Deja vu (all over again): Waynflete downs Cape once more
PORTLAND—The spell/curse lives.
When the Waynflete girls' lacrosse team sees Cape Elizabeth on the other side of the field, everything still turns to gold, while the Capers are still trying to figure out why they can't beat the mighty Flyers.
Monday afternoon at Fore River Fields, Waynflete's poise, next-player-up mentality, opportunistic offense and utterly staunch defense carried the day once more in a 21st straight win over Cape Elizabeth, dating back over a decade.
This time around, it was a defensive struggle from the get-go, as 15 minutes elapsed before Flyers senior standout Martha Veroneau scored the game's first goal.
While the Capers momentarily pulled even on a free position goal from junior Hannah Newhall, Waynflete, playing without junior Walker Foehl, a Cape Elizabeth nemesis, who missed the game with illness, got three straight tallies from its dynamic senior scorer Sadie Cole to seize command.
Cape Elizabeth got within 4-3 on a goal from junior Liz Robinson early in the second half, but Cole set up junior Leigh Fernandez for a goal, scored twice more herself, then Veroneau delivered the dagger with 3:18 to go as the Flyers went on to an 8-4 victory.
Cole scored five times, Veroneau added two goals and the Waynflete defense stymied the Capers for 50 minutes as the Flyers improved to 8-0 with their 12th straight win, essentially locked up the top seed and homefield advantage for the upcoming playoffs and handed Cape Elizabeth's its third loss in five games to drop to the Capers to 5-3.
"It took us a little while to get our offensive rhythm down and everyone to figure out what their job was," said Waynflete coach Cathie Connors, who has now won 244 games in her unrivaled coaching career. "In the end, we played a full 50 minutes. We didn't slow down. We didn't let the fact we were missing (Walker) intimidate us. I'm proud of (the girls). They work hard. We pride ourselves on our defense."
A taste of June
After squaring off in one of the best regional finals ever contested last June, when Waynflete came from behind to win at Cape Elizabeth on Foehl's goal in the third overtime, 11-10, all eyes have been on the Capers and Flyers and they have lived up to preseason billing as the two top teams, although it hasn't come as easily for Cape Elizabeth as expected.
The Capers did open with an emphatic 18-5 victory at Falmouth, pulled away to beat visiting reigning Eastern B champion Freeport, 13-4, then won a crossover game at Gorham, 13-7, but their long-awaited crack at Waynflete resulted in a 10-8 home defeat, in a game Cape Elizabeth never led. After bouncing back with a 17-5 win at Wells, the Capers were stunned at home by Yarmouth Thursday (8-7) and had to rally to beat visiting three-time defending Class A champion Scarborough Friday (10-8).
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 its 10-8 win at Cape Elizabeth. A close call at Falmouth followed, but the Flyers prevailed again, 10-8. Last Tuesday, they won, 13-7, over visiting Freeport in a state game rematch and Thursday, Waynflete jumped to a quick 3-1 lead at Greely, but 12 minutes in, the game was called by inclement weather.
Entering Monday's contest, Waynflete had beaten the Capers 20 straight times (please see sidebar, below), dating back to Cape Elizabeth's 10-9 win at Waynflete, way back on May 4, 2002.
The Capers came to Fore River Fields (for the first time since a one-goal loss in the 2011 regional final), hungry and determined to end that drought, but once more, the Flyers had all the answers.
Waynflete could have seized control early, but Cape Elizabeth sophomore goalie Kate Bosworth kept the hosts off the board, denying Cole on a free position, Cole in front and junior Sofia Canning for good measure.
"Kate had a great first half," said Cape Elizabeth coach Jeff Perkins. "We talked about their tendencies before and told her to look for that and I think it made a difference for her. It was fun to watch her break out in a game like this."
The Capers' offense, meanwhile, was much more patient with the ball than it was in the first meeting, but simply couldn't get a good look against the Flyers' zone.
Finally, with 10 minutes to go in the first half, Veroneau eluded a defender, got a sliver of operating room and beat Bosworth to break the ice.
"I really wasn't sure when anyone was going to score," Cole said. "Both teams have such good defenses and Cape's goalie made some huge saves at the beginning."
After Cole's bid to double the lead was denied by Bosworth, Cape Elizabeth tied the score with 7:02 to play in the first half, when Newhall converted a free position shot.
Just 16 seconds later, Capers senior Talley Perkins, who will play at Boston University next year, was sent to the sidelines for two minutes with a yellow card.
On the ensuing free position, Veroneau eschewed a shot and instead spotted Cole, whose size and athleticism makes her almost impossible to defend, and Cole was no match for Bosworth, tickling the twine to put the Flyers ahead to stay with 6:42 to play before halftime.
