Martha the Magnificent, Waynflete beat Cape for Western B title
PORTLAND—For the first time in three tries this spring, the Cape Elizabeth girls played their brand of lacrosse against nemesis Waynflete Thursday afternoon in the Western Class B Final at Fore River Fields.
The Capers came out strong, scored a lot of goals and did what it takes to win a regional title.
The Flyers, meanwhile, have Martha Veroneau and even a terrific team is no match for the senior superstar when she's at the height of her powers.
Cape Elizabeth enjoyed a short-lived lead over Waynflete, and after the Flyers, as expected, came to life, the Capers hung right with them in the first half.
The problem was, Veroneau scored six times and Waynflete clung to a 9-8 lead.
In the second half, Cape Elizabeth simply couldn't possess, as Flyers sophomore Helen Gray-Bauer won seven straight draws and Waynflete controlled the ball for huge chunks of time and gradually pulled away and closed the door on their 16-9 victory.
Veroneau finished with a program-record 10 goals, the Flyers improved to 14-0 with their 18th straight win, beat Cape Elizabeth for the 22nd straight time over the past 11 seasons and ended the Capers' season at 11-4 as they advanced to their sixth straight Class B state final, a showdown with Yarmouth (7-7) Saturday at 5:30 p.m., at Fitzpatrick Stadium.
"We just came out with so much intensity," Veroneau said. "Personally, my days of high school sports are winding down and I didn't want it to end or leave anything unfulfilled. We wanted to come out and prove what we're made of. It was a fun game. We really enjoyed the win today. It was a back-and-forth game. At any moment, any team could have gone a run. We toughed it out. We play for each other and work together so well."
The two tops
Last spring, Waynflete beat Freeport to win the Class B championship, but it was clear the state's two best teams had met three days prior in a regional final for the ages, when the Flyers went to undefeated Cape Elizabeth and rallied for an 11-10 overtime triumph.
Heading into 2013, consensus held that the Capers and Flyers would be jockeying for the top spot again and while Cape Elizabeth has held on to the No. 2 spot in our Super Six poll the whole way, there was no stopping Waynflete from the moment it took the field.
In 600 minutes of game action in the regular season, the Flyers trailed for just a couple of minutes against Freeport, outscored the opposition, 155-62 (an average of roughly 13-5), wound up one of just two undefeated teams in the state and finished with more Heal Points than anyone, even though their Class B-heavy schedule put it at a disadvantage in that regard.
The Flyers dominated visiting Wells, 14-2, host Yarmouth, 17-5, visiting Kennebunk, 15-1, and host Fryeburg, 15-3, to start the year, then made a major statement with a 10-8 win at Cape Elizabeth. After surviving a close call at Falmouth, 10-8, they won, 13-7, over visiting Freeport in a state game rematch. Waynflete went to Greely and jumped to a quick 3-1 lead, but 12 minutes in, the game was suspended by inclement weather. The Flyers then beat visiting Cape Elizabeth for the 21st straight time, 8-4, before handling Falmouth from start-to-finish in a stunning-in-its-decisiveness 16-3 home triumph and downing visiting Yarmouth on Senior Day, 16-10. After handling eventual Eastern A champion Cheverus on its field, 11-5, Waynflete finished the Greely game and prevailed, 10-6, to wind up 12-0 and first in Western B, the fifth undefeated season in program history (1998, 2005, 2006 and 2009 were the others).
Saturday, in a semifinal round game the Flyers "hosted" at Yarmouth High, due to poor field conditions in Portland, Waynflete had no trouble with No. 4 York, 18-8.
Cape Elizabeth, meanwhile, started the year a house afire, but had some rough patches en route to the 9-3 finish and the No. 2 seed.
After opening with an emphatic 18-5 victory at Falmouth, the Capers beat visiting Freeport, 13-4, and won a crossover game at Gorham, 13-7, but a home showdown with nemesis Waynflete resulted in a 10-8home defeat, a game Cape Elizabeth never led. After bouncing back with a 17-5 win at Wells, the Capers were stunned at home by Yarmouth (8-7). After rallying to beat visiting three-time defending Class A champion Scarborough (10-8), Cape Elizabeth lost at Waynflete (8-4), again never leading. The Capers bounced back to handle visiting Greely (14-9), host Fryeburg (15-3) and visiting Falmouth (17-10) before closing with a high-scoring 14-12 victory at Yarmouth.
