Waynflete boys erupt for 21 goals in quarterfinal round win over Wells

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PORTLAND—After missing out on the playoffs a year ago, the Waynflete boys’ lacrosse team made up for lost time Wednesday afternoon, as the Flyers put on a 48-minute offensive display that left Wells helpless in the teams’ Western Class B quarterfinal at Fore River Fields.

If the Warriors tried to slow do-everything senior Zander Majercik, junior Henry Cleaves, a matchup nightmare, stepped up. When Wells looked to neutralize Cleaves, junior Timmy Bollinger or sophomore Harry Baker-Connick made it pay.

Waynflete took the lead for good early in the second quarter on a Majercik goal, held a 10-7 lead at halftime, then flipped the switch further in the third period, scoring seven times to leave the Warriors in its wake. When all was said and done, the Flyers had a 21-10 victory.

Cleaves led all scorers with six goals, Bollinger added five, Baker-Connick had four and Majercik was a one-man stat sheet stuffer, scoring four times, assisting on three other goals, winning 19 faceoffs and grabbing a mind-boggling 19 ground balls as Waynflete improved to 7-6, ended Wells’ season at 9-4 and advanced to meet top-ranked Cape Elizabeth (10-2) in the semifinals Saturday afternoon.

“I think we’re playing our best lacrosse now, which is awesome,” Majercik said. “It’s been a long time since we played a home playoff game and a long time since we won one. We’re really working as a team. We feel like this is our time.”

Return to the postseason

Waynflete has made the playoffs every year but two since the Maine Principals’ Association started sanctioning boys’ lacrosse in 1998, but one of those occasions was last spring, when the Flyers were left on the outside looking in after a 5-7 campaign.

This year, the program featured a new look as longtime coach Bob Johnson stepped down and was replaced by assistant Dan Thomsen, who steered Waynflete through an up-and-down regular season.

The Flyers handled visiting York in the opener, 16-0, then lost a heartbreaker at Greely (11-10), were outscored by visiting Cheverus, the reigning Eastern A champion (19-12), and fell at powerhouse Cape Elizabeth, 16-9. Wins at Freeport (19-14) and at home over Fryeburg (16-3) followed. Waynflete lost a crossover game at Thornton Academy, 12-6, but defeated host York, 15-6. Another crossover loss, this one to visiting South Portland (14-8) followed and the Flyers then fell at North Yarmouth Academy, 23-11, but closed strong with a 12-3 home victory over Greely and a 15-7 home win over Freeport to go 6-6 and earn the No. 4 seed in Western B.

Wells opened with a loss to NYA, then won three in a row. After dropping a one-goal decision to Greely, the Warriors took two straight and after being defeated by Falmouth, closed the year on a four-game win streak, but the quality of their schedule left them fifth despite a 9-3 mark.

The teams didn’t play in the regular season and had no prior playoff history.

Wednesday, Waynflete made a statement and earned its first postseason win in four years.

Then tone was set just 1 minute, 44 seconds into the game when Majercik dodged three Wells defenders before beating senior goalie Elias McKaig for a quick 1-0 lead.

Cleaves scored his first goal, unassisted, with 9:31 left in the first period, to make it 2-0.

The visitors broke the ice with 5:21 to go in the frame when senior Spencer Sibley scored unassisted, but senior Josh Espy (from Bollinger) answered 23 seconds later to push the lead back to two.

The Warriors got an unassisted tally from senior Drew Shelley and a goal from Sibley (assisted by junior Alex McCormack) to tie the score, 3-3, but a Cleaves unassisted goal with 3:10 left in the first put Waynflete back on top. The visitors drew even again, 4-4, when junior Jake Godin scored unassisted in the final minute and the game went to the second quarter deadlocked.

The offense remained fast and furious as Majercik put the hosts ahead to stay with 9:40 to play before halftime, collecting a contested ground ball before beating McKaig for a 5-4 lead.

The Flyers took a two-goal lead when Cleaves scored man-down (from senior Jack Cutler) and an unassisted goal by Bollinger made it 7-4 with 5:21 to go before halftime.

After Waynflete sophomore goalie Graham Ratner turned the ball over behind the goal, Sibley pounced on it and scored unassisted with 4:46 left and with 3:06 showing, Sibley (from senior Teddy Durfee) scored to pull Wells within 7-6.

A Bollinger unassisted goal was countered by a Durfee tally (assisted by Shelley) to make it 8-7, but the Warriors would draw no closer.

With 1:22 to play before halftime, Bollinger scored (from Majercik) and with 15 seconds remaining, Baker-Connick scored his first goal (assisted by Cleaves) to give the Flyers a 10-7 advantage at the break.

Many of the statistical categories were close and Waynflete’s lead could be attributed in part to 10 saves from Ratner.

If the Flyers offense seemed potent in the first half, it was downright prolific in the second.

