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Waynflete coach Brandon Salway (shown in a 2015 file photo) earned his 250th victory in his nearly three decades coaching the Flyers Saturday afternoon as they beat St. Dom’s, 4-0.
Photo courtesy Brian Beard.
Waynflete sophomore Ilyas Abdi prepares to beat the St. Dom’s keeper for his third goal in Saturday’s 4-0 victory.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.
PORTLAND—Waynflete’s defending Class C South champion boys’ soccer team is finding its scoring touch and with the playoffs right around the corner, that’s frightening news for the rest of the region.
Saturday afternoon at Fore River Fields, the Flyers, on Senior Day, got three goals from junior Ilyas Abdi, including one 21 seconds into the game, and they went on to a 4-0 victory over St. Dominic Academy, improving to 7-4-2 in the process.
This was no run of the mill win either, as it marked the 250th victory in the long and triumphant career of coach Brandon Salway.
“It’s hard not to just focus on this group,” said Salway, who is in his 28th season with the program. “This team has tried to get things going in the right direction and we’re finally completely healthy and playing pretty well, I think.”
Salway started coaching at Waynflete way back in the fall of 1989, the year the Berlin Wall fell, an earthquake interrupted the World Series and Paula Abdul dominated the music charts.
His Flyers went 9-1 his first season and got to the Western D Final and in his second year, they won 10 games and reached the Class D state final, losing to Machias. The first Class D championship came in 1993 and was followed by successive crowns in 2001 and 2002. Waynflete won Class C in 2011. Salway’s 100th victory came during the championship season of 2001 and number 200 came in 2012.
This season has produced a typically competitive and poised Waynflete squad.
The Flyers started strong, tying visiting Wells, 1-1, then beating visiting Poland (6-0) and Traip Academy (7-0) and host Sacopee Valley (1-0) before losing at Class A powerhouse Falmouth (5-0) and at home to North Yarmouth Academy (1-0) and two-time defending Class C champion Yarmouth (4-1). After winning at St. Dom’s, 3-0, Waynflete rallied late for a 1-1 tie at Freeport, then blanked host Traip Academy, 4-0. After a 1-0 loss at NYA, the Flyers responded Tuesday, downing visiting Sacopee Valley, 3-1.
St. Dom’s in its first year back in the Western Maine Conference, had won just once in 13 outings, a 5-0 home victory over Poland, but the Saints almost beat visiting NYA Thursday, losing, 3-2.
Saturday, Waynflete quickly took care of business.
In a mere 21 seconds, the Flyers had the only goal they’d need, as freshman Askar Hussein set up Abdi for a 1-0 lead.
“A good start was very important,” Abdi said.
Waynflete didn’t rest on its laurels and just 3:04 later, the tandem combined again, this time with Abdi setting up Hussein for a 2-0 advantage.
“We’re varying our attack and we’re getting better opportunities,” Salway said. “Askar’s goal was terrific. That’s a goal he wouldn’t have scored the first month of the season. He’s developed into quite a threat up top.”
With 13:31 to play in the first half, Abdi got his second goal, set up by junior Hank Duvall, for a 3-0 lead, which held until halftime.
As was the case in the first half, the Flyers started strong in the second as well, as 1:57 in, junior Christian Brooks sent a long pass ahead to Abdi, the Saints’ goalkeeper tried to break it up, but couldn’t handle the ball, Abdi got around him and dribbled in to bury an easy shot for a 4-0 advantage.
“I knew I had two (goals) and I wanted to score a third one,” Abdi said. “I ran up and got the ball and was able to finish.”
“Ilyas has elevated his game to all-star level,” Salway said. “He’s one of the better players in the conference. That’s 12 goals for him now, which is no small feat in this league. He inspires people the way he plays. It doesn’t surprise me to see him put pressure on players. Having Askar back complements that. They’re a tough duo.”
The Flyers were content sitting on their lead from there and they went on to a 4-0 triumph.
“This was for our seniors,” Abdi said. “They’ve been through a lot.”
“The kids have elevated their game and that makes it enjoyable,” Salway said.
Waynflete finished with a commanding 19-6 shots advantage.
Following the win, Salway reflected on his landmark.
“It’s nice to get 250 victories, but it’s more a reflection on unbelievable kids, good assistants and people who were loyal to the program, the administration and the school,” Salway said. “It’s good for people to understand that you’ll have ups and downs, but consistency really helps. I had no idea I’d last this long. I just really enjoy it.”
While Salway wasn’t ebullient about the milestone, others were.
“Brandon is a great coach,” Abdi said. “He’s motivated me since freshman year. He saw something in me.”
“Brandon is such an excellent coach and great role model for our athletes,” said Ross Burdick, Waynflete’s athletic director since 2004. “I’m privileged to work with him and fortunate that my own children were/are coached by him.”
While St. Dom’s’ season is over at 1-13, Waynflete’s is just getting started, if history is any indication. The Flyers are no strangers to deep playoff runs, regardless of their seed.
Waynflete (seventh in the Class C South Heal Points standings at press time) closes the regular season at Kennebunk Tuesday, then will look to save its best for last.
“We’re a young team, but we think we can do something,” said Abdi. “Anything is possible in the playoffs.”
“We’ve played well lately, but it’s about consistency,” Salway said. “We’ve shown spurts all year. It’s about putting 40 (minutes) together, then another 40 together. The guys want to be good. Hopefully we’ll play well Tuesday, then see where we fall. It’s definitely wide open. We’ll be excited to start the playoffs. We hope to play well Tuesday to springboard into the playoffs.”
Waynflete freshman Ian McClure-Chute makes a move.
Waynflete sophomore Mykel Henry controls the ball.
Waynflete freshman Diraige Dahia gets past a defender.
Waynflete freshman Askar Hussein, who scored the Flyers’ second goal, looks to win the ball from a defender.
Waynflete junior Ilyas Abdi beams after scoring the final of his three goals.