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Waynflete surges to beat Greely, improve to 7-0

Sports

Waynflete surges to beat Greely, improve to 7-0

CUMBERLAND—Even a change of venue couldn't slow the powerhouse Waynflete girls' lacrosse team Thursday afternoon.

The Flyers, who hadn't played in nearly a week after their confidence-building 13-10 triumph at Falmouth Friday, were scheduled to host Greely in a playoff rematch, but poor conditions at Fore River Fields forced the game to be moved to Cumberland, where the Rangers' field was playable.

Waynflete showed a little rust, giving up the game's first two goals, but finished the first half on a 7-0 run to take control. Although Greely hung tough throughout, the Flyers were able to pull away for a 12-5 triumph, their 15th successive win over the Rangers.

Sophomore Ella Millard had four first half goals and junior Sadie Cole finished with four as well as the Flyers improved to 7-0, handing Greely its fifth loss in six games this spring.

"We saw (Greely) almost beat Cape the other night, so that was a wakeup call,," said Millard. "It got us prepared and excited. We were really focused coming in. We try to take little steps at a time. Every little thing adds up in the big picture."

Rain, rain go away

Mother Nature has made things difficult for both teams this spring, but the Flyers and Rangers have been able to get their games in for the most part.

Greely improved from one win in 2010 to six last season and reached the Western B semifinals. This season, however, the wins have been slow in coming for the Rangers. After a 19-8 loss at Cape Elizabeth to get things started, Greely edged visiting York, 11-9. The Rangers then lost at Massabesic (9-5), at home to Freeport (12-11, in a game which saw them blow a 10-3 lead) and 8-7 at Cape Elizabeth Monday, in a contest which saw Greely rally from an 8-2 deficit and nearly tie the game at the end.

Waynflete has been as good as it gets this spring. The Flyers have bounced back from losing the Class B state final in a 9-8 thriller to Yarmouth last spring. They opened with a 15-5 home victory over NYA, then enjoyed a 13-2 home win over Yarmouth, a 15-7 triumph at Wells, a 10-8 victory at rival Kennebunk, a 17-3 home romp over Fryeburg and the victory at Falmouth last week.

Waynflete had won the past 14 meetings over Greely (please see sidebar), dating back to a 5-4 Rangers' triumph on May 18, 2004. Many of those games could have gone either way, but the Flyers found new and agonizing ways to torture Greely.

After the Rangers swept two games in the 2004 regular season, Waynflete held Greely to two goals in a semifinal round playoff win en route to a championship. In the opener in 2005, the Rangers had a shot to tie at the end of regulation, but couldn't convert and they lost by a goal. Greely gave the Flyers fits in the semifinals that year, but again fell short, 5-3. In the 2006 regular season meeting, the game went to three overtimes before Betsy Critchfield scored to win it for Waynflete.

Then, there was the 2006 Western B semifinals, which proved to be a game for the ages. For starters, due to bad weather, the game was moved to Fitzpatrick Stadium and it started at ungodly hour of 8 a.m. In a steady rain, Greely had a two-goal lead late and appeared primed to end the Flyers' three-year run at state champs, but Waynflete somehow rallied to force overtime and go on to win, leaving longtime Rangers coach Peter Wiles wondering if there was something magical about his opponent.

Last year, the Flyers dominated Greely in the regular season, 22-11, but in the semifinals, the Rangers almost sprung an epic upset, falling, 12-11, but not before having a tying bid in the waning seconds go wide.

Thursday, Waynflete made it 15 straight and it wasn't nearly as dramatic as those prior meetings.

Greely managed to possess the ball quite a bit in the early going and took a 1-0 lead when junior Julia Mitiguy took a pretty pass through traffic from classmate Etta Copenhagen and beat Flyers junior goalie Katherine Torrey at the 19:54 mark.

When sophomore Cameron Keefe finished from classmate Teal Otley with 18:04 to go in the first half, the Rangers had a 2-0 lead, but the game would soon turn.

With 15:47 remaining before halftime, Cole broke the ice with an unassisted goal. Junior Martha Veroneau followed with an unassisted tally of her own 32 seconds later and the game was tied.

After sophomore Walker Foehl was denied on a free position by Greely freshman goalie Mary Morrison and Millard had a bid hit the post, Millard put Waynflete ahead to stay when she finished a free position at the 11:03 mark.

"It was really scattered today," said Millard. "We weren't sure what the weather would do. We were all over the place, but we pulled it together. We spread it out and we did our thing."

Junior Meg Finlay looked to pull the Rangers even when she took a free position with 6:44 to go in the half, but Torrey made the save, keeping the Flyers in the lead.

Waynflete then got two goals in 54 seconds, Millard from Cole in transition and Foehl unassisted, to push the advantage to 5-2.

With 1:36 left before halftime, Veroneau fed Millard for a goal.

