PORTLAND—The young but promising Waynflete girls’ soccer team got a first-hand glimpse of what a championship squad looks like Wednesday afternoon at Fore River Fields.
Hosting defending Class B champion York, the Flyers played valiantly and hung tough into the second half before the Wildcats’ tenacity, skill and scoring balance proved to be too much as the visitors pulled away for a 4-1 victory, dropping Waynflete to 1-1 on the young season.
“York’s a very good team,” said second-year Flyers coach Todd Dominski. “They move the ball well. I think eventually, their ball movement wore us down a little bit. They have athletes and they know how to win.”
Waynflete, which won the 2008 Class C title, reached the regional final in 2009 before losing at Georges Valley. That setback brought down the curtain on the careers of standouts Julia Pope, Sasha Timpson and Morgan Woodhouse, forcing this year’s squad to find its own identity.
The Flyers began the 2010 campaign Tuesday with a come-from-behind 4-2 home win over Old Orchard Beach. Senior Izzer Berrang had three goals and junior Becky Smith scored the other.
York took the field for the first time Wednesday and quickly asserted itself.
Early in the seventh minute, the Wildcats took the lead for good when sophomore Kayla Swasey set up senior Stephanie Gallagher for a shot which was deflected and took an unexpected bounce past Waynflete senior goalkeeper Emma Longcope.
York kept the pressure on, but Longcope denied Swasey in close moments later. After the Flyers first good bid (a shot from Berrang after breaking into the box that was saved by Wildcats junior Carly Lee), York junior Hannah Daigneault and Swasey were just off on shots.
With 14:18 left before halftime, the visitors made it 2-0 when senior captain Emily Mitchell took a pass from Swasey, dribbled into the left side of the box and beat the goalie with a low shot.
Waynflete answered back in the 30th minute, when Smith lofted a textbook free kick from the sideline over Lee’s head (she got a hand on the ball, but couldn’t stop it) from some 30-yards, cutting the deficit to 2-1.
“Becky had a nice goal,” said Dominski. “She had a nice one yesterday too.”
York hoped to extend its lead before halftime, but Swasey was denied twice and Longcope got to a loose ball off a corner kick a split second before an attacker in the final minute, to keep it a 2-1 contest.
Early in the second half, the Wildcats got some breathing room as Gallagher found Swasey wide open in the middle of the field and Swasey pounded a shot into the net for a 3-1 advantage.
The hosts then had two good chances to get back into it, but first a rush from sophomore Claire Longcope was broke up and another by Berrang was denied by York senior defensive standout Nicole Taylor.
With 11:59 to play, the Wildcats accounted for the 4-1 final score when Gallagher pounced on a loose ball in front and pounded it into the upper right corner.
“I think it’s coming along,” Dominski said. “Today is a step up from yesterday. I think we played well for 60 minutes out of the 80, then we lost our legs and got a little tired. We’ll keep working at it.”
York finished with a decided edge in possession, shots and corner kicks (5-2).
The Flyers are now idle until next Thursday (Sept. 16) when they host rival North Yarmouth Academy for the first of two showdowns. The teams have met in the playoffs in each of the past five seasons, with Waynflete winning the past two (including a 2-1 triumph in last year’s quarterfinals).
The two games with the Panthers, along with trips to perennial powers Greely and Falmouth later in the season figure to groom the Flyers nicely for the playoffs. By October, Waynflete could be dramatically improved.
“I think playing tougher teams like York, Greely and Falmouth is going to be good for us,” said Dominski. “We’re young and adjusting to new players and new positions. We’re trying to find ways to score. We’re a much different team this year. I think we’ll have closer games.”
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org