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- The Forecaster
PORTLAND—Coming off a disappointing loss at rival North Yarmouth Academy and facing the prospect of hosting arguably the state’s best team, Yarmouth, four days later, Waynflete’s boys’ soccer team found itself at a crossroads when it took to its home pitch Friday afternoon at Fore River Fields.
Few gave the Flyers much of a chance, even though they tied the Clippers a year ago in a season which saw Yarmouth win a Class B championship.
Friday, the Clippers controlled play for the first few minutes, then the game changed in one staggering moment.
With 33:51 to go in the first half, in transition, senior Tommy Silk passed ahead to classmate Jack Weston, who one-timed a perfectly placed blast from 30-yards out into the net for a magnificent goal which gave Waynflete a stunning lead.
Yarmouth, which hadn’t given up a goal nor faced any adversity to speak of this fall, couldn’t answer and the Flyers took their advantage to the break.
Where they knew they were far from home free.
While Waynflete’s defense and senior goalkeeper Milo Belleau were holding the Clippers at bay, the Flyers grabbed an insurance goal with 32:59 remaining, on another impressive effort, as sophomore Ilyas Abdi got his head on a cross from senior Ahmed Mohamed for a 2-0 lead.
That finally awakened Yarmouth and with 18:25 to go, junior Matt Dostie got his team on the board, but the Clippers couldn’t produce the equalizer and Waynflete ran out the clock on its biggest win of this season and one of the finest regular season victories in the program’s proud history.
The Flyers improved to 4-2, earned a huge bundle of Heal Points and handed Yarmouth’s its first setback in seven games in the process.
“For a regular season win, it’s as good as it gets,” said longtime Waynflete coach Brandon Salway, who has now beaten every Western Maine Conference foe regardless of class with the exception of Falmouth and York. “It’s a compliment to Yarmouth. Who they are always and who they are this year, especially. We measure ourselves against those programs.”
Yarmouth won the Class B crown a year ago and entered the season the favorite to repeat, but the Clippers appeared primed to come back to the pack a bit after losing senior standout Walter Conrad to an ankle injury (he’s expected to return next month) and senior Noah Pellerin for the season after he was involved in an accident. Yarmouth has absorbed those losses, however, and the addition of Jon and Luke Groothoff from northern California has helped the cause.
The Clippers opened with a 9-0 home win over visiting Poland, then enjoyed a 2-0 victory at Greely. After a 4-0 home win over Cape Elizabeth, Yarmouth won at Freeport, 5-0, blanked visiting York, 3-0, and dominated visiting Kennebunk Monday, 8-0.
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 Monday at North Yarmouth Academy, 2-0.
Waynflete quickly put that loss behind it and prepared for its next stern test.
“We had a letdown Monday, but everybody was super-psyched to get back at it,” said Belleau. “We had three hard practices with everyone competing. We recognized what we had to do and what we can do.”
“We were fortunate to have three days of practice,” said Salway. “We had three really good practices. We ended yesterday’s early because I thought we’d done all we could do. The guys were really focused after losing to NYA and not really approaching the game the right way. I think they learned something.”
Entering Friday’s encounter, the teams had met just four times, with Yarmouth winning two and the other two ending in draws (see sidebar, below). Last fall, the Clippers took a quick 2-0 lead, but the Flyers rallied and left Yarmouth with a 2-2 draw after a late penalty kick from Willy Burdick.
This time, it would be Waynflete taking the 2-0 lead and the Flyers didn’t give it back.
The Clippers came out on the attack and Waynflete was content to play defense.
In the fourth minute, Flyers sophomore Max Winson broke up a rush by dangerous Yarmouth senior Patrick Grant with Belleau out of the play.
The Clippers then earned a corner kick, but Belleau got to a flick from senior Chris Pidden.
With 34:15 to go in the half, Waynflete earned a free kick and the fun began.
Burdick’s boot was headed away by Yarmouth senior Conor O’Donnell, but the Flyers quickly re-transitioned to offense and Silk sent a pass ahead to Weston, who put on a show.
