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Waynflete junior Thorne Kieffer (17) is mobbed by his teammates after his overtime goal gave the Flyers a 1-0 win over Mt. Abram in a Class C South quarterfinal Tuesday afternoon. The Flyers advanced to set up a semifinal round showdown at Maranacook.
Joe Carpine / 365digitalphotography.com photos.
More photos below.
PORTLAND—Nothing comes easily in the playoffs and the first step is often the hardest, but Waynflete’s boys’ soccer team was able to dig deep and do what was necessary Tuesday afternoon at Fore River Fields.
In other words, survive and advance.
Hosting Mt. Abram in a Class C South quarterfinal, the fourth-ranked Flyers controlled play most of the way, but couldn’t put the ball in the net.
The fifth-seeded Roadrunners would extend the game to overtime, but ultimately, Waynflete avoided the upset by using its head.
A couple of heads actually.
With 3:55 to play in the first overtime, senior Ilyas Abdi headed the ball to junior Thorne Kieffer, who headed it into the goal and the Flyers survived, 1-0, improved to 10-3-2 and advanced to a showdown at top-ranked Maranacook (14-1) in the semifinals Friday at 6 p.m.
“Credit to Mt. Abram to travel down here, get off the bus and play us tough,” said longtime Waynflete coach Brandon Salway. “I tried to prep our kids that they’d come in and be ready. Mt. Abram did what I expected them to. I don’t think it’s what the team was thinking, but we were able to move on.”
Waynflete has reached the playoffs in each of the past 11 seasons and has posted a winning record every year since 2009.
This fall, the Flyers have been their usual competitive selves, starting 4-0-1 and after losing at Freeport, winning four more games in a row. Waynflete struggled down the stretch, going just 1-2-1, but its 9-3-2 mark was good for the No. 4 seed in Class C South (see sidebar, below, for previous stories).
Mt. Abram started with a 3-2 loss at Monmouth Academy and a 1-1 home tie versus Lisbon, but the Roadrunners went 10-1-1 the rest of the way to wind up fifth in the region.
The teams don’t play in the regular season, but have met twice previously in the playoffs with the Flyers taking both (see sidebar, below, for prior results).
The game was scheduled to be played Wednesday afternoon, but the threat of bad weather moved it up 24 hours.
Tuesday, on what turned out to be a pretty pleasant afternoon (63-degrees and dry), Waynflete was frustrated for over 90 minutes before finally putting the ball in the net.
In the first minute, a throw from Flyers senior Christian Brooks landed in the box, but Mt. Abram sophomore goalkeeper Nate Luce grabbed it.
Seconds later, on a Waynflete corner kick, the ball again landed in the box, but no Flyer could get a body part on it.
After sophomore Oliver Burdick shot just wide and sophomore Luca Antolini sent a free kick wide in the sixth minute, the Flyers had a great chance in the 10th minute, but Burdick’s cross to Abdi was cleared by Luce at the last second.
After sophomore Ian McClure-Chute sent a long shot wide and Abdi had a shot blocked in the box, Abdi set up Houssein, but again Luce got to the ball first.
The Roadrunners’ first shot came with 15:45 to go in the first half, but a long direct kick from sophomore Evan Allen was handled by Waynflete senior goalkeeper Max Winson.
With just over 10 minutes on the clock, Burdick had two good looks at scoring the first goal, but his initial bid was blocked by Mt. Abram senior back Sam Storer and Burdick’s follow-up header was headed out of harm’s way by Storer.
Late in the half, Allen forced Winson to make a sprawling save and at the other end, Burdick shot just wide, sending the game to the break tied, 0-0.
Both teams had chances in the second half, but neither could finish.
After Allen had a long shot saved, at the other end, a rush by Brooks was broken up, Kieffer was denied by junior Jack Deming, who had come on in goal, and Kieffer missed just wide.
With 25:25 left, Brooks got his head on a cross from freshman Harry Millspaugh, but Deming made the save.
After Winson saved another attempt by Allen, the Flyers countered and with 21:50 to go, Houssein set up Abdi in front, but his great look sailed just over the crossbar to keep the game scoreless.
Abdi got another chance on a free kick from just outside the box with 16:50 on the clock, but his bid to the near post was saved by Deming.
With 13:42 remaining, an Allen free kick from beyond midfield landed in the box and forced Winson to punch it out of bounds, setting up a Roadrunners’ corner kick.
Allen nearly set up the go-ahead goal with 11:32 remaining, as he fed sophomore Tyson Hill, but Hill shot high.
Late in regulation, a long blast from Waynflete junior Miles Lipton forced Deming to leap and save and Allen sent a free kick just wide, sending the contest to overtime.
In the playoffs, teams play up to two 15-minute, “sudden victory” overtime periods to determine a winner and if no one scores, it comes down to penalty kicks.
The Flyers made sure that wouldn’t happen as they finally produced the winner.
The hosts pushed from the start of overtime, as Burdick fed sophomore Daraige Dahia in the box, but Deming got to the ball and when Dahia collided with him, Dahia was given a yellow card.
After Kieffer missed just wide, Brooks got his head on the ball, but Deming made the save.
Then, with 3:55 remaining in the first OT, Waynflete brought the curtain down.
Brooks threw the ball in from the side, Abdi leaped and headed the ball toward the goal and before Mt. Abram’s defense could react, Kieffer got his head on the ball and sent it past a lunging Deming and into the net for a 1-0 victory.
“We had a hard time breaking them down,” said Kieffer. “We started slow, then we amped it up. (Christian) dropped the ball in, Ilyas got a head on it and I was behind him and got a head on it, finally. We practice that and I hit it where I wanted. I did it for my team. We’ve been grinding all year.”
“We talked about the throw-in opportunities before overtime,” Salway said. “We had to get in behind the header. He did a nice job finishing. Thorne has been Johnny-on-the-spot lately putting the ball in the net.”
The Flyers finished with a 10-4 edge in shots on goal and an 8-1 advantage in corner kicks. Winson made seven saves.
The Roadrunners got seven saves from their goalies and a defensive save from Storer.
Waynflete and Maranacook, a longtime title contender, don’t play in the regular season. The Flyers lost, 4-1, to the Black Bears in the 2014 Western C semifinals in the lone prior playoff meeting.
Maranacook advanced by downing No. 8 Carrabec, 6-0, in its quarterfinal Tuesday and is very tough to beat anywhere, especially in Readfield.
Regardless, Waynflete is ready to take its chances.
“It feels great to go on to the next round,” Kieffer said. “Hopefully we can keep it going and make a run.”
“Maranacook is a tough team at home,” Salway said. “They play hard and organized. We’ll have to play better.”
Waynflete sophomore Askar Houssein plays the ball down the sideline as Mt. Abram senior Tor Tooker defends.
Waynflete senior Hank Duvall shields the ball from Mt. Abram freshman Kenyon Pillsbury.
Waynflete sophomore Oliver Burdick makes contact.
Waynflete senior Christian Brooks gets a step on Mt. Abram senior Evan MacKay.
Waynflete sophomore Luca Antolini serves up a corner kick.
Waynflete sophomore Askar Houssein is robbed by Mt. Abram sophomore goalkeeper Nate Luce.
Waynflete senior goalkeeper Max Winson boots the ball.
Waynflete senior Ilyas Abdi fires a shot on goal.
Mt. Abram junior goalkeeper Jack Deming reaches in vain as Waynflete junior Thorne Kieffer’s header sails into the goal to end Tuesday’s contest.
2010 Western C quarterfinals
Waynflete 4 Mt. Abram 0
2008 Western C Final
Waynflete 1 Mt. Abram 0