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Waynflete soccer teams reach regional finals

Sports

Waynflete soccer teams reach regional finals

(Ed. Note: For the complete Waynflete-NYA boys' and Waynflete-Lisbon girls' game stories, with additional photos, please visit theforecaster.net)

The Waynflete boys' and girls' soccer teams are the last ones standing from the city of Portland and will take part in the regional finals Wednesday afternoon.

While the Flyers were able to stay alive, the Cheverus girls and Deering and Portland boys weren't as fortunate.

Still soaring

The Waynflete boys were a solid 10-2-2 in the regular season and earned the No. 3 seed in Western Class C. The Flyers reward for that high ranking was having to play rival North Yarmouth Academy, seeded sixth, in the quarterfinals last Wednesday.

As it turned out, Waynflete was never even tested and got the jump just over five minutes in as Paul Runyambo threw the ball in from the side into the box, where Mohammed Suja leaped and flicked a header past Panthers goalkeeper Cam Spear and into the net.

"Whenever there's a big throw, Paul tells me to get in there and try to flick it in," Suja said. "We've practiced finishing all week. That's all we've done. I guess it paid off."

With 30:05 left in the half, Clancy Mitchell scored on a rebound after Spear couldn't handle Runyambo's throw and it was 2-0.

Goal number three came with 15:51 left in the half when Henry Cleaves' throw in was tipped by Spear, but the ball sat loose for Elyse Bayizere to ram home.

It took only 23 seconds for the Flyers to make it 4-0 as Cleaves followed his own shot, which was saved, and tucked it home.

With 6:32 showing, Waynflete went up 5-0, thanks to a tremendous individual effort by Peabo Knoth, one of the state's elite players. Knoth took a long punt from goalkeeper Zander Majercik, fought his way through three NYA defenders and finished, getting in the scoring column, while registering an assist for his keeper in the process.

Knoth set up Kevin Kanakan for a goal and a 6-0 lead with 31:27 remaining in regulation. That play saw Knoth put his dribbling skills on display, draw a pair of defenders, then pass to a wide open Kanakan on the left wing, who shot past Spear.

"Teams focus on Peabo, but we have so many offensive threats," said Suja.

NYA finally got on the board with 18:18 left when senior Jacob Scammon took a pass in the box, momentarily hesitated to settle the ball, then shot past Majercik to make it 6-1.

With 3:59 to play, Flyers freshman Abel Alemayo got to a bouncer in the box and headed it into the goal to account for the 7-1 final score.

"The kids did a great job of finishing today," said Waynflete coach Brandon Salway. "That's been missing. We haven't been too concerned with the 18 to 18, but we worked on finishing and it paid off today. We weren't expecting this result with NYA. It always seems like we meet each other eventually."

The Flyers went to No. 2 St. Dom's for the semifinals Saturday and had a much more difficult time, but managed to advance in the sixth all-time playoff meeting between the schools.

Waynflete fell behind just 8:39 into the game, but rallied in the second half. The Flyers got a goal from Suja midway through the second half and the game-winner with 7:49 left from Mitchell.

“I saw Peabo go toward the goal,” said Mitchell. “So I wanted to get outside of him. He did a little toe tap right to me. I looked up at the goal and saw the far post was open. I tried my best to put it back there.”

St. Dom’s made a desperate attempt to tie it in the final seconds, but defender Max Belleau blocked a shot. Then in the final minute, Majercik made a save.

Waynflete outshot the Saints, 15-5, but struggled to put shots away early.

“I didn’t think we were going to panic,” said Salway. “I was hoping we were going to wake up. We didn’t have the life we usually do. They came out better than we did and put one in early and that put us on our heels. We were in a funk for awhile and I give credit to them for that.”

Waynflete is one win away from having an opportunity to defend its championship. The Flyers go to No. 1 Hall-Dale ((15-0-1) for the regional final Wednesday afternoon. The teams don't play in the regular season. Last fall, in the lone previous playoff meeting between the schools, Waynflete had to go to penalty kicks to survive the Bulldogs in the semifinals.

"Hall-Dale has outscored their opponents, 103-4, and they have three players that have combined for about 75 goals, so we will have to be sharp defensively," Salway said. "Last year, they gave us everything we could handle, we had to be spectacular in our PKs just to advance. They are the higher seed and have not lost a game, so we'll have to play well and come out strong if we are going to get back to the state game."

