Waynflete closes on a high note with another win over Cape
CAPE ELIZABETH—Two straight losses were bad enough.
But there was no way the two-time defending Class B state champion Waynflete girls' lacrosse team was about to suffer a third.
Especially against a squad the Flyers have owned for many, many years.
Friday evening at Hannaford Field, on Cape Elizabeth's Senior Night, Waynflete put a bow on perhaps the biggest roller-coaster ride of a regular season in program history and in the process, made sure that they still have a great chance to do special things in the postseason.
The Flyers never trailed, as senior standout Cat Johnson filled the net early, and after the Capers forged a 3-3 tie on a goal from their senior star, Abby McInerney, a free position tally from senior Ella Millard put Waynflete on top to stay and a fluky tally from senior Leigh Fernandez turned the tide.
By halftime, the score was 6-3 and the Flyers never let up in the second half, holding Cape Elizabeth scoreless for nearly 19 minutes total as they went on to a 10-5 victory.
Waynflete got five goals from Fernandez, three more from Johnson and beat the Capers for the 24th straight time over the past dozen years, capping its regular season at 8-4 and dropping Cape Elizabeth to 8-4 in the process.
"It wasn't easy, but we needed this one," said Flyers coach Cathie Connors. "I'm psyched we brought it all today. Today, we played until the very end. The girls didn't let themselves get flustered. We talked about patience on offense and not forcing it and trusting each other and today it worked."
When Cape Elizabeth and Waynflete took to the turf Friday, they were taking part in the final girls' lacrosse game of the regular season, as every other squad had already wrapped things up.
Both have produced their share of drama this year.
The Capers opened with a 21-2 demolition of visiting Fryeburg, then knocked off visiting Falmouth, 12-5. After falling at Kennebunk, 14-11, Cape Elizabeth held off visiting York, 12-9, then won at Gorham, 14-12. A frustrating 6-5 loss at Waynflete was followed by an 11-10 home loss to Yarmouth, a game in which senior standout Hannah Newhall suffered a broken collarbone and was lost for the rest of the season. The Capers then came alive by beating host Wells (17-13), Greely (9-6) and Falmouth (10-7), as well as visiting Marshwood (11-8).
The Flyers, meanwhile, have been in nailbiters almost every time out. Waynflete eked out a 6-5 win at North Yarmouth Academy in the opener, then lost consecutive games for the first time in a dozen seasons: 11-4 at Yarmouth in a state final rematch and 8-6 to visiting Falmouth. The ship began to be righted with an 11-5 win at Wells, then the Flyers beat a pair of visiting contenders: Scarborough (12-7) and Cape Elizabeth (6-5), downed visiting York, 13-7, won a back-and-forth affair at Greely (11-8), then rallied from a 5-1 halftime deficit to beat Kennebunk, 7-6, in triple overtime. Waynflete's six-game win streak then came to a halt last Saturday with a 7-6 overtime loss to visiting Yarmouth and Wednesday, the Flyers were beaten by a goal inside of the final second, 10-9, at Cheverus.
Waynflete's head-to-head dominance over Cape Elizabeth has been well documented and the Flyers' home victory on May 13 marked the 23rd consecutive time they had downed the Capers (see sidebar, below).
Friday, Cape Elizabeth sought to put an end to that skid once and for all, but Waynflete wasn't about to lose an unprecedented third successive game and extended its hex over the Capers to 24.
It took all season for Mother Nature to provide a gem of a day, but even in often-frigid Cape Elizabeth, the mercury read 75 at the start of the contest.
The Flyers struck first, as Johnson beat a defender, ran around the crease and shot past Capers junior goalie Kate Bosworth for the first goal of the game 89 seconds in.
Waynflete looked to double its lead, but both Millard and Johnson were denied by Bosworth.
Cape Elizabeth drew even with 19:29 to play in the first half, as McInerney raced in on a free position and sent a shot past Flyers sophomore goalie Charlotte Majercik.
McInerney almost put the hosts ahead 24 seconds later, but her shot hit the post.
Majerick then saved a bid from Capers freshman Mariah Deschino and Waynflete went back on top, 2-1, when Johnson finished a feed from senior Sofia Canning.
Cape Elizabeth retied the game, 2-2, when senior Liz Robinson scored on a free position with 13:42 showing, but 71 seconds later, Fernandez set up Johnson for her third and final goal and the Flyers had a 3-2 lead.
The Capers tied the game one final time with 10:51 to go in the half when McInerney made a nice catch of a feed from sophomore Maisie Perkins and beat Majerick to make it 3-3, but that's as good as things would get for the hosts.
Waynflete went ahead to stay with 8:36 left in the half, when Millard beat Bosworth on a free position, then, the Flyers got some breathing room with an improbable goal.
With 6:29 left, Fernandez tried to hit a cutting Canning, but the pass went awry.
Instead of resulting in a turnover, however, the ball handcuffed Bosworth and tickled the twine to make it 5-3 Flyers.
"It was a fluke," Fernandez said. "I didn't mean to score. I was looking for Sofia, cutting through in transition. She was open. It was a bad pass, but it was lucky. Kate's an amazing goalie. I don't know how it went in."