Saturday, in its semifinal, Cape Elizabeth made surprisingly quick work of No. 3 Greely, 17-10.
Entering the regional final, Waynflete held a 7-0 all-time record versus the Capers in the playoffs (please see sidebar, below).
The first meeting came in the 1999 state quarterfinals (a 10-4 Flyers' triumph). Waynflete had no trouble with Cape Elizabeth in the 2003 West Region semifinals (16-7), the 2007 Western B quarterfinals (13-3) or the 2008 Western B semis (11-1), but things have tightened up in recent years.
The teams' first regional final came in 2009, a 9-5 Flyers' win. Two years ago, the Capers led much of the way before Waynflete came together to prevail, 8-7, to advance to the state game.
Then, last year, Cape Elizabeth, riding a perfect season, but meeting Waynflete for the first time, couldn't hold leads of 4-1, 6-2 and 8-4 and after each team scored twice in the six-minute overtime period, the Flyers broke the Capers' heart in the third OT, on Walker Foehl's game winning tally.
Thursday's game had been postponed 24 hours due to rain and poor field conditions at Waynflete, but it was worth the wait, as Cape Elizabeth clearly came to play, but the Flyers, one final time, behind one of the most amazing and accomplished athletes the state has seen, dug deep and had the answers.
Waynflete senior defender Jo Moore got the festivities off to a strong start with a rousing version of the national anthem.
"I actually volunteered to do it," Moore said. "It gave me more nerves before the game than I usually have, but that's good, because I got it out of my system."
Once the whistle blew, the Capers couldn't have asked for a better start, as junior Hannah Newhall won the opening draw, the ball came to senior standout Talley Perkins and Perkins' pass into the goal area somehow eluded everybody, including Waynflete senior goalie Katherine Torrey and tickled the twine to give Cape Elizabeth a shocking 1-0 lead just 26 seconds in.
It marked only the second time all season the Flyers trailed in a game and was the first time in over 100 minutes this spring that the Capers had a lead over Waynflete.
It lasted all of 45 seconds.
Veroneau hinted at her monster game to come with an unassisted goal with 23:49 to go in the first half and 30 seconds later, set up senior Sadie Cole to put the Flyers on top, 2-1.
"I could tell the girls were OK when we tied it up pretty quick," said Waynflete coach Cathie Connors. "Our offense was on. Theirs was too."
Cape Elizabeth drew even when Perkins scored unassisted and in just two minutes of play, four goals had been scored.
The scoring frenzy continued as with 21:06 left in the first half, Waynflete took the lead for good, 3-2, as Veroneau scored unassisted.
After the Flyers got the ball back, Cole had a shot saved by Capers sophomore goalie Kate Bosworth, but Waynflete junior Cat Johnson pounced on the rebound and finished to make it 4-2.
Cape Elizabeth got a goal back with 18:07 to go in the half, when Perkins set up junior Liz Robinson, and 17 seconds later, Veroneau received a rare yellow card, allowing the Capers an opportunity to even things up with an extra player.
It didn't happen as Flyers junior Leigh Fernandez forced a turnover and Waynflete ran out the time on the penalty.
Cape Elizabeth almost tied the score with 14:55 left, but Perkins was called for a charge while scoring.
With 13:32 to go, Cole earned a free position, faked out a defender, then shot past Bosworth to make it 5-3.
A minute later, Veroneau eluded three defenders and finished to give Waynflete a three-goal advantage.
Capers senior Lauren Steidl won the ensuing draw and raced in for a shot, but Torrey made the save. Junior Abby McInerney then had a good look, but shot just high.
With 10:21 remaining, Steidl got to a loose ball, picked it up and shot past Torrey to pull her team within two, 6-4.
Freshman Maisie Perkins had a chance to draw Cape Elizabeth even closer 43 seconds later, but her free position was swatted aside by Torrey.
With 7:58 left in the half, Veroneau pushed the lead back to three with an unassisted tally.
The Capers roared right back when Steidl set up Talley Perkins for a goal 45 seconds later.
At that point, Cape Elizabeth had won 10 of 12 draws, including seven in succession, but after a timeout, sophomore Helen Gray-Bauer was inserted as a secret weapon and gained possession. That led to a Veroneau unassisted goal with 6:36 left and a little over a minute later, Fernandez set up Veroneau for another goal, her sixth, to make it 9-5.
"What got me was that we'd had 12 draws and we had won two and I told the girls during the timeout, 'The only thing standing between you and the state championship is draws and groundballs. You're doing everything else,'" Connors said. "We practice that all the time. Helen came up big."
