Flyers soar past Lisbon, into regional final
LISBON—The Waynflete girls' soccer team features an abundance of skills and all of them were on display Friday afternoon in a Western Class C semifinal at top-ranked Lisbon.
When the fourth-seeded Flyers needed defense, they got it in smothering fashion.
When they needed stellar goalkeeping, sophomore Juliana Harwood showed why there are few better.
And in the second half of a scoreless contest, Waynflete's season-long quest for consistent offense turned into a four-goal flurry in a 12-minute span.
Harwood and a strong defense kept the Greyhounds off the board in the first half and finally, with 20:48 to play, Flyers senior Sadie Cole broke the ice, converting a cross from junior Walker Foehl.
Freshman Arianna Giguere (from Foehl), Foehl (on a direct kick) and freshman Marijke Rowse (on a free kick) then found the net as well and Waynflete went on an impressive 4-0 victory, improving to 10-2-4, ending Lisbon's season at 13-2-1 and advancing to the Western Class C Final, likely Wednesday at either No. 2 St. Dom's, the team that ended the Flyers' 2011 campaign, or third-ranked Monmouth, at a time to be announced.
"t was a rough start," said Cole. "We just needed to get going on the goal scoring. We needed to open it up. We knew we could. Once we got one, everyone followed from there."
Waynflete and Lisbon had no playoff history entering Friday's game.
The Flyers were regional finalists in 2011, losing in overtime to St. Dom's, and have been competitive throughout the 2012 campaign.
Waynflete was undefeated in its first 11 games, but four of those resulted in ties. After blanking visiting Sacopee in the opener, 1-0, the Flyers settled for a 2-2 home draw versus Poland. A 2-0 home win over North Yarmouth Academy, a 3-2 overtime triumph at Freeport and a 2-0 win at Sacopee followed. After settling for ties versus visiting Gray-New Gloucester (1-1) and host Old Orchard Beach (2-2), Waynflete handled visiting Traip (4-0), host Traip (4-0) and host NYA (3-0) before playing host Richmond to a 1-1 draw. The Flyers finally suffered a loss Oct. 9 at Greely (3-0), but answered with a 2-1 home win over Old Orchard Beach. The regular season ended with a 6-0 home loss to Western A power Cape Elizabeth, leaving Waynflete with the No. 4 seed for the Western C playoffs.
Tuesday, the Flyers eked out a 2-1 win over visiting fifth-ranked Wiscasset in the quarterfinals on senior Isabel Agnew's second half tally.
As for Lisbon, it tied host Mt. Abram, 1-1, in its opener, then handled host Mountain Valley (4-0), host Hall-Dale (2-0), visiting Boothbay (5-2), host Carrabec (5-1), visiting Telstar (4-0), visiting Spruce Mountain (4-0), host Wiscasset (3-0), visiting Dirigo (2-0), visiting Oak Hills (3-1), host Madison (1-0), visiting Monmouth (3-2) and visiting Winthrop (6-0) before finally suffering a setback, 1-0, at St. Dom's in the regular season finale.
Regardless, the Greyhounds' 12-1-1 mark gave them the top seed in the region and in their playoff opener Tuesday, Lisbon held off visiting No. 8 seed Hall-Dale, 2-1, to advance to the semifinals.
Friday, featured a clash of styles with a novelty aspect thrown in, but after dodging a a few bullets in the first half, Waynflete took control in the second and went on to victory.
Instead easing themselves into the game, the Flyers almost found themselves behind immediately.
Just 47 seconds in, Lisbon senior Kayla Angelico split two defenders and raced in alone on Harwood.
Harwood came out to cut off the angle and when Angelico shot, Harwood managed to deny it point blank to prevent Waynflete from falling into an early hole.
