PORTLAND—If ever there was a team that was fit for anything but a tie, it was the Waynflete Flyers.
Waynflete, the two-time defending Class C girls’ soccer champion, had settled for draws in five of its first 13 contests, including its past two, and Monday afternoon at Fore River Fields, on Senior Day, in the regular season finale, the Flyers appeared en route to yet another one.
And then, suddenly, they weren’t.
Hosting Freeport, which needed a win to keep its faint Western B playoff hopes alive, Waynflete had a series of close calls, but couldn’t find the net.
That is until 54 seconds remained when a budding star with a familiar last name rose to the occasion.
Freshman Lydia Giguere, the younger sister of clutch injured junior Arianna Giguere, got a favorable deflection, found some space, then shot past Falcons junior goalkeeper Izzy Qualls for the only goal of the game and the Flyers went on to a 1-0 victory.
Waynflete relished having to only play 80 minutes, ended its regular season with a strong record of 8-1-5 and ended Freeport’s campaign at 4-8-2.
“It feels a little strange to win in regulation,” said Flyers coach Todd Dominski. “We’re tired of tie games. The five ties are games we feel like we should have taken.”
Freeport came to Waynflete Monday still holding on to playoff hopes. The Falcons had been competitive most of the season, but a year after their surge to the semifinals, couldn’t produce victories at a hoped-for rate.
Freeport opened with losses at Cape Elizabeth (5-0) and Sacopee Valley (2-1) before romping at Wells (7-1). After letting a two-goal lead slip away in a 4-2 home loss to Yarmouth, the Falcons lost at home to Gray-New Gloucester (2-1) and at Fryeburg Academy (1-0) and Greely (3-0) before playing visiting Lake Region to a 1-1 tie and beating host NYA, 3-0. After a 1-1 home tie versus Wells, Freeport beat visiting Traip (2-0). After a 3-0 home loss to Falmouth, the Falcons kept their faint hopes alive Saturday with a 3-0 home win over Poland.
Waynflete has been fit to be tied almost as often as it’s been victorious this fall.
The Flyers settled for a 2-2 home tie with Traip in the opener, then beat visiting Fryeburg, 2-1. After its lone loss, 4-0, at Western A power Falmouth, Waynflete handled visiting Lake Region (5-1) and host North Yarmouth Academy (3-0) and Old Orchard Beach (2-0). After settling for a scoreless tie at Poland, the Flyers defeated visiting Old Orchard Beach (5-0) and Gray-New Gloucester (2-1, in overtime). Waynflete then tied three times in four games, settling for a 2-2 home draw with Sacopee Valley and after a 3-0 victory over visiting NYA, settling for a 1-1 tie at Sacopee Valley and a 2-2 draw at Traip.
Even though the Falcons and Flyers are in different classes, they’ve played on a consistent basis with Waynflete holding an 8-2 advantage since 2001.
Monday, Freeport was seeking its first win over the Flyers since Sept. 10, 2005 (4-1 at home) and hoped that the Heal Points would fall its way to earn a playoff berth, but Waynflete rendered those hopes moot, beating the Falcons for the eighth straight time.
After a pregame ceremony which honored seniors from both squads, the near misses began.
Freeport had a great chance in the fourth minute, when a shot from senior Julia Smith beat Flyers senior goalkeeper Julianna Harwood only to hit the near post and a rebound bid went wide.
Waynflete’s first look came in the seventh minute, but sophomore Beata Vest shot wide.
With 23:01 to play in the half, Flyers freshman Amelia Bertaska served the ball into the box for sophomore Elizabeth Lualdi, but Falcons Qualls got there first.
In the 24th minute, Waynflete sophomore Ali Pope had a shot saved by Qualls.
With 12:55 remaining, junior Marijke Rowse took a 30-yard free kick that was on target, but Qualls tipped it away.
After Freeport senior Alyssa Richardson had a shot saved by Harwood, at the other end, Rowse served a free kick into the box and Lualdi redirected it, but Qualls made the save.
After Rowse headed a shot wide, Smith sent a left-footed bid just wide, junior Esme Benson, last year’s state game hero, had a shot saved by Qualls at the other end and Rowse sent a free kick high, the game went to halftime scoreless.
The Flyers had a 9-5 shots advantage in the first half, but Qualls’ six saves kept zeroes on the scoreboard.
The close calls continued in the second half.
Just 90 seconds in, Vest had to clear a serve to Freeport junior Maddie Squibb.
After Qualls saved another Rowse free kick, the Falcons got the ball into the Waynflete box, where it pinballed around before Benson was able to clear it.
With 26:27 to play, Flyers senior Helen Gray-Bauer stole the ball and one-timed a left-footed shot, but it went just wide.
With 23 minutes remaining, Freeport earned the game’s first corner kick, but had nothing to show for it.
With 16:01 left, Harwood went sprawling to get to a deflected shot off the foot of Richardson.