"There's always one turning point," Cape Elizabeth coach Jeff Perkins said. "It's hard to have a 15 to 18-year old kid shake something like that off, but you have to keep going."
Waynflete continued to keep the pressure on, as junior Helen Gray-Bauer won the ensuing draw, The Flyers set up on offense and has been the case so many times over the past few weeks, Johnson threw a pass which Fernandez caught and shot into the net in one motion to make the score 6-3.
Waynflete had scored three times in a 3:30 span, then turned to its defense and goalie to protect the advantage.
First, Deschino sent a free position wide.
Next, junior Kirsten Rudberg fired a shot wide.
Then, with 1:02 left before the break, the Capers appeared to score and get momentum, when Rudberg converted a free position, but she was ruled to be in the crease and the Flyers took a 6-3 advantage to the break.
While Cape Elizabeth had a 10-9 edge in shots in the first half and ground balls and turnovers were virtually even, Gray-Bauer's brilliance in the draw circle (winning seven of 10 opportunities) was the difference.
Waynflete almost never lets a second half slip away and Friday was yet another example, as the Flyers took care of the ball and utilized their defense as a boa constrictor to stymie the Capers' comeback hopes.
Just 35 seconds in, Fernandez saw a big hole in the Cape Elizabeth defense and ran in to sore to push the lead to four, 7-3.
Cape Elizabeth appeared to answer, but a McInerney goal was waved off when she was ruled to be in the crease.
Majercik then stepped up, denying shots from Deschino and Rudberg.
"We work on our zone and crashing a lot," Connors said. "(The Capers) have some serious shooters. We try not to foul at all."
Bosworth then kept her team alive by saving shots from Fernandez and junior Hannah Thompson-Greaves.
Finally, with 16:54 to play, McInerney scored on a free position, ending the Capers' 18 minute, 57 second drought.
Had Cape Elizabeth been able to pull closer, things might have gotten really interesting, but a free position from junior Emma Landes was blocked and a shot off a drive from Robinson was turned aside by Majercik.
Then, with 10:12 to play, the unstoppable Johnson-to-Fernandez connection produced another huge tally to make it 8-4.
"Cat has amazing vision behind," Fernandez said. "She's always there to feed and she's there for goals too. We were really looking for that today."
"I don't know what it is, but Leigh has those cuts and I know she's going to get it," said Johnson, who spent her freshman and sophomore seasons at Mt. Ararat, before becoming a Waynflete stalwart. "I can trust my teammates."
Perkins called timeout, but Gray-Bauer won the ensuing draw and with 9:21 left, Canning fed Thompson-Greaves for an insurance goal, which made the score, 9-4.
Majercik then robbed Robinson and McInerney.
With 5:01 to go, sophomore Maisie Perkins fed Robinson for a goal, but the Capers could draw no closer and while running out the clock, Waynflete got its final goal, with only 15 seconds showing, as Johnson connected with Fernandez one more time to account for the 10-5 final score.
"We were pretty disappointed after Yarmouth and Cheverus," Fernandez said. "Those weren't good games for us at all and we were really sloppy throughout. We knew we had to win and Cape knew it too. They played a very good game. Very quick and fast. It was close at the beginning and we pulled away."
"We always seem to feel like the underdog coming into these games," Johnson said. "That's because they're so talented. They've consistently produced amazing players. It's fun to be challenged."
"We needed this one," Gray-Bauer said. "People think there's a rivalry between us and Cape. They're a great team. We came into this game just wanting momentum for the playoffs. We needed to come out strong and we did. We've talked a lot about defense. We watched the Cheverus tape and really focused on what we did right and what we did wrong and what we needed to do to tighten things up."
Fernandez, who was held scoreless against Cheverus, returned to her prolific scoring ways Friday, leading all players with five goals.
Johnson had three goals and two assists, as she continues to play as well as anyone in the state.
"I try not to look at stats," Johnson said. "I like to feed off my teammates. It's really fun working together and doing something for your team, scoring goals, or getting assists. We had really talented people last year. People graduate, but it gives room for everyone to step up. Me, Leigh and Sof were there last year, but everyone has moved up. In my case, my step up is assisting."
"Cat's such an amazing feeder and she's strong," Connors said. "Ella, Sofia and Leigh and Cat, everyone out there is interchangeable, but Cat has been seriously strong back there. She's been phenomenal and every game, she gets stronger."
Millard and Thompson-Greaves both scored once.
Canning also had two assists, while Fernandez and Millard both had one.
Gray-Bauer, who stands barely five feet tall, was one of the biggest players on the field again Friday, winning a pivotal 12 of 17 draws and collecting a team-high six ground balls (Canning also had six).
"It's not even me," Gray-Bauer said. "It's people on the circle. Everyone does a good job getting in as soon as they can and fighting until the bitter end. You're only as small as you feel. Yes, I'm short, but I don't let that bother me. I focus more on playing to my strengths. I like to prove people wrong."
Majercik made six saves, five of which came in the second half.
