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YARMOUTH—The first of a possible three chapters of the Waynflete-North Yarmouth Academy boys’ soccer Passion Play, circa 2012, was held Thursday afternoon at Lewis Field.
But what was expected to be a nailbiter, instead turned into a Flyers’ romp.
After the Panthers carried play for the better part of the 25 minutes, Waynflete got the jump on a goal from senior Paul Runyambo. Before halftime, the Flyers twice got fortunate bounces which led to goals and then, in the second half, Waynflete tacked on two more to go on to a 5-0 triumph.
The Flyers showed their balance by getting goals from five different players and played solid defense as they improved to 3-0, dropping NYA to 2-2-1 in the process.
“We were more ready,” said Runyambo. “We really wanted it. Especially the seniors. We wanted to win the game. We came out strong. We could have done a better job, but it was good enough. Before the game, we knew this was our first true test. Coach talked to us about that. We were ready because it’s NYA. Say no more.”
Both teams circled this date on their calendar, and while both had already taken the pitch a few times, this matchup was something else entirely.
The teams have met in the past two Western C Finals, with NYA springing a stunning 1-0 upset in 2010 and Waynflete earning some revenge last fall, 3-1, before downing Houlton in overtime to win the Class C state title for the first time in program history.
Waynflete opened the 2012 campaign with a 7-0 home victory over Wells and after a 10-day break, went to Wells and triumphed again, 5-0, Monday.
NYA had a chance to spring another big upset in its opener when it led perennial Western B power Yarmouth, 2-0, early, but the Clippers rallied and the teams settled for a 2-2 draw. The Panthers then lost at defending Class B champion Falmouth, 8-0, before bouncing back to defeat host Wells (8-0) and A.R. Gould (13-0).
The Flyers had won three straight on NYA’s turf and were 5-2-1 against the Panthers dating back to the start of the 2009 season, but the Panthers held a 12-7-3 dating back to 1999.
Thursday, NYA looked strong early, but everything soon went Waynflete’s way.
In the 10th minute, Flyers senior goalkeeper Zander Majercik beat Panthers junior Forrest Chicoine to sophomore D.J. Nicholas’ feed to deny a threat.
With 25:49 to go in the first half, NYA threatened again, but junior captain Jackson Cohan-Smith’s pass to junior Wesley Bright resulted in a shot which went wide.
A minute later, Panthers sophomore Duncan George fed senior captain Oliver Silverson, but the pass was just a bit long.
Then, with 15:26 left before halftime, Waynflete broke the ice.
As would be the case on all five goals, the Flyers struck on a free kick. Junior Henry Cleaves lobbed the ball toward the box, where Runyambo snared it and shot. The ball hit NYA junior goalkeeper Austin Kidder, but deflected into the goal and Waynflete was ahead to stay, 1-0.
“Hank had a really nice ball and I just happened to be there to finish it,” said Runyambo. “When you play your rival, the first goal gets your morale up and gets you excited. We got the vibe of the game. Once we got to know how to slow down D.J. and their midfield, we were fine.”
The Flyers would dominate the rest of the half.
First, a free kick by Cleaves was saved and a long shot from sophomore Harry Baker-Connick went just wide, but Waynflete’s next opportunity would result in a goal.
With 8:09 to go in the half, senior Kevin Kanakan played the ball in front the side, it deflected off an NYA player and squirted into the goal. Flyers senior Max Belleau was credited for the goal and it was 2-0.
Goal number three came with 2:25 showing. Senior Mohammed Suja got some room and shot from the top of the box. The ball skidded off the head of a defender and Kidder got crossed up as the shot tickled the twine and Waynflete had a commanding 3-0 halftime advantage.
NYA had a couple looks to get back in the game in the second half, but a lead pass to senior Jacob Scammon was broken up by Majercik and moments later, Nicholas’ rush was broken up as well.
Then, with 14:41 to go in regulation, any remaining doubt was extinguished when, on a corner kick, sophomore Clancy Mitchell banged home a rebound. Kanakan started the play by serving the ball on goal and Suja fired a shot. The save was made by freshman goalie Camden Spear (who came on for the second half), but Mitchell tapped home the loose ball for a 4-0 advantage.
Three minutes later, on another corner (the Flyers had a 6-4 edge for the game), junior Peter Miner finished (Mitchell got the assist), and that was that.
Waynflete 5 NYA 0.
It was the Flyers’ biggest win in the series this century.
