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Waynflete blanks NYA again to stay undefeated

Sports

Waynflete blanks NYA again to stay undefeated

PORTLAND—The Waynflete boys' soccer team knew that it would get a much tougher test from rival North Yarmouth Academy Friday afternoon than it did in a surprisingly one-sided 5-0 triumph at the Panthers last month.

That was indeed the case, but even shorthanded, the Flyers rose to the occasion at Fore River Fields.

Waynflete wasn't able to convert several good first half chances and wasn't able to go ahead until senior Kevin Kanakan's shot was deflected into the goal by a Panthers defender late in the half.

The Flyers managed to cling to a 1-0 lead, thanks largely to the play of unheralded freshman Tommy Silk, who has been pressed into action in goal after senior Zander Majercik was sidelined with a finger injury. Silk was steady and even spectacular at times as he frustrated the visitors.

Then, as time wound down in regulation, Waynflete's defense held one final time, transitioned the ball up the field and senior standout Peabo Knoth, who just missed the goal on several occasions, finally tickled the twine and the Flyers were able to put the finishing touches on a 2-0 victory.

With the win, Waynflete improves to 9-0-1 and dropped the Panthers to 8-4-1.

"It was just a classic Waynflete-NYA battle," said longtime Flyers coach Brandon Salway. "NYA's improved. Who knows? Maybe we haven't seen the last of them."

Still unbeaten

Waynflete finally got over the hump and won the Class C state championship last fall and has remained dominant in 2012.

The Flyers opened the campaign with a 7-0 home victory over Wells and after a 10-day break, went to Wells and triumphed again, 5-0. Waynflete then dispatched host NYA with ease, rolled over visiting Freeport (6-1) and triumphed at Sacopee Valley, 8-0, giving Salway his 200th career win. After settling for a 1-1 draw at Western B contender Gray-New Gloucester, the Flyers won at Traip (4-1), at home over Sacopee (4-2) and at home against Traip (2-1).

NYA has been strong for most of the season as well. After settling for a 2-2 home draw with perennial powerhouse Yarmouth in the opener, the Panthers lost at defending Class B champion Falmouth, 8-0, before bouncing back to defeat host Wells (8-0) and A.R. Gould (13-0). The loss to Waynflete and a 2-1 setback at Fryeburg followed, but NYA soon put it all together and won six straight: 3-2 at Traip, 10-2 over visiting Wells, 3-1 at home over Freeport, 8-1 over visiting Sacopee, 6-1 at home over Traip and 5-3 at Sacopee.

Heading into the game, dating back to 1999, the Panthers had beaten the Flyers in 12 of 23 meetings (with three resulting in ties, please see sidebar), but Waynflete had won four straight and five of the past six meetings.

Friday, the Flyers kept surging, even though it wasn't easy.

The first half was largely a story of close calls and frustration.

Both goalies were tested early, but Silk and his counterpart, NYA junior Austin Kidder, stood tall.

In the fourth minute, NYA freshman Colby Bate broke up a rush by Waynflete senior Jack Cutler at the last second. A minute later, Knoth had his first good look, but after collecting a loose ball in the box, he shot just high.

In the eighth minute, Knoth, then sophomore Clancy Mitchell, both sent crosses across the NYA goalmouth, but no teammate could get a foot on them.

With 27:11 left before halftime, Knoth forced Kidder to make a save.

NYA's first good look came with 26:13 left before halftime when a shot from sophomore Duncan George was snared by Silk.

In the 17th minute, the Panthers failed to clear the ball out of their defensive zone and the ball came to Knoth, who sent a low blast that Kidder was able to save.

Two minutes later, Knoth fired a shot that Kidder got a fingertip on, redirecting the ball so it skimmed over the crossbar, setting up a corner kick.

With 19:13 remaining in the half, Knoth took a pass on the doorstep from freshman Aaron Lee, but his shot was deflected by Kidder off the outside of the far post, setting up another corner kick.

In the 23rd minute, a low shot on a free kick by NYA junior Jackson Cohan-Smith forced Silk to make the save.

After senior Jack Cutler shot wide, a header from Lee was grabbed by Kidder and a long blast by Kanakan was saved, Waynflete finally broke through.

With a little help.

The ball came to Kanakan on the left side of the box. He found some room and fired a shot that ticked off a defender, causing the ball to switch directions and Kidder couldn't do anything but watch it go into the net for a 1-0 Flyers' lead with 10:11 left in the first half.

The score would remain 1-0 at halftime, but Silk first had to make a breathtaking save.

With 4:02 showing, NYA's dangerous sophomore D.J. Nicholas eluded a defender and fired a shot that appeared ticketed for the twine, but Silk dove and steered it out of harm's way and Waynflete had survived the scare.

"It was kind of awkward," Silk said. "He got the shot off and I had to lay out for it. It was fun."

Silk stepped up one more time before halftime, sprawling to make a save as senior Jacob Scammon raced in for a rebound which never came.

In the second half, scoring chances weren't as prevalent, but the action remained entertaining.

In the 45th minute, Knoth forced Kidder to make a sprawling save on a low left-footed shot.

With 28:07 to go, Scammon's shot went just wide.

In the 55th minute, Waynflete freshman Willy Burdick fired a blast which went just wide.