"They had a lot of free positions, but Charlotte had some amazing saves," Fernandez said. "She really came through for us."
"Charlotte started playing two weeks before the season," Connors said. "Every game, she's really solid and really strong. We couldn't ask for more. She's mentally strong and can pick herself back up which is big for a goalie."
Waynflete held a 31-27 edge on ground balls, overcame 17 turnovers and while it was outshot, 18-15, had a 14-11 advantage in shots on cage.
It was a long and winding road for the Flyers this spring as they suffered through some tough losses to ultimately finish near the top of the list of title hopefuls.
"We were really concerned after losing several seniors and our goalie and we got absolutely destroyed by Yarmouth," Fernandez said. "We've improved a ton. We've come a long way. We've worked hard in practice and we've bonded together. We're a completely different team from the beginning of the season."
"Yarmouth wasn't as frustrating as some people think," Johnson said. "It was frustrating being that close and losing in the last moment, but it gave us the sanity that we were progressing. Cheverus was unfortunate. It was a tough way to lose. They're talented. We came back and today proved that for ourselves and our naysayers."
"It's unbelievable how far this team has come," Gray-Bauer said. "I remember thinking early that it was going to be tough, but we've meshed so well. We're friends off the field, which I think helps so much. Cathie has done an amazing job helping us get together."
"Those first few games we were really trying to find ourselves," Connors added. "We learned from those losses. I'm glad it didn't keep happening. I'm glad where we wound up. The girls didn't let down."
Cape Elizabeth's offense came from McInerney (three goals) and Robinson (two). Perkins had two assists. Hererra had a game-high seven ground balls, while Bosworth made four saves.
The Capers were hindered by 16 turnovers.
"I think we had some very good opportunities, but we couldn't get them to go," Jeff Perkins said. "We missed some eight-meter shots. It just didn't go our way. Waynflete made it harder for us, but it was a lot closer played than what the scoreboard showed."
Even in the aftermath of the disappointment of yet another loss to Waynflete, Cape Elizabeth was happy with what it accomplished during the regular season.
"We've done extremely well after losing Hannah," Perkins said. "When you lose someone who scored 22 goals in five games, it's a big loss. After it happened, the girls were down. We spent some time talking as a team. The girls wanted to stay aggressive and go for it. I thought that was awesome. The defense put it on their back. You love that from a team. We could have gone 5-7, so to come out 8-4, that's a win in and of itself. The girls have gotten some great wins at the end of the season."
See you in a week
There's an excellent chance that Cape Elizabeth and Waynflete will meet again in the Western Class B semifinals next Saturday.
The Capers take the No. 3 seed into the tournament and first will have to beat dangerous No. 6 Falmouth (4-8) in the quarterfinals Wednesday. Cape Elizabeth swept the Yachtsmen during the regular season, but beating them a third time won't come easily.
"Anything can happen in the playoffs," Jeff Perkins said. "Falmouth has seen us twice and they'll be hungry. We'll go out there and do as best we can."
The Flyers' second seed comes with a quarterfinal round bye and Waynflete will happily embrace some time to continue to bond in the days to come.
"It really comes down to being open with each other, communicating and being on the same page," Gray-Bauer said. "We want to stay a tight-knit team and keep things solid. No one is invincible. We won't take anything for granted."
"This year, more than any other year, is really interesting," said Thompson. "If you look at scores, it's so back and forth. It's anybody's game. It's scary in one respect, but it's a comfort to know there's no pressure."
"It's scary going into playoffs," Fernandez said. "We'll get some rest, then we'll play at home. We like our field. The playoffs should be very, very fun. It should be anybody's game. Seeds don't matter at all. We have to come to play."
"Getting a bye is nice," Connors added. "We have a lot of prep and bonding time. We really like that. It's anybody's game at this point. Everybody has beaten everybody."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.
Recent Waynflete-Cape Elizabeth history
Western B Final
Waynflete 11 @ Cape Elizabeth 10 (3 OT)
Waynflete 13 @ Cape Elizabeth 6
Western B Final
@ Waynflete 8 Cape Elizabeth 7
Waynflete 11 @ Cape Elizabeth 7
Waynflete 11 @ Cape Elizabeth 2
Western B Final
@ Waynflete 9 Cape Elizabeth 5
@ Waynflete 15 Cape Elizabeth 5
Waynflete 16 @ Cape Elizabeth 1
Western B semifinals
@ Waynflete 11 Cape Elizabeth 1
Waynflete 18 @ Cape Elizabeth 7
@ Waynflete 15 Cape Elizabeth 7
Western B quarterfinals
@ Waynflete 13 Cape Elizabeth 3
@ Waynflete 11 Cape Elizabeth 6
Waynflete 7 @ Cape Elizabeth 1
@ Waynflete 11 Cape Elizabeth 6
@ Waynflete 11 Cape Elizabeth 5
Waynflete 9 @ Cape Elizabeth 8 (OT)
Waynflete 8 @ Cape Elizabeth 6
West Region semifinals
@ Waynflete 16 Cape Elizabeth 7
Cape Elizabeth 10 @ Waynflete 9