PORTLAND—The Waynflete boys’ lacrosse team earned a huge vote of confidence and a pivotal victory Tuesday afternoon at Fore River Fields.
Thanks to two crucial saves from senior goalie Will Hallett in the final 14 seconds, the Flyers managed to hold off visiting Greely, 9-8, bounced back from a lopsided loss to Falmouth and improved to 3-1 on the year.
Four different Waynflete offensive players scored twice apiece and the Flyers led almost the whole way before holding on for dear life to drop the Rangers to 1-2 on the season.
“This is the best game we’ve been in all year,” said Hallett, a four-year starter in goal. “It’s fun. I like to be in that situation. My teeth hurt because I was grinding them so hard.”
To the bitter end
Both Greely and Waynflete were Western B semifinalists in 2010.
The Rangers went 6-7, falling, 22-5, to Falmouth in the playoffs.
The Flyers finished 8-5 after a 15-1 postseason setback to eventual Class B champion Cape Elizabeth.
So far in 2011, Greely defeated host Wells (9-2) and lost in a triple-overtime thriller at North Yarmouth Academy (10-9).
Waynflete opened with wins over visiting Fryeburg (17-1) and host Westbrook (10-6), then fell at Falmouth, 17-5, last Wednesday.
In last year’s meeting, at Cumberland, the Rangers outlasted the Flyers, 16-12, in an offense-fest.
Tuesday, amid threatening skies that never let loose, Waynflete snapped a five-game losing streak to Greely, beating the Rangers for the first time since June 3, 2005 (11-8 in the preliminary round of the playoffs).
After Greely won the opening faceoff and turned the ball over, the Flyers raced down and took a 1-0 lead when senior Tucker Geoffroy set up sophomore Zander Majercik for a shot that got past Rangers goalie Griffen Demick.
The Rangers tied the score with 10:24 to play in the 12-minute opening quarter when Cooper Allen struck unassisted.
With 7:50 to go in the first, the hosts went on top to stay as Geoffroy scored unassisted. Junior Chris Burke scored unassisted with 5:22 left and it was 3-1 Flyers.
After Greely got a goal back when Austin Spencer scored unassisted with 3:23 showing, Burke set up senior Luke Wendland for a goal 23 seconds later and Waynflete had a 4-2 advantage after one period.
The Rangers pulled to within 4-3 on an unassisted goal from Nick Rotondi 1 minute, 45 seconds into the second, but with 6:08 to play before halftime, playing two-men up, the Flyers pushed the lead back to two when Majercik set up Burke, whose shot got past Sam Reed, who replaced Demick in goal late in the first quarter.
Greely again made it a one-goal game when Allen scored unassisted with 3:42 remaining. The Rangers threatened to tie seconds later, but two bids from Paul Witte were turned aside by Hallett.
“(The Flyers) have an excellent goalie,” said Greely coach Casey Abbott. “We knew that he would be tough today. He did a great job. I definitely commend him on his effort.”
Waynflete started the second half hot and built a four-goal cushion.
With 8:46 left in the third quarter, freshman Henry Cleaves scored to make it 6-4. Majercik (from Burke) scored at the 6:57 mark and Wendland (from Cleaves) struck with 4:49 to go in the period for an 8-4 lead.
With 2:21 remaining, Spencer (from Witte) beat Hallett to end a 13 minute, 21 second drought. With 45.7 seconds to go in the stanza, Nick Robinson scored unassisted to make it 8-6.
The final period would go down to the final second.
The Flyers extended their lead back to three, 9-6, on a Cleaves goal (from Geoffroy, after a turnover) with 7:33 to play, but with 4:41 to go, Robinson set up Jake Eustis for a goal, making it 9-7.
Waynflete held that lead into the final minute, but Greely would cut the deficit to 9-8 when Spencer scored up man-up with 30.5 seconds left. The Rangers won the ensuing faceoff and Allen raced in for a shot, but Hallett denied him with 14.1 seconds to go.
All the Flyers had to do was run out the clock, but they turned the ball over, giving Greely a final chance. It would be Robinson getting the ball and eluding the defense as the clock wound toward 0. Just before the final horn, Robinson got a good look and fired, but Hallett stood tall and made the save.
Waynflete 9 Greely 8.
“It’s a great win,” Hallett said. “Greely has good shooters and I was really happy to get the saves.”
“It’s just a big confidence booster,” said Burke. “Morale was down after the Falmouth loss, but this shows our team can play at a competitive level. We changed some things up line-wise to get some different looks. It clicked in practice and we were lucky enough to duplicate it on the field.”
