(Ed. Note: For the complete Cheverus-Messalonskee and Waynflete-Falmouth girls’ lacrosse game stories, with detailed box scores and photos, please visit theforecaster.net)
Considering all the drama they produced in the regular season, it’s no surprise that the Cheverus and Waynflete girls’ lacrosse teams have continued to turn heads in the playoffs.
As they have for years, the Flyers produced another memorable win Saturday.
Waynflete, the No. 2 seed in Western Class B after an 11-1 campaign, was scheduled to host third-ranked Falmouth at Fore River Fields, but poor field conditions moved the game to Fitzpatrick Stadium, the site of the state championship games, where the teams produced a game for the ages.
In a contest that not only lived up to the hype, but left if far behind in the rearview mirror, two of the finest teams in the state produced 50 minutes of thrills that when all was said and done, left just the tiniest bit of separation.
Unlike the two regular season meetings, goals were at a premium in the first half and the Flyers’ ability to surprisingly control the draw circle and keep possession helped them take a 4-3 lead to the break. But the fun was just beginning. Twice early in the second half, the Yachtsmen drew even, but twice Waynflete went back on top. Then, Falmouth scored three straight goals to take an 8-6 lead with 11:47 to play, seemingly putting it in position to seal the deal.
Unfortunately for the Yachtsmen, they couldn’t deliver the knockout blow as Flyers goalie Katherine Torrey made a pair of game altering saves. Then, Waynflete proudly rose off the canvas and rode the unrivaled determination, heart and skill of Martha Veroneau, who willed her team back, helping it tie the score at 9-9.
“Martha wasn’t going to let us lose,” said longtime Flyers coach Cathie Connors.
Veroneau credited someone very close to her for her motivation.
“One thing before the game that really inspired me personally was Catherine, my sister, who’s out (with a knee injury) for a second straight season,'” Veroneau said. “She said, ‘The last time I played on this field was states two years ago. You never know when your time is up. Take it and do all you can. Once it’s over, you wish you had one more game.’ I came into the game fully focusing on playing the game for her. We were basically in tears when she was talking since she’s so motivational. You never want to have your season end, so I just picked it up.”
In the waning moments, both teams had their chances, but the Flyers would finally break the deadlock as Sadie Cole tickled the twine on a free position with 26.1 seconds to go.
“I was pretty confident,” Cole said. “I was trying to just block everyone out. I knew I had to do it for my team. We might not have gotten another opportunity and honestly, I was too tired to go into overtime. I didn’t really plan my shot. I hoped for the best. I knew I had to run in and go low and I think it worked for me. I was lucky. In the right place at the right time.”
Waynflete then won the ensuing draw and ran out the clock, finishing its epic 10-9 triumph.
Veroneau scored four goals, Cole had three, Torrey made nine critical saves and after losing the draw battle, 20-5, in the last meeting, the Flyers had an 11-10 edge.
“It was such an amazing, exciting game,” said Torrey. “I don’t think I’ve ever felt a connection with my teammates as much as I did in this game. I’m so proud of them all, I’m speechless. Falmouth’s such a fantastic team. They’ve had an amazing season. It’s such an honor to be here playing with them. I’m so happy with the outcome.”
“This felt like a state game,” said Cole. “It was at Fitzy. It was just intense, back and forth.”
“I can’t help but feel sad for Falmouth,” Connors added. “I wish it was the regional final. They’re so great. It was such a fantastic game. Anyone watching the game, it had to be fantastic game to watch. I feel like it’s going down as one of my all-timers. I love that we didn’t stop playing as a team.”
The Flyers now turn their attention to Cape Elizabeth (the No. 1 seed in Western B at 13-0). Wednesday, Waynflete is at the Capers, who they didn’t play during the season. The Flyers have a lot of history in their favor going into that one. Waynflete has defeated Cape Elizabeth 18 straight times, including 8-7 in last year’s Western B Final.
If the Flyers can bounce back from Saturday’s emotional expenditure, they could earn a chance to play for yet another championship next Saturday (back at Fitzpatrick Stadium) versus Freeport or Yarmouth.
