Greely dominates Waynflete in boys' lax quarterfinal
CUMBERLAND—For five seasons, the Greely boys' lacrosse team made the playoffs and quickly bowed out.
This spring, the Rangers have decided to stay awhile.
And as a result, the Waynflete Flyers were sent packing Wednesday afternoon in a Western Class B quarterfinal round tilt.
Greely, perhaps emboldened by Waynflete replacing it in last week's Sunday Super Six poll, made it clear early that it had come to play, racing to a 4-1 lead after one period and a 6-2 advantage by halftime.
That was a mere appetizer for what occurred in the third period.
The Rangers ended all doubt by scoring seven goals in under five minutes and thanks to a balanced offensive attack, combined with faceoff dominance from junior Gabe Belisle and several timely saves from senior goalie Griffin Doree, didn't look back.
Greely produced its second-biggest offensive output of the season, rolled to a 20-9 victory and for the first time since George W. Bush was in the White House, earned a playoff triumph.
Junior Tim Adams scored five goals, classmate Mitch Mullin added four and senior Gwynn Zambello scored three times while adding four assists as the Rangers improved to 8-5, ended Waynflete's season at 8-5 and advanced to set up a semifinal round showdown at top-ranked, undefeated (12-0), defending Class B champion Cape Elizabeth Saturday at 7 p.m.
"It means a lot," Adams said. "It's our first playoff win in a long time. A 20-9 win really shows what we're made of."
Teams to watch
While Cape Elizabeth and Falmouth have combined to win the past four state championships and every Western B crown since 2008, Greely and Waynflete both believe they can turn some heads in this postseason.
Each squad had its moments during the regular season.
The Rangers romped, 22-4, at Lake Region to start the year, then downed visiting North Yarmouth Academy, 4-1. A 9-5 home loss to Yarmouth followed, but Greely bounced back to win at York (13-3), at home over Western A contender Thornton Academy (7-6) and at longtime power Kennebunk (9-6). Losses at Messalonskee (12-6) and at home to Cape Elizabeth (8-4) followed, but the Rangers got back in the win column, 16-2, over visiting Freeport. After a 15-8 loss at Falmouth, Greely closed by winning at NYA (5-2) and losing at Kennebunk (15-8).
Waynflete began the year with a 15-1 loss at Cape Elizabeth, but turned around and won four in a row: 11-8 over visiting York, 16-9 at Fryeburg, 6-4 over visiting NYA and 14-2 over visiting Oak Hill, before falling at Freeport (8-5) and Thornton Academy (9-2). The Flyers got back in the win column, 18-2, over visiting Lake Region, then took favored Yarmouth to the wire before falling at home, 5-4. Waynflete then sizzled in its final three, dominating host Wells (20-6) and York (10-4) before handling visiting Freeport (20-11).
While Greely and Waynflete didn't square off this season, they had met twice previously in the playoffs, with the Flyers taking both (see sidebar, below).
Wednesday, the Rangers finally put together a stellar effort on the postseason stage, dominating nearly from start to finish.
Waynflete did strike first when its senior standout, Henry Cleaves, took a pass from classmate Timmy Bollinger and finished a minute in, but it took all of 10 seconds for Greely to answer, as Belisle won the faceoff and raced in to score unassisted to make it 1-1.
After several scoreless minutes (a rarity on this afternoon), the Rangers went ahead to stay, as Mullin scored unassisted with 5:28 to go in the first quarter.
Unassisted tallies from Zambello and senior Will Peck stretched the lead to 4-1, while Doree denied bids by sophomore Cooper Chap and Bollinger to preserve the advantage.
With 8:18 to go before halftime, Greely went up 5-1, as Zambello set up Adams for his first score.
With 7:45 left, Cleaves scored unassisted, snapping a 15 minute, 15 second drought, but Waynflete drew no closer.
After Flyers junior Harry Baker-Connick hit the post in a futile bid to cut into the deficit, the Rangers made it 6-2 with 1:08 to go before halftime, as Zambello won a ground ball behind the goal and fed Adams, who beat Waynflete junior goalie Graham Ratner.
In the first 24 minutes, Belisle won six of 10 faceoffs and Greely had a 19-18 shots advantage, but the Rangers were about to explode.
After Doree denied a Cleaves bid to pull the Flyers closer early in the third quarter, the Rangers embarked on target practice on Ratner and the goals came fast and furious.
First, with 7:28 left in the third period, Peck scored an unassisted goal.
Only 38 seconds later, junior Sam Doolittle got in the scoring column, unassisted.
With 6:07 showing, Mullin scored unassisted and the lead was 9-2.
Just over a minute later, Zambello set up Adams to get Greely into double digits.
"We just came together as a team and we wanted it," Adams said. "We moved the ball and tired them out. We got easy lanes. They ball-watched a lot. It was fun."
With 4:32 to go, Mullin scored unassisted and 45 seconds later, sophomore Alex Kroot got in on the action with an unassisted goal for a 12-2 lead.
The Rangers weren't quite done, as Zambello's unassisted strike with 2:55 left in the third made it seven goals in a 4:41 span and Greely was firmly in control, up, 13-2.
"(Greely's) got a lot of depth and a lot of athletes who can run," said Waynflete coach Dan Thomsen. "They can win faceoffs and they have a lot of great transition players. That made us have to work harder. We were in it at halftime. We don't have numbers and ran out of gas a little bit, but hats off to Greely. They played great."