With just a little room to operate, Weston one-timed a blast that initially appeared to be going over not only Clippers sophomore goalkeeper Cal Owen, but the crossbar as well, but it dipped and found the net instead and the jawdropping tally brought Waynflete’s side to life, left Yarmouth unsure how to react and set the tone for the upset.
“It got played up to Tommy and it was a nice pass from him to me up in space,” Weston said. “I just took a really nice swing at it. I wasn’t really thinking. It was just emotion. I was excited. It’s the biggest goal I’ve scored.”
“It was a great finish,” Salway said. “We’ve seen some great goals scored down here over the years, but considering the opponent and coming off a loss, that was a tremendous strike from Jack. It was fun to see the excitement.”
The Clippers hoped to answer, but they couldn’t solve the Waynflete defense.
After the Flyers nearly took a 2-0 lead on a blast from Mohamed which sailed just high, Yarmouth got a nice free kick from senior Jon Groothoff, but it was inches over the head of Grant and Belleau made the save.
A minute later, Waynflete senior Abel Alemayo broke up a rush from Dostie.
After Clippers junior Henry Coolidge sent a blast high, Grant had a shot in the box blocked by Flyers senior Cullen Bollinger.
Late in the half, Dostie shot high and a pass from Coolidge to senior Henry Becker was broken up by Waynflete junior Jack Meahl and the hosts took a 1-0 lead to the break.
“We hoped to be competitive today and see what happened by halftime,” Salway said. “We could get a little bit greedy after Jack’s goal.”
The second half brought more frustration to the visitors and more jubilation to the Flyers.
Just 47 seconds in, Grant fired a low shot which required a sprawling save from Belleau.
With 36:13 to play, Grant’s shot from the side sailed just high.
Yarmouth then had successive corner kicks, but on the first, Burdick broke it up and on the second, Belleau got the ball first.
Then, in the blink of an eye, Waynflete got a second goal.
The play was set up by Mohamed, who made a long run down the left flank before sending the ball across to Abdi, who flicked the ball with his head past Owen and into the net to make it 2-0 with 32:59 left in regulation.
“We talked at halftime about pushing forward and getting another one and Ilyas did that,” said Weston. “It was a really good header.”
That goal finally awakened the Clippers, but it would take them awhile to convert.
After senior Matthew Beatty had a free kick blocked and Dostie shot wide, Dostie finally got the visitors on the board with 18:25 as he took a pass from Coolidge and hit a blast that neither Belleau or the net could stop. The ball flew through the back of the goal, but was correctly counted and Yarmouth was back within one.
A little over a minute later, the Clippers almost got the equalizer, but after taking a pass from Groothoff, Dostie shot just wide.
With 15:03 to go, Grant tried to set up Groothoff with a through ball, but Belleau got to it first.
A minute later, Groothoff headed a feed from senior Andrew Beatty just high.
With 11:20 to play, Yarmouth had a corner kick and Grant’s serve was right on target for senior Conor O’Donnell at the far post, but Belleau showed his basketball hops and soared to snare the ball first.
“A couple guys from Yarmouth before the play walked over and said how short we were and you could say I took that personally,” said Belleau. “I’m an aggressive keeper, especially with corner kicks. I can anticipate them. I felt like I had a chance.”
Down the stretch, Winson cleared a loose ball from the box, Belleau made an easy save on a header from Pidden, Burdick prevented Dostie from getting to a pass from Groothoff and a last ditch throw from Groothoff into the box was negated by a violation.
The Flyers ran out the clock from there and at 5:08 p.m., made history with a 2-1 win.
“It’s a huge rebound for us,” said Belleau. “We know we’re a talented team. We knew we could play with anyone. We knew they were used to playing on turf and we felt like we had a great chance playing at home. I feel like the formation we brought had potential and having two center-backs really helped.”