“We have to put all of our energy into it, play our best and see what comes out of it,” Torrey said. “I feel good and confident. I think we’re a great team. Cape’s a great team. We’ll just see.”
“I think our confidence from this game will carry over,” said Veroneau. “Hopefully we have two more in us. (We’re) a special team. Cape’s really well coached. They have a lot of good players. They’re undefeated this season. I’m pretty sure it’ll be a tough game.”
“Beating Falmouth is one of three big steps,” added Cole. “There’s more steps to go. Just getting this far with such a new team is such an amazing feeling. We haven’t played (Cape). It’s going to be so exciting to play them. It should be a great game.”
If Waynflete beats Cape Elizabeth, it will advance to a fifth straight Class B state final Saturday, back at Fitzy, against either Freeport or Yarmouth. Game time is 10 a.m.
In Eastern A, Cheverus is up to similar tricks from a year ago, when it went 3-9 in the regular season, but snuck into the final playoff spot and sprung a pair of upsets before falling in the regional final.
This season, the Stags went 7-5 and earned the No. 6 seed in Eastern A. Last Wednesday, Cheverus went to third-ranked Lewiston and held on for a 12-8 win. Sophomore Elyse Caiazzo had six goals, while classmate Meredith Willard added five.
“Last year as freshmen it was trial by error,” said Stags coach Jamie Chamberlain. “This year they’ve been more patient. Meredith’s just got pure speed and Elyse has the shiftiness.”
Cheverus then got a gift and instead of having to go to No. 2 Portland in Saturday’s semifinals (more on the Bulldogs in a moment), the Stags hosted No. 7 Messalonskee, a team they beat in last year’s quarterfinals (10-8).
Cheverus never trailed, but never got comfortable either and had to hold its breath until the final horn. The Stags shot to a 6-2 lead behind two goals each from Alex Logan and Sadie Lyons and three separate times held a three goal advantage in the second half, including 10-7 with under eight minutes to play, but the Eagles, never quit and cut the deficit to 10-9 with 4:51 to go. The unheralded Cheverus defense rose to the occasion and late ground ball wins by Logan and Emily Rodrigue helped the Stags keep possession and they were able to run out the clock on a palpitating 10-9 victory.
Lyons had four goals, Willard three and Logan added a pair.
“It was pretty exhausting playing the whole game in the midfield, but I knew we had to try to hold on to the ball,” Logan said. “We knew that last possession would be the game. The schedule we play in the regular season helps us so much in the postseason. We’ve played hard teams in close games. When it came to a game like this, it was good to have this experience.”
“We told the girls at the end, ‘Defense bend but don’t break,'” said Chamberlain. “We knew they’d throw everything at us and they certainly did. It was close and exciting to the end.”
An argument can be made for last year’s Cheverus team simply being happy to be in the regional final and its loss at Brunswick not being a big surprise. This spring, the Stags are confident they can not only go to Brunswick and compete, but beat the Dragons and make it to a state final for the first time in program history.
When Cheverus is on its game, it can play with and defeat anyone.
“Brunswick’s very good and talented and has played together for a long time,” Logan said. “It’ll definitely be a challenge for us, but we just have to just keep playing our game and make sure we’re on on offense and defense. We want to win. We want to go all the way.”
“Each step of the playoffs you have to come with your ‘A’ game,” Chamberlain said. “If we don’t, we’ll be in trouble.”
If the Stags can make it to their first-ever state final Saturday (3 p.m. at Fitzy), they would meet either Marshwood or two-time defending champion Scarborough.
Portland hoped to reach the semifinals as well, but after a program-best 10-2 regular season, the second-seeded Bulldogs couldn’t hold off Messalonskee in the quarterfinals and suffered a 9-7 overtime loss. Drew Barry had five goals, but couldn’t prevent Portland’s season from ending at 10-3.
Sun Journal staff writer Dave St. Hilaire contributed to this story.
Cheverus sophomore Meredith Willard leaps and shoots during the Stags’ 10-9 win over Messalonskee in Saturday’s Eastern A semifinal.
Waynflete junior Martha Veroneau exults and is congratulated by her teammates after one of her four goals during the Flyers’ stirring 10-9 win over Falmouth in Saturday’s Western B semifinals.