The Capers were in a danger zone, on the verge of falling too far behind by halftime to make a second half run, but instead of folding, they made a statement and finished the half strong.
With 3:23 to go, Perkins scored on a free position. Steidl then beat Torrey with a low shot and with 2:03 remaining, Steidl cut through the defense and bounced home a shot to suddenly make it a 9-8 contest.
Three goals in 80 seconds had suddenly turned the tide.
"It's all about possession and momentum," Cape Elizabeth coach Jeff Perkins said. "Right before halftime, they got tired and we got momentum."
Cape Elizabeth wasn't able to catch up, however, as Torrey denied Steidl with just over a minute to go and the Flyers were still in front at the break.
"I wanted to maintain a lead going into the second half," said Connors. "That was crucial."
In the first 25 minutes, the Capers won 12 of 18 draws and had a 19-16 groundball advantage, but Veroneau's individual brilliance and Waynflete's offensive precision allowed it to cling to the lead.
Things changed dramatically in the second half, not that Cape Elizabeth played poorly.
The Capers just couldn't get the ball.
Steidl did win the opening draw of the half and 19 seconds in, McInerney appeared to have a good look in front, but the ball fell out of her pocket before she could finish.
The Flyers then got the ball, but were frustrated as Bosworth denied Cole and Veroneau back to back.
Then, with 23:25 left in regulation, junior Ella Millard took a pass from Cole, waited for Bosworth to commit, then shot back-handed past the goalie into the net.
Then, with 21:56 to play, Fernandez set up Cole for a goal and a little breathing room. The pass was high, but Cole, who stands 6 feet, made a great catch and managed to fire past Bosworth in one athletic motion to push the lead to 11-8.
With 19:45 remaining, Perkins circled around the goal, saw a sliver of daylight, took it and beat Torrey to pull the Capers back within two, 11-9, but that would prove to be not only Perkins' final high school goal, but also her team's final point of the season.
With 18:42 left, Cape Elizabeth senior defender Jenna Wallace was given a yellow card and the hosts took advantage as Veroneau scored on a free position 30 seconds later.
After Torrey denied Newhall with 17:48 left, the Capers went almost 12 minutes without a sustained possession and by that time, the deficit was insurmountable.
With 16:31 to play, Veroneau fed Cole for a goal and a 13-9 advantage.
Perkins called timeout, but it didn't help, as Gray-Bauer won yet another draw against the taller Steidl, setting the stage for a Veroneau unassisted goal with 11:45 left.
A minute later, after Gray-Bauer won another draw, Veroneau threw what looked like a pass, but similar to the Perkins goal that started the game, it snuck through everybody into the net and the lead was up to 15-9.
Gray-Bauer won another draw and the Flyers milked the clock down to 5:40 before Cape Elizabeth finally possessed.
"In the second half, possessions didn't fall our way as well as they did in the first half," Jeff Perkins said. "(Waynflete runs) their stall perfectly. College teams don't run it that well. With 16 minutes and them getting into that, it's a Mt. Everest-sized battle to come back. They execute it so well. Hats off to them."
With 4:41 to play, Maisie Perkins' shot was denied by Torrey.
Waynflete transitioned to offense and with 3:53 left on the clock, Veroneau took a pass from Cole and finished to make it 16-9.
That would be goal number 10 for the standout.
Torrey saved her best for last, making a jawdropping sprawling save on Robinson with 3:20 to go, robbing Robinson with just over a minute to go, then slamming the door on Steidl with 5 seconds remaining.
"I told Katherine Torrey (going into the second half), 'That's your side of the field. That's where you shine,'" Connors said. "She did. She's a big-game goalie."
When the clock hit 5:35 p.m., the final horn sounded and the Flyers celebrated their 16-9 triumph.
"They gave us a great match, which we were expecting," Veroneau said. "They're coached well. They have star players. They made us work for it."
"(Cape) did play incredible," Cole said. "The score of this game was different than it had been in the past. We've learned how to play against each other. We've both improved so much. It was just who would get the extra momentum to come out on top. We knew it would be a close game. We were excited for that. Cape had an amazing game. Their offense is pretty unstoppable. We figured out that possession was the most important thing. That was key. When they did get it, the defense was able to stop them and Katherine made some great saves at the end. It feels amazing. Last year was such a great feeling, but this year is even better."
