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Waynflete girls' soccer edges NYA 2-1 in quarterfinal showdown

Sports

Waynflete girls' soccer edges NYA 2-1 in quarterfinal showdown

PORTLAND—Normally, when a Waynflete-North Yarmouth Academy girls' soccer playoff game ends, medals and plaques are awarded.

That wasn't the case Tuesday afternoon as the Flyers hosted the
Panthers in the quarterfinal round, not the Western Class C Final, but
the hosts still had plenty of reason to celebrate after holding off
their nemesis for a second year in a row, 2-1, to advance to Friday's
semifinal against Sacopee.

Waynflete got a pretty first half goal from junior Lydia Stegemann,
another breathtaking tally from senior Morgan Woodhouse in the second
stanza, then held off a late NYA charge to improve to 14-1.

"Coming in, we treated it like the Western Maine Final," said Woodhouse, a big game performer extraordinaire. "We came with
the same enthusiasm. We knew we'd have to beat them eventually."

A week early

Due to the vagaries of the Heal Points system, Waynflete and NYA
finished fourth and fifth respectively in the standings, meaning the
teams that have combined for the past six Class C championships would
do battle much sooner than expected.

The Flyers had another stellar regular season, their first under
coach Todd Dominski, winning 13 of 14 contests. The Panthers also
welcomed a new coach, Charles Fischman, in 2009, and finished strong,
winding up 11-2-1.

On Sept. 22, in Portland, Waynflete eked out a 1-0 win over NYA on a
Woodhouse goal in the second overtime. Eleven days later, in Yarmouth,
the Panthers got a big-time measure of revenge with a 4-0 romp.

The teams never met in the postseason until 2005, but have squared
off annually since. That first year, NYA won 3-1 at Waynflete in the
semifinals. In 2006, the Panthers enjoyed a 1-0 regional final win at
home over the Flyers. The next year, with Waynflete a heavy favorite,
then-sophomore Courtney Dumont's overtime goal sparked NYA to a 1-0
win and an eventual fifth straight state title. Finally, last year, the
Flyers got over the hump with a 2-0 home win in the regional final and
they went on to win a first-ever Class C crown.

Dumont, now a senior, and her teammates had some good early chances
Tuesday. In just the second minute of action, Dumont had a look, but
shot wide. In the sixth minute, Dumont sent a cross while falling down
which went just wide of the goal. In the ninth minute, Panthers junior
Blair Haggett rushed in on a broken play, but Waynflete senior
goalkeeper Julia Pope raced out to break up the play. With 27:17 to
play in the first half, Dumont had a shot tipped by Pope over the goal,
leading to a corner kick. Three minutes later, a Dumont rush was denied
by a sprawling Pope.

The Flyers took the lead for good with 18:50 remaining in the first half. Senior Caitlin Britos fired a shot which was stopped. The
rebound bounced to Stegemann, who one-timed a blast past NYA junior
Caroline Bowne into the upper left corner of the net.

"I saw it coming across and no one was there so I shot it," Stegemann said. "Coach told
us we had to come out early and take a lot of shots, no matter where we
were, to keep them on their heels. I saw it, shot it and it worked. It
felt great. It was really important to get a lead. That was crucial to help us win the game."

"That first goal was big," Dominski added. "In the second game we played against them,
they got on top of us early and they took it to us in the second half."

With 17:36 left in the half, Dumont tried to answer, but her header
off a pass from omnipresent freshman Molly Strabley went wide. With just
one second left, Flyers senior standout Sasha Timpson had a chance to
double the lead, but her low shot was saved.

Heading into the second half, few expected the score to remain 1-0. The team to find the net next figured to be in great shape.

For awhile, it appeared as if the Panthers would draw even.

With 38:28 left in regulation, Strabley unleashed a low shot that
Pope saved. Four minutes later, Strabley floated a shot that hit the
crossbar at the top of the left post. With 31:25 remaining, Strabley
was just high on a free kick from 25 yards out. After Britos was high
on a break-in at the other end, Strabley fed Dumont, but Pope grabbed
the ball just before the standout could reach it. With 27:19 to play,
NYA senior Emily Mitchell got to a Strabley corner kick and put the
ball on goal, but Waynflete junior Izzer Berrang was in perfect
position to kick it out of harm's way.

"(NYA's) really intense and their offense is really good," Berrang said. "We just
tried to contain because we know they're a fast team. We tried to
double-team and pressure the ball."

Then, with 19:12 left, the Flyers got some breathing room.

Woodhouse got the ball on the left side of the box, eluded one
defender, dribbled around a second, then turned and launched a perfect
shot to the right of the helpless Bowne into the net for a 2-0
advantage.

"I knew I'd be guarded pretty tight," Woodhouse said. "Any shot I
could get off I had to aim for the net. I struck it pretty hard and it
went in."

"Morgan had a great shot," Dominski added. "Coming across her body to get one in the corner was an amazing shot."

The game was far from over, however. Two-and-a-half minutes later,
Woodhouse almost iced it with a long shot from the left side, but Bowne
made the save. With 15:50 to play, Pope had to go to her knees to save
a shot off the foot of Haggett. At the other end, Waynflete sophomore
Becky Smith launched a 40-yard shot that appeared spot-on, but Bowne
leaped to snare it.

