Waynflete girls ride fast start past NYA
PORTLAND—After struggling through 90 frustrating minutes and settling for a 1-1 tie at North Yarmouth Academy just over two weeks ago, the Waynflete girls' soccer team decided to make life easier on itself in the rematch Friday afternoon at Fore River Fields.
In a game pivotal for Heal Points and playoff positioning, the Flyers came out and seized control in the first five minutes, courtesy a pair of goals from sophomore Esme Benson.
Then, just before halftime, the hosts ended all doubt, as senior Ella Millard and freshman Beata Vest tickled the twine for a commanding 4-0 advantage.
Any Panthers' comeback hopes were dashed by a second Millard goal, with just over 23 minutes to play, and after NYA got on the board, courtesy its clutch scorer, sophomore Alex Wahlstrom, Waynflete ended all doubt when sophomore Meddy Smith scored on a rebound with just over six minutes to go.
The Flyers went on to a surprisingly convincing 6-1 victory, improved to 10-1-2 and ended the Panthers' best regular season since 2009 at 7-5-2.
"I think we've improved a lot," said Millard. "We've come together as a team a lot since we played them last time. We came out a little flat the last time we played them and today we talked about coming out with urgency."
While Waynflete, as the defending champion, was a proven commodity coming into the 2013 season, little was expected of NYA, which has returned to form.
The Panthers opened with a 2-0 home win over Traip. After falling by 3-2 scores to visiting Gray-New Gloucester and host Traip, NYA handled visiting Old Orchard Beach and Buckfield by 6-0 margins. After playing visiting Fryeburg to a scoreless tie, the Panthers beat visiting Sacopee Valley, 3-1. A 3-0 loss at Freeport followed, but on Oct. 2, NYA battled back to tie visiting Waynflete, 1-1, earning some confidence in the process. After a 3-1 loss at Poland, the legend of Alex Wahlstrom began, as she had overtime winners at Lake Region, Old Orchard Beach and Sacopee Valley to give her team 2-1 victories each time.
Waynflete has a lot of new faces this fall, but has remained impressive. After holding off visiting Traip in the opener, 5-3, the Flyers won at Fryeburg (2-0), tied host Lake Region (2-2), then beat visiting Gray-New Gloucester (3-0) and host Old Orchard Beach (5-0) before falling from the unbeaten ranks with a 2-1 home loss to Poland. A 3-1 home win over OOB followed, then Waynflete tied at NYA, 1-1. The Flyers bounced back to blank host Sacopee Valley and Freeport by 2-0 scores, then handled visiting Sacopee Valley (2-1) and host Traip (4-1).
For a stretch last decade, the NYA-Waynflete girls' soccer rivalry was as fierce as any. From 2005-2009, the teams met every year in the postseason, including three times in the regional final, with the winner going on to capture the Class C championship each team.
Entering Friday's game, since the start of the 2001 season, the Flyers had won 13 times, the Panthers 10 and four other games ended in draws (please see sidebar, below).
NYA came to Waynflete seeking its first win over the Flyers since a 4-0 home victory Oct. 3, 2009, but instead, Waynflete improved to 7-0-2 against the Panthers in the last nine meetings and it didn't take long for the Flyers to put this one away.
Millard almost broke the ice in the second minute, but her rush was broken up by NYA senior defender Lizzie Lewis.
The hosts kept the pressure on and sophomore Arianna Giguere played the ball down the right side before crossing it in front where Benson waited. Benson didn't get much on the ball, but still managed to steer it past diving Panthers junior goalkeeper Scout Fischman for a 1-0 lead.
"I barely got my foot on it," Benson said. "I guess it was enough."
After a long free kick from Flyers sophomore Marijke Rowse was deflected just wide of the mark, Benson made it 2-0.
Benson got a gift on her second goal, as a defender tried to clear the ball, but didn't get much on it and the ball came right to Benson who had a clean look and shot it past Fischman from the top of the box to give Waynflete some breathing room.
"We talked about finishing it early, so we could relax more in the second half and not have to stress," Benson said. "We did that. I just took a touch after the defender sent it to me."
"We came out ready to play," said Flyers coach Todd Dominski. "It showed from the beginning of the game. We haven't come out in all our games like that. When we come out to play we can really play. It was nice to see us ready to go. Esme did a nice job with her spacing. Finding her was the other piece. We haven't been able to get the ball to her all the time, but we found her today and she put them away."
NYA almost got back in the game in the seventh minute, but Wahlstrom shot just wide.
In the 10th minute, Wahlstrom lofted a shot from the left side with Waynflete junior goalkeeper Julianna Harwood out of the cage, but the ball just missed its mark.
Rowse then broke up a rush by Panthers junior Melanie Regan before the Flyers transitioned to offense.
In the 13th minute, the hosts almost went on top by three, but after senior Sofia Canning set up senior Leigh Fernandez with a pretty pass, Fernandez's shot was just high.
In the 15th minute, Benson looked to complete a hat trick as she bore down on a ball in the box at the same time Fischman and an NYA defender reached it. Benson managed to get her foot on the ball, but sent it just wide.