Then, with under 10 seconds remaining, Millard was awarded a free position and with 7.9 seconds showing, she beat Morrison to give the Flyers a 7-2 lead at the break.

The Rangers had an advantage in ground balls in the first 25 minutes, but despite ample possession, couldn't solve Waynflete's zone and committed 11 turnovers.

The Flyers took advantage on offense, enjoying a 15-3 shots on goal edge. Six saves from Morrison kept the Rangers within hailing distance.

Greely finally snapped a 21 minute, 21 second drought and Waynflete's 7-0 run when Keefe (from senior Audrey Parolin) scored 1 minute, 17 seconds into the second half.

The Rangers weren't able to draw closer as with 16:18 to play, Veroneau made a smart decision on a free position, eschewing a tough angle shot and feeding Cole for a goal to make it 8-3.

Foehl scored her second goal with 11:41 left, cutting through the defense before finishing.

Copenhagen (from junior Paige Tuller) scored at the 9:09 mark, but the Flyers put it away behind a free position goal from Cole, an unassisted tally from Veroneau and a free position from Cole.

Tuller scored from Parolin with just 6.4 seconds to go and that brought the curtain down on Waynflete's 12-5 triumph.

"I was expecting (Greely would) be aggressive, tough and fast and they were all those things," said Flyers coach Cathie Connors. "I knew coming off (Tuesday's game) they'd be fired up. They were good.

"We haven't really practiced this week. We needed to reconnect. We had a really hard time with our ground balls. Greely's very aggressive and beat us to ground balls. Once we figured it out a little bit and passed the ball, we were OK."

Millard, who suffered some misfortune earlier in the year (hitting posts, shooting just wide) which kept her scoring total down, finished with four goals to help pace the victory.

"I had the worst luck (in earlier games), but that's the way it goes," Millard said. "It was exciting. Some days it clicks better than others. We try to keep it moving really fast and hit different people every time."

Cole also had four goals (including the 100th of her career). Foehl and Veroneau had two goals each, as that powerhouse foursome continues to make life miserable for the opposition.

"Honestly, even though four of us tend to score more than others, anyone on the team is a scorer," Millard said. "We have a lot of versatility and can put it in the net."

Veroneau had two assists, Cole one. Torrey made three saves.

The Flyers won 12 of 19 draws as Foehl took 6 of 9 opportunities, Cole 4 of 6 and Veroneau 2 of 4. Veroneau led the team with seven ground balls. Cole and Foehl each had five.

Waynflete had a 27-9 edge in shots on goal (20-8 in shots on cage) and only turned the ball over nine times.

"Ball control is everything for us," Connors said.

Greely's offense was paced by Keefe, who scored twice. Copenhagen, Mitiguy and Tuller each had one goal. Parolin assisted on two goals. Copenhagen, Otley and Tuller also set up goals. Morrison made eight saves.

"It's amazing she just started the position and is doing so well," said Greely coach Sara Dimick, of her goalie. "We're really happy to have her."

Tuller went 4 of 12 on draws, Parolin 2 of 3 and sophomore Jill Booth 1 of 4. Parolin led the Rangers with seven ground balls. Finlay had five. Greely had a 43-34 advantage for the game. The Rangers committed 19 turnovers.

Ultimately, Greely couldn't solve the Flyers' zone, something foes have been stymied by for the better part of two decades.

"Getting good shots was the tough part," said Dimick. "We had opportunities. They didn't work the way we planned for them to work. (The Flyers) had their defense already set up, so it was tough to score in transition. We ran our plays. A couple times, they worked really well, but not as many times as we hoped. We hope to capitalize on them in future games. The hustle and heart were there. My defense did well. We had some moments where we really stepped it up and some moments where we maybe lost our footing a little bit. Waynflete's a tough team. We hoped to give them a good game. At times we did."

"The zone was tight," said Millard. "We have so many new people, but it's coming together really well. This year, it's amazing how quickly the new kids have stepped in. It's not complicated, but it takes a lot of time. Dedication to know where everyone is and play together and be used to each other."

Closing push

Greely (sixth in the Western Class B Heal Points standings) has some work to do to make the playoffs (only the top five teams qualify), where it could be quite dangerous. The Rangers are back in action Friday at home versus Windham and welcome Wells Tuesday. After going to York Wednesday, Greely hosts NYA and closes with games at Fryeburg and Freeport.

"I think we're moving in the right direction," said Dimick.

Waynflete hopes to stay in front of Falmouth and Cape Elizabeth and lock up the top seed in Western B (something it has at press time), forcing those two top challengers to have to square off in the semifinals.

The Flyers are home against dangerous Cheverus Saturday, go to NYA Tuesday, then close by sandwiching games at Freeport and Yarmouth around a visit from Falmouth in a pivotal showdown May 22.

Waynflete hopes to keep the good times rolling.

"We're young, so this is pretty exciting," said Connors. "I didn't know how it would turn out this year."

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