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Waynflete junior Askar Houssein, left, congratulates classmate Diraige Dahia after Dahia scores the Flyers’ second goal in a 4-0 victory over Sacopee Valley in Tuesday’s Class C South quarterfinal. Waynflete will host Mt. Abram in the semifinals Friday.
Ben McCanna / Press Herald photos
More photos below.
PORTLAND—Waynflete’s boys’ soccer team knows as well as anyone that the first round of the postseason can be the toughest.
The Flyers, who needed penalty kicks to survive the quarterfinals in 2015 and overtime to advance a year ago, left no doubt as the No. 1 seed this fall, taking it to No. 9 Sacopee Valley early, breaking it open in the second half and rolling to victory in a Class C South quarterfinal Tuesday afternoon at Fore River Fields.
Junior Askar Houssein buried a 25-yard blast with his left foot in the fifth minute for a 1-0 lead to give the Flyers the jump.
Waynflete, despite some good chances, couldn’t add to its lead before halftime, but the Flyers ended all doubt early in the second half with a pair of goals in a 36-second span.
First, junior Diraige Dahia headed home a cross from sophomore Pat Shaw, then Houssein set up junior Oliver Burdick for a goal to make it 3-0.
Junior Ian McClure-Chute scored later in the half to account for the 4-0 final score.
Waynflete improved to 12-0-3, ended the Hawks’ season at 8-8 and advanced to host No. 4 Mt. Abram (13-2) in the Class C South semifinals Friday at a time to be announced.
“I could sense the last couple days that the guys respected Sacopee and knew they’d had a great second half of their season, so I wasn’t concerned at all about our focus,” said longtime Flyers coach Brandon Salway.
Waynflete was coming off its first undefeated regular season since 1993, as it won 11 games and tied three others (see sidebar, below, for links to previous stories). Highlights included a come-from-behind overtime victory over rival North Yarmouth, ties against Class B South powers Cape Elizabeth and Yarmouth (the four-time defending state champion) and a first-ever win over York. The Flyers earned the top seed in Class C South for the first time and locked up a one seed for the first time in any class since they were in Western Class D in 2004.
Sacopee Valley started the season 1-5, but won six of its final eight games, including a victory at Class D South top seed NYA, to secure the ninth and final playoff seed in the region. In last Friday’s preliminary round, the Hawks knocked off No. 8 St. Dom’s, 4-2.
Waynflete won both regular season meetings, 3-0 at home Sept. 12 and 2-0 in Hiram Oct. 6.
The teams had split two prior playoff encounters (see sidebar, below), with the Flyers’ 2-0 win in the 2015 Class C South semifinals the most recent.
Tuesday, on a 47-degree afternoon, the raindrops held off and Waynflete took care of business.
In the third minute, the Flyers nearly got the jump, but sophomore Joey Ansel-Mullen was robbed by Sacopee Valley senior goalkeeper Matt Day and a rebound was cleared by a defender.
Waynflete’s second chance resulted in a goal.
Houssein got the ball about 25 yards out, to Day’s left. After a couple of dribbles, Houssein let a left-footed blast rip and it sailed over Day’s head and into the upper left corner of the goal for a 1-0 lead with 35:43 to go in the first half.
“They gave me a little too much space, I think,” Houssein said. “Brandon has told me all year to shoot and I did. It went where I was looking. It was important to get that lead.”
“Askar had great composure on that,” Salway said. “He took his time. He’s focused on finishing in practice and being more composed. He didn’t crush it, just placed it.
“It’s great to play from ahead, especially as a 1 seed.”
While the Flyers had a quick lead, they couldn’t open it up before the half.
Not that they didn’t have opportunities.
First, a nice cross from Shaw was headed just wide by senior Burr Rhoads.
After Burdick sent a low shot just wide of the mark, Burdick served a corner kick in front to Houssein, but Day snared the ball instead.
After Shaw couldn’t quite reach a cross from Houssein, Houssein set up Ansel-Mullen in front for a shot, but Hawks sophomore defender Ryan Meggison blocked it.
Late in the half, Shaw just missed, Dahia headed a free kick by Ansel-Mullen just over the crossbar and Houssein fired a left-footed shot in the box just over the crossbar to keep the score 1-0 at the break.
In the first 40 minutes, the Flyers had a 4-1 edge in shots on frame and a 4-1 advantage in corner kicks.
Waynflete then got the breathing room it desired early in the second half.
With 37:13 to go, Shaw crossed the ball in and Dahia got his head it. This time, Dahia sent his header low and it bounced past Day’s outstretched hand and into the net for a 2-0 advantage.
“I saw the ball and I connected with it.,” Dahia said. “I thought the goalie would get to it, but it felt pretty good. Getting the first goal is always good, but a second goal was really important and got them down.”
“We talked at halftime about how big a difference a second goal would be,” Salway said. “We knew it we got it, we’d control play. That was a great finish by Diraige. I had a feeling he was due to score. He’s been coming on the second half of the year and has been a great weapon.”
It took only 36 seconds for Waynflete to score again and effectively end the competitive phase of the contest, as Houssein sent a pass to Burdick, who ripped a shot past Day, to the keeper’s right, just inside the post for a 3-0 lead.
The Hawks tried to answer, but Flyers junior goalkeeper Luca Antolini dove to deny senior Michael Murphy, then dove to rob Murphy again.
With 19:21 remaining, Waynflete went ahead by four, as McClure-Chute blasted home a shot.
“Ian has had a great season,” Salway said. “He’s not a fluke. He can score. He’s confident and dangerous.”
The Flyers clamped down from there and closed out their 4-0 victory.
“Brandon told us all week that we couldn’t overlook them even though we beat them twice,” Houssein said. “They didn’t sit back. They thought they had a chance, but we played well today. It’s one of our best games all year. We really executed.”
“We always go 100 percent in practice, so I felt like we were ready,” said Dahia.
Waynflete had an 11-7 shots advantage and a 4-1 edge in corner kicks. Antolini and junior Aidan Carlisle combined to make seven saves.
Day stopped seven shots for Sacopee Valley.
Waynflete looks forward to another home game Friday against a Mt. Abram squad it didn’t meet this year.
The Flyers are 3-0 all-time versus the Roadrunners in the playoffs, with a 1-0 overtime win in last year’s quarterfinals the most recent.
“It’s on to the next,” Dahia said. “It’s really important to us to be home. Playing in front of our fans makes us play well.”
“They’ll give us a good game, but it’ll be about us again and our approach,” Salway said. “Hopefully we’ll continue to prepare like we have all season. I expect we’ll play well. We lost (seniors) Thorne (Kieffer) and Mykel (Henry) to injury. The guys know they can’t play and they want to do it for them and take advantage of hosting. We’re playing well and we want to keep it going.”
Waynflete sophomore Pat Shaw plays the ball. Shaw had an assist in the victory.
Sacopee Valley senior goalkeeper Matt Day knocks the ball away from Waynflete junior Askar Houssein as Hawks senior back Richie Watson joins the play.
2015 Class C South semifinal
Waynflete 2 Sacopee Valley 0
2007 Western C prelim
Sacopee Valley 2 Waynflete 1 (3-2 PKs)