Two minutes later, Cole scored on a free position and with 48 seconds remaining, Cole took a pass from Fernandez and finished for a 4-1 advantage.
But just when it looked like Waynflete would take the momentum to the break, Newhall won the ensuing draw, showed her unrivaled speed in racing in and beating Flyers senior goalie Katherine Torrey to make it a 4-2 contest at halftime.
In the first half, Waynflete had a 5-2 advantage on draws and a 13-6 shots differential, but the game was far from decided.
When Robinson took a pass from senior standout Lauren Steidl (who will play at Princeton next season) and beat Torrey four minutes into the second half, the Capers were down by just one and appeared poised to take control of the game, but with 19:45 left, Torrey robbed Newhall on a free position and momentum swung back the hosts' way.
With 17:13 showing, Cape Elizabeth sophomore Melissa Rudberg was issued a yellow card. For the third time, the Capers were shorthanded and for the second time, the Flyers made them pay as 12 seconds later, Cole found Fernandez wide open in front and Fernandez took her time shooting, getting Bosworth to commit before burying the shot for a 5-3 lead and a little breathing room.
Cape Elizabeth might have still carried the day, but Torrey made arguably the finest save of her four-year varsity career with 15:49 left. The big-game veteran found herself as the last line of defense in front of Capers junior Abby McInerney and when McInerney faked and rolled to her right, she appeared to have open net at which to shoot, but Torrey somehow managed to dive/sprawl to her left and stuff the shot.
Waynflete transitioned to offense and opened it up further when Cole took a pass from junior Ella Millard finished with 15:04 to play, making it 6-3 Flyers.
After McInerney missed a free position and both Veroneau and Newhall had goals waved off, Cole scored unassisted with 3:30 to play to make it 7-3.
Veroneau got control of the ensuing draw and as only she can, blew past the defense before firing past Bosworth to make it 8-3 with 3:18 remaining.
To its credit, Cape Elizabeth never quit and with 2:03 to play, Perkins took a pass from McInerney and finished. One last save from Torrey (on a Newhall free position), however, and the Capers were finished.
After trading turnovers, Waynflete got possession on a Fernandez ground ball and managed to run out the clock on its 8-4 victory.
"We don't have any secret weapons or anything," Cole said. "We just play as a team. I think the only opponent is really ourselves in games like these. Cape's obviously an amazing team, but we can't come in and get psyched out. We had to play the whole game, every minute. It felt close. They kept it interesting the whole time."
"We worked really hard today," Moore said. "(Cape's) always a really good opponent for us to play. They really match us. We had to work together as a team, because they are such a strong opponent. I knew we just had to keep our mental energy together. They started coming back in the last game. This time, we needed to keep our mental energy and we kept it there."
Despite being without a key offensive cog, the Flyers got the job done, thanks in large part to Cole, who, despite being the focal point of opposing defenses, seems to always come up huge in big games, scoring five times in this one.
"Sadie was huge today," Connors said. "Her poise and her calm presence on the field make a difference. She knows when to slow it down. She trusts her teammates."
Veroneau scored twice, while Fernandez also had a goal. Cole, Fernandez, Millard and Veroneau all had assists.
Waynflete won nine of 14 draws, as Veroneau went 6 of 8 and senior defensive standout Jo Moore 3 of 4. The Flyers also had a 40-36 ground ball advantage, as Veroneau led all players with a dozen. Moore and junior Cat Johnson, a transfer from Mt. Ararat, better known as a defensive player, but on this day, Foehl's replacement on offense, also collected six.
"Cat was ready to jump in," Connors said. "She's a lacrosse player. She can jump in anywhere on the field. She was a steady presence."
Waynflete held Cape Elizabeth's two Division I-bound standouts to a total of one goal and one assist.
"The defense was fantastic," Cole said. "I always feel so proud watching them. They stuff everyone. I don't know how it would be possible to score on them, honestly."
"We really work for each other," Moore said. "I'm such good friends with everyone. I know where they're going to be. I'm comfortable standing there knowing they'll have my back. My job is to be tall. I stand there and be tall and help everyone around me by talking.
"(Cape has) a good offense and it's hard to follow their cutters around. We did a good job being aware of where they were today. It was a struggle to keep them out. We were hoping the offense would eventually get good shots and they did."
Torrey made six saves, all of which were timely and pivotal.
"Our defense was exceptional today and Katherine was exceptional today," Connors said. "She came up with some huge saves. (Cape's) fast. We had to maintain our zone and keep straight up-and-down and play a clean, solid game."
Waynflete had a 20-15 shots advantage (17-10 on cage) and turned the ball over a respectable 16 times.
While the Capers received three yellow cards, the Flyers finished with none.
