Waynflete gets its revenge, edges NYA on breathtaking goal

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PORTLAND—Every once in awhile, Mother Nature and the sports gods combine to produce an event that’s unforgettable.

That’s exactly what those on hand at Fore River Fields got to enjoy on a sunsplashed Saturday afternoon when the Waynflete boys’ soccer team hosted rival North Yarmouth Academy.

A little less than three weeks after losing, 2-0, in Yarmouth, the Flyers sought revenge and they would get it, but it would take some time, yet be well worth the wait.

After Waynflete senior goalkeeper Milo Belleau and NYA freshman keeper Zack Woods traded stellar saves in a scoreless first half, both potent offenses continued to be neutralized in the second half.

It was clear the game would be decided by a mistake or a spectacular play and it would prove to be the latter.

Would it ever. 

With just 8:24 to go and overtime looming, the ball came to Flyers senior back Willy Burdick and from 40-yards out, Burdick delivered one of the most sensationally placed shots you could ask for, which eluded the futile leap of Woods, and Waynflete had the lead.

The stingy Flyers’ defense slammed the door from there and Waynflete got to celebrate a 1-0 victory.

The Flyers got a measure of revenge for their previous loss, more importantly, improved to 8-2 and in the process, dropped NYA to 7-4.

Best of all, there’s a very good chance these teams will see each other one more time in the crucible of the upcoming postseason.

“No matter what the records are, we always have great games with NYA,” said longtime Waynflete coach Brandon Salway. “I told the guys after the game, they’ve certainly earned our respect. We needed this for a lot of reasons, conference-wise, Heal Points-wise, playoff positioning, but it came down to Waynflete-NYA and we needed to even it. Now it’s 1-1 and who knows, maybe there will be a third game.”

Act two

In the teams’ first meeting, Sept. 21 in Yarmouth, NYA got an early penalty kick from Thomas Pitts and Pitts scored again late to produce a 2-0 victory. That win gave the Panthers a 16-10 edge (with five ties) in the series, dating back to the 1999 season (see sidebar, below).

Both teams have won far more than they’ve lost so far in 2015.

The Panthers began with a 5-1 victory at Traip Academy, then held off visiting Sacopee Valley in a playoff rematch, 4-2. After a 4-0 home win over Traip, NYA suffered a disappointing 3-1 setback at Fryeburg Academy, then enjoyed the win over Waynflete. NYA couldn’t build on that momentum, however sandwiching losses at Gray-New Gloucester (1-0, in double overtime) and Sacopee Valley (2-1) around a 2-1 home win over Wells. The Panthers then blanked visiting Freeport (1-0) and Thursday exploded for an 9-0 home victory over Lake Region.

The Flyers opened with a 6-0 home victory over Traip Academy, then held off visiting Fryeburg Academy, 2-1, before dropping a 1-0 decision at Class A power Falmouth. The Flyers then won, 9-0, at Lake Region, before falling at North Yarmouth Academy. Waynflete bounced back with a vengeance, beating visiting Yarmouth, the defending Class B champion, for the first time ever ,2-1, before blanking host Poland (6-0) and Kennebunk (1-0), then shutting out visiting Sacopee Valley Tuesday, 4-0.

Saturday morning dawned sunny but chilly with a brisk wind. By gametime, however, the wind had died down and the sun remained. That, combined with the foliage ringing the field, made for an ideal setting and the quality of play followed suit.

Early in the game, NYA carried play, but couldn’t produce a great chance.

Waynflete actually had the first solid opportunity, but with 10:25 to play before halftime, a one-timer in the box from senior Cullen Bollinger was denied by Woods, who got a hand on the shot at the last second, and the rebound was cleared from harm’s way.

In the 32nd minute, the Panthers almost went on top as junior Bobby Murray set up Pitts for a great look, but Belleau came up huge to ensure the contest went to halftime deadlocked at 0-0.

“Milo’s had to come up big a couple times today,” Salway said. “We don’t want to put him in that spot, but he’ll do that for us. I’m a little concerned with our slow starts. They played well in the first half, so I credit them, but we weren’t ourselves. We have to come out harder to start the game. We can’t put Milo under pressure to come up big every time.”

NYA came out hot in the second half and had a chance just 48 seconds in, but a shot from freshman Ryan Baker was snared by Belleau.

After Panthers sophomore Michael Pitts shot wide, Waynflete had a good chance, but off Bollinger’s corner kick, sophomore Ilyas Abdi’s header went wide.

In the 55th minute, NYA junior Jeremy Thelven sent a long free kick into the box which Belleau leaped to keep away from Thomas Pitts.

At the other end, Flyers senior Ahmed Mohamed sent a left-footed shot toward the far post, but Woods got to the ball before Bollinger could finish the feed.

In the 56th minute, Waynflete had a corner kick and Bollinger got the ball over Woods and landed it right in the box, but no teammate could finish the chance.

After Baker shot high, the Flyers threatened again only to see Woods get to senior Christian Kabongo’s feed to senior Aaron Lee.

With just under nine minutes to go, a foul on a Panthers defender just outside the box set the stage for the game’s lone goal.

Bollinger served it in and the ball came in front to senior Tommy Silk, who had room to unleash a shot, but Silk slipped and couldn’t get his foot on the ball and it was cleared, seemingly ending the threat.

The problem for NYA was the ball came to Burdick not far inside midfield and after taking a touch, Burdick launched the shot of his life, which sailed over Woods and just under the bar and into the net for an improbable and gorgeous goal with 8:24 remaining.

