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- The Forecaster
PORTLAND—Waynflete’s boys’ soccer team put the punctuation mark on a solid regular season Tuesday afternoon with a hard-fought victory over the feisty Falcons of Freeport at Fore River Fields.
The Flyers had ample opportunities in the first half, but it took until 3:23 remained to break through, as senior Aaron Lee headed the ball toward the goal and sophomore Ilyas Abdi tucked it home for a 1-0 lead.
Waynflete couldn’t add to its lead, but the Flyers’ strong defense and senior goalkeeper Milo Belleau held the fort and Waynflete capped the year in style with 1 -0 victory.
The Flyers finished 11-2-1, likely earned the No. 2 seed for the upcoming playoffs and dropped playoff-bound Freeport to 4-8-2 in the process.
“I’m not sure how many games we’ve played lately, but it’s been a grind,” said Waynflete coach Brandon Salway. “We were down a couple people today too. We got a goal and probably should have had more, but I think the guys are tired. We weren’t quite as focused today. Credit Freeport for playing well.”
It’s been an interesting season for both teams.
The Flyers opened with a 6-0 home victory over Traip Academy, then held off visiting Fryeburg Academy, 2-1, before dropping a 1-0 decision at Class A power Falmouth. The Flyers then won, 9-0, at Lake Region, before falling at North Yarmouth Academy, 2-0. Waynflete bounced back with a vengeance, beating visiting Yarmouth, the defending Class B champion, for the first time ever ,2-1, before blanking host Poland (6-0) and Kennebunk (1-0), then shutting out visiting Sacopee Valley, 4-0. After avenging their loss with a 1-0 home win over NYA, the Flyers settled for a scoreless tie at Sacopee Valley, then won at Traip Academy, 2-1, and at home over Gray-New Gloucester (3-0).
The Falcons started with losses at Cape Elizabeth (5-0) and at home to Gray-New Gloucester (4-0), then tied visiting Wells (3-3). After a 5-0 home loss to Yarmouth, Freeport got in the win column with a 2-1 victory at Gray-New Gloucester, then lost at Fryeburg Academy (2-1) and Greely (6-0). After a 5-0 home win over Lake Region, the Falcons fell at NYA (1-0), won at Poland (2-0), lost at home to Falmouth (3-0), won at home over Poland (3-0) and tied visiting Traip Academy (1-1).
The teams met last year in a rainy affair in Freeport and Waynflete eked out a 1-0 win.
Tuesday, the Falcons were seeking their first win over the Flyers since Sept. 19, 2008, but Waynflete made it eight straight in the series.
Freeport threatened in the second minute, but junior Yacob Olins shot high.
In the seventh minute, Falcons senior Addison Vosmus headed a free kick on frame, but Belleau made the save.
The Flyers’ first chance came in the eighth minute off a corner kick, when senior Cullen Bollinger shot high.
With 12:30 to play in the half, a long blast from Waynflete senior Jack Weston was tipped over the bar at the last second by Freeport junior goalkeeper Joey Burke and the ensuing corner kick led another shot by Weston which sailed high.
“Joey’s seeing the ball well right now,” said longtime Freeport coach Joe Heathco. “He’s playing with a lot of confidence. That’s a good sign.”
The visitors almost went on top with 8:33 to go before halftime, as after a turnover, Olins set up junior Chandler Wyman for a low blast which Belleau dove and tipped off the post and out for a corner kick which senior Nate Smail headed just high.
Finally, with 3:23 to play before halftime, the hosts earned a free kick to the side of the box and senior Ahmed Mohamed played a ball on frame, which Lee managed to head past Burke and just as it was about to cross the line, Abdi buried it for a 1-0 lead.
“I saw the ball in the air, gave my defender a shake, went the other way, got a head on it and Ilyas tapped it in,” Lee said.
“Since we’ve moved (Aaron) up top, he’s put pressure on defenders,” Salway said. “Whether he creates chances or not, he draws a crowd, which is good for us.”
Waynflete almost doubled its lead two minutes later, but senior Christian Kabongo just missed an open net.
In the first 40 minutes, the Flyers enjoyed an 8-7 edge in shots.
In the second half, no goals were scored, but both teams had chances.
For Waynflete, Abdi shot just high on a rush, Weston had a shot saved, Bollinger had a shot saved and Bollinger had a header saved.
Freeport’s chances included a shot from the side off the foot of Wyman which Belleau saved, a corner kick which was cleared and a throw from the side which led to a loose ball in the box before Belleau corralled it.
A last-minute Falcons’ rush was broken up by Flyers’ junior defender Jack Meahl and Waynflete closed the door on its 1-0 victory.
“One goal was enough,” Lee said. “We’d have liked to have finished more and we had expected to score more, but after we got the one, I think we got a little lackadaisical. I was happy with the defense. They’re always solid. They’re key to our play.”
The Flyers navigated a daunting schedule this fall to win 11 games and turn heads in the process.
“We’ve played a tough schedule,” Lee said. “We’re lucky Brandon provides us with a tough schedule year after year. We’ve had a very productive regular season that will prepare us for playoffs.”
“If you told me we’d go 11-2-1 through this schedule, I would’ve taken it, absolutely,” Salway said. “I won’t say I’m surprised. It’s an impressive achievement for this group.”
Waynflete finished with an 18-10 shots advantage (9-7 on frame) and had four corner kicks to Freeport’s two. Belleau made seven saves.
For the Falcons, Burke had eight saves and they almost came away from a tough road test with a result.
“I’m really pleased,” said Heathco. “I think it’s the most complete game we’ve played. We’ve moved the ball well, which we’ve struggled with consistently. We had a ball go off the post, we had a scrum with the ball loose, we had shots from our best shooters. I’m encouraged we got a little offense going. If we go into playoffs playing like this, maybe we’ll get a break.
Both teams will take part in the upcoming postseason.
The Falcons will likely be the No. 10 seed in Class B South and will play a preliminary round playoff game Saturday at either York, Cape Elizabeth or Fryeburg Academy.
“I feel really good about our chances,” Heathco said. “In a first round matchup we’ll match up well with anybody. Yarmouth or Greely would be tough games, but outside of those two, if we play well, we can beat anybody.”
The Flyers expect to be ranked second in Class C South and will next take the field Wednesday, Oct. 28 in the quarterfinals, likely against Carrabec or Mt. Abram.
Waynflete’s ready for a title run.
“We don’t really care who we’re playing,” Lee said. “We know if we play our hardest, we can do it. We want that Gold Ball. That’s our goal.”
“We need a little bit of rest, but the guys really want it,” Salway said. “It will come down to taking advantage of opportunities. Motivation and hunger aren’t in question. We just have to get a little more healthy and take advantage of our chances.”
Waynflete senior Aaron Lee races past Freeport junior Chandler Wyman during the Flyers’ 1-0 win Tuesday afternoon. Lee set up the game’s lone goal.
Bruce Feeley photos.
Waynflete senior Tommy Silk and Freeport senior Quinton Libsack fight for the ball.
Freeport junior goalkeeper Joey Burke punches the ball away from Waynflete sophomore Ilyas Abdi. Abdi had the game’s lone goal.
Freeport junior Josiah Otis shields the ball from Waynflete senior Tommy Silk.
Waynflete sophomore Ilyas Abdi keeps the ball away from Freeport senior Nate Smail.
Waynflete senior Cullen Bollinger fights Freeport junior Yacob Olins for possession.