“(The Panthers) were impressive in the beginning,” said Waynflete coach Brandon Salway. “They carried play initially. It took us awhile to get used to their speed. We’re not there yet, but I think we made big plays inside both 18s. We’ve been focusing a lot on what we do inside both 18s. We spent a lot of times finishing plays off. We started to become a team a little bit today. I learned they’re sincerely enthused for each other. They rooted for their teammates today. That’s what builds a team. You could see it. Kids who started were up at the end rooting their teammates on. It’s a good win, good Heal Points. (NYA) win a lot of games. We haven’t heard the last of them.”
Waynflete’s offense was prolific, but the team’s defensive effort was solid throughout.
“(Junior) Joey (Schnier), Paul and Hank did a nice job and our outside backs, (sophomore) Harry (Baker-Connick) and (junior) Carter (Burrowes) did a nice job. (Sophomore) Elyse (Bayizere), Max and Kevin did a nice job of tracking back. We talk about tracking back if you don’t want to allow goals and if you want to win, you can’t allow goals. We wanted to get guys behind balls and we did that today.”
Majercik only had to make four saves, but he’ll have his chance to shine as the season goes on.
“The team has a lot of confidence (Zander will) come up big for us,” Salway said. “He’s improved a lot. It really gives us confidence going forward he’ll be there when we need him.”
NYA, which was outshot (on frame), 9-4, was left looking for answers.
“If you analyze the goals, every one came on a free kick or corner,” said Panthers coach Martyn Keen. “Every one. We were very naive and we were exposed there. The kids were very honest and open about that afterwards. Waynflete’s perennially a good team. We were ready, but it went south in a hurry after that first goal. To get three before halftime was soul destroying. The game was over by halftime. It was a nothing second half, really. We weren’t coming back from 3-0 down. We gave away too many free kicks in dangerous areas. We shot ourselves in the foot. I was very encouraged the first 25 minutes. Even when they got the first one, I thought in my mind we’ve been here before.”
Kidder made three saves, Spear one.
NYA is back in action Saturday at Fryeburg.
“We have to bounce back on Saturday,” Keen said. “That’s not a gimme. That’s a tough place to go.”
The Panthers return home Wednesday to face Wells.
NYA will be fine going forward.
“I love working with these kids,” said Keen. “They’ve given me everything they have. We have to keep getting better. Hopefully we’ll get enough (Heal) Points to throw together a run at the end of the season. We know what we need to work on.”
Waynflete hosts Freeport Saturday and goes to Sacopee Tuesday.
The Flyers will also only get better going forward.
“This boosts our morale, but we have some competition coming up,” said Runyambo. “We just hope to get better each time. We need to possess better. We’re just playing kick and run now. Once we do that, we’ll find our way.”
Round two is Oct. 5 at Fore River Fields.
Waynflete senior Jack Cutler plays the ball past NYA senior Eliott Wellenbach.
NYA senior Aidan McLaughlin plays the ball away from Waynflete senior Kevin Kanakan.
Waynflete senior Mohammed Suja taps the ball ahead as NYA junior captain Jackson Cohan-Smith looks on.
NYA junior goalkeeper Austin Kidder tries to punch the ball away from Waynflete senior Jack Cutler as Panthers senior Eliott Wellenbach looms.
NYA freshman goalkeeper Camden Spear kicks the ball away from Waynflete senior Peabo Knoth. Spear came on to play in the second half.
Waynflete senior Paul Runyambo heads the ball away from NYA senior Matt Hawkins while Flyers sophomore Clancy Mitchell looks on.
Dangerous NYA sophomore D.J. Nicholas plays the ball while being watched by Waynflete junior Peter Miner.
@ Waynflete 2 NYA 0
Waynflete 1 @ NYA 0
NYA 1 @ Waynflete 0 (Western C Final)
Waynflete 4 @ NYA 2
NYA 1 @ Waynflete 0
@ Waynflete 1 NYA 1 (tie)
@ NYA 2 Waynflete 1
@ NYA 3 Waynflete 0
NYA 5 @ Waynflete 2
@ Waynflete 2 NYA 2 (tie)
Waynflete 4 @ NYA 2
@ Waynflete 1 NYA 1 (tie)
@ NYA 5 Waynflete 0
NYA 2 @ Waynflete 0
@ NYA 3 Waynflete 1
NYA 5 @ Waynflete 1
@ NYA 6 Waynflete 0
NYA 1 @ Waynflete 0
@ NYA 3 Waynflete 0
Waynflete junior Peter Miner is congratulated by sophomore teammate Elyse Bayizere and others while NYA senior Matt Hawkins looks on in dismay during Thursday afternoon’s battle. Miner’s goal gave the Flyers a 5-0 lead and that was the final score in the rivals’ first meeting this fall.
More photos below.