After Millard shot just high and had a rush broken up, Smith sent a one-timer just wide of the far post.
Then, with 5:33 remaining in the first half, Giguere got the ball after a turnover, passed to Millard, and Millard launched a shot from about 20-yards out which ticked the inside of the far post and bounced into the net to make it 3-0.
After Giguere's rush (set up by a picture perfect feed from Fernandez) was broken up by a sliding Fischman, who kicked the ball away, Waynflete struck once more before the break.
With just 17 seconds to go, Millard passed to Vest, who launched a shot just over Fischman from the top of the box and it was 4-0 Flyers at halftime.
Waynflete had a 13-4 shots advantage in the first 40 minutes.
The Flyers knew the game wasn't over and didn't sit on their lead.
NYA just missed getting on the board with 27:27 to play, but a shot from Regan hit the post, then was cleared by Waynflete senior Sophie Raffel.
Then, Millard struck again to extend the lead.
With 23:26 showing, Canning set up Millard for a 20-yard rocket, which again just slipped inside the far post for a 5-0 advantage.
"We weren't finding feet well in the first half, so we wanted to keep coming and have energy," Millard said.
"I thought Ella and Ari both worked well up top," said Dominski. "When they work hard up top, we're tough to defend."
A minute later, Harwood had to make a sprawling save on a deflected shot off the foot of NYA sophomore Anna Laprise.
The Panthers finally broke through with 17:54 left, as Wahlstrom got to a long lead pass and one-touched it past Harwood to make it 5-1.
Waynflete didn't let NYA get any momentum, however, as sophomore Christian Rowe had a timely block of a bid from sophomore Taylor Leach and senior Jillian Bjorn-Caron sent the rebound high. A minute later, Rowe broke up a Leach rush.
Then, with 6:12 to play, Smith was in the right place to bang home a rebound, making the score 6-1.
Down the stretch, Harwood denied Regan and Regan shot just wide and the Flyers were soon able to celebrate their impressive victory.
"It was a good result for us today," said Dominski. "Obviously, NYA's a rival. We wanted the game and we wanted the (Heal) Points. We want to seed ourselves as high as possible. We want to get rolling for the playoffs."
Waynflete finished with an 18-12 shots advantage (7-6 on frame), had a 3-1 edge in corner kicks and got four saves from Harwood (Rowe also had a defensive save).
Harwood missed the first half of the season recovering from a knee injury, but hasn't shown much rust.
"(Julianna's) come back to true form quickly," Dominski said. "It hasn't taken much for her to get there."
NYA was hoping for more.
"The game was disappointing for the girls because we gave up a lot of silly goals that we could have stopped," said Panthers first-year coach Josh Thornton. "The girls have been outstanding this season, however, they learned a tough lesson. We have won the last three games in overtime after not playing well. They had to learn that if they don't play well against good teams they will get punished. Wayneflete's good and moves the ball well. :
Even in the aftermath of the defeat, NYA was very pleased with what it's accomplished so far.
"The girls have won twice as many games this year as last year and are set for possibly playing a home game in playoffs," Thornton said. "We played four games in eight days and won three of them, so I'm delighted."
Time to get serious
NYA projects to finish eighth or ninth in the Western Class C Heal Points standings and will now prepare for its first playoff game since 2009.
Waynflete, meanwhile, still has a chance to move up when it hosts three-time defending Class B champion Falmouth Monday afternoon. The Flyers (fifth Western C) can make a quantum leap if they could find a way to knock off the Yachtsmen.
"If we come with the same intensity we had today, we'll be good," Benson said.
"We can always improve on things," said Millard. "We're really coming together and we're excited to play Falmouth. We're excited to see how it turns out."
"We're getting there," Dominski added. "It's effort and making sure we do the right things out there. We're no different than anyone else playing right now that's a little banged up. We'll go out and give Falmouth our best and see what we can get out of it. I think if we beat them, we'd get up there, but they'll want to finish high like we do. It's nice to play teams of high caliber. It pushes us to see what we have."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.
Recent NYA-Waynflete results
@ NYA 1 Waynflete 1 (tie)
@ Waynflete 2 NYA 0
Waynflete 3 @ NYA 0
@ Waynflete 8 NYA 0
Waynflete 6 @ NYA 0
@ Waynflete 4 NYA 1
@ NYA 0 Waynflete 0 (tie)
Waynflete 4 @ NYA 0
Western C Final
@ Waynflete 2 NYA 0
@ Waynflete 3 NYA 1
Western C Final
NYA 1 @ Waynflete 0 (OT)
NYA 4 @ Waynflete 0
@ NYA 5 Waynflete 2
Western C Final
@ NYA 1 Waynflete 0
Waynflete 2 @ NYA 1
NYA 2 @ Waynflete 1
Western C semifinals
NYA 3 @ Waynflete 1
@ Waynflete 1 NYA 1 (tie)
@ NYA 2 Waynflete 0
@ NYA 2 Waynflete 1
NYA 2 @ Waynflete 0
Waynflete 5 @ NYA 2
@ Waynflete 0 NYA 0 (tie)
Waynflete 2 @ NYA 0