To its credit, Waynflete didn't permit a "mercy-rule" running clock (which happens when a team goes up by 12 or more goals).
With 47 seconds left in the third, Bollinger (from sophomore Willy Burdick) ended the Rangers' run and 11 seconds later, Cleaves scored unassisted, forcing Greely coach Mike Storey to call timeout.
It worked like a charm, as Belisle won the faceoff, raced in and fed Adams to make it 14-4 Greely after three periods.
The Rangers put up eight goals in the third period, a higher total than they scored in six games this spring.
"I knew that with the way their guys were getting tired out there, with a team that ran short numbers, if we came out really hard in the third quarter, that was our chance to seal the game," Storey said. "I did all I could to get them energized."
While the final quarter was academic, there was a lot of action.
After sophomore Aaron Lee scored an unassisted goal for the Flyers, Adams (from sophomore Sam Peck) and Doolittle (unassisted) answered to make it 16-5.
Chap scored an unassisted goal for Waynflete, but Mullin (from junior Connor Wyman) countered with 6:06 left for a 17-6 lead.
Baker-Connick and Cleaves then scored unassisted goals for the Flyers, but Zambello scored unassisted and Zambello set up senior Calvin Stroud to make it 19-8.
Cleaves scored one final goal in his stellar career, underhanded no less, with 2:08 left, but 50 seconds later, Doolittle brought the curtain down on Greely's 20-9 triumph with an unassisted tally.
"This felt really good," said Belisle. "I hadn't won a playoff game. We knew they were still in it at halftime, so we had to go out there and put in more. Teams think we rely on one player, but anyone out there is a threat and we proved that today."
"We brushed (our Kennebunk loss) off and wanted to come into the playoffs working hard," said Adams. "I thought we handled them well."
"It's great for the program," Storey added. "We're climbing and we're getting in the mix. I want to play at a high level game after game. We executed very well. We knew what we wanted to do."
The Rangers had eight different players in all tickle the twine, as Adams had five goals, Mullin four, Doolittle and Zambello three each, Will Peck two and Beisle, Kroot and Stroud one apiece.
Zambello also had four assists, while Kroot, Sam Peck and Wyman all had one.
Doree made 16 big saves.
"Griffin's coming off a game against Kennebunk he's not too proud of," Storey said. "I think it was important for him to step up and play hard. He's been a constant for us. He's so dependable."
Greely, not surprisingly, had a big edge statistically.
The Rangers won 24 of 33 faceoffs, thanks in large part to Belisle taking 18 of 23 opportunities.
"I try to read what the wing players are doing," Belisle said. "They played hip to hip with my players, so I moved the ball and tried to push it forward. When they didn't do that, I'd pull it back. That worked really well today."
"Gabe did really well," Adams said. "He doesn't let up."
"We believe in Gabe," Storey added. "He did a great job. He was quick off the whistle. We got a lot of possession right off the faceoff. We knew Waynflete was good at ground balls and we wanted to get possession."
Greely had a 54-40 advantage on ground balls, as Belisle had a game-high 11 and senior Harry Shain (who helped hold Cleaves at bay) collected 10.
"We liked the matchup we had with Shain on (Cleaves)," Storey said. "With a good player like that, you never stop them or shut them down, but you can limit their production. We did a great job keeping his production really low."
The Rangers committed 28 turnovers, but outshot the Flyers, 44-34 (27-25 on cage).
Step in the right direction
Waynflete got five goals from Cleaves and one apiece from Baker-Connick, Bollinger, Chap and Lee. Bollinger had the team's lone assist. Baker-Connick had a team-high six ground balls, while Bollinger grabbed five. Ratner made seven saves and the Flyers turned the ball over 16 times.
Waynflete went from a team which lost by 14 goals at Cape Elizabeth in the opener to one which closed the regular season red-hot.
"I feel like we have come a long way, certainly from that first game at Cape," Thomsen said. "We had some great wins. I'm really proud of how hard the guys worked."
The Flyers lose five seniors, most notably Bollinger and Cleaves.
"Henry and Timmy were certainly our goal scorers and we'll miss them for sure," Thomsen said. "One guy who doesn't get a lot of credit but deserves it is Graham Chance, who anchored our low defense. We'll miss him a lot."
Waynflete expects to be a factor again in 2015.
"We want to get better every year and make improvements," said Thomsen "I like our sophomore class a lot and I look forward to next year."
Off to Cape
Now, Greely faces the daunting task of going to Cape Elizabeth, which it lost to during the regular season and has had absolutely no success against historically (the Capers have taken all seven prior playoff meetings).
While they'll be a heavy underdog, the Rangers will give their all and hope to produce a stunner.
"I have all the confidence in the world," Adams said. "I trust my teammates. We're a closely-knit team. If we want it, we can win. We're going to do well.""
"I can't wait to play Cape," said Belisle. "Our offense fell apart in the first game against them. We have to keep going and be a four quarter team. That's what we're striving to be and I think we can do it this time. I have a lot of confidence."
"We have a great opportunity Saturday," Storey added. "Cape's a tough team. They're undefeated and they're really seasoned. They always grind and work hard for four quarters. We'll do our best to get prepared. We look forward to it."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.
Previous Greely-Waynflete playoff results
2005 West Region preliminary round
Waynflete 11 Greely 8
2003 West Region quarterfinals
Waynflete 8 Greely 5