If the Flyers make it back to the state final, they'll play either Houlton (13-2-1) or Orono (9-6-2) Saturday at 10 a.m. at Scarborough High School. Last year, Waynflete beat Houlton, 2-1, in overtime.

Waynflete's girls went 8-2-4 in the regular season and went into the Western C playoffs as the No. 4 seed.

The Flyers hosted No. 5 Wiscasset in the quarterfinals and survived, 2-1, behind goals from Esme Benson and Isabel Agnew.

Friday, in the semifinals at top-ranked Lisbon, in the first ever postseason meeting between the schools, Waynflete did it again, but not before surviving some harrowing early moments.

Just 47 seconds in, Lisbon's Kayla Angelico split two defenders and raced in alone on Waynflete goalkeeper Juliana Harwood. Harwood came out to cut off the angle and when Angelico shot, Harwood managed to deny it point blank to prevent Waynflete from falling into an early hole.

"The big part of goalkeeping and what I've been working on the past two years is reacting and not thinking," Harwood said. "I just try to stay upright as much as possible, but I knew I had to go down. I knew I had to take up as much space as possible. For me, once I touch the ball the first time, I know I can do it. That touch on the ball was definitely better than other ones."

"Juliana stood on her head, no doubt about it," said Waynflete coach Todd Dominski.

The Greyhounds kept the pressure on and the Flyers dodged several more bullets before finally sustaining possession and turning the momentum.

The second half was almost all Waynflete, but it took nearly 20 minutes before the Flyers finally got on the board.

The winning goal was set up by Sofia Canning, who fed Walker Foehl on the right wing. Foehl played the ball in, then crossed it to Sadie Cole and all Cole had to do was guide the ball in to the goal, in this case with her stomach, and the Flyers had a 1-0 lead.

"Walker crossed it and I just happened to be at the right place at the right time," said Cole. "We work a lot on crosses and getting to (the ball) before it bounces. Walker's a huge part of the offense. She has one of the best crosses in the state."

"We knew it would come at some point," said Foehl. "We had the ball locked in their half. Sofia threaded it through and I crossed it to Sadie and she was attacking the box. We got really pumped."

After taking nearly 60 minutes to score, the Flyers would tack on three more goals in the next 12 minutes, 30 seconds.

Arianna Giguere gave Waynflete some breathing room with 15:12 to play as she took a pass from Foehl and one-timed a blast into the net.

With 11:36 remaining, Foehl got in the scoring act herself, booming a 25-yard free kick into the net to make it 3-0.

"I work on free kicks a lot," Foehl said. "It was a perfect distance for me."

Then, with 8:18 to go, Marijke Rowse delivered a strike nearly identical to Foehl's, this one from slightly closer, and that pushed the lead to 4-0.

The Flyers ran out the clock from there and celebrated a great team win.

"We really settled down and figured out how to play against this team that we hadn't played against before," Harwood said. "We were able to work it up the field."

"I think we were more pumped," said defender Rhiannan Jackson. "We really wanted to win. Once we got a goal we knew we could do it and we kept doing it."

"We were getting closer and closer and we finally got Sadie to attack that ball in the box and it seemed like things opened up a little bit," Dominski added. "We loosened up a little bit and put a few more home."

Waynflete advanced to face No. 2 St. Dom's (14-1-1) in the regional final Wednesday. The Flyers earned a chance to avenge last year's painful overtime loss to the Saints in the Western C Final.

"I'm pretty excited," Harwood said. "A lot of us played in (last year's loss). We were not happy with it. It's nice to get another chance."

"I think that we're more pumped than we've ever been because we've lost in the regional final," Jackson said. "This is our chance to show what we're made of."

"I think we'll prepare the way we normally do," Dominski added. "We'll go in and do what we need to do. If we compete, we'll come out with a good result. We'll take as long a season as we can. They're a great group of kids."

If Waynflete makes it to the state final, to be contested at Scarborough High School, Saturday at 12:30 p.m., it will meet either Ft. Kent (12-3-1) or Orono (11-3-2). The Flyers have never played Fort Kent. They handled Orono, 4-1, in the 2008 state game.

Wait til' next year

In the Western A girls' tournament, Cheverus was ranked ninth after a 9-5 regular season and after upsetting No. 8 Deering in the preliminary round, the Stags went to top-ranked Windham for the quarterfinals last Tuesday and almost did it again.

