Waynflete appears to be gearing up to make a run at another Class C state championship.
The Flyers are missing eight players from last season’s title team, but it looks like their rebuilding job is complete with the playoffs scheduled to start in less than two weeks.
“We had a lot of new kids this year, especially freshmen and sophomores coming up,” said Leigh Fernandez, a versatile senior who has logged time at both striker and on a wing in the midfield.
“We’re a really young team, and we’re just starting to click and it’s all working out well now. We’re anticipating runs more and learning how everybody plays.”
“We play incredibly talented teams and I think that really prepares us mentally, physically and strategically,” said Sophie Raffel, a central defender in her third season with the Flyers.
Also, the Flyers’ schedule has been compressed, with most of their games coming in the final month of the season.
“Our school had a late start and I think that’s one reason why our schedule has been so packed up to the end of the season,” Raffel said. “It keeps us in game mode a lot of the time. Definitely throughout the season, it feels like we’ve been playing a lot of games.”
Going into Wednesday’s game at Kittery against Traip Academy, Waynflete was 5-0-1 against Class C teams. The small Portland private school will end the regular season with games at home Friday night against North Yarmouth Academy and Monday night on the road against Class A Falmouth.
“Our schedule definitely prepares us for when the playoffs come,” said Sofia Canning, a central midfielder in her fourth season with the Flyers. “When you play tough teams you may not always win, but it helps you to keep getting better. I learn something every game, regardless of whether it’s a win or a loss.”
While 13 players returned from last season’s championship squad, the Flyers have really gotten a lift from three athletes who made the switch from running cross country to soccer. That trio consists of Cat Johnson, Ella Millard and Helen Gray-Bauer. Johnson previously played soccer at Mt. Ararat High School, and Millard returned to the sport after a year’s absence.
“They’re all incredibly athletic,” Raffel said. “They were a little concerned about coming back into soccer and not having their skills. Across the board, I kind of forget they weren’t on the team last year because they are such great assets to the team. They fit right in.”
In the Flyers’ 2-1 win Monday against Sacopee Valley, Johnson scored a goal and Millard had two assists.
“In the beginning of the year because there were so many new people we really didn’t know how we were going to be,” Canning said, “but I’ve always felt we’ll do well no matter what because of how hard we work. As we started to mesh and grow together as a group, it definitely got a lot better.
“We just have to work hard to succeed. We don’t have that one star person. Everyone on the team has to work for us to succeed.”
FALMOUTH STARTED the week trailing Scarborough by less than 1.5 points in the Heal point standings in the race for the top spot in Western Class A.
The Yachtsmen have been able to stay close to the Red Storm despite playing a Western Maine Conference schedule that includes just one Class A team.
On Wednesday, Falmouth played host to Kennebunk, the only other Class A team in the WMC, and Scarborough hosted Windham in a showdown between the SMAA’s only two unbeaten teams.
The Yachtsmen finish the regular season with games against Class B Freeport Friday and Waynflete Monday.
After Windham, the Red Storm go on the road to take on extremely tough Thornton Academy Friday night and Bonny Eagle next Tuesday night.
Staff Writer Paul Betit, can be reached at 791-6424 or at: