Waynflete dazzles in romp over Kennebunk
PORTLAND—The Waynflete girls' lacrosse team will take a challenge wherever it can find one, so while the Flyers have yet to be tested on the field this spring, they are well aware of the attention being paid to their top rival and have taken it upon themselves to respond in kind.
While Cape Elizabeth was turning heads earlier in the week with a stunningly decisive victory at Falmouth, leading to the suggestion that the Capers are now the team to beat, the defending Class B champion Flyers let their own play do the talking Saturday afternoon in a romp of their own against a longtime rival.
All of Waynflete's weapons were on display against Kennebunk, as senior goalie Katherine Torrey made clutch saves when needed, which wasn't that often due to the Flyers' staunch defense, which is already in late-season form, and the offense was simply unstoppable.
Junior Walker Foehl put Waynflete ahead to stay 78 seconds in and senior Martha Veroneau then took over. The Miss Maine Basketball winner suggested that basketball might not even be her best sport as she scored three straight goals to open things up.
By halftime, the Flyers enjoyed an emphatic 10-0 lead, capped by a goal from junior Ella Millard as time expired, and from there, it was all over but the shouting.
The Waynflete juggernaut added five more goals in the second half as it ran roughshod on the Rams, going on to a 15-1 victory.
Veroneau had five goals, Foehl added four and the Flyers improved to 3-0, dropping Kennebunk to 2-1 in the process.
"I'm psyched and surprised," said longtime Waynflete coach Cathie Connors. "When you have seven seniors and seven juniors, eventually it kicks in. Today, it kicked in. We've worked on a lot of different things. Everything came together today."
Waynflete and Kennebunk have been fierce rivals dating back to last century, with the Flyers long playing the role of the Rams' nemesis.
Kennebunk did beat Waynflete in the 2002 regional semifinals, 7-6, but the Flyers eliminated the Rams in the regional final in 2004 (8-7, in a triple-overtime epic), 2005 (11-6) and 2006 (14-8).
Waynflete also downed Kennebunk in six straight regular season meetings from 2005 through 2010, before the Rams finally got the best of the Flyers in 2011, 12-10. Last spring, Waynflete held on for a 10-8 victory in Kennebunk.
The Rams began the 2013 season with an 8-7 win at Thornton Academy, then dominated visiting Portland, 16-5, Thursday.
With virtually everyone returning, Waynflete was viewed as a co-favorite with Cape Elizabeth this spring and wasn't tested in its first two outings, a 14-2 home win over Wells and a 17-5 victory at Yarmouth.
Saturday, for the first time in three tries, the home team in this series prevailed.
And it wasn't even close.
Flyers senior Sadie Cole set the tone by winning the opening draw and Foehl scored unassisted to break the ice.
Veroneau scored her first goal when she went top shelf past Kennebunk senior Elizabeth Stockbridge for an unassisted goal with 22:29 left in the first half.
Veroneau struck unassisted again with 20:58 remaining and added a free position goal with 15:31 left, forcing Rams coach Annie Barker to call timeout.
It didn't even begin to stem the tide as Veroneau set up Foehl for a goal at 14:26, which made the score 5-0.
Kennebunk had its chances to stem the tide, but each time, Torrey denied the Rams' bids, making five saves in the first half.
"Katherine made huge saves," Connors said. "It might have changed the complexion."
After nearly seven scoreless minutes, the Waynflete machine roared to life again as junior Leigh Fernandez set up senior Isabel Agnew for a transition goal, Veroneau fed Foehl for a goal and a 7-0 lead at 5:57, Veroneau scored unassisted 22 seconds later and with 4:24 left before halftime, Veroneau passed to Cole for yet another goal.
If that wasn't enough, the Flyers got possession in front of the Kennebunk goal after a Rams' player received a yellow card with two seconds left and Veroneau quickly passed to Millard, who scored a man-up goal just before the horn sounded to make it 10-0 at halftime.
In the first 25 minutes, Waynflete won seven of 10 draws, had a 25-13 advantage in ground balls, a 21-5 edge in shots and was paced by Veroneau, who had four goals, four assists, eight ground balls and also won four of five draws in a simply magnificent performance.
"Our transition and our offense, everything seems to be coming together early in the season," said Veroneau, who, as always, deflected praise to her teammates. "It promising for where we can be in June. Team chemistry, which is vital to success, is there as well."
Little changed in the second half, which featured a "mercy rule" running clock.
Foehl got the ball in the Flyers' zone and showed her speed and athleticism in racing two-thirds of the field before beating Stockbridge 47 seconds in for an 11-0 advantage.
