create offense. (Waynflete) looked to double team her. They had a height advantage over us. That impacted us today."

Ryan won 15 of 25 draws. Foehl went 8 of 18, Cole 2 of 5 and Veroneau 0 of 2 for the Flyers.

"Molly's very good," Foehl said. "I haven't taken the draw much, but the people on the draw circle were good at getting it for our team."

The rest of the stat sheet was almost even.

Waynflete had a slim 36-34 advantage in ground balls. Cole and Foehl led the way with six each, while Millard, junior Jo Moore and Veroneau all had four.

Fortier led all players with 10 ground balls. Bernier, senior Ashleigh Burton and Ryan all collected four.

The Flyers had 16 turnovers, while the Yachtsmen committed 15.

Final shots favored Falmouth, 24-23. The Yachtsmen put 19 on cage to 17 for Waynflete.

See you soon

Waynflete will host Falmouth in the rematch May 22, which will be pivotal for Heal Points as both squads are looking to beat out the other and Cape Elizabeth for the top spot in Western B.

Both teams have work to do before squaring off again.

The Yachtsmen are at Fryeburg Wednesday, then have a big home test against Western A power Kennebunk Saturday, May 12. Home tests with York, NYA and Cape Elizabeth (May 29, another must-see affair) and a trip to Wells also remain.

Falmouth hopes to bounce right back from this setback.

"We'll make some adjustments for the next game," Haley said. "It's a bump in the road. This was a good test. I wanted to see what we had and there were areas we need to improve on. I'm really proud of the fight we gave. To get a little bit of a sting is helpful."

The Flyers go to improved Freeport (which already boasts wins over NYA and Greely this spring) Tuesday, host Greely in a playoff rematch Thursday, then welcome Eastern A contender Cheverus next Saturday in a crossover game. Games at NYA and Yarmouth sandwich the Falmouth showdown and end the regular season.

Waynflete (once again) has emerged as the region's favorite and it will look to finish strong and capture homefield advantage for the fifth year in a row.

"(This win) gives us a lot of confidence, but we still have one more game with (Falmouth) and the playoffs," Foehl said. "We're going to keep working at it."

"It went our way today, but Falmouth's a really good team," Veroneau said. "We'll take it a game at a time, but I like the way our team looks so far. We're a new team, but nobody can overlook us."

"Being 6-0 is pretty good with a brand new group," Connors added. "We have a lot coming up still. We'll see (Falmouth) again. Maybe twice."

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

Photo: Mike Strout / For The Forecaster

Falmouth senior standout Megan Fortier was held relatively in check Friday night, as players like Waynflete junior Rhiannan Jackson got in her way.

Photo: Mike Strout / For The Forecaster

Falmouth sophomore Caroline McKeown retains possession while under pressure.

Photo: Mike Strout / For The Forecaster

Waynflete junior Sadie Cole looks for an open teammate while being watched by Falmouth junior Katie Cooleen.

Photo: Mike Strout / For The Forecaster

Waynflete junior Isabel Agnew battles Falmouth senior Ashleigh Burton for possession.

Photo: Mike Strout / For The Forecaster

Falmouth senior Vanessa Audet finds some breathing room. Audet had two goals for the Yachtsmen.