"The big part of goalkeeping and what I've been working on the past two years is reacting and not thinking," Harwood said. "I just try to stay upright as much as possible, but I knew I had to go down. I knew I had to take up as much space as possible. For me, once I touch the ball the first time, I know I can do it. That touch on the ball was definitely better than other ones. We really didn't want to have to play from behind. We've done that a lot this season and we know we're good at it, but (Lisbon has) won a lot of games by getting up early."
The Greyhounds kept the pressure on and introduced the Flyers and their fans to the amazing throwing skills of senior Gabby Ouellette, who runs and flips over before she throws and as a result, turns every throw into a veritable corner kick.
In the third minute, Ouellette's flip throw from the side landed in the box, but Waynflete junior Sofia Canning managed to clear the ball out of harm's way.
With 31:01 left in the first half, Angelico got her head on an Ouellette throw and it appeared as if the ball was headed for a goal inside the far post, but again Harwood saved the day with a diving deflection, sending the ball out to set up a corner kick, which didn't result in a shot.
"I told Juliana it would have been a different game if she allowed one early," said Cole. "She allowed us to have a slow start. She had one of her best games ever."
"Juliana stood on her head, no doubt about it," said Waynflete coach Todd Dominski. "We knew the big throw was coming, but it's so dangerous. You get behind the ball and hope you're winning it. Either (senior back) Rhiannan (Jackson) won it, the two central backs or Juliana won the ball. Until you see it for real, it's tough. You can't even simulate it."
The Flyers struggled at first with Ouellette's throws, but eventually adapted.
"It's really hard to defend," Harwood said. "Not a lot of teams can do it. We've never seen that. I worked on it a lot in practice yesterday. I worked on making the decision and committing 100 percent to it. I tried to do it. I have some extraordinary defenders in front of me. They're all amazing."
Midway through the first half, the Flyers started to pressure.
Their first shot came with 19:48 to go before halftime when a long left-footed shot by Giguere was denied by Lisbon junior goalkeeper Courtney Martel.
Waynflete would earn seven corner kicks in the first half, but couldn't convert.
In the 23rd minute, Cole got her head on a Foehl corner kick, but the ball floated over the crossbar and landed on the top of the net.
After Harwood made a couple more key saves, Agnew had a good look in front, but couldn't get much on the shot and Martel made the save.
In the 31st minute, Cole stole the ball and fed Agnew, who raced into the box, but had the ball stolen at the last second by Ouellette.
The last scoring chance of the first half went to the hosts, but sophomore Kailyn Hill's header on a Ouellette throw popped into the air, allowing Harwood to leap and come down with the ball.
The second half was almost all Waynflete, but it took nearly 20 minutes before the Flyers finally got on the board.
The first chance of the half went to Hill, whose header forced Harwood to make yet another diving save.
With 36:48 to go in regulation, Giguere came oh-so-close to putting Waynflete on top, but here lofting shot deflected off the far post. The ball came back to Giguere, but her shot was blocked, leading to a corner kick. Foehl served the ball into the box, but it was cleared out of harm's way.
Seconds later, Giguere attempted to feed Cole in the box, but the pass was denied by Lisbon junior Olivia Bulgin.
With 30:27 left, Foehl's corner kick was headed over the box by Giguere.
Three minutes later, on another corner, Foehl sent the ball into the box, right to Giguere, but Giguere couldn't handle the pass nor get off a shot with Martel out of position.
Canning then had a shot saved and a rush broken up by senior Chelsea Huston.
Then, with 20:48 to go, Waynflete finished.
The winning play was set up by Canning, who fed Foehl on the right wing. Foehl played the ball in, then crossed it to Cole, who was behind the defense and to the right of Martel. All Cole had to do was guide the ball in to the goal, in this case with her stomach, and the Flyers had a 1-0 lead.
"Walker crossed it and I just happened to be at the right place at the right time," said Cole. "We work a lot on crosses and getting to (the ball) before it bounces. Walker's a huge part of the offense. She has one of the best crosses in the state."
"We knew it would come at some point," said Foehl. "We had the ball locked in their half. Sofia threaded it through and I crossed it to Sadie and she was attacking the box. We got really pumped."
