Waynflete girls off to regional final
PORTLAND—Waynflete senior Becky Smith entered Friday afternoon's Western Class C girls' soccer semifinal round game against Old Orchard Beach at Fore River Fields having scored 49 goals in her high school career.
Some were memorable, others timely, but they all paled in comparison to her 50th, which came in the game's 12th minute.
Smith gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead with a 30-yard left-footed blast and that would be it for scoring. Both teams had ample chances, but couldn't finish and the Waynflete defense, led by senior Madeline Agnew and junior Katherine Harwood, helped slam the door as the Flyers improved to 14-2 and punched their ticket for the regional final, at home against St. Dom's, either Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.
"It was an exciting day," Smith said. "I expected a battle. (Old Orchard Beach has) come a long way and so have we. The level's gone up for both teams. It was very intense. Both teams brought all they had. It was an exciting game for sure. I was impressed with the way they played."
Back and forth
Waynflete lost at home to Western B powerhouse York in the regular season opener, then won 12 of its next 13 contests, falling only at Western A contender Cape Elizabeth. As the No. 3 seed, the Flyers hosted No. 6 Hall-Dale in Tuesday's quarterfinal round and advanced with a 3-0 victory, thanks to goals from Smith, junior Sadie Cole and sophomore Ella Millard.
Waynflete then got a break when No. 7 Old Orchard Beach upset No. 2 Madison, 3-2, in overtime, meaning the Flyers got to stay home for the semifinals and host a team they beat, 5-3, in a shootout, Sept. 26 in Old Orchard Beach (they also downed the visiting Seagulls, 6-2, Sept. 12). The teams had no playoff history.
This time around, goals weren't plentiful, although chances were. In the end, Waynflete had just enough timely scoring and defense to advance.
The tone for the game was set by the Flyers in the first minute when they earned the first of their seven first half corner kicks (they had a 10-1 advantage for game). In the sixth minute, off another corner, junior Isabel Agnew's header went just wide of an open net. In the eighth minute, sophomore Walker Foehl sent a through ball to Millard, but Seagulls' junior goalkeeper Jaclyn MacDonald deflected the shot out of bounds.
With 28:54 left in the 40-minute first half, Waynflete got on the board.
After the Flyers transitioned from defense to offense, near midfield, Millard played the ball to Smith and the standout did the rest. Getting some breathing room, Smith rocketed a 30-yard shot that MacDonald had no chance to save. It tickled the twine and the hosts had a 1-0 lead.
"We all work together to (score)," Smith said. "The passes (my teammates) gave me were really good. Ella passed me the ball and I took a left-footed shot. I knew I hit it well."
"It was a great shot," said Waynflete coach Todd Dominski. "(Becky) can just do anything out there. She's got a great shot. She has the ability to set her teammates up. She sees the field well. She has all those attributes you look for. She doesn't try to overdo it. She opens lanes up for other people. Other teams focus on her and all of sudden, Walker's free and Sadie's free and Ella's free. That allows us to get the ball wide. She still scores her goals too. She's special."
The goal awakened the Seagulls and in the 15th minute, junior Olivia Dubois shot just wide. A little over a minute later, Dubois sent a header just wide.
The Flyers then looked to double their lead, but a shot from sophomore Sofia Canning in the box was blocked, a Cole shot was blocked into the side of the net and a Canning shot was saved by MacDonald.
With 11:34 to go before halftime, Old Orchard Beach freshman Abigail Dubois had a good look, but shot just wide. With 6:08 left, Isabel Agnew got to the ball just before the goalie, but MacDonald made the bang-bang save. Late in the half, Madeline Agnew cleared a loose ball from the box at the last second.
Good chances continued in the second half.
With 35:40 left in regulation, the Seagulls earned their first corner kick and it resulted in a loose ball in the box that Harwood had to clear. Seconds later, Abigail Dubois got to a free kick by junior Anna Foss and shot, but Flyers freshman goalkeeper Juliana Harwood made the save.
With 31:22 to go, Smith shot just wide. Three minutes later, a Smith header set up Millard on a rush. Millard then passed to Foehl, who got off a nice low shot, but MacDonald was able to make the save.
Old Orchard Beach then transitioned to offense and Abigail Dubois broke in, but the Waynflete goalie came out and kicked the ball away.
With 22:33 remaining, Smith's corner kick was on target and MacDonald had trouble corralling it before finally making the save.
In the 62nd minute, a rush by Foss forced Juliana Harwood to make a sprawling save.
At the other end, Millard had a good look from the wing, but MacDonald made the save.
With 14:38 showing on the clock, Katherine Harwood blocked a shot by Seagulls junior Jessica Derepentigny and Cole alertly cleared the rebound.
That would prove to be Old Orchard Beach's last, best chance to pull even.
A minute later, at the other end, the Flyers almost put the win on ice, but Millard couldn't quite get to Foehl's crossing shot before it went out of bounds, with MacDonald out of the play.
With 4:55 to play, Millard took a pass from Smith and broke in, but again MacDonald made the save.
With 1:30 showing, Madeline Agnew broke up Abigail Dubois' rush.
Then, with just 25 seconds left, Foss sent a long lead pass intended for Olivia Dubois, but Katherine Harwood stole the ball and Waynflete was able to run out the clock on its 1-0 win.
"(The Seagulls) were definitely coming hard in the second half," said Harwood. "It was pretty intense. We were expecting they'd come out harder and they did. It was a lot more in our half, which puts a lot of pressure on the defense. We knew (Old Orchard Beach junior Amy Twohig) was going to be difficult. She's good moving the ball through. We tried to stay on her and make sure everyone was marked."
"I thought there would be more scoring," Smith said. "Their goalie is very strong and stopped a lot of breakaways. The defense did a really good job today. They saved us in the end. They cleared all the balls. It was a tight game, but the defense came through."
"We had other opportunities we couldn't put away today, but give Old Orchard credit, they scrapped and played hard today," Dominski added. "I think both teams missed opportunities to put balls away. Katherine had a great game. They all did. We talked at the beginning of the season on focusing on getting behind the ball. Last year we didn't. Katherine's a captain and along with (Madeline Agnew) runs the show back there. I thought we covered well, won 50-50 balls and Katherine contained and made sure no one got behind her."
Old Orchard Beach's season ended at 11-6.
Eye on the prize
Waynflete, meanwhile, is two wins from its first state title since 2008.
The Flyers got another gift Friday when top-ranked Dirigo was upset by No. 4 St. Dom's, 2-1, in overtime. The Saints improved to 13-3 and will come to Waynflete for the regional final.
The Flyers don't play St. Dom's in the regular season. The teams have met twice previously in the playoffs with Waynflete winning both, 1-0 in the 2006 semifinals and 3-0 in the 2007 quarterfinals.
The stars are appear to be aligning for the Flyers.
"I think this group has it," said Smith, who was a freshman on the 2008 championship team. "We'll see how it goes, but this team has a lot of heart and I think we're going to come through. We definitely want to play here. We want to play into November."
"We do play a lot better on our home field," said Harwood. "I feel like we're working hard and doing what we need to do.""
"Obviously, every team's goal from the onset of the season is to go out and win a state title," Dominski added. "We've worked as hard as we can to put ourselves in this position."