After a scoreless first half, the Eagles went on top on a penalty kick, but Sadie Lyons pulled Cheverus even and after both Lyons and Abby Maker hit the post with chances to give the Stags the lead, the teams played two 15-minute overtimes without resolution, sending the game to penalty kicks.

There, Cheverus had three of its five shots saved and Windham made three to end the Stags' season with a 2-1 (3-2 PK) decision. Cheverus finished the year 10-6.

"We played very well against Windham and could have won both at the end of regular time and then during the first overtime, which we dominated," lamented Stags coach Dan LaVallee. "We had a little trouble at the end of the first half, but played them very evenly throughout the game. Penalties are like flipping a coin and we got tails.

"Our regular season was inconsistent with good wins against Sanford during the regular season and Deering in the playoffs, but we let some games get away from us during the season. We scored a lot of goals but gave too many away towards the end of the season. Having said all that, we did play some of our best soccer during the playoffs when teams need to.

"We are losing nine great seniors and they will be very tough to replace. Again, we'll get our goals with Abby Maker and Sadie Lyons, but we'll have to do quite a bit of building in the midfield. With Abby Goodrich and Nicole Pineau (both sophomores) returning, we'll have a good defense, but we'll also need to replace our goalie (Mikayla Mayberry)."

On the boys' side, fifth-ranked Deering had survived No. 12 Cheverus in penalty kicks in its preliminary round game. Wednesday, in the quarterfinals at No. 4 Kennebunk, the Rams had to go to PKs again after Stephen Ochan tied the game, 1-1, late in regulation. Two overtimes settled nothing and it was on to kicks, where only Ochan converted, while Kennebunk made four to advance and ended Deering's year at 9-4-3.

"Our game against could have gone either way, but ultimately there needs to be a winner," said Rams coach Joel Costigan. "It was probably the most exciting high school soccer game I witnessed all year. Probably Deering's best played game all season. We witnessed two of the elite goal keepers in the league making one nail biting save after another. Unfortunately, John Burns of Kennebunk saved his best for last, stopping two PKs for the win and to advance to the next round.

"Our season as a whole was a success, but still not good enough. The season was probably highlighted by our win over (defending Class A champion) Windham, but we had two or three ties throughout the year that could have been wins and that would have secured us as a top four finisher. Some mental mistakes and discipline issues, however, kept us from that mark. But, ultimately, we were able to improve our play with every game throughout the season.

"Next year looks promising again, We lose a few impact seniors, but gain a year of experience and growth and a strong underclass that should make an immediate impact. We lose some speed, but will make up for it in skill and team chemistry. Most importantly, our top offensive players will be returning. Stephen Ochan, David Bujambi, Jonathan Bujambi and Ben Peterson will continue to solidify the middle of the field and we anticipate great contributions from players like Matthew Alvarez and Qutaiba Hassoon. Look for Deering to return to the playoffs and to again challenge the league as one of the top teams in the SMAA."

Portland overcame a 2-7-1 start to earn the 10th seed in Western A, then upset No. 7 Windham, the reigning state champion, 2-1, in double overtime, in the preliminary round to earn a quarterfinal round date at No. 2 Scarborough last Wednesday.

There, the Bulldogs met their match.

Scarborough got the only goal it would need 2 minutes, 34 seconds in, added a second midway through the first half, then iced it with a second half goal to win, 3-0, ending Portland's year at 7-8-1.

"Scarborough, technically and tactically, they know how to play the game so well," said Portland coach Rocky Frenzilli. "They take advantage of space. They got that second goal and that was it, but my guys never quit.

"I'm so proud and so happy of what the guys were able to accomplish. When they look back, they'll reflect on it. To have (seniors) Chip Weber and Tim Rovnak as bookends and watch the kids grow was a pleasure to behold. They led these kids through. They never quit. They were tenacious and hard working. They were the program this year. I couldn't be prouder of two kids and what they were able to accomplish. It was a fun ride. They deserved it."

Portland will be a force to be reckoned with in 2013.

"We'll come back bigger and better next year, I hope," Frenzilli said. "I think we'll be in a better place to start next year. These kids got some experience. If we could start next week, I'd be ready for it because that's what kind of group this is."

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.