Waynflete dominates Falmouth for 13th straight win
PORTLAND—After sitting idly for a week, then facing a visit from the team which has played it tougher than any the past couple seasons, the Waynflete girls' lacrosse team could have been ripe for an upset loss Tuesday afternoon at Fore River Fields.
Instead, the Flyers went out and demonstrated (once again), just how powerful and special they are.
Hosting Falmouth, which won on Waynflete's field a year ago, becoming the last team to beat the Flyers in the process, the defending Class B state champions came out and ended this one by halftime.
Junior Leigh Fernandez and senior Isabel Agnew, not normally the Flyers' top scoring threats, scored goals in the first three minutes and Waynflete didn't look back.
By halftime, the Flyers had a 9-2 advantage and when junior Ella Millard scored with 16:17 to play, the clock was running and Waynflete went on to a stunningly easy 16-3 triumph.
Millard and senior Martha Veroneau both scored four times, while Agnew and senior Sadie Cole added three goals each as the Flyers improved to 9-0 with their 13th straight win and dropped the Yachtsmen to 6-4 in the process.
"We surprised ourselves," said Millard. "I think (the time off had) the opposite effect. We wanted to play so badly. We hadn't played since (last Monday). We were really excited to play this game. It feels like we're just doing our thing. We love playing with each other. That's the most important thing to us. Whether people on the outside think it looks good or not, it doesn't matter."
Falmouth has played Waynflete as well as anyone the past few seasons and beat the Flyers for the first time in program history last spring, in Portland, 13-10. The teams met again in an epic Western B semifinal and Waynflete turned the tables, 10-9, en route to the state title.
In all, the Flyers have won 16 of 17 meetings (see sidebar, below), but Waynflete barely managed to escape host Falmouth back on May 3, 10-8, in the most recent encounter.
The Flyers have been very impressive in winning their first eight contests. Waynflete 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 their close call at Falmouth, they won, 13-7, over visiting Freeport in a state game rematch. Waynflete then went to Greely and jumped to a quick 3-1 lead, but 12 minutes in, the game was called by inclement weather (it will be resumed May 30). The Flyers then beat visiting Cape Elizabeth for the 21st straight time, 8-4, last Monday, in their most recent action.
Falmouth, meanwhile, began with an impressive 16-7 home win over Yarmouth, then was humbled by visiting Cape Elizabeth, 18-5, before bouncing back with a stirring rally to edge visiting Marshwood, 11-10. After holding on for a hard-fought 11-8 victory at Yarmouth, the Yachtsmen gave visiting Waynflete a scare but fell, 10-8. An 18-3 win at Fryeburg followed. Last Tuesday, Falmouth lost at surprising York, 9-6. The Yachtsmen bounced back with a 20-9 home win over Wells and triumphed at Kennebunk, 14-8.
Tuesday, Waynflete blitzed Falmouth from the start.
Just 87 seconds in, Fernandez took a pass from Veroneau and finished to put the Flyers ahead to stay.
Agnew scored her first goal with 22:31 to play before halftime (junior Cat Johnson had the assist).
Forty-six seconds later, Agnew fed Cole for a transition goal and Waynflete had a 3-0 advantage.
"We came out strong today because we were looking forward to being in a game," Veroneau said. "We were pumped up to have a game against a strong team."
Falmouth answered with 20:57 left in the half when senior Alex Bernier (who had five assists in the first meeting) set up junior Sabrina Smithwick for a goal, but Agnew scored on a free position 70 seconds later and after Cole hit the post with a shot, Cole fed Veroneau for a goal at 13:16. When Millard scored her first goal 26 seconds later, the lead was up to 6-1 and Yachtsmen coach Robin Haley had to call timeout.
It didn't help as senior Molly Ryan had a free position attempt turned aside by Waynflete senior goalie Katherine Torrey and at the other end, Veroneau scored unassisted to make it 7-1 with 11:38 left in the half.
Bernier set up senior Angie Mallis for a goal 58 seconds later, but Millard pushed the lead back to six after taking a pass in front and leaving the Falmouth defense helpless with some nice moves before shooting past Yachtsmen freshman goalie Sarah Hutcheon.
"It was just an instinctive thing," said Millard. "Nine times out of 10 it probably wouldn't have worked, but it did today."
A free position goal from Veroneau gave the Flyers a 9-2 advantage at halftime.
In the first half, Falmouth won seven of 12 draws, but the hosts had a big edge in ground balls, shots and of course, goals.
Waynflete was mindful of the Yachtsmen's ability to rally (Falmouth came back from down, 5-1, to tie the first meeting) and quickly ended all doubt in the second half.
After several scoreless minuets, playing shorthanded, Cole set up junior Sofia Canning for a goal and a 10-2 lead with 18:38 to go.
Two minutes later, Fernandez found Cole for a score and with 16:17 to play, Millard finished a Fernandez feed and the clock (due to the mercy rule) did not stop.