"Cape's a tough team," Gray-Bauer said. "We had to focus on not making it about them and focusing on our strengths and proving we're better, like we did before. It's mostly our determination and love for the game. Cathie always says we need to top ourselves. We want to go out and win it for everyone, especially Cathie."
"The final score is misleading," Connors added. "We talk all the time about playing the whole 50 minutes. We couldn't play 45 minutes against that team and we didn't. We played the full 50. We had to maintain possession and we couldn't throw the ball away. We weren't stalling. We made good choices. (Cape's) aggressive and they were doubling and we had to be smart. I knew this group was special. We didn't have an easy schedule. We don't ever talk about being undefeated. I felt like we could pull it off if everyone did their job and they did."
Martha, Martha, Martha
Veroneau, who led Waynflete's basketball team to the Class C state title in early March and a week later was named Miss Maine Basketball, hinted once again that basketball isn't even her best sport as she scored a mindboggling 10 goals, a staggering number in any game, not to mention a postseason contest between the two best teams in the state (Connors said it was an all-time program record for any Waynflete player).
"The first two games, they faceguarded me," Veroneau said. "I learned from those games things I could do. I learned from basketball, I can take it myself. I used some of my basketball moves with a lacrosse stick today. Those are the plays I like. I can go one-on-one because I know my teammates help me get open."
"Martha is absolutely amazing to watch," Cole said. "I always know she'll step up. She surprises me more each time. She does things I can't even imagine doing. It's an honor to be on the same field as her. I can see her passion and love for the team."
"Martha's a special athlete," Connors added. "I never underestimate her. She just has this drive. She didn't want today to be the last time she played lacrosse."
Even Cape Elizabeth had to reluctantly give Veroneau praise as well.
"It's so frustrating because she's a great player," Talley Perkins said. "They're all great players."
"There obviously wasn't anything we could do to stop her," Jeff Perkins said. "We did our best and she still put up 10 against us. She's an incredible athlete who changed the game. When we got momentum, she seemed to get the ball."
Cole had a stat line that in any other game would have turned heads, four goals, two assists. Johnson and Millard also scored, while Fernandez also had two assists, on her 17th birthday no less.
"The rest of the team was solid," said Connors. "Sadie and Ella and Leigh and Cat were great. Martha took charge, but she knew she always had someone to pass to."
In what's come to be a routine performance, Torrey made 12 saves, including several of the scintillating variety.
She got a lot of help from a defense which only got stronger as the game progressed.
"We had to calm down and play with each other," Moore said. "It was the last time we'd play on this field win or lose, so we wanted to make the most of it. We try to get two people on them. It's mostly being tall and strong against them. Katherine made some great saves. She has our backs."
Waynflete wound up losing 14 of 27 draws, but Gray-Bauer turned heads with wins in 13 of 18 opportunities.
"I really focus on just going out there and doing it for everyone else," said Gray-Bauer, who missed most of the season with a meniscus injury she suffered during the basketball season. "I want to go out there and give it my all. I rely on my upper body strength. It's a nice feeling to be back."
"The draw is always crucial," Veroneau said. "Against a team like Cape, we had to focus on getting the draw, because they can score on offense every time. We readjusted on draws and ground balls in the second half. Helen was incredible. She gives us a spurt of energy. That was crucial for the success of the team."
The Flyers had a 39-33 advantage on ground balls, as Veroneau (naturally) led the way with eight. Johnson added six and Cole had five. Waynflete only had 12 turnovers and wound up with a 27-21 advantage in shots.
Thursday's win was huge for the Flyers on several levels.
The victory was also a milestone (number 250) for the state's premier coach.
"This was a really special game for us," said Connors, who took over the Waynflete program in 1993 at the ripe young age of (actually I know better than to reveal a woman's age, let's just say she was fresh out of college). "It's a nice number. It's special because they're special. Getting to 251 (Saturday) would be really cool."
Beyond her obvious coaching acumen, what sticks out about Connors' influence is the way her players absolutely adore her.
"Cathie's been the constant through all the years of success," Veroneau said. "She's the reason we're always successful. She doesn't just foster lacrosse, but also love for each other. Even if you don't win, I'll always remember how Waynflete has fostered teamwork and chemistry. That's the most valuable part of sports in the end."
Valiant in defeat
For Cape Elizabeth, Talley Perkins scored five times and added an assist before taking her game to Boston University. The Princeton University-bound Steidl had three goals and an assist. Robinson had the other goal. Bosworth made 11 saves. Newhall won 10 of 15 draws. Talley Perkins led all players with 11 ground balls.
