PORTLAND— Perhaps the Waynflete girls’ lacrosse team really won’t be tested this spring.
The Flyers hosted North Yarmouth Academy Saturday afternoon in a rematch of last year’s memorable Class B state final, but the Panthers, like 10 other teams to date this season, had no answer for Waynflete’s balanced offense and smothering defense.
The Flyers broke the game open with a 6-0 run in the first half and never looked back as they improved to 11-0 with a 12-3 victory.
Junior Morgan Woodhouse had four goals and one assist and senior Anna Libby added three goals for the offense. Waynflete also had a big edge in ground balls, shots on goal and turnovers forced as it took another step toward what is looking more and more like a coronation next month.
“It was really exciting,” Libby said. “We’re all really excited right now. We’ve really worked hard to prepare. We thought about this game a lot. (NYA’s) a really good team. We just played our game.”
The beat goes on
The Flyers and Panthers met three times and engaged in two entertaining games in 2008. After Waynflete crushed NYA, 18-6, in the first meeting in Portland, the Panthers rebounded and handed the Flyers their only loss, 10-8. The rubber match went to Waynflete in the state final, 12-8, but NYA led at the half and got seven goals from standout Courtney Dumont, who was neutralized in the second half when Flyers coach Cathie Connors decided to faceguard her.
Heading into the 2009 campaign, most pundits felt the Flyers and Panthers would be on another collision course and neither team has disappointed.
NYA won its first eight games before falling 12-11 in sudden victory overtime at Yarmouth in the game of the year Wednesday night.
Waynflete, meanwhile, has steamrolled all comers, winning its first 10 games by a composite 143-39 margin. The Flyers’ smallest margin of victory came in a 10-4 home win over Kennebunk on May 14.
After a slow start Saturday, Waynflete continued to excel.
It took 6 minutes, 32 seconds for the Flyers to dent the scoreboard, thanks in part to NYA senior goalie Abigail Moss, who denied the hosts’ early bids.
Waynflete broke the ice when Libby took a pass from senior All-American Mariah Monks and scored at the 18:28 mark. With 13:55 to play in the first half, Woodhouse got on the scoreboard, taking a pass from Monks and beating Moss to make it 2-0. Just 40 seconds later, sophomore Scout Haffenreffer scored on a free position, forcing Panthers coach Julia Littlefield to call timeout.
It didn’t help.
At the 11:25 mark, junior Amy Allen scored unassisted to make it 4-0. Forty-six seconds later, Woodhouse scored unassisted and exactly a minute after that, Monks fed Allen for another goal to put the Flyers in control, up 6-0.
“At the beginning of the season, we rushed a little bit (on offense),” said Libby. “Now, we’ve slowed down and we’ve found that works best.”
The visitors finally got their first goal with 1:43 to play when Dumont scored on a free position, but with 52 seconds remaining in the half, Waynflete went up 7-1 on an unassisted goal from senior Ellie Cole.
The Flyers won five of nine first half draws, forced 15 turnovers (while committing only six) and outshot the Panthers, 16-6. Seven saves from Moss kept NYA within hailing distance.
NYA pulled within 7-2 when sophomore Lilly Wellenbach scored on a free position with 22:08 to play, but Libby (from Woodhouse) answered just 1 minute, 13 seconds later. Dumont scored unassisted with 19:02 to go to make it 8-3, but the Panthers wouldn’t score again as Waynflete’s defense made life miserable for the NYA attack, Dumont especially.
“We basically decided to play our zone,” Connors said. “It’s been working so well lately. I thought playing as a unit would be better.”
“We practice defense all the time,” said Libby. “We’re really supportive of each other. We know who’s where and what to do.”
“We knew their strengths,” added senior Maddie Berrang (five ground balls). “They’re really fast and good at transition. We focused on shutting them down and not letting them get fastbreaks. That was key. We watch everyone, but we know (Courtney’s) really good and can shoot from anywhere. Everyone had their eye on her on defense.”
Waynflete’s offense then put it way.
With 8:54 to go, Monks scored unassisted to make it 9-3. Woodhouse then scored twice (once on a free position, another unassisted) and with 2:41 to go, Libby brought the curtain down on the 12-3 win with her third goal (assisted by Cole).
“It didn’t feel like a nine-goal win,” Connors said. “I’m psyched, but I don’t underestimate NYA at all. If we play them again, we’ll see a different team.”
The Panthers tipped their cap and hope to see the Flyers again.
“Waynflete’s fabulous,” said Littlefield. “I’m very proud of my girls. I’d rather have my team than theirs. Maybe we’ll see them in states. If we do, we’ll be a different team.
“This is one of their better teams. We made some mistakes defensively. We learned a lot. It was a great experience to play Waynflete. They’re very experienced, and very, very tough.”
NYA got two goals from Dumont and one from Wellenbach. Moss had 16 saves. Dumont led the team with five ground balls.
In addition to Woodhouse’s four goals and Libby’s three, the Flyers got two goals from Allen and one each from Cole, Monks and Haffenreffer. Woodhouse had a game-high seven ground balls. Junior goalie Sasha Timpson stopped six shots.
NYA had a 9-7 edge in draw controls, but Waynflete won 37 ground balls to the Panthers’ 22, forced 21 turnovers (while committing only 10), and outshot the visitors by a whopping 34-13 margin.
NYA (8-2 and first in the latest Eastern Class B Heals) figures to fall to second behind Yarmouth. The Panthers close the regular year next week with home games against York Monday and Falmouth Wednesday.
NYA might not have homefield advantage for the playoffs, but still likes its chances.
“We’re excited to play (Yarmouth) again,” said Littlefield. “It’s good competition. We had a ball playing them the other night. I’m proud to be 8-2. We have some positive things going on. We hope to finish strong and hopefully we’ll see the green team one more time.”
Waynflete, meanwhile, has a chance to finish undefeated for the third time in five years and for the fourth time under Connors. The Flyers (who have the top spot in Western B wrapped up) close their season at Yarmouth Monday.
While the players are content cruising to victory, Waynflete’s coach would prefer a test in the finale.
“I don’t know what else we can do to prepare,” said Libby. “I think we’ve had games where our offense is acing it and others when it was our defense. We haven’t had a game yet where it was both. We still have room for improvement. We’d love to be undefeated. We’ll try as hard as we can.”
“It would be fun to be undefeated,” said Berrang. “Other teams have been undefeated in the past, so why not? If we keep playing at this level, it would be fine if we didn’t get a close game.”
“I want a closer game,” said Connors. “I’m hoping Monday is a good, close game. We need it.”
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/mhoffer
Waynflete senior Mariah Monks eluded NYA senior Lucy Gerrity during the teams’ Class B state final rematch Saturday afternoon in Portland. (Brian Beard photo)
NYA senior Lucy Gerrity (with ball), junior Courtney Dumont (27) and their teammates weren’t on the attack much Saturday, scoring a season-low three goals. (Brian Beard photo)
Waynflete junior Morgan Woodhouse continued to dominate at both ends of the field, scoring four times, and proving impossible to stop, as NYA junior Hayley Bright discovered. (Brian Beard photo)