In the 71st minute, Dumont finally struck. Taking a pass from senior
Ali O'Reilly, Dumont got to the ball between a defender and Pope and
one-timed it home to make it 2-1, ratcheting up the collective blood pressure of the Waynflete side
dramatically.

"When it comes to playoffs, both teams want it so bad, so you can't put
your head down if the other team scores," Woodhouse said. "You have to play hard until
the final whistle."

The Panthers would push hard for the equalizer.

With 5:11 to go, junior Lilly Wellenbach's header on a corner was
saved by Pope. A minute later, a Haggett shot was also grabbed by the
goalie. With 3:33 to play, Dumont had the final shot of her illustrious
high school career, but again, Pope made the save.

After Waynflete moved to ball to its offensive end and ran off over
a minute-and-a-half playing keep-away in the corner, NYA got
possession, but with 30 seconds to go, Timpson cleared the ball and the
Flyers were able to run out the clock on their 2-1 triumph.

"It always gets intense in playoff games, especially if you're up,
because other teams get on fire," said Berrang. "Their goal was a good shot. It was
scary at the end. We tried to stay composed. We knew it would be a
close game."

"It feels great to beat NYA in the playoffs," said Stegemann. "Both teams were pumped up. It came down to who wanted it more."

"It was quite a battle, all it shaped up to be," added Dominski. "I told the girls it
wasn't going to be 1-0. If we got up or down early, we knew we'd have
to get more than one. The defense stood tall. Izzer did a great job
making sure we were organized back there. (Junior) Elena (Britos) kind
of kept Courtney at bay, which isn't an easy task, and (junior) Liv
(Chap) and (freshman) Katherine (Harwood) were solid on the outside.
They went at Katherine hard for awhile and she stood tough. This is a
great confidence builder. We've traditionally faced each other in the
Western Maine Final. I know the history."

Painful end

NYA (which had a 9-1 edge in corner kicks) finished 11-3-1 despite a stellar effort.

"We created a lot of chances, but we didn't take advantage of them," Fischman said.
"Waynflete had chances and was able to finish theirs. I thought we
played very, very well as a team. The team gave a great effort. I think
we had significant parts of the game where we controlled, but we
weren't able to finish. Waynflete played well too. It was an even
match, like our game here before. We would have liked to have seen them
further along, but you can't change how it's set up.

"I'm very happy with the season. They're a super group. They worked
very hard and were dedicated to getting better. We made a lot of
progress over the course of the season. The last five games we won, we
scored 25 goals and only gave up one. We made great progress. I hoped
to continue going on that trajectory, but we ran into a tough opponent
today."

The Panthers only graduate four players from this team, but they're four big-time contributors.

"Courtney had 24 goals in the regular season and another one today,"
Fischman said. "For
any team to have a player who has the knack and ability to score goals
like that is obviously a
huge plus. Emily Mitchell
played in the midfield today and did a good, steady job all season
long.
Ali O'Reilly had the assist today. She works very hard in the midfield.
She's consistent. Unfortunately, Katie Lentine has been in
and out with injuries and couldn't play much today. She certainly was a
leader for our team."

Several other stars of the future return, meaning NYA will be right back knocking on the championship door in 2010.

"Part of my objective this year to begin laying the foundation for the
type of soccer I'd like to see NYA play," Fischman said. "It was a learning process, but
next year we'll be further along."

Next step

Waynflete, meanwhile, got a big break when No. 8 Sacopee upset
top-ranked St. Dom's Tuesday, allowing the Flyers to host the Hawks
(7-7-1) Friday at 3 p.m.  Waynflete easily handled Sacopee twice this fall, 9-1 at home
Oct. 1 and 5-0 on the road Oct. 19. Last year, the Flyers eliminated
Sacopee, 4-0, in the quarterfinals.

Just like that, Waynflete is one step closer to a repeat title and its biggest rival is out of the picture.

"We'll celebrate this win and move on tomorrow," Berrang said. "We have another
match Friday. We'll keep working hard and try to make a good run."

"Anybody we face, home or away, we'll play so hard," Woodhouse said. "This gives us
momentum. We'll play with so much enthusiasm. All the seniors will
battle hard all the way until the end."

"I think we can make another run," said Stegemann. "We have to stay focused and play our best."

"I hope we'll keep rolling," added Dominski. "Being at home is important to us."

The Western C Final is Wednesday of next week on the field of the
highest remaining seed. The Class C championship game will be played
Saturday, Nov. 7, at either Scarborough High School or Hampden Academy.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net

 

Photo: Brian Beard
NYA's indomitable senior standout Courtney Dumont went all out to head a ball while Waynflete junior defender Izzer Berrang got in her way. Dumont scored a late goal, but the Flyers got a pair and advanced with a 2-1 win.

Photo: Brian Beard
NYA freshman Molly Strabley (left) and Waynflete senior Sasha Timpson did battle for a 50-50 ball.

Photo: Brian Beard
Waynflete senior Sasha Timpson skied for this header over NYA's Mallory Ianno.

Photo: Brian Beard
NYA sophomore Hannah Twombly found herself closely defended by Waynflete senior Caitlin Britos.

Photo: Brian Beard
NYA senior Courtney Dumont celebrated over prone Waynflete senior goalkeeper Julia Pope after scoring a goal late in the game to cut the Panthers' deficit to 2-1. Alas, Dumont and her teammates would score no more and their season ended at 11-3-1.