PORTLAND—The Waynflete girls’ lacrosse team learned a valuable lesson Thursday afternoon as it opened the 2010 postseason.
It can’t afford to overlook anyone.
The top-ranked Flyers, the two-time defending Class B state champion, found themselves locked in a tussle with unheralded No. 4 seed Wells late in the first half, leading just 6-4, before they finally kicked into gear for good, dominating possession and featuring a balanced offense.
Waynflete closed the first half on a 4-1 run, then carried play in the second half, pulling away to an 18-7 victory at a drizzly Fore River Field behind five goals from senior standout Morgan Woodhouse, four from senior stalwart Amy Allen and three from fabulous freshmen Sadie Cole and Martha Veroneau as it improved to 11-2 on the season and advanced to meet either Cape Elizabeth or Falmouth in the regional final next Wednesday.
“We knew Wells would come out and give their all,” said Veroneau. “It was a tough game. They have a lot of really good players.”
Waynflete went 10-2 this spring, losing twice to NYA by a single goal. The Flyers earned the top seed in Western B and welcomed a 6-6 Wells squad they didn’t face in the regular season. The teams had never met in the postseason and hadn’t played since April 30, 2008 (a 16-1 Waynflete win).
This time around, with rain decimating the baseball and softball schedule and with the rest of the lacrosse semifinals scheduled for the weekend,, the teams had the spotlight all to themselves and the Flyers and Warriors put on a competitive show for a half.
Wells proved right away it was playing as if it had nothing to lose as it won the opening draw, settled the ball on offense and grabbed a 1-0 lead when senior standout Lily Colley scored unassisted on Waynflete freshman goalie Katherine Torrey.
The Flyers would never trail again, but couldn’t pull away for quite awhile.
On the ensuing draw, Woodhouse grabbed possession and raced in to beat Warriors junior goalie Savanna Subilia to tie the score. After another draw win, Cole set up Allen for a goal and just 1 minute, 53 seconds in, Waynflete was ahead to stay, 2-1.
An unassisted tally from Cole with 20:21 to play in the first half made it 3-1 Flyers. After Cole hit the post on a free position, Wells pulled to within a goal, when after a turnover, Colley set up junior Jennie Li.
Goals from Woodhouse (free position), Allen (from junior Izzer Berrang) and Veroneau (unassisted) in a five-minute span appeared to put Waynflete on the brink of pulling away, but Collen scored back-to-back unassisted goals in just 13 seconds to make it a 6-4 contest with 7:23 to play in the half.
A Woodhouse unassisted goal with 5:42 to go was followed by a Woodhouse draw win, a pass to Cole and a pass to Allen for another goal and an 8-4 advantage. Senior Becca Colley scored from Lily Colley with 4:47 left to make it 8-5, but Cole set up junior Liv Chap, then Cole scored with 3 seconds to go for a 10-5 Flyers advantage at the break.
“We weren’t connecting at first,” said Waynflete coach Cathie Connors. “We weren’t cutting. We were struggling, then suddenly we had good fastbreaks and got everyone in the rhythm of things. We needed to regroup and play our own game. All in all, I’m glad we started playing our transition game. We needed this under our belt.”
The hosts quickly ended the competitive phase of the contest in the second half.
Just 25 seconds in, Woodhouse scored unassisted. With 22:42 to play, Veroneau stole the ball, raced in and beat Subilia to make it 12-5. Tallies from Veroneau (unassisted), Allen (from Berrang) and Woodhouse (unassisted) made it a 15-5 contest with 16:10 left.
With 12:12 to go, Wells finally snapped the 7-0 Flyers run and a 17 minute, 35 second drought when Lily Colley set up freshman Maddie Andrews for a goal. Off the ensuing draw win, Allen fed sophomore Lucy Crane for a goal. After Lily Colley scored one final time, Cole (from Woodhouse) and Crane (from Cole) answered, accounting for the 18-7 final score.
“We’ve played other teams from our conference, but we didn’t play (Wells),” Veroneau said. “They had a lot of plays that we didn’t really know what they were running. We usually have OK first halves, then we come out and give our all in the second half. That’s been our story all season.”
While Allen, Cole, Veroneau and Woodhouse combined for 15 goals (Cole had four assists and Allen and Woodhouse added one each), they had company.
Chap scored once, Berrang had two assists and Crane, who didn’t get into the game until deep into the second half, scored twice.
“It was very exciting,” Crane said. “My first playoff game. It was great. I was so nervous. I haven’t played much this season, but we were up and it was great to go in. The adrenaline rush was crazy. I wanted to help win this game for the rest of my team and Cathie. I think we played a really great game. These girls are just amazing. I look up to all of them.”
“(Lucy) took charge and played with confidence,” Connors said. “I was very proud of her. “
Torrey had three saves. Waynflete finished with a 16-11 edge in draws (after trailing most of the first half), outshot the Warriors, 37-15 (32-10 on frame), forced 16 turnovers (while giving the ball away only seven times) and grabbed 32 ground balls (Cole had eight and junior Scout Haffenreffer finished with six).
“We have such good team chemistry,” Veroneau said. “We work together really well. We’ve gotten better at knowing where everyone is.”
For Wells (which finished 6-7), Lily Colley scored four times and added three assists. She also had a game-high 11 of her team’s 39 ground balls. Andrews, Becca Colley and Li also had goals. Subilia stopped 14 shots. Sophomore Kelly Beisswanger had nine ground balls.
Two to go
Wednesday of next week (likely at 4 p.m.), Waynflete will host either No. 2 Falmouth (9-3) or No. 3 Cape Elizabeth (8-4) in the Western B Final (those teams play their semifinal Saturday at 2 p.m. in Falmouth).
The Flyers beat both prospective foes in the regular season, winning 11-7, at Cape Elizabeth, May 10 and 15-5, at Falmouth, two days later. Last year in the playoffs, Waynflete eliminated the Yachtsmen, 12-4, in the semifinals, then ousted the Capers, 9-5, in the regional final.
The Flyers want to keep the good times rolling.
“I think there’s pressure to win from ourselves,” Crane said. “We want to be the best we can be.”
“We definitely have to step it up against Falmouth or Cape,” Veroneau said. “They’ll give us a game.”
“I think both teams are incredibly strong and well-coached,” Connors added. “I think the girls will play really hard. They’re doing everything they can. They’re excited to be in it. We’re a young team. We’re excited to be this far.”
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com