The Capers only turned the ball over 10 times and did a lot of things right.
"Everyone left everything on the field," Talley Perkins said. "Congrats to Waynflete. It's not a fluke. They earned it. They have their stall and it works for them. It's hard to beat. We were there, but we couldn't quite keep it there. Playing a team for a third time, I think it's definitely better because you can take things from the first two times and fix them and hope they don't fix theirs."
"We played a great game, we just ran into a juggernaut," Jeff Perkins said. "When you run into a juggernaut, there's nothing you can do about it. They played a perfect game and there was nothing we could do. What I liked the most is that we were down four goals in the first half and came back within one, which proved a lot. I'm very proud."
Cape Elizabeth won 11 games this spring, played absolutely breathtaking lacrosse at times and finished strong.
"(This season has) been amazing," Talley Perkins said. "I can't even put it into words. We put our hearts out there and our record showed it. We played a hard schedule."
"We played a much tougher schedule this year than last year, which I think had us better prepared for this game," Jeff Perkins said. "Overall, it was a great season. My six seniors, three of them who played every game for three years, will be missed. It's been a great ride."
With Perkins, Steidl, defender Jane Coffrin and three other seniors (Wallace, Emily Spidle and Talia Pappas) graduating, you could conclude the Capers will take a step back in 2014.
"It won't stop with us," said Talley Perkins. "We started it and everyone else will finish it. I'll come back and cheer when they do it."
"We have a big sophomore class," Jeff Perkins said. "They had sit behind some of the best players in the state. They never said boo and they're ready. Now that the torch is being passed, they'd love to go out and start playing right now because they know the opportunity is coming."
Waynflete, meanwhile, will make its 13th state final appearance in the 16 seasons that the Maine Principals' Association has sanctioned girls' lacrosse and seventh in the eight years there have been two classes.
On four prior occasions, the Flyers did battle with Yarmouth.
Waynflete beat the Clippers to take the 1998 (13-8) and 1999 (5-3) state titles. Yarmouth returned the favor in 2006 (12-5) and two years ago (a 9-8 thriller). Pre-MPA, the teams also played in the 1992 MAISAD semifinals (a 12-9 Flyers' victory), 1994 state tournament (a 7-6 Waynflete win for Connors' first championship), 1995 semifinals (6-5 Flyers) and the 1996 state final (a 5-4 Yarmouth victory).
Waynflete more or less had its way with the Clippers in the two regular season meetings, although Yarmouth was competitive in stretches of the second game. While the Flyers appear to have cleared their biggest hurdle one final time Thursday, there's no chance of a letdown Saturday.
"I'm really excited to go to states with this team," Moore said. "There's a reason we're doing it together. We've brought so much intensity for this game. I know we can bring even more for the next one."
"We're not stopping," Cole said. "We have one more game and we won't let up. We have to do better on the draw. Yarmouth is like Cape in that they're good at triple-teaming and crashing. We'll have to tuck our sticks. We have to play 50 minutes. It's hard coming off an exciting game. It's easy to let down. We have to keep each other up. This group of seniors is pretty special. We won't let each other down."
"We know we're not done," Veroneau said. "Everybody knows we have 50 minutes left. We'll go out Saturday and enjoy those last 50 minutes and play our hardest. At the end, the journey and the fun we've had is something we'll be embracing. Yarmouth is a strong team. It will be another exciting game, I hope. We'll definitely have (2011) in the back of our minds. We're ready to go back out and show that we can finish in style."
Connors, who is 0-2 in state games against Yarmouth's Dorothy Holt, is cautiously optimistic.
"Yarmouth has nothing to lose, they're strong," Connors said. "We're not underestimating them at all. The girls want it and they'll do everything they can to get it. "
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.
Previous Waynflete-Cape Elizabeth playoff meetings
Western B Final
Waynflete 11 @ Cape Elizabeth 10 (triple OT)
Western B Final
@ Waynflete 8 Cape Elizabeth 7
Western B Final
@ Waynflete 9 Cape Elizabeth 5
Western B semifinals
@ Waynflete 11 Cape Elizabeth 1
Western B quarterfinals
@ Waynflete 13 Cape Elizabeth 3
West Region semifinals
@ Waynflete 16 Cape Elizabeth 7
@ Waynflete 10 Cape Elizabeth 4