"Falmouth's a second half team, so we had a very focused halftime," Millard said. "Coming back isn't unheard of from that at all. They're a very strong team."
"We talked at halftime about them catching up," Waynflete coach Cathie Connors said. "They have good athletes, they're well coached. Anything can happen."
Off the ensuing draw, Veroneau collected the ground ball, raced in and scored and with 12:20 to go, Agnew batted home a rebound to make it 14-2.
Falmouth scored its final goal with 8:35 to play, as Bernier set up Smithwick for a shot Torrey couldn't deny, but Millard's final goal (from Cole at 3:43) and a Cole tally (from Millard with 1:21 left) brought the curtain down on the 16-3 domination.
"It was nice to look up at the scoreboard and see we handled such a successful and well-coached program by that many goals," Veroneau said. "On the field, I didn't notice that much of a difference. We remembered last year. They were the last team we've lost to. We had the fire to come out and show them it's our homefield and we can play a beautiful game here."
"Having all that time off worried me," Connors said. "It's great to have practice, but you have to be able to put things into play and see how it works. We worked a ton on the draw and ground balls. I think that paid off today. I was pleased to see that. Everybody did their job."
Even though it's playing without junior standout Walker Foehl, who was unavailable for a second straight game, Waynflete's offense produced and showed balance in doing so.
Millard and Veroneau led the way with four goals each. Agnew and Cole both had three goals and Canning and Fernandez each tickled the twine once. Cole had three assists, Fernandez two and Agnew, Johnson and Veroneau one apiece.
"I think we came together as a team," Millard said. "Our chemistry off the field has come together and that definitely shows on the field. We're missing Walker on offense, so having that hole there makes everyone work harder and want to do it for her."
"We came out and showed we're not a one-man show," Veroneau said. "Everyone on the team had a role in our success today. Everybody was our best player today. That's why we've been successful and that's why we'll hopefully be successful in the weeks to come. The entire program is so close. We have fun. We come out to forget about everything in our lives and just play lacrosse. We're all best friends. It's like a family."
Torrey made five saves.
The Flyers' biggest statistical edge came in the draw circle, where they were successful in 12 of 21 opportunities (Ryan won 12 of 20 in the first meeting). Veroneau won seven of 11 chances and Cole five of nine.
"We've practiced draws a lot," Veroneau said. "That can win or lose games for us. Possession is crucial, getting ground balls, balls in the air. Cathie's made us work on those things."
"We put time in this week on the draws," said Connors. "Sadie and Martha and everyone on the circle did a great job."
Waynflete had a commanding 57-36 advantage in ground balls (Veroneau led all players with 14, Fernandez had eight, Cole and Johnson seven apiece and Agnew and senior defensive standout Rhiannan Jackson six each).
The Flyers only turned the ball over nine times and outshot the Yachtsmen, 39-11 (31-8 on cage).
Falmouth got two goals from Smithwick and one from Mallis. Bernier assisted on all three. Hutcheon made 15 saves. Ryan led the team with 11 ground balls. The Yachtsmen only turned the ball over 15 times, but never were truly in the game.
"This one stings," Haley said. "It started bad and got worse. There's a reason why Waynflete is undefeated. They're very, very fast and powerful and it showed. They dominated. We couldn't get our engine started. You have to do that from the get-go."
Tough tests remain
Falmouth (fourth in the Western B Heals) has another tough road game next Tuesday, when it goes to Cape Elizabeth. The Yachtsmen close the season at NYA May 31.
Waynflete is right back at it Wednesday afternoon when Yarmouth comes to Fore River Fields on Senior Day.
"The seniors know we have just three games left in our high school careers," Veroneau said. "It's bittersweet. Graduation's coming up. We realize we'll never have these opportunities again, so we're making the most of it. This is a nice win, but Yarmouth will be tough. They beat Cape. They were competitive when we played them. Their defense was great. We're excited to come back tomorrow and have a strong game."
"(The girls are) ready for tomorrow," Connors said. "It's our Senior Day. We have seven of them. It will be emotional, then it will be fine."
The Flyers (who have a commanding lead in the standings) have a compelling interclass showdown at Eastern A power Cheverus Tuesday and close with the Greely makeup the following day.
As hard as it may be to fathom, Waynflete knows it can (and knows it needs to) get better.
"We have a lot to work on," Millard said. "We're not there yet. We're keeping focused for the next three games."
"We can still improve on every aspect of our game," said Veroneau. "It's important for us all to play any role we can on offense, defense or in the midfield. We have to work as a team and as individuals to get better."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.
Recent Waynflete-Falmouth results
Waynflete 18 @ Falmouth 10
Waynflete 12 @ Falmouth 8
@ Waynflete 10 Falmouth 2
@ Waynflete 9 Falmouth 2
Waynflete 12 @ Falmouth 1
@ Waynflete 13 Falmouth 0
Waynflete 14 @ Falmouth 3
Waynflete 13 @ Falmouth 4