After taking nearly 60 minutes to score, the Flyers would tack on three more goals in the next 12 minutes, 30 seconds.
Giguere gave Waynflete some breathing room with 15:12 to play as she took a pass from Foehl and one-timed a blast past Martel.
With 11:36 remaining, Foehl got in the scoring act herself, booming a 25-yard free kick over the outstretched arms of Martel and into the net to make it 3-0.
"I work on free kicks a lot," Foehl said. "It was a perfect distance for me."
"A lot of balls go through Walker," Dominski said. "We couldn't get her cross going as much as we like today. She's deadly on the free kick. When she gets in behind people, she puts the ball in. She's a big part of the attack for sure."
Then, with 8:18 to go, Rowse delivered a strike nearly identical to Foehl's, this one from slightly closer, and that pushed the lead to 4-0.
"The freshmen have majorly stepped up," Cole said. "I'm so impressed with all the freshmen."
The Flyers ran out the clock from there and celebrated a great team win.
"We really settled down and figured out how to play against this team that we hadn't played against before," Harwood said. "We were able to work it up the field."
"We played really tight D," said Foehl. "Rhiannan was amazing on the long throws. We had some trouble with goal scoring in the past, but this is a breakthrough for us. We don't have one person do everything. We spread it out really well."
"I think we were more pumped," said Jackson. "We really wanted to win. Once we got a goal we knew we could do it and we kept doing it."
"We were getting closer and closer and we finally got Sadie to attack that ball in the box and it seemed like things opened up a little bit," Dominski added. "We loosened up a little bit and put a few more home."
Waynflete finished with a 14-8 shots advantage. Harwood wound up with eight saves, nearly all of them highlight reel material.
"(Juliana) really saved us," Jackson said. "She played her butt off. She played such a good game."
Waynflete's effort was even more impressive when you take into account the loss of senior Leigh Fernandez, who missed the game with an arm injury and is likely out the rest of the season.
Luckily for the Flyers, the return from injury of senior Katherine Harwood helped lessen the blow.
"When (Leigh's injury) first happened, we were nervous, but we talked and decided we could do it without her," Jackson said.
"Katherine's back ad she's a veteran back there," Dominski said. "She understands the system. Not having Leigh hurts a lot, but Katherine can step up. She played great today."
Last year's playoff loss stung for the Flyers, but here they are again with a chance to reach the Class C Final for the first time since winning it all in 2008.
"I'm pretty excited," Harwood said. "A lot of us played in (last year's loss). We were not happy with it. It's nice to get another chance."
"I think that we're more pumped than we've ever been because we've lost in the regional final," Jackson said. "This is our chance to show what we're made of."
Waynflete didn't face Monmouth or St. Dom's in the regular season. The Flyers have never faced Monmouth in the playoffs, but have played the Saints three previous times. Prior to last year's 1-0 overtime loss, Waynflete beat St. Dom's in the 2006 semifinals (1-0) and 2007 quarterfinals (3-0).
The Flyers feel they're putting it all together at the right time.
"This is the most goals we've scored," said Cole. "We've known all season we had the potential. Now is when we have to score. It's coming together at the right time. I'd rather be the underdog. The regional final has been a tough game for us in the past. This year, it's special. The freshman have been with Todd since his first year. He calls us his own. We want to do it for him and we want to do it for us."
"I think we'll focus on playing hard and playing tight D," said Foehl. "We have a good chance."
"I think we'll prepare the way we normally do," Dominski added. "We'll go in and do what we need to do. If we compete, we'll come out with a good result. We'll take as long a season as we can. They're a great group of kids."
If Waynflete makes it to the state final, to be contested at Scarborough High School, Saturday, Nov. 3 at 10 a.m., it will meet either Ft. Kent (12-3-1) or Orono (11-3-2). The Flyers have never played Fort Kent. They handled Orono, 4-1, in the 2008 state game.