"We play a classy game and don't let (physical play) get in our heads," Cole said. "That's fostered through Cathie, Ross (Burdick), our athletic director, and the school. We don't work on checking in practice. It's hard in high school to get a good check, so we just play good defense and protect our teammates."
Cape Elizabeth's offense came from Newhall (two goals), Perkins and Robinson (one goal apiece). McInerney and Steidl had one assist each. Perkins led the Capers with eight ground balls, McInerney, Newhall and senior defensive standout Jane Coffrin all had four. Bosworth had nine saves. Cape Elizabeth turned the ball over just 14 times.
"(Waynflete's) a great team and (Cathie's) a phenomenal coach," Perkins said. "It's not like we lost to someone we shouldn't have lost to. (Waynflete's) a great program and they understand what they want to do. They try to prevent you from executing what you want to do. That's the way you win lacrosse games.
"(My girls) were loose today. They didn't have that look like, 'Oh my God, we're playing Waynflete,' like we did years ago. I thought we moved the ball well today, we passed the ball well today. We missed some of the stuff we wanted to do, but I know it's there. What we're looking for is different than what we've seen before, so it's hard. We'll keep pecking away and working hard and hopefully we'll get it done. We've still got a few things left in our hip pocket, but you have to execute those too."
See you in a month?
If Cape Elizabeth gets another crack at Waynflete this spring, it would come June 12 at Fore River Fields in the regional final. First, the Capers need to secure the No. 2 seed to guarantee themselves a home playoff game. Cape Elizabeth is home against Greely Friday. The Capers close the regular season by sandwiching trips to Fryeburg and Yarmouth around a home test versus Falmouth.
"Waynflete's job is to keep us under the hump and our job is to try to get over it," Perkins said. "We'll keep trying. We won't back down. The real one that counts is coming up, if we have a chance, but we have to get consistent the last four games and go into the playoffs on a high. I don't think we've hit our stride. Maybe we did in our first game against Falmouth, but we need to get back to that level. Greely's another scary game. They have awesome athletes. They line up athlete-to-athlete up and down the field. It will be fun to play that game. Falmouth and Yarmouth are left too. It just doesn't end."
The Flyers are clear that their goal is not an undefeated season, but they have managed to go all the way in unblemished fashion before (1998, 2005 and 2009).
The rest of the schedule is not easy. Waynflete is idle until next week, when it hosts Falmouth Tuesday and Yarmouth Wednesday.
"It's always a great game when we play Falmouth," Cole said. "They have a lot of talent. There's a lot of hype around Cape-Waynflete games, but I think Falmouth-Waynflete games are just as good."
After going to Eastern A power Cheverus May 28, the Flyers close with their makeup game at Greely May 29.
"It would be amazing to have homefield advantage and have the 1 seed, but every game is hard is in the playoffs," Cole said. "Going undefeated would be a great feeling, but it's added pressure."
"After last season, I felt like we could go up from where we were and we have," Moore said. "We've worked really hard to keep our game where it was."
"We have big games to come, which is great," Connors added. "Getting in the playoffs is the goal. Homefield advantage is good, but we're happy to play on any field. We don't talk about going undefeated at all."
Waynflete knows it might have to beat Cape Elizabeth a 22nd consecutive time to finish at the top of the heap once more.
"When that time comes, if we play them a third time, we'll be prepared for it," Connors said. "We won't talk about it until then."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.
Recent Waynflete-Cape Elizabeth history
Western B Final
Waynflete 11 @ Cape Elizabeth 10 (sudden victory OT)
Waynflete 13 @ Cape Elizabeth 6
Western B Final
@ Waynflete 8 Cape Elizabeth 7
Waynflete 11 @ Cape Elizabeth 7
Waynflete 11 @ Cape Elizabeth 2
Western B Final
@ Waynflete 9 Cape Elizabeth 5
@ Waynflete 15 Cape Elizabeth 5
Waynflete 16 @ Cape Elizabeth 1
Western B semifinals
@ Waynflete 11 Cape Elizabeth 1
Waynflete 18 @ Cape Elizabeth 7
@ Waynflete 15 Cape Elizabeth 7
Western B quarterfinals
@ Waynflete 13 Cape Elizabeth 3
@ Waynflete 11 Cape Elizabeth 6
Waynflete 7 @ Cape Elizabeth 1
@ Waynflete 11 Cape Elizabeth 6
@ Waynflete 11 Cape Elizabeth 5
Waynflete 9 @ Cape Elizabeth 8 (OT)
Waynflete 8 @ Cape Elizabeth 6
West Region semifinals
@ Waynflete 16 Cape Elizabeth 7
Cape Elizabeth 10 @ Waynflete 9