PORTLAND—For Waynflete, it was another step forward.
For Cheverus, it was an opportunity to learn where it stands.
And for both teams, signs were evident that there’s much to look forward to this spring.
In an early-season showdown between two of the state’s elite girls’ lacrosse powers Tuesday afternoon at Fore River Field, the Flyers, who had one game under their belt, hosted the Stags, who were taking the field for the first time.
Cheverus grabbed an early 2-1 lead, but Waynflete amped up its defense and held the Stags scoreless the final 20 minutes, 18 seconds of the first half and behind two goals from sophomore Isabel Canning and one apiece from junior Nina Moore and senior Helen Gray-Bauer, took a 6-2 advantage to halftime.
The visitors rediscovered their offense early in the second half and after junior Allie Scott, freshman Kate Sessler and senior Nicole Pineau all tickled the twine, the deficit was just one, 6-5.
The Flyers didn’t buckle, however, and after freshman Izzy Burdick scored to end a 14-plus minute drought, freshman Ya Stockford came in off the bench and added an insurance goal. Cheverus got a goal from junior Anne Veroneau with 6;28 to play, but could draw no closer and Waynflete clinched the victory with a late goal from Moore and went on to a 9-6 victory.
Moore scored four times, five different Flyers scored in all and Waynflete improved to 2-0 on the young season, dropping the Stags to 0-1 in the process.
“Today let us see what we need to work on,” said Flyers coach Cathie Connors. “The girls did a great job keeping composure in a close game.”
Cheverus and Waynflete produced arguably the regular season game of the year last June 4, when the teams were tied nine different times and the winning goal wasn’t delivered until 0.6 seconds remained on the clock when Alex Logan scored to give the Stags a palpitating 10-9 victory.
Cheverus went on to lose to Massabesic in five overtimes in the Class A state final, graduate a tremendous senior class and undergo a coaching change in the offseason, as former assistant Jennifer Wescott replaced Mallory Pelkey. Tuesday was the Stags’ season opener.
Waynflete was upset by Cape Elizabeth in last year’s semifinals, lost some terrific players as well and entered the 2015 season unheralded, but began with an impressive 13-4 win at North Yarmouth Academy back on April 16.
Heading into Tuesday’s contest, the Flyers had beaten the Stags on six of nine occasions (see sidebar, below).
Waynflete was eager to avenge last year’s setback and continue their strong start and managed to do so.
After some early nerves and turnovers on both ends, Cheverus struck first when Veroneau, who played for the Flyers her freshman year before transferring, fought her way through the Waynflete defense before beating Flyers junior goalie Charlotte Majercik for a 1-0 lead.
The hosts answered back a mere 16 seconds later.
After Gray-Bauer won the draw, the ball came to freshman Izzy Burdick, who fed Moore for her first goal, making it 1-1.
The Stags roared right back, as junior Allie Scott won the draw, the ball came to senior Abby Biegel and Biegel set up senior Kelsey Masselli to make it 2-1 Cheverus with 20:18 remaining in the half.
The Stags wouldn’t score again before the break, however, and it didn’t take long for Waynflete to take advantage.
After Burdick hit the post, the Flyers kept the pressure on and drew even, 2-2, when Burdick set up Moore for a goal with 12:55 left in the half.
Wescott called timeout, but it didn’t help.
After another Gray-Bauer draw win, Canning’s unassisted goal with 11:42 to go before halftime gave Waynflete the lead for good.
Gray-Bauer then got in on the scoring act, having an initial shot saved by Cheverus senior goalie Hope Correia, but pouncing on the rebound, shooting again and this time finishing to make it 4-2.
“We weren’t using our fastbreak and we needed to use the fastbreak and that changed things,” Connors said.
Canning struck unassisted again with 8:09 left and with 6:36 to go, Moore converted a free position which gave the Flyers a 6-2 advantage at halftime.
In the first 25 minutes, Waynflete won six of nine draws, collected 19 ground balls to the Stags’ eight and enjoyed a 15-3 shots advantage.
Cheverus committed 11 turnovers in the first half and dug a hole as a result.
With 23:37 remaining in regulation, the Stags finally rediscovered their offense, as Veroneau set up Scott to snap a 22 minute, 1 second drought.
After Majercik denied junior Emily Duff on a free position, Sessler scored her varsity goal, unassisted, to make it 6-4 with 18 minutes to play.
Connors called timeout, but Cheverus kept the pressure on. After a Duff free position was deflected high, Pineau managed to finish unassisted with 16:04 to go and the deficit was only one, 6-5.
The Stags hoped to get the ball back and tie the score, but Gray-Bauer won the draw and after a 14:10 scoreless drought of their own, the Flyers finally found the net again as Burdick took a pass from Canning, spun around a defender, then finished to make it 7-5 with 15:26 remaining.
After Cheverus was frustrated on several possessions, Waynflete went ahead, 8-5, with 7:11 to go when senior Haley Johnson set up Stockford, who had just entered the game to replace Gray-Bauer, who had suffered a cut to the face.
Veroneau answered with an unassisted tally with 6:28 remaining, but that’s as close as the Stags would get.
The Flyers turned up the defense, milked the clock on offense and then, with just five seconds to go, made it official as Johnson set up Moore for the goal which accounted for the 9-6 final score.
