Waynflete nears perfect season after win at Cheverus
PORTLAND—Cheverus' girls' lacrosse team has emerged as one of the state's top powers this spring, but the Stags hadn't seen anything like the green and white juggernaut that descended upon Boulos Stadium Tuesday afternoon.
Undefeated Waynflete put its unstoppable show on display and even Cheverus' potent offense had no answer.
The Flyers blew open a close game late in the first half, as senior scoring machine Sadie Cole had three goals and three assists as Waynflete took a 6-1 lead to the break.
Even more impressive, Waynflete's defense held the Stags without a goal for nearly 27 minutes and the Flyers never looked back, leading by as many as seven en route to an 11-5 victory.
Cole outscored Cheverus by herself, finishing with seven goals and senior goalie Katherine Torrey continued to demonstrate why she has no peer in clutch spots, making nine saves, several of them key in the second half, as Waynflete improved to 11-0, made it 15 straight wins and ended the Stags' regular season at 9-3.
"This was one of our biggest games of the season," Cole said. "Cheverus is a really good team. I have a lot of respect for them not giving up. They're a young, feisty team."
Late season test
Cheverus and Waynflete have been among the top teams all spring.
The Stags dropped a marathon 7-6 (four overtime) decision to visiting Massabesic to start the year, then put it all together for a program-best eight game win streak, downing host McAuley (18-5), host Portland (9-7), visiting Deering (14-1), visiting Marshwood (13-10), host Scarborough (a 9-7 overtime epic), visiting Windham (15-6), host North Yarmouth Academy (17-6) and host Kennebunk (13-6) before finally suffering a loss, 5-3, at Thornton Academy. Cheverus got right back in the win column last Thursday, holding off visiting Gorham, 14-12.
The Flyers 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 a close call at Falmouth, 10-8, 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 suspended by inclement weather. The Flyers then beat visiting Cape Elizabeth for the 21st straight time, 8-4, before handling Falmouth from start-to-finish in a stunning-in-its-decisiveness 16-3 home triumph and downing visiting Yarmouth on Senior Day, 16-10.
Cheverus actually had the early upper hand in this rivalry, when it beat Waynflete, 9-8, in the 2007 regular season, then stunned the then-four time defending regional champion Flyers in the Western B semifinals, 12-6, later that season.
Since then, however, it's been all Waynflete, which came into Tuesday's game having beaten the Stags five straight times, by a composite 70-18 margin.
This time around, it was closer, but the Flyers again carried the day.
Cole set the tone 1 minute, 47 seconds in, when she took a pass from senior Martha Veroneau and beat Cheverus sophomore goalie Hope Correia for a 1-0 lead.
The Stags tied the score, 1-1, when junior Meredith Willard set up classmate Alex Logan for a goal with 19:47 to go in the half, but that would be the hosts' highwater mark.
Cole helped put Waynflete ahead to stay 52 seconds later, when she passed to junior Ella Millard for a goal and a 2-1 lead.
Cole assisted on yet another goal, this one by junior Cat Johnson, with 16:18 remaining to make it 3-1.
After Torrey made her first big save (and her only save of the first half), denying Logan in close, Cole split two defenders and finished to make it 4-1 with 10:19 left in the half, forcing Cheverus coach Jamie Chamberlain to call timeout.
It didn't stem the tide.
Late in the half, Cole set up Millard, then scored unassisted to give the Flyers a 6-1 advantage at halftime.
In the first 25 minutes, Waynflete won six of eight draws, had a 20-18 groundball advantage, an 11-2 edge in shots and forced 10 turnovers.
When Cole scored twice early in the second half (the first goal from Veroneau, the second from Millard), the lead was up to seven, 8-1, but the Stags never gave up.
With 18:04 remaining, Willard scored on a free position, snapping a stunning 26 minute, 43 second scoring drought and the Flyers' 7-0 run.
That got the Cheverus offense going and 24 seconds later, Willard found Logan for a goal to make it 8-3.
Waynflete stemmed the Stags' run with 16:02 to go when senior Isabel Agnew managed to bat home a loose ball to push the lead back to six.
With 15:13 remaining, Stags junior Elyse Caiazzo found senior Staci Swallow for a goal, but Torrey wouldn't let Cheverus draw closer, as she denied Swallow on a free position, then robbed Caiazzo with 12:31 left.
"I was seeing the ball well," Torrey said. "Once I save one and get into a swing, I'm out of my head and can focus on the game. I like to be tested. That's when I get more focused and energized."
Although the Stags tried, they never got closer than five goals and with 6:28 to go, Cole scored on a free position to make it 10-4.
After Torrey turned away a shot by Willard, Cole scored her final goal, unassisted and man-up, with 5:16 showing, giving the Flyers an 11-4 lead.
Caiazzo scored (from Willard) with 3:41 left, but Torrey made sure that was it, stopping Willard on a pair of free positions.