Seconds later, on a free kick from Falcons junior Lindsay Cartmell, Harwood beat Richardson to the ball.
With 11:18 left, Smith took a pass from Cartmell, but was just wide of the target.
Smith had a great chance with 8:11 remaining, breaking in on the left side, but her shot was just wide of the far post.
As time wound down, it appeared that overtime was a certainty, but Waynflete would save its best for last.
Rowse got the ball to Giguere, who tried to shoot, but had it blocked. The ball came right back to Giguere, however, and she stepped around a defender, then, with Qualls defending the near post, fired a low, hard shot toward the far corner and despite a dive from Qualls, the ball rolled into the net for 1 -0 Flyers’ lead.
“It feels really good,” Giguere said. “Marijke had a good through-ball. I just found the corner. I wasn’t sure if would go in. I thought the keeper might save it. It was my first goal, which was pretty cool.”
“That was so nice,” Harwood said. “It looked like we were going to overtime again. We’ve gone to overtime a lot.”
“It was a good spot, a good finish, she did a good job,” added Dominski. “I told (Lydia) we needed another Giguere name in the paper. It worked out.”
Freeport never got a chance to answer and Waynflete capped its regular season with a victory.
“It was a tight game,” Giguere said. “Freeport played amazing.”
Final shots were even, 12-12. Both teams had two corners. While Qualls made seven saves, Harwood stopped four shots and gave credit to her defense.
“(Freeport) had three attackers at the front and we hadn’t seen that,” Harwood said. “We weren’t really prepared. (Sophomore) Isabel (Canning) and (junior) Christian (Rowe) got to most of the balls, but with three attackers, they’re going to get through.”
“They got in behind us a couple times and the back four did a good job getting back and recovering and Julianna did a nice job,” Dominski said.
Freeport hoped for more this year.
“This game summed up our season,” lamented Falcons coach Elayna Girardin. “We hit posts, we hit the net. We create plays and get chances, but we don’t finish. A couple coaches have said to me, ‘Wow, you’re way better than what your record shows.’ It’s been a tough season. Sometimes you have players who have a knack for the goal, but this year we didn’t. That’s the difference between four wins this year and what we had last year.”
Freeport graduates nine seniors, including some key contributors, and will have its hands full in 2015.
“We’ll be building,” Girardin said. “It started this year. I had two freshmen playing quite a bit. One in the back and one in the middle and up top. We’ll miss Lauren Cormier in the back and Alyssa Richardson and Emily Johnson were four-year starters. It’ll be tough.”
Waynflete (fifth in the Western C Heal Points standings at press time) will have to follow a familiar script to the championship, ascend from a low seed and win on the road.
The Flyers embrace the challenge.
“We definitely have a big target on our backs,” Giguere said. “We just have to keep doing what we’re doing. I’m really excited.”
“The season was a learning curve,” Harwood said. “There was something to learn from each game, whether it was a win, loss or a tie. We’re a young team. We’ve taken awhile to find our rhythm. There were some bumps along the way, but we’ve learned mental toughness. I think we can do big things in playoffs. When you get to playoffs, all the teams are so similar. I think we can go far.”
“We’re really banged up, but we have a few days to get healthy,” Dominski added. “I think we’ll go in as a five-seed. It doesn’t matter. You have to play good teams anyway. Whether we have to play them here or on the road, we’ll be ready to go. I think we have all the potential in the world. It’s just a matter of staying together as a team, going out and executing and putting the ball in the net. We have to do the little things that make us successful.”
Waynflete freshman Ava Farrar defends Freeport freshman Taylor Rinaldi.
Waynflete freshman Lydia Giguere finds some operating room.
Waynflete senior Helen Gray-Bauer plays the ball as Freeport junior Maddie Squibb looks on.
Freeport junior goalkeeper Izzy Qualls deflects the ball away from Waynflete sophomore Elizabeth Lualdi as Flyers freshman Lydia Giguere and Falcons freshman Taylor Rinaldi try to get to it as well.
Freeport freshman Taylor Rinaldi boots the ball out of harm’s way as Falcons junior goalkeeper Izzy Qualls looks on.
Waynflete sophomore Isabel Canning tries to cut off the shooting angle of Freeport senior Julia Smith as Flyers senior goalkeeper Julianna Harwood prepares for the shot.
Waynflete 2 @ Freeport 0
Waynflete 3 @ Freeport 2 (OT)
@ Waynflete 2 Freeport 1
Waynflete 4 @ Freeport 1
@ Waynflete 8 Freeport 0
Waynflete 3 @ Freeport 0
@ Waynflete 5 Freeport 2
@ Freeport 4 Waynflete 1
Waynflete 4 @ Freeport 0
@ Freeport 1 Waynflete 0
Waynflete senior goalkeeper Julianna Harwood rushes to congratulate freshman Lydia Giguere (10) after Giguere’s goal with under a minute to play gives the Flyers the game’s lone goal in Monday’s 1-0 victory.
Ben McCanna photos.
More photos below.