“We’re young, but a lot of girls have played with upper level players for a long time,” Moore said. “That experience has made us better and better. Our intensity level keeps coming up. Once we settled down, we maintained possession and saw the openings in their defense.”
Moore, who came to Waynflete this year from Freeport, led the way with four goals.
“It’s such a nice team and Cathie’s an amazing coach,” Moore said. “She’s so supportive of us. I love it. I’m so happy here.”
“Nina brings speed and a willingness to play both ends of the field,” Connors said. “She looks for the open player. She also brings years of playing lacrosse, which is what we need with a young team.”
Canning had two goals and Burdick, Gray-Bauer and Stockford each scored once.
In total, four of the nine goals came from freshmen or sophomores.
“We’re lucky to have the younger kids,” Moore said. “They’re all super-capable. They’ve really helped us out.”
Burdick and Johnson had two assists apiece, while Canning added one. Majercik made three saves.
The Flyers’ defense was stellar throughout.
“Cathie works us really hard on defense,” Moore said. “Every practice we do 7v7 and make sure we’re vocal. That’s the key on defense.”
Waynflete had a 10-7 edge on draws, held a commanding 38-16 advantage on ground balls (Canning and Gray-Bauer led the way with seven each), overcame 14 turnovers and enjoyed a 23-9 shots advantage (15-9 on frame).
For Cheverus, Veroneau had two goals and Masselli, Pineau, Scott and Sessler had one apiece. Biegel and Veroneau each had one assist. Correia made six saves. Pineau led the team with seven ground balls. The Stags were doomed by 17 turnovers, nearly twice the number of shots they managed.
“It’s a start,” Wescott said. “If we could have had two second halves, it would have been a different game. We came out too late. This was really the first time we’ve played together. Overall, after we talked at half, it clicked. I wish it would have been a little better, but we have the ability. It all came down to possession.”
Cheverus hopes to get in the win column next week when it hosts Eastern A rivals Messalonskee and Windham.
“We have some things to work on,” said Wescott. “We have two big games next week. Those are huge Heal Points games. I’m excited for the season. We have the players. We just have to put it together.”
Waynflete has a stern test Thursday when preseason Western B favorite Kennebunk, a longtime rival, pays a visit. Saturday, the Flyers go to Greely. Monday brings a trip to Fryeburg Academy.
“We have a lot to work on,” Moore said. “It’s been an encouraging start. Hopefully confidence will continue to grow.”
“I feel like a lot of people are surprising me,” Connors said. “Our freshmen are coming up big. We have a lot of leaders out there. That’s what I was hoping for. Now we have to raise it another level.”
Waynflete junior Nina Moore prepares to shoot on Cheverus senior goalie Hope Correia. Moore had four goals in the Flyers’ win.
Waynflete senior Helen Gray-Bauer and Cheverus junior Allie Scott take a draw.
Waynflete junior goalie Charlotte Majercik makes a save.
Waynflete senior Helen Gray-Bauer gets a step on a defender.
Waynflete freshman Izzy Burdick and Cheverus junior Anne Veroneau fight for possession.
Cheverus senior Abby Biegel defends Waynflete sophomore Isabel Canning.
Cheverus senior Madison Aldrich tries to corral a loose ball.
Cheverus junior Anne Veroneau celebrates a Stags’ goal. Veroneau scored twice in her first game back at Waynflete, where she played as a freshman.
Waynflete 10 @ Cheverus 6
@ Waynflete 14 Cheverus 4
Waynflete 15 @ Cheverus 2
@ Waynflete 15 Cheverus 1
@ Cheverus 9 Waynflete 8
Western B semifinals
@ Cheverus 12 Waynflete 6
Waynflete sophomore Isabel Canning splits Cheverus defenders junior Anne Veroneau (left) and junior Colleen Slattery during the teams’ contest Tuesday afternoon. Canning scored twice to help the Flyers prevail, 9-6.
Joe Carpine 365digitalphotography.com
More photos below.
C- 2 4- 6
W- 6 3- 9
20:52 C Veroneau (unassisted)
20:36 W Moore (Burdick)
20:18 C Massselli (Biegel)
12:55 W Moore (Burdick)
11:42 W Canning (unassisted)
11:29 W Gray-Bauer (unassisted)
8:09 W Canning (unassisted)
6:36 W Moore (free position)
23:27 C Scott (Veroneau)
18:00 C Sessler (unassisted)
16:04 C Pineau (unassisted)
15:26 W Burdick (Canning)
7:11 W Stockford (Johnson)
6:28 C Veroneau (unassisted)
:05 W Moore (Johnson)
C- Veroneau 2, Masselli, Pineau, Scott, Sessler 1
W- Moore 4, Canning 2, Burdick, Gray-Bauer, Stockford 1
C- Biegel, Veroneau 1
W- Burdick, Johnson 2, Canning 1
Draws (Waynflete, 10-7)
C- Scott 7 of 17
W- Gray-Bauer 9 of 13, Moore 1 of 4
Ground balls (Waynflete, 38-16)
C- Pineau 7, Biegel, Sessler 3, Veroneau 2, Correia 1
W- Canning, Gray-Bauer 7, Moore, Vest 4, Burdick, Olney, Pope 3, Johnson, Smith, Stockford 2, Giguere 1
Shots on cage:
C (Correia) 6
W (Majercik) 3