PORTLAND—Thursday evening, the Cheverus girls’ lacrosse team dug an early 5-0 hole and rallied to almost upset two-time defending Class A state champion Scarborough.
Saturday afternoon at Fore River Fields, under a glorious May sun, the Stags spotted Waynflete the first six goals, then discovered that rallying against the Flyers was a much more difficult task.
In fact, getting Waynflete to do anything wrong this season has been close to impossible.
While Cheverus did pull within 6-3 at one point, the prolific Flyers answered with four straight goals before halftime and after the Stags made it 10-5 early in the second half, Waynflete closed it out with six unanswered tallies to win, 16-5, as it improved to 8-0 on the season, dropping the Stags to 4-4.
Flyers sophomore Walker Foehl scored five times, junior Sadie Cole added four goals and sophomore Ella Millard tallied three as the beat goes on.
“It was a really fun game,” said Cole, who now has 105 goals in her high school career. “We’ve had a few slow starts recently, but we were excited to come out and play today on a beautiful day. It’s the first time in awhile.”
Cheverus and Waynflete have a short, but interesting history (please see sidebar).
The upstart Stags actually won the first two meetings, 9-8 in the 2007 regular season and 12-6 in the 2007 Western B semifinals. The Flyers took the next four by a composite 54-13 margin. Last year, Waynflete beat host Cheverus, 10-6.
That setback was the Stags seventh in a stretch of nine losses in 10 games, but they somehow found a way to reach the playoffs before making a Cinderella run to the Eastern A Final, where Brunswick ripped off the glass slipper, 14-3.
Cheverus got off to a much better start in 2012, following up an opening 12-9 loss at Massabesic with wins over visiting McAuley (14-5), North Yarmouth Academy (13-8), Portland (10-3) and host Deering (15-10), before struggling this week.
Monday, the Stags dropped a close one at Marshwood, 7-5, then, Thursday, they couldn’t hold a late 10-8 lead against Scarborough and lost, 11-10.
Waynflete appeared in its fourth straight Class B state final in 2011, losing, 9-8, to Yarmouth, but has been almost untouchable this spring.
The Flyers opened with a 15-5 home victory over NYA, then enjoyed a 13-2 home win over Yarmouth, a 15-7 triumph at Wells, a 10-8 victory at rival Kennebunk, a 17-3 home romp over Fryeburg, a statement-making 13-10 win at Falmouth and a 12-5 victory at Greely.
Since the first draw of the season, Waynflete has demonstrated terrific offensive balance, its storied zone defense has stood tall and junior goalie Katherine Torrey has made clutch saves when needed.
Those trends continued Saturday.
It only took 50 seconds for the Flyers to take the lead for good.
After Cheverus won the opening draw, it committed a turnover and Cole made the Stags pay with an unassisted goal.
Fifty-two seconds later, Cole set up junior Isabel Agnew for a goal and a 2-0 advantage.
At the 19:09 mark of the first half, Foehl got in on the fun, sending a free position shot past Cheverus’ promising freshman goalie Hope Correia.
Veroneau scored her first goal, unassisted, at 14:42. Cole set up Millard for a goal at 12:06 and with 10:36 left before halftime, Cole completed the game-opening 6-0 surge by taking a pass from Veroneau and finishing.
“(Falling behind early is) definitely not a good habit to get into and I think the kids realize that,” said Cheverus coach Jamie Chamberlain. “(Waynflete) didn’t show us anything we weren’t expecting. For whatever reason, we just didn’t respond. I don’t know if it’s a dropoff in intensity from the other night. That could possibly be a reason. It just wasn’t in sync, in any facet today for us. The other night, the defense really stepped up. Today, we really weren’t in sync defensively and they had extra chances. You can’t do that against a good team. The kids realize the importance of fundamentals, that you have to limit turnovers in games like this and create opportunities and be sharp.”
The visitors did eventually show some life.
The Stags broke the ice with 9:37 left in the half when junior Emily Rodrigue set up sophomore Alex Logan for a goal. Off the ensuing draw, sophomore Meredith Willard raced in and beat Torrey and when freshman Nicole Pineau set up Logan for a goal at the 4:36 mark, Waynflete coach Cathie Connors took timeout.
As so often happens, the Flyers responded.
An unassisted goal from Cole at 2:31 ended the run. Foehl scored unassisted 42 seconds later and late strikes from Veroneau (off a pretty pass from Cole) and senior Lucy Crane (from Agnew in transition) gave the hosts a commanding 10-3 bulge at the break.
Cheverus won nine of the 14 draws in the first half, but 11 turnovers short-circuited the effort. Both goalies made four saves in the first 25 minutes.
After its rally versus Scarborough, the Stags entered the second half with optimism and sure enough, Willard (from sophomore Elyse Caiazzo) scored at 22:34 and Logan converted a free position 53 seconds later to cut the deficit to 10-5.
Cheverus would get no closer.
An unassisted goal by Cole with 18:47 to play pushed the lead to six. Just 24 seconds later, Veroneau found Foehl for a goal. Two goals in 27 seconds (Millard from Veroneau and Foehl unassisted) made it a 14-5 game and Foehl’s unassisted tally with 7:06 remaining induced a running clock.
Millard scored one final time, from Cole with 1:08 showing, to account for the 16-5 final score.
“We felt like we had to jump on them early after the game they had the other day,” said Connors. “They have speed. They have Alex and Willard. They’re fast and have a beautiful shot. We played hard until the very end. I didn’t trust they wouldn’t come back. They’re known for coming back. Jamie pushes them hard until the end.”
Foehl had a game-high five goals, Cole four, Millard (who had seven ground balls in the second half alone) three, Veroneau two and Agnew and Crane one apiece.
Nine of the Flyers’ 16 goals were assisted. Cole had four assists, Veroneau three, Agnew and Foehl one each.
“Every step, we’re building so much as a team on the field and off,” said Cole. “I trust everyone so much. There’s something to said for this team. We have a huge connection, which is really fun.”
Torrey made five saves.
Waynflete finished with a 27-10 advantage in shots on cage.
For Cheverus, Logan had three goals, Willard two. Caiazzo, Pineau and Rodrigue all had assists. Correia made 11 saves. The Flyers won 12 of 23 draws.
A year ago, Cheverus appeared out of the playoff picture at this stage, but finished strong and the rest is history.
This spring, the Stags are in line not only for a postseason bid, but are also hoping to improve their lot in the days to come. Now 4-4, Cheverus finds itself sixth in the Eastern Class A Heal Points standings. The Stags are at Windham Monday, then host Kennebunk in a pivotal showdown Thursday. A home tilt with Thornton Academy and a visit to Gorham also loom. A strong finish could guarantee at least one home postseason game.
Waynflete has a slight lead over undefeated Cape Elizabeth and talented Falmouth in the latest Western B standings, but both rivals have a game in hand on the Flyers. One of those three powers will earn the top spot and force the other two to square off in the semifinals. In that light, finishing number one would be a huge advantage. Waynflete hopes to end up there, but will first have to defeat host NYA Tuesday and Freeport Thursday before closing at home versus Falmouth May 22 and at Yarmouth the following evening.
Despite the wins and 14 goals per game on average, the Flyers know they still have work to do.
One area in particular.
“Getting ground balls is our biggest thing right now,” Cole said. “Not covering or checking, just going for the ball.”
“We really have to work on ground balls, because we struggle,” said Connors. “That’s what we’ll do Monday.”
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