With 10:05 to go in the third quarter, Baker-Connick took a pass from Bollinger and finished. Twenty-one seconds later, Majercik scored unassisted. With 8:06 left, Cleaves scored an unassisted goal and just like that, the lead was up to a half dozen, 13-7.

“I think we stopped forcing it through the middle,” Majercik said. “We had a lot of assisted goals in the second half. We’ve been really good offensively this year. You can always depend on Hank. He did a great job.”

A man-up goal by Sibley (assisted by Shelley) midway through the quarter only momentarily stemmed the tide, as Majerick answered, scoring unassisted after a Wells defender dropped his stick. Majercik then set up Baker-Connick for a score and after senior Brandon Morton scored for the Warriors, Cleaves and Bollinger both struck unassisted to give Waynflete a commanding 17-9 advantage after three quarters.

Wells scored first in the final stanza, as Sibley scored unassisted man-up with 9:16 left, but the visitors wouldn’t score again.

Cleaves (unassisted), Bollinger (from Majerick, man-up), Baker-Connick (from Bollinger, man-up) and Espy (on an intended pass which got through and past McKaig) then scored to bring the curtain down on the 21-10 victory.

“(Winning a playoff game is) something (this group has) never done,” Cleaves said. “We have a lot of talented offensive players. We can move the ball. We haven’t seen a defense yet that can slow us down. We went in with an open mind. We took care of business and we worked hard. It was sharing the ball. We had good spacing. We dodged at the right time. We shot low. We adjusted to their big goalie and buried shots. I thought we played better defense in the second half. We pushed out and talked more and Ratner made some big saves.”

“The boys came out in the second half ready to play and did a good job both offensively and defensively,” Thomsen said. “They brought the energy. It’s hard to stop our two goal scorers, Zander and Hank. It’s nice to see other attackmen get in there too. They played really well. We didn’t know what we were facing, so we just concentrated on our game. We wanted to have fun and share the ball. We’ve played a tough schedule. We’ve worked hard in practice. It’s paid off at the right time.”

Five different Flyers scored, as Cleaves had six goals and one assist, Bollinger scored five goals and had a pair of assists, Majercik added four goals and three assists, Baker-Connick had four goals and Espy scored twice. Cutler also figured in the scoring with one assist. Ratner finished with a dozen saves. He was helped by a defense which surrendered just three goals in the second half after allowing seven in the first.

“The defense played great,” Majercik said. “Our defense, especially our man-down defense, has been awesome this season.”

Waynflete won 21 of 35 faceoffs, as Majercik went 19 of 30.

“I think the secret is to get lower than the other guy,” Majercik said. “The lower guy wins 75 percent of the time.”

“Zander is so valuable to us, not only as a goal scorer, but in the faceoff circle as well,” Thomsen said.

The Flyers had a 78-58 advantage in ground balls, as Majercik collected 19, Bollinger had a dozen and Cleaves snared eight. The Flyers forced 49 turnovers (while committing 27) and outshot the Warriors, 53-25 (37-22 on cage).

Wells got six goals from Sibley and one apiece from Durfee, Godin, Morton and Shelley. Shelly also had two assists, while Durfee and McCormack both had one. Sophomore Ryan Marsh led the team with 14 ground balls and also won 14 faceoffs. Morton and Shelley both had nine ground balls, while McKaig (who saved 16 shots) had eight.

Daunting task

As a “reward” for Wednesday’s victory, Waynflete will visit No. 1 Cape Elizabeth Saturday at 5 p.m., in the semifinals. The Capers won the regular season game and have taken all six prior playoff encounters, with a 15-1 victory in the 2010 semifinals the most recent.

Clearly, the Flyers have a huge mountain to climb, but they’ll go to Cape Elizabeth playing as if they have nothing to lose.

“We just have to keep doing what we’ve been doing,” Majercik said. “We have to keep stepping it up.”

“We’re not satisfied,” Cleaves said. “We want to keep moving forward. (Cape’s) just high school players. Nothing more. We have to take our time, be calm and we can play with anybody. I think we’re playing our best lacrosse right now, which is a good thing. We’ve been building and getting better.”

“We’re here and the kids want to stick around for awhile,” Thomsen added. “They’re excited. We have nothing to lose. It’s nice to get another shot at (Cape). We’re looking forward to it. We have to play the whole game.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Waynflete senior Zander Majercik, who had four goals, three assists, won 19 faceoffs and collected 19 ground balls, collects a loose ball.

Waynflete junior Henry Cleaves, who had a game-high six goals, fires a shot.

Waynflete senior defenseman Forest Chap races upfield.

Waynflete sophomore Harry Baker-Connick eludes the Wells defense. Baker-Connick scored four goals.

Waynflete sophomore goalie Graham Ratner, who made 12 saves, stands tall.

Sidebar Elements

The Waynflete boys’ lacrosse team celebrates its 21-10 playoff win over Wells Wednesday afternoon.

More photos below.

Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.