HAMPDEN — A minute after sinking to the turf after a hard tackle near midfield, William Cleaves found himself approaching the net after a direct kick from teammate Daniel Wiener floated near the top of the box.

Cleaves saw a Houlton defender rise to meet the ball, but took a chance and assumed there wouldn’t be solid contact.

“The ball’s been going through the whole game, so I just thought I’d get behind it,” Cleaves said. “It’s my lucky day. I put it through.”

The ball came to the foot of Cleaves and he sent it into the corner of the goal three minutes into the second sudden-death overtime to give Waynflete a 2-1 victory over Houlton in the Class C boys’ soccer state championship game Saturday night.

The score had been 1-1 since early in the second half. Only three stellar saves by Houlton keeper Cole Buzzeo in the first 15-minute overtime kept the teams on the field.

“We definitely had chances, a lot of chances,” Cleaves said. “Their goalie was great. He talked a lot. He was really the backbone of their defense. He got to a lot of balls.”

Buzzeo’s best stop was a reaction kick save three minutes into the first overtime after Kevin Kanakan redirected a cross from Mohammed Suja toward the right post. Somehow, Buzzeo kicked it wide.

A few minutes later, Buzzeo made a leaping save on a shot by Wiener headed for the top right corner. Buzzeo finished with 14 saves, to three for Waynflete keeper Zander Majercik.

Waynflete (14-1-3) held a 15-4 advantage over Houlton (14-3-1) in shots and had 10 corner kicks to Houlton’s four. The Shiretowners didn’t put a shot on goal in either overtime but held their own in midfield play.

After a scoreless first half, both teams came out on the attack. Houlton, which failed to challenge Majercik in the first 40 minutes, had a dangerous flurry near the left post in the 41st.

After dodging that, Waynflete countered with a run down the right sideline culminating in a low cross by Cleaves. A Houlton defender knocked the ball to a surprised Buzzeo, who prevented an own goal.
But the rebound went to Kevin Kanakan of Waynflete, who didn’t miss. Suddenly, 1:09 into the second half, the Flyers led 1-0.

“Great finish by Kevin Kanakan on the back post,” Cleaves said.

The lead lasted less than two minutes as, in similar fashion,  Waynflete’s back line saw an attempt to clear a dangerous cross go awry.

James Fitzpatrick, who provided all the scoring for the Shiretowners in a 3-1 Eastern Maine final victory over Orono, sent a hard cross from right to left, headed for the far post. The ball got past Majercik and appeared to be rolling wide of the goal, but Carter Burrowes of the Flyers couldn’t be sure.

Burrowes got to the ball, but his momentum sent it across the line to tie it.

“We’ve been fighting back all year,” Cleaves said. “We’ve gotten down before. You’ve got to keep fighting. It’s a long game.”

This one lasted 98 minutes and 1 second, and gave the Flyers their first Class C state title. They were three-time Class D state champions but appeared in only one previous Class C final, losing 2-1 to Washington Academy.

Houlton was making its first appearance in the final.

“It feels good,” Cleaves said. “I was here my freshman year. I didn’t see the field. To come back here as a senior and win this is just amazing.”

Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:
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Twitter: GlennJordanPPH