“We had a lot of momentum in the second half,” Burdick said. “I feel we were putting pressure on them and had chances to score. I had the ball in the middle of the field a couple times in shooting range. I have a pretty powerful shot, I think. That was the third time I got it in the middle. I had a strike and hoped for the best and it went very well. When it left my foot, it looked good. It was a matter of if the goalie got there. It was in a very good spot. It’s my first goal. It’s one of our biggest goals this year.”

Burdick at first couldn’t believe his good fortune, then ran over the to large Waynflete cheering section to exult.

“We’ve told (our classmates) all week at assemblies to come to this game since it’s going to be a big one,” Burdick said. “It was fun to celebrate with them. For some reason, I play well against NYA.”

Both coaches marveled at the placement of the shot.

“It was a great goal,” Salway said. “Willy will remember that the rest of his life and so will the rest of us. It’s a big goal. Guys were wearing down on both teams and it was getting ragged. Kids were starting to lunge.”

“It was a tough one, a once in a lifetime strike, and it happens,” said Panthers coach Martyn Keen. “I’d rather it end like that than on a mistake. That’s why it’s such a beautiful game.”

Enough time remained for NYA to answer, but Thomas Pitts’ low shot was scooped up by Belleau, a Thelven free kick was cleared, freshman Finn Murray shot high and a bid from Michael Pitts with just over a minute to go was saved Belleau and Waynflete slammed the door from there on its palpitating 1-0 victory.

“(NYA’s) a great team and it’s a great win,” said Burdick. “Bobby (Murray) up top is strong and really dangerous. The Pitts brothers are really fast. They played us really well at NYA. We knew it would be a battle. It’s a big win for us. We’re playing really well right now.”

“It does a lot for us,” Salway said. “We changed formations when we played Yarmouth five games ago and we’ve given up one goal since. We’re playing with four in the back. That’s helped us.”

Belleau finished with eight saves. Waynflete had six corner kicks to five for the Panthers.

NYA had an 8-7 edge in shots on frame and Woods made six saves, but the Panthers still fell short.

“It was two good teams, two very even teams,” Keen said. “I honestly believe without disparaging anyone else that these are the two best teams in Class C South, but time will tell.  Both defenses were excellent today. When we got chances, we never got a clean shot off. We didn’t quite connect. I’m very satisfied with how we played. This could have easily been a tie. Once they scored, we still kept going at them. Maybe next time.”

“Maybe one more time”

After Saturday’s postgame handshakes, Keen said to Salway, “Maybe one more time.”

Soccer fans should be so lucky.

Both teams still have work to do and both have the opportunity to host at least one playoff game if they finish strong.

NYA (now fifth in the Class C South Heal Points standings at press time) hopes to bounce back Tuesday, but it won’t be easy as it goes to Class D South power Richmond. After visiting Wells Thursday, the Panthers close at home versus Poland Oct. 20.

“Richmond is worth good (Heal Points),” Keen said. “Wells is inconsistent, but they have two dangerous strikers. It’s never a fun place to go.

“We could finish anywhere from 4 to 7. If we’re 7, we’d have to host a prelim, then go on the road. These guys have huge heart. They have talent. Without (injured standout Henry Quesada), I still think we have a chance. It comes down to who performs well in those four games in late October and November. 

“It wouldn’t surprise me if (we play each other) one more time. It would be here, but we’ve won big games here before. (NYA-Waynflete) would be a nice regional final, if it comes along.”

Waynflete (third behind Hall-Dale and Monmouth Academy in Class C South) looks to finish strong with games at Sacopee Valley Tuesday and Traip Academy Thursday and home tilts versus Gray-New Gloucester Saturday and Freeport Oct. 20.

“Sacopee will be very tough,” Burdick said. “Playing there is never easy, but we have a lot of experience. We’re really hungry.”

“We have four games left and a lot of other teams have played 12 already,” said Salway. “We could get as high as one, but we’d need to win out. It would be nice to be here for playoffs.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Waynflete senior Willy Burdick boots the ball away from North Yarmouth Academy junior Thomas Pitts during the rivals’ showdown Saturday afternoon. With just over eight minutes to play, Burdick scored a 40-yard highlight reel goal to give the Flyers a 1-0 win.

Mike Strout photos.

NYA junior Thomas Pitts pushes Waynflete freshman Mykel Henry off the ball.

NYA freshman goalkeeper Zack Woods beats Waynflete senior Tommy Silk to the ball as Panthers junior Xander Bartone looks on.

Waynflete senior Cullen Bollinger boots the ball as NYA junior Sam Johnson looks on.

Waynflete sophomore Max Winson gets his head on the ball.

NYA junior Bobby Murray shields the ball from Waynflete junior Jack Meahl.

Waynflete sophomore Ilyas Abdi is defended by NYA junior Xander Bartone (5) and freshman Finn Murray.

Waynflete senior Abel Aleymayo gets a ride from NYA sophomore Michael Pitts.

Waynflete senior Aaron Lee and NYA junior Xander Bartone collide while fighting for a loose ball.

Sidebar Elements

Recent Waynflete-NYA results

@ NYA 2 Waynflete 0 

@ Waynflete 5 NYA 0  
@ NYA 2 Waynflete 2 (tie) 

NYA 1 @ Waynflete 0
@ NYA 3 Waynflete 0
Western C quarterfinals
@ NYA 2 Waynflete 1 (OT) 

Waynflete 5 @ NYA 0
@ Waynflete 2 NYA 0
Western C quarterfinals
@ Waynflete 7 NYA 1 

@ Waynflete 1 NYA 1 (tie)
Waynflete 2 @ NYA 1
Western C Final
@ Waynflete 3 NYA 1 

@ Waynflete 2 NYA 0
Waynflete 1 @ NYA 0
Western C Final
NYA 1 @ Waynflete 0 

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

Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.