“We knew they were dangerous, maybe the best in the state,” Weston said. “Our defense won us the game. They held out the whole game. They were the heart and soul of the team. I feel confident with the defense back there.”
“We try to relay to the guys that that’s the way you need to feel after every game,” Salway added. “They need to get up mentally like they did today and be exhausted at the end. Hopefully, we’ll see that going forward.
“We talked about not getting on our heels, that they’d make us pay if we stayed on our heels. We had to go forward to keep possession and not defend too often. It was important to be aggressive, but we were in a defensive formation.”
Belleau made eight saves with help from a staunch defense.
“Milo got to see most everything, which is important,” Salway said. “A lot of what we’ve given up, he hasn’t had a chance. He was terrific in every way. We moved Abel to the back for this game and Abel had a terrific game.”
Yarmouth had a 14-3 edge in shots (8-2 on frame) and had four corner kicks to just one for Waynflete, but couldn’t take advantage.
“Our energy wasn’t where it needed to be, especially after that first goal,” said Clippers coach Mike Hagerty. “We knew Waynflete’s good. We know Willy and Milo are about as good a combination of center-back and goalie you’ll see. We knew Ahmed is terrific. Down the middle is their strength and we kept wanting to go there. I thought they defended very well and I thought we were impatient. I didn’t think we had the right energy.
“We hadn’t given up a goal. We didn’t give up one goal today, we gave up two. No team is unbeatable. These kids got a really good lesson. We needed to be patient. The field’s plenty wide enough, we just didn’t make it wide. We acted like teenage boys who thought they’d just get it done. We didn’t create when we needed to.”
Both teams will need to quickly move on. Yarmouth because it wants to and Waynflete because it has to.
The Clippers (second to Maranacook in the Class B South Heal Points standings) have a very challenging week upcoming, as they go to Cape Elizabeth Tuesday and host Falmouth Saturday. Games at York, Kennebunk and Falmouth and home tilts versus Gray-New Gloucester and Greely also remain.
“The kids have to put this behind us,” Hagerty said. “They have to learn from this. I know we can play better. This should help down the road, come playoff time. We have to prepare better for teams who defend well. This isn’t the last time we’ll see nine guys behind the ball. We have good character kids. We’ll say, ‘Congratulations, Waynflete, let’s get ready for Cape.'”
Waynflete (fifth in Class C South) hopes to keep the good times rolling Tuesday at Poland. The Flyers then go to Kennebunk Friday.
“We know we have to earn every game, starting with Poland Tuesday,” Weston said.
“This gets us back on track,” Belleau said. “We have a talented group. It’s a huge boost, we just have to build on it.”
“This gives us confidence,” Salway added. “Hopefully, the guys see the correlation between working hard in practice and it paying off in games. We’re only as good as the next day. We have to reaffirm our level of play every day. This sets a really high bar for us.”
Waynflete’s boys’ soccer team celebrates its historic 2-1 home win over Yarmouth Friday afternoon.
Bruce Feeley photos.
Waynflete senior goalkeeper Milo Belleau goes way up to make one of his eight saves.
Waynflete senior Jack Weston is mobbed by his teammates after his highlight reel goal put the Flyers ahead to stay.
Waynflete sophomore Ilyas Abdi, who scored the Flyers’ second goal, splits a pair of Yarmouth defenders.
Waynflete senior goalkeeper Milo Belleau goes all out to beat Yarmouth senior Patrick Grant to the ball.
Waynflete sophomore Christian Brooks and Yarmouth junior Henry Coolidge fight for the ball.
Waynflete sophomore Hank Duvall wins the ball from Yarmouth senior Christopher Pidden.
Waynflete senior Cullen Bollinger knocks the ball away from Yarmouth senior Patrick Grant.
Waynflete senior goalkeeper Milo Belleau goes airborne and has to elude Yarmouth senior Conor O’Donnell (14) and junior Matthew Dostie to make a save on a corner kick late in the contest.
Yarmouth 2 @ Waynflete 0
@ Yarmouth 0 Waynflete 0 (tie)