In the 61st minute, a low blast by Flyers junior Henry Cleaves forced Kidder to drop to his knees to make the save. Kidder momentarily bobbled the ball, but collected it in the nick of time.

With 13:07 left in regulation, Knoth fed junior Timmy Bollinger right in front of an empty net, but Bollinger's one-timer trickled just wide.

Kidder kept the score 1-0 by denying a shot by senior Mohammed Suja with a diving save and stopping Knoth's bid.

With 4:01 to play, Silk beat Nicholas to a loose ball in the box.

A minute later, after a failed clear, an NYA attacker looked to pounce on the loose ball, but the play was broken up by Flyers sophomore Harry Baker-Connick.

With 45 seconds to go, the Panthers earned the lone corner kick of the second half (Waynflete had a 4-2 edge for the game), but it was cleared by Suja. The ball was then cleared out of the zone by Flyers senior Max Belleau.

Waynflete transitioned to offense and Suja passed to Knoth, who finally, with 15 seconds to go, managed to finish and the Flyers had their insurance goal.

Fifteen seconds later, the final horn sounded and Waynflete was able to celebrate its 2-0 win.

“(NYA is) always a good team," Knoth said. "They always play us hard. It's never easy. Last time was a little bit of a fluke. We made a lot of chances offensively, but couldn't finish. I was a little frustrated missing that many shots, but it happens. We have guys out, but other people step in and do their job. That's what it's about. Every year, other guys step in and play their roles. It's just about stepping up.”

“We had a lot of kids out, so I thought we had some excuses today," Salway said. "We hadn't played well against Traip or Sacopee. I was pretty worried, but I thought we played really well. We moved the ball exceptionally well. If you don't put away some early chances, NYA will hang around and on a field like this, someone can slip and who knows? Peabo had good looks and set people up. We have to put those away. Peabo always comes up big against NYA and finds a way to score a big goal. It was great resiliency to keep fighting and score with 15 seconds left. I felt like we had some chances in the first half we should have put away. In the long run, a game like this probably helps us more than a game if we had finished those early."

Silk finished with seven saves.

“It was intense," said Silk. "Especially in the first half. They had a lot of shots. The second half was equally scary. Especially at the end. It was fun, but I'm glad it's over. I just react. You have to kind of read what they're doing and make the best of it. This is a big confidence boost. Our confidence is really high right now. It's always fun to beat NYA."

Silk had his share of admirers by game's end.

"Tommy was great," said Knoth. "He made a lot of saves."

"I thought Tommy stepped up and graduated today to the big leagues, which was nice to see," said Salway. "This is just his third game."

NYA coach Martyn Keen lamented what if.

“It was closer this time," Keen said. "We had an own goal and they got one at the end. I don't really count that last goal since we were pushing up. We've had three own goals against us in two games (against Waynflete). We had a nice run of wins and came here with confidence, but we didn't get the luck which you need. We're disappointed we didn't test their keeper. Too many balls went straight into his hands. The kids feel OK about it. Disappointed naturally, but it won't be the end of the world if we have to come here again. I think we're coming along."

Kidder was solid in goal as well, stopping 14 shots.

"Austin had a great game," said Keen. "We have two very good keepers this year. (Freshman) Cam (Spear has)  been sick and he plays in the field very confidently. Austin works very hard in practice. He did extremely well."

Heal jockeying

NYA (seventh in the Western Class C Heal Points standings) finishes its regular season at Gray-New Gloucester Tuesday, a game which is an opportunity for the Panthers to earn some points and perhaps move up the standings.

"We'll get our heads together and come up with a plan that may or may not help us if we play (Waynflete) in tn the playoffs," Keen said. "We've had many battles against these guys and we might have one more. It might be earlier this year. We could easily finish sixth and it would be unusual to come here so early. It would be unfortunate. We have a ridiculously long break. If we don't have a prelim game, we'll have 15 days off. We'll play Brewster Academy and an A or B team in a scrimmage. It's just an anomaly of the schedule."

Waynflete (third in Western C) has a tough closing slate. The Flyers are at former Class D rival Richmond Saturday, host Class A power Greely Tuesday, welcome Lake Region Thursday, then finish at Class A contender Cape Elizabeth Oct. 15.

Waynflete will have a hard time cracking the top two spots, but this is a squad that once again has to be considered a championship favorite.

"One of our goals was to win the conference," Knoth said. "We've beaten every Class C team in the conference. We've accomplished one of our goals, but we have higher goals. We want to beat Cape and Greely. We have what it takes to make another deep run."

"There's a ton of points out there," Salway said. "We could get higher, but we have to win some big games.“

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

Photo: Brian Beard / For The Forecaster

NYA senior Matt Hawkins tries to fight off Waynflete senior Jack Cutler.

Photo: Brian Beard / For The Forecaster

NYA senior Jacob Scammon slides to knock the ball away from Waynflete junior Henry Cleaves.

Photo: Brian Beard / For The Forecaster

NYA sophomore D.J. Nicholas and Waynflete sophomore Harry Baker-Connick give chase after the ball. The Flyers did a great job holding the explosive Nicholas at bay.

Photo: Brian Beard / For The Forecaster

NYA freshman Colby Bate soars to head the ball while Waynflete senior Peabo Knoth looks on.