"Free positions are something we practice," Torrey said. "I just get ready in the goal and breathe."
Then, in the final minute, Torrey registered one final save, on a Logan free position, and Waynflete slammed the door on its 11-5 victory.
"This was huge for us," said Waynflete coach Cathie Connors, after her 247th career victory. "We wanted to see if we could play against their zone. We practice against ours, but it's not the same. I'm proud of the girls. We played well. They fought through."
Cole, who has always been a star player, has become absolutely transcendent this spring, and led all players with seven goals and three assists. She also won four of seven draws and led all players with nine ground balls.
"The midfielders came down and drew the defenders so I just had to pop it in," Cole said. "That was the biggest thing. I think someone has to step up and score goals. I realize the season is coming to an end. Playing on this team has been the biggest part of my high school career and I want to make the best of it."
"Sadie has always been super strong, but she's just a natural team leader this year," Connors said. "She knows when to get in there, but she's poised enough to know when to shoot and when not to. She's had some beautiful goals this season. Everyone on offense can shoot and she does a great job popping in there and putting it in the net."
Millard added a pair of goals, while Agnew and Johnson both tickled the twine once.
Veroneau had two assists and Millard one.
Torrey made nine saves and was at her best under pressure.
"Katherine was unreal," Cole said. "I can't believe how many saves she made against elite players on tough shots."
"Katherine makes the big saves," Connors said. "She's done that all along in big games. She had some incredible point blank saves that were crucial."
Waynflete had a 43-39 edge in ground balls, forced 21 turnovers while committing 18 and had a 22-17 advantage in shots (19-14 on cage).
Cheverus' offense featured two goals from Logan and one apiece from Caiazzo, Swallow and Willard. Willard also had three assists, while Caiazzo finished with one. Caiazzo had a team-high eight ground balls. Willard won seven and Logan five. Logan won 11 of 18 draws and Correia made eight saves.
"The first half, we were a step behind, on attack and defense," said Chamberlain, who served as Connors' assistant during the Flyers' undefeated 2005 championship season. "Being behind against Waynflete isn't a good position. We had points of the game where we were getting into a rhythm and other times when we didn't. You can't force things against their defense. Once we got behind, our attack was less tentative. That helped us get into a flow, but when we got good looks, Katherine made big saves. We had momentum, but she stepped up. We need consistency and to be sharp from the beginning.
"We had a lot of positives. We just have to put it together for 50 minutes. No one felt like we didn't have our chances or that we were dominated today. We gave them some easy goals. It could have been much closer. Some of our newer players have worked on their games. Staci had a nice cut and score today."
Cheverus matched the program's total of nine wins in a regular season (set in both 2006 and 2007).
"I'm pleased with the season," Chamberlain said. "We matched our best record."
If all goes well, both Cheverus and Waynflete will be celebrating state championships June 15 at Fitzpatrick Stadium, the Flyers for the umpteenth time and the Stags for the first, but each team has some heavy lifting to do before it can entertaining such thoughts of grandeur.
Cheverus projects to be second behind Messalonskee in the Eastern A Heal Points standings and will host a quarterfinal round game (likely against Mt. Ararat) a week from Wednesday.
The Stags feel they learned something from matching up with the best Tuesday and will carry that experience forward.
"I think the girls are ready," Chamberlain said. "They see it's there for the taking. They have motivation to come out and play better. It's always nice to be home, especially with finals and graduation coming up. To not have to get on a bus makes things easier. We know (our opponent will) be dangerous no matter their seeding. They have nothing to lose. We have to match that intensity."
Waynflete will look to cap its fifth all-time perfect regular season (1998, 2005, 2006 and 2009 were the others) when it completes a suspended game at Greely Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. (weather permitting). The game was interrupted by thunder and ultimately a driving rain storm May 9 with the Flyers leading, 3-1, a little more than 12 minutes in.
Waynflete hopes to finish business there, then looks to win yet another Class B title.
"We've played a lot of great teams this season," Torrey said. "We don't expect to win easily. We can never let that get in our heads. It hasn't been an easy season. We put everything into each game. The seniors know this is our last season. That gives us extra momentum for every game. We'll be ready for playoffs. It will be bittersweet, but I'm excited."
"I can't wait for playoffs," said Cole. "We like that downtime where we can keep working on things. Going undefeated is amazing, but it brings more pressure. Losing to Falmouth last year was the best thing to happen to us. I don't think we need another loss as long as we play as a team."
"I look forward to Greely," Connors added. "Going undefeated isn't a goal, but it's really nice. I think we're ready for the playoffs."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.
Previous Waynflete-Cheverus results
Waynflete 10 @ Cheverus 6
@ Waynflete 14 Cheverus 4
Waynflete 15 @ Cheverus 2
@ Waynflete 15 Cheverus 1
@ Cheverus 9 Waynflete 8
Western B semifinals
@ Cheverus 12 Waynflete 6