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PORTLAND—In a game that oozed playoff intensity, the Waynflete girls’ lacrosse team demonstrated why it’s the two-time defending Class B state champion Thursday afternoon at Fore River Fields.
The Flyers dominated talented, visiting Yarmouth in the draw circle, forced numerous turnovers and with the game tied in the second half, unleashed senior standout Morgan Woodhouse, who scored twice in a 2 minute, 26 second span to put Waynflete ahead to stay.
The Flyers then turned to their defense, ability to stall and a crucial save in the last minute from freshman Katherine Torrey to hold on and improve to 3-1 on the season with an 8-6 victory, dropping the Clippers to 4-1 in the process.
“I feel like things are coming along,” said Waynflete coach Cathie Connors. “It’s a young team. I’m actually really pleased. They’re really fighting for it. They really came to play today. I’m proud of them. Yarmouth’s a nice team to play. This is big for confidence.”
The Clippers and Flyers have combined for 11 of the 12 championships won during the Maine Principals’ Association-sanctioned era.
Yarmouth is looking to get back to the top after falling to North Yarmouth Academy in each of the past two Eastern B Finals. The Clippers have impressed to date in 2010, enjoying wins at York (13-11) and Greely (11-7), an 18-8 home triumph over Cape Elizabeth, as well as a confidence-boosting 12-8 home victory over NYA.
Waynflete, meanwhile, keeps setting the bar higher and higher. The Flyers opened with a 14-3 home victory over Greely, then lost for the first time in 23-games, 7-6, at NYA. Monday, Waynflete downed visiting Freeport, 17-6, earning Connors her 200th career victory.
The Flyers entered the game having beaten Yarmouth three straight times. They would make it four, but not without a tussle.
From the get-go, the Clippers were shaky with the ball, throwing it away before their potent offense could on the attack.
The hosts took advantage and grabbed a quick lead when freshman Martha Veroneau scored unassisted 4 minutes, 8 seconds in. Freshman Catherine Veroneau grabbed the ball off the ensuing draw and threw it to Woodhouse, who raced in and scored to make it 2-0. With 16:32 to play in the first half, Woodhouse had a chance to extend the lead, but her free position shot hit the post.
Yarmouth then managed to transition the ball and it resulted in a goal when senior Nalini Robbins fed senior Molly Curry for a shot which eluded Torrey, cutting the deficit in half.
The hosts kept the pressure on and made it 4-1 behind tallies from senior Amy Allen (from junior Mica Thompson) and junior Liz Lewis (assisted by Woodhouse), but after a Clippers’ timeout, the visitors responded.
First, with 6:27 left in the half, Curry set up junior Becca Bell to make it 4-2. Then, with 4:01 remaining, the same combination delivered and despite consistently shooting itself in the foot (12 first half turnovers), Yarmouth was within a goal at the break, down 4-3.
The Flyers had a 15-5 edge in shots and won seven of eight draws in the first 25 minutes, but weren’t able to put the Clippers away.
When junior Devin Simsarian grabbed the second half draw and raced in for a goal just 13 seconds in, the game was tied. Then, with 21:41 remaining, junior Danielle Torres took a pass from Curry and scored to give Yarmouth the lead, 5-4.
Waynflete would answer as Veroneau delivered a gorgeous pass to a cutting Allen, who beat Clippers junior goalie Carlie Woodson to tie the game.
With 15:57 to play, Woodhouse scored unassisted after a pretty spin move and the Flyers were back on top, but with 13:14 to go, Simsarian scored on a free position to make it 6-6.
With the game in the balance, Waynflete’s standouts would be the difference.
With 10:35 remaining, Allen found Woodhouse behind the defense and hit her in stride with a long lead pass. Woodhouse then beat Woodson to put the Flyers ahead to stay. With 8:09 left, Woodhouse got the ball on the Waynflete side of the field and did what she does best, demonstrate her nonpareil athletic ability, racing through the defense and beating the goalie to give Waynflete a little breathing room and an 8-6 lead.
“I knew I had to step it up,” Woodhouse said. “Cathie always motivates us so well. Sometimes you have to play the running game and go right to goal and that’s what I did.”
“We knew we had to get our fastbreak going,” Connors said. “That saved us. (Morgan and Amy are) just natural leaders and they love the game.”
“Morgan is a great athlete,” said Yarmouth coach Dorothy Holt. “We knew they’d get their strongest player the ball.”
Yarmouth had plenty of time to rally, but the Clippers simply couldn’t get possession.
The Flyers won the ensuing draw (their 12th in 16 attempts) and milked three-and-a-half minutes before giving the ball up. Yarmouth promptly gave it back and Waynflete ran the clock down to nearly one minute to go.
The Clippers would have one last chance to rally when Curry broke free on Torrey with 48 seconds to go, but Torrey, in just her fourth varsity game, stood tall and made the save.
“I tried to stay calm, but sometimes it’s really nervewracking,” said Torrey. “I always try to follow the ball and I really kept my eye on the ball. I knew it would be big. It turned out really well. I try not to think about the pressure and just do what I need to do. It was pretty big for us. I think it really builds our confidence.”
“Thank God she made that save,” Connors added. “It was unbelievable save.”
The Flyers then transitioned and ran out the clock on an encouraging 8-6 victory.
“After the loss to (NYA) we wanted to show people that we’re still strong this year,” Woodhouse said. “This shows how much character we have, even though we’re so young.”
“The girls were very strong,” Connors added. “Yarmouth fought for everything. (The first half) was a little frustrating, but we learned a lot during halftime.”
Woodhouse led all scorers with four goals, added an assist, had a game-high eight ground balls and won the majority of her draws.
“Draws are one of the most key things in this game,” Woodhouse said. “We knew if we got the draws, got possession and had patience, we could win. We work on the stall a lot. We know it’s a key thing. We practiced it yesterday. I think we’re definitely improving every single day.”
“We were excellent on draws,” Connors added. “We said all along that (Yarmouth’s) faster, more aggressive, that they could run their fastbreak. We knew that we couldn’t throw the ball away. We couldn’t afford to. We don’t practice the stall much. We worked more on breaking the stall after what happened at NYA.”
Allen added two goals and an assist, while Chap and Martha Veroneau (one assist and six ground balls) also scored once. Thompson had an assist as well. Torrey made four saves. Waynflete had a 43-39 edge in ground balls and a 22-12 advantage in shots.
Yarmouth (which was done in by 21 turnovers) lamented the close call, but knows it can play with anyone.
“It had a playoff feel,” Holt said. “It was a huge game of keepaway at the end. Waynflete stepped up. We couldn’t keep the ball on our sticks. We had too many turnovers. We’re young so we get nervous when we come here. In the first half, we just couldn’t get it going. In the second half, we got it together. We didn’t have many shots on goal. I’m glad we see them again.”
The Clippers were paced by two goals apiece from Bell and Simsarian and once each from Torres and Curry, who also had three assists. Robbins had an assist as well. Woodson made seven saves and Torres led the way in ground balls with six. Curry and Simsarian had five apiece.
Yarmouth returns to action Saturday morning at home against the prohibitive favorite in Western A, Scarborough. The Clippers go to Freeport Tuesday. They face Waynflete again on May 24 in Yarmouth.
“We have some things to work on,” Holt said. “I’m happy to be 3-1. It’s going to be anybody’s game on any given day. Scarborough should be a great game.”
As for the Flyers, they go to longtime rival Kennebunk Saturday morning then have a pair of key games against region rivals next week. Monday, Waynflete is at Cape Elizabeth. Wednesday, the Flyers to go dramatically improved Falmouth.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com