The offense kept on coming as Foehl set up Cole at 21:37.
The Rams finally got on the board with 19:45 to play when freshman Carly Sandler scored on a free position, but Cole set up Fernandez a little over a minute later, Veroneau scored her final goal (unassisted) with 15:28 to play and with 5:56 remaining and Waynflete with several substitutes on the field, Agnew passed to sophomore Hannah Thompson-Greaves for the Flyers' 15th tally, which accounted for the 15-1 final score.
"We're really happy," Foehl said. "I feel like we did all the little things right and it came together. We have seven people who can put it in the net."
"Kennebunk's a really strong team," Veroneau said. "They have a lot of all-stars and a really good coach, but we came out today and knew it was our first real test. We wanted to come out and prove a point."
"We've worked on having patience on offense and really collapsing on defense," Connors added. "We did that. Kennebunk is really strong. I knew it could go from 10-0 to 10-10 in five minutes. Kennbunk's come back on us time and time again, so I wasn't counting on anything. Draws were huge for us. We were struggling, but today we pulled it off. Everybody did their job today. It's a great start. When we play like this, we win."
Waynflete was paced offensively by Veroneau's five goals and four assists. Foehl scored four times and had one assist. Cole had two goals, while Agnew, Fernandez, Millard and Thompson-Greaves all scored once.
Agnew, Cole and Fernandez also had assists.
Torrey made six saves.
Waynflete finished with a 12-5 advantage on draws, as Veroneau went 8 of 10 and Cole 4 of 7, completely dominated on ground balls (48-19, as Veroneau collected a dozen and Cole and Foehl each had five) and outshot Kennebunk, 32-9 (21-7 on cage).
Through it all, the Flyers only turned the ball over 10 times.
Hard to improve on that.
Kennebunk's goal came from Sandler.
That was it as Waynflete's defense, the program's longtime calling card, led by seniors Rhiannan Jackson, Jo Moore and Catherine Veroneau, completely stymied the Rams.
"Everyone knows where to slide," Foehl said. "We have a great crash. Everyone knows where everyone will be. If something different is thrown at us, we can adjust really well."
"It's really nice to see how our defense played," said Martha Veroneau. "Our crash worked really well and when we didn't get there, Katherine Torrey saved it every single time. Last year we came in and we had to do a whole new defense because we lost six or seven defenders. This year is so much easier. We have just one new player (junior Cat Thompson, a transfer from Mt. Ararat) and she jumped right in. We have Catherine back from (knee injuries which sidelined her sophomore and junior years)."
"We work a lot on defense," added Connors, who has created the storied zone defense that has left opposing offenses scratching their heads for years. "We work 60 percent of our practice on defense. Keeping our feet moving is huge. (The girls are) all athletes. They're not just lacrosse players."
Stockbridge made six saves. Senior Rose Bryant had a team-high five ground balls, but failed to score.
The Rams committed 15 turnovers.
While Kennebunk returns to action Tuesday at home against Westbrook, Waynflete faces a litmus test next week.
After going to Fryeburg Monday, the Flyers have a highly anticipated showdown at Cape Elizabeth Wednesday (in a makeup of the April 12 game which was supposed to mark the teams' mutual opener).
Debate over just who is the top team in the state will momentarily be put to rest in the first of likely three meetings over the next six weeks.
"We're definitely pumped," said Foehl, who beat the Capers with her "sudden victory" overtime goal last June. "It will be a great game. They're an incredibly strong team. We're excited."
"(The Capers) have a lot of star players," Veroneau said. "They're really good. It will be a tough match, but we're excited."
"We'll get tested Wednesday," Connors added.
Friday, Waynflete goes to Falmouth.
The Flyers are looking fabulous so far, but know they still have a lot of work still to do. April success is fine, but this powerhouse program measures itself in June glory.
"We can still work on everything," Veroneau said. "We want to improve on every area. Our transition and marking in the midfield can improve. Those are things we can hone in on.."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.
Recent Waynflete-Kennebunk history
Waynflete 11 @ Kennebunk 6
Waynflete 16 @ Kennebunk 5
@ Waynflete 5 Kennebunk 4
Waynflete 13 @ Kennebunk 5
Western B Final
@ Waynflete 14 Kennebunk 8
Waynflete 14 @ Kennebunk 3
Western Maine Final
@ Waynflete 11 Kennebunk 6
Western Maine Final
Waynflete 8 Kennebunk 7 (3 OT)