“It’s a really good win for us,” added longtime Waynflete coach Bob Johnson. “We needed that one since we had a rough go with Falmouth. I thought we did a great job coming out in the third quarter and scoring a couple goals. We needed that cushion. They’re such a great group of kids to work with. They each have a great work ethic. The harder we work, the more they like it. You can’t ask for more than that.”
The Flyers featured a balanced offensive attack as Burke, Cleaves, Majercik and Wendland all scored twice and Geoffroy added a goal. Burke and Geoffroy both had two assists, while Cleaves and Majercik had one each. Burke had a game-high 13 ground balls. Majercik grabbed seven. Hallett finished with 10 saves, virtually all of them critical.
Hallett and the Waynflete defense proved to be the difference.
“That’s the best defense I’ve seen from us,” Hallett said. “(Sophomore) Will Gordon and (senior) Joe (Veroneau) have started since freshman year. We have a good lineup. We had (junior) Michael Redmond there for the first time this year. It’s great to have a defense that was sliding. That’s something we’ve worked on all year. We’re sliding when we need to and we’re talking out there. Slide and talk is the biggest thing we have to do. The best thing is that we were sliding with body and stick and not just flailing at them.”
“I thought our defense was just incredible,” Johnson added. “Joe did such a great job on Paul Witte. He did exactly what we worked on. He played so well with his feet. He contained him. Will’s been so steady for us. As a senior, starting four years, he runs the show back there. He comes up big. He had some point blank saves, even earlier in the game, not to mention the ones at the end.”
For Greely, Spencer had three goals, Allen two and Eustis, Robinson and Rotondi one apiece. Robinson and Witte both had an assist. Spencer led the Rangers with 11 ground balls, while Allen grabbed eight. Demick and Reed both made two saves.
Waynflete won 11 of the 20 faceoffs, as Majercik won 9-of-10 and Geoffroy was 2-of-10. Robinson won 8-of-17 for Greely, while Witte went 1-for-3.
The Rangers had more ground balls, 62-52, forced 37 turnovers (while committing 33) and outshot the hosts 39-22 (18-13 on frame), but it wasn’t enough.
“We had a rocky start,” said Abbott. “I don’t think our heads were in the game at the beginning. We weren’t passing and catching as fluidly as we would have liked to. (Waynflete) came out wanting it. I think they were convinced this was their day and they played a better game than us. The guys didn’t give up. They fought all the way. Even the last 30 seconds, we got two shots on net. That’s all I can ask for.”
A look ahead
Greely looks to even its record Thursday when it goes to Lake Region. The Rangers return home Tuesday of next week against Cape Elizabeth.
“We’re steadily improving,” Abbott said. “We haven’t had a breakthrough game yet where everything falls into place, but I think it’s coming.”
As for Waynflete, it travels to Fryeburg Thursday and hosts defending Eastern B champion Yarmouth Tuesday.
The Flyers hope to build on this dramatic win and keep improving.
“We have competitive games coming up,” said Burke. “We’re looking forward to coming back and working hard.”
“Consistency is tough,” added Hallett. “We have to remember who we are and that we can play at this level.”
G- 2 2 2 2- 8
W- 4 1 3 1- 9
11:41 W Majercik (Geoffroy)
10:24 G Allen (unassisted)
7:50 W Geoffroy (un)
5:22 W Burke (un)
3:23 G Spencer (un)
3:00 W Wendland (Burke)
10:15 G Rotondi (un)
6:08 W Burke (Majercik) TWO MEN-UP
3:42 G Allen (un)
8:46 W Cleaves (un)
6:57 W Majercik (Burke)
4:49 W Wendland (Cleaves) MAN-UP
2:21 G Spencer (Witte)
45.7 G Robinson (un)
7:33 W Cleaves (Geoffroy)
4:41 G Eustis (Robinson)
30.5 G Spencer (un)
G- Spencer 3, Allen 2, Eustis, Robinson, Rotondi
W- Burke, Cleaves, Majercik, Wendland 2, Geoffroy 1
G- Robinson, Witte 1
W- Burke, Geoffroy 2, Cleaves, Majercik 1
G- Demick (2), Reed (2)
W- Hallett (10)
Faceoffs (Waynflete, 11-9)
G- Robinson (8-of-17), Witte (1-of-3)
W- Majercik (9-of-10), Geoffroy (2-of-10)
Ground balls (Greely, 62-52):
G- Spencer 11, Allen 8
W-Burke 13, Majercik 7
Shots on goal:
Shots on frame: