Waynflete senior Miles Lipton and Mt. Abram junior Tyson Hill keep their eyes on the ball during the Flyers’ 2-0 win in Friday’s Class C South semifinal. Lipton and his defensive teammates didn’t allow a shot on frame.
PORTLAND—This is the Golden Age of Waynflete boys’ sports.
The basketball team is consistently among the best not only in the Western Maine Conference, but in Class C as a whole, lacrosse is coming off its first state championship this century and tennis wins titles annually.
With most of the Flyers boys’ soccer team featuring players who also compete in those aforementioned sports, it’s no surprise they find themselves two victories from a Gold Ball of their own.
Friday afternoon at Fore River Fields, top-ranked Waynflete hosted No. 4 Mt. Abram in a Class C South semifinal and while the offense took care of business in the first half, scoring twice, the defense dazzled from the get-go, not allowing a shot on frame, as the Flyers moved on.
After several near-misses in the first half, Waynflete got the only goal it needed with 11:14 to go before halftime when sophomore Aidan Kieffer scored off a corner kick.
The second goal followed with 5:25 on clock and came as a result of a sensational serve from sophomore Ben Adey, right on to the foot of junior Askar Houssein, who finished.
The Flyers weren’t able to score again, but didn’t need to and they closed out their 2-0 victory.
Waynflete improved to 13-0-3, ended the Roadrunners’ season at 13-3 and advanced to its first regional final in three years, where it will host third-seeded Maranacook (14-2) Wednesday at 2:30 p.m.
“Success breeds success,” said longtime Flyers coach Brandon Salway. “I always root for (the guys) in every sport they play, so they get that winning taste. It’s contagious and we want to keep it going.”
Waynflete enjoyed its undefeated regular season since 1993, earned the top seed in Class C South for the first time and as the top seed in the region, had no trouble blanking No. 9 Sacopee Valley, 4-0, in Tuesday’s quarterfinal round.
Mt. Abram enjoyed a 12-2 regular season, losing only to Hall-Dale twice by one goal. The Roadrunners survived No. 5 Monmouth Academy, 1-0, in double-overtime, in Tuesday’s quarterfinals.
Waynflete and Mt. Abram didn’t meet this year.
The Flyers were 3-0 all-time versus the Roadrunners in the playoffs, with a 1-0 overtime win (then-junior Thorne Kieffer had the winning goal) in last year’s quarterfinals the most recent.
Friday, on a sunny and comfortable (43 degrees with a light wind) afternoon, Waynflete carried play most of the way and continued its charmed campaign.
The first chance came in the third minute, when Houssein set up junior Diraige Dahia for a left-footed shot that was denied by Mt. Abram senior goalkeeper Jack Deming.
After Deming denied sophomore Pat Shaw, the Roadrunners sent the ball in off the foot of junior Evan Allen, but it was headed away before it could get to Flyers junior goalkeeper Luca Antolini.
After a Houssein rush into the box was broken up by Mt. Abram senior back Dillan Wells, sophomore Joey Ansel-Mullen got the ball to Shaw, who one-timed it just wide.
Houssein then put on a dribbling clinic, getting around three defenders, but his shot was stopped by Deming.
Seconds later, sophomore Joey Ansel-Mullen got his head on a corner kick, but it was blocked by a defender.
He’d be more successful his next try.
After a Waynflete back blocked a shot by Roadrunners junior JB Jordan in the box, Shaw fired a shot which Deming barely corralled. Kieffer then had a shot saved as well.
The Flyers then earned their fourth corner kick and with 11:14 remaining in the half, broke the ice.
Junior Oliver Burdick served the ball in and Ansel-Mullen got his head on it again. This time, it deflected right to Aidan Kieffer and Kieffer, the younger brother of Thorne Kieffer, last year’s hero, sent it into the net for a 1-0 lead.
“Joey got his head on it and I was in the right place and I flicked it into the goal,” Aidan Kieffer said. “It was really important to get that goal. We came out flat and that woke us up and we started playing our game.”
“I told Aidan to get close,” Salway said. “We try to send him in as much as possible. He’s dangerous and he has a nose for the ball, or a head for the ball in this case. It’s nice to get one of our backs in the goal column. They’ve been so steady.”
Aidan Kieffer said that he’s determined to help his brother (who is sidelined with a knee injury) and injured senior Mykel Henry graduate as state champions.
“We want to step up for them,” Kieffer said. “As a sophomore, I feel like it’s my duty to help the seniors get to the state game and get a Gold Ball. It’s been a lot of fun playing with the seniors. I didn’t really play last year.”
Waynflete’s energy then picked up and it wasn’t long until the Flyers struck again.
After Houssein was denied, Burdick missed just wide and a long Burdick free kick forced Deming to leap to make the save, Adey got the ball just inside midfield along the left sideline. Adey took a couple dribbles, then sent the ball into the box where Houssein surprisingly, was unmarked, and Houssein one-timed it past Deming and into the net to make it 2-0.
“Askar had great composure,” Salway said. “Great touch on the ball. He did a great job of finishing. That wasn’t an easy finish, but he made it look easy.”
Shaw nearly made it 3-0 with just over a minute left in the half, but he missed just wide and the Flyers took a two-goal advantage to the break.
“We just missed on a lot of chances,” Salway lamented. “We needed one today. We got two. Who knows about Wednesday? We’ll need more probably.”
In the first half, Waynflete had a 10-0 advantage in shots on frame and a 6-0 edge in corner kicks. Eight Deming saves kept the Roadrunners within hailing distance.
Early in the second half, the Flyers looked to end all doubt, but Houssein was denied by Deming, Shaw sent a header just wide, senior Burr Rhoads missed just wide and Houssein forced Deming to leap to make a save.
With 25:25 to go, Mt. Abram had its best chance of the second half, but a free kick from the side of the box was cleared.
With 2:41 remaining, a serve into the box by Jordan was headed out by senior back Miles Lipton.
“Our back line with (sophomore) Harry (Millspaugh), Aidan and Ben has been phenomenal all season,” said Lipton, a lacrosse standout who will play that sport at Boston University next year. “I attribute that to us being a tight group of guys. Aidan, Ben and Harry are all incredible soccer players and I even that out because I’m just fast. I don’t have a good touch and I can’t do much with the ball. I can say that my lacrosse experience helps with how I talk to the team.’
“(The backs have) all played at such a high level in every game we’ve played,” Salway said. “That doesn’t go unnoticed by their teammates. Luca is a good leader back there and takes charge. If there’s one big save that needs to be made, Luca is there.”
Waynflete closed the door from there and celebrated its 2-0 victory.
“Our success (in other sports has been) big,” Kieffer said. “We know what it takes to win and with that in mind, we can take it to the next level.”
“I thought we were a little uneven to start,” said Salway. “Maybe there were some nerves. The goal woke us up. Then we moved the ball well. (Mt. Abram coach) Darren (Allen) has done an unbelievable job with that program. They’re organized in the back and their keeper did a good job.”
The Flyers had a 13-0 shots advantage and finished with a 6-0 edge in corners. Antolini didn’t have to make a save.
Deming made 11 stops for the Roadrunners.
Waynflete will get perhaps its biggest test of the season Wednesday when it hosts a powerhouse Black Bears team the Flyers didn’t play in the regular season.
Waynflete is 0-2 all-time in the playoffs vs. Maranacook, falling in the 2014 Western C semifinals (4-1) and in last year’s Class C South semifinals (2-1, in double-overtime).
The Flyers will enter the game confident due to their play all season and the location.
“It’s been really important to be at home,” said Kieffer. “All year, we’ve said no one was coming in and beating us.”
“If we play hard and play our game, literally no one has been able to beat us,” Lipton said. “If we continue to do that, I think we’ve got a chance. If we can win, it would be one of my greatest experiences in high school.”
“We’re one away from states and the seniors got a taste as freshmen, so we hope to get back,” Salway added. “It’s really nice to be here. To get the 1 seed was huge and we want to take advantage of it.”
2017 Class C South quarterfinals
Waynflete 1 Mt. Abram 0 (OT)
2010 Western C quarterfinals
Waynflete 4 Mt. Abram 0
2008 Western C Final
Waynflete 1 Mt. Abram 0