PORTLAND—Last June 19, the Waynflete girls’ lacrosse team’s quest for a third straight Class B state championship was derailed by the North Yarmouth Academy Panthers, who ascended to the pinnacle for the first time.

Saturday afternoon, in a two-hour affair, which included a 32-minute thunder delay, the Flyers got a measure of revenge and capped a dazzling three-day stretch that reminded everyone that while they may have fallen short a year ago, there’s a very good chance they’ll finish the job in 2011.

Waynflete got four goals each from super sophomores Sadie Cole and Martha Veroneau, had five players score in all and held off a late Panthers’ rally to improve to 4-1 with a 12-10 victory, while dropping NYA to 2-4 on the spring.

“It feels really good,” said Flyers senior defender Hannah Rindlaub, who grabbed a team-high five ground balls. “We have good momentum right now. For NYA, we have the utmost respect. It’s such a good rivalry, but last year is totally a thing of the past. It didn’t cross our minds. It’s a new year, a new team.”

“We’re really excited about it,” added Waynflete senior Scout Haffenreffer. “We didn’t really know what to expect, but we’re super pumped about it.”

Renewing acquaintances

Last year, NYA beat Waynflete in all three meetings, becoming just the second team to do so (Yarmouth in 2007 was the other) during the tenure of accomplished Flyers coach Cathie Connors. In 2010, the Panthers won in Yarmouth (7-6), at Fore River Fields (8-7) and then at Fitzpatrick Stadium (7-3) for all the marbles.

So far in 2011, however, NYA (which lost standouts Courtney Dumont and Ashley Salerno to graduation) has struggled. After opening with a 14-4 home win over Freeport, the Panthers were dealt a 16-9 home loss by Yarmouth. After bouncing back, 13-6, at Brunswick, NYA was shocked, 13-12 (in overtime), at Greely, then, Thursday night, the Panthers lost to Falmouth for the first time, 13-10.

Waynflete figured to have a more difficult path to the state final this year as both Cape Elizabeth and Falmouth hoped to push and even topple the Flyers, but the Capers’ hopes took s serious blow in the preseason when senior Karyn Barrett suffered a knee injury. The Flyers momentarily put the Yachtsmen in their place in the opener, April 26, winning, 18-10, at Falmouth. Last Saturday, however, Waynflete was bested by Kennebunk for the first time in eight seasons, falling at home, 12-10. After getting back on track with an 18-3 triumph at Freeport Tuesday, the Flyers earned a dramatic and inspirational 11-10 home victory over then-undefeated Yarmouth Thursday.

Entering Saturday, NYA had never beaten Waynflete four straight times and Connors hadn’t lost four in a row to any foe. After the clouds rolled out and the game was completed, both trends remained intact.

Once again, the Flyers saw the opposition get off to a strong start before rallying.

Just 1 minute, 33 seconds into the 25-minute first half, the Panthers grabbed a 1-0 lead in improbable fashion as freshman Olivia Madore, who was brought up to the team after senior Christina Reese, junior Katie Cawley and sophomore Abby McKelvy were all injured at Falmouth, caught a pass from Fortier and scored a goal the first time she ever touched the ball in a varsity game.

Senior standout Lilly Wellenbach scored a free position goal with 16:42 left in the half to make it 2-0 NYA, but as it seems to always do, Waynflete had an answer.

With 15:34 left, Cole, who has emerged as one of the most potent offensive weapons around, struck for an unassisted goal. With 9:06 remaining, Cole scored unassisted again and the game was tied, 2-2.

An unassisted goal from junior Katherine Millett at 8;42 put the Panthers back on top, 3-2, but with 5:26 showing, Fortier received a yellow card and with an extra player on the field, the Flyers erupted for four goals in a 2 minute, 28 second span to take the lead for good.

With 5:20 to go, Veroneau scored her first goal, unassisted, and the game was tied. Twelve seconds later, after a draw win, the incredibly athletic Veroneau scored again and Waynflete had its first lead, 4-3. With 4:23 remaining, senior Liv Chap set up Cole for a goal and with 2:52 showing, Cole scored on a free position for a 6-3 advantage.

To NYA’s credit, it shook off the run and bounced right back as Wellenbach scored twice in 15 seconds (once unassisted, after cutting through three defenders, then taking a pass from senior Rozi Smith after the ensuing draw win).

In the first half, the Panthers got four saves from senior first-year goalie Frances Leslie, while Flyers sophomore Katherine Torrey, who has been a big part of the team’s success to date, stopped two shots.

In the second half, Waynflete would stretch its lead, Mother Nature made her presence felt, then, the Flyers held on for another victory.

With only 49 seconds elapsed in the second stanza, junior Lucy Crane sent a high pass to senior Mica Thompson, who, in a move she’s patented in recent games, stretched to make the catch, then, in one fluid motion, fired past Leslie for a 7-5 lead.

“I have no idea how I do it,” Thompson said. “I’ve just done it a lot, so I guess I’m good at it when it happens. I’ve always loved the quick shot. That’s my thing.”

With 19:41 showing, the officials stopped the contest after thunder was heard in the area. Rules dictate that the game can’t continue until 30 minutes after the weather event, so NYA went to its bus, while Waynflete went into its locker room.

Just two minutes after play resumed, Haffenreffer scored an unassisted goal for a three-goal bulge, suggesting the delay didn’t phase the Flyers.

“We’re definitely not used to (weather delays),” said Haffenreffer. “Being all together in the locker room, we talked and kept ourselves pumped.”

At the 17:03 mark, Wellenbach, while falling, beat Torrey to make it an 8-6 game, but Chap (from senior Izzer Berrang) and Thompson (from Veroneau) answered in a 2 minute, 3 second span to stretch the lead to four goals.

With 13:02 to play, Wellenbach took a pass from Millett and scored, but with 11:26 showing, Veroneau scored on a free position to make it 11-7. Eleven seconds later, after a draw win, Wellenbach fed Smith for a goal, but with 8:41 remaining, Veroneau scored unassisted to again make it a four-goal contest, 12-8.

The Panthers would do their best to rally late, but ultimately fell short.

With 4:25 to go, Smith (from Fortier) scored to make it 12-9. With 2:01 left, a crease violation prevented a golden scoring opportunity for NYA. Fifty-eight seconds later, Fortier had a free position, but shot wide.

With only 57 seconds to play, Fortier set up Wellenbach to make it 12-10, but even though NYA won the ensuing draw, it would get no closer.

With 36 seconds on the clock, sophomore Molly Strabley shot high. Thirteen seconds later, Wellenbach’s bid went wide. With 20 seconds to go, Millett had a free position, but Waynflete’s defense, in one final, heroic effort, didn’t allow her to get off a shot and the Panthers turned the ball over, allowing the Flyers to run out the clock on their 12-10 triumph.

“I’m really excited about the win,” Thompson said. “It’s been exhausting, but we’ve pulled through. It took a lot. It was not easy at all.

“I was nervous losing (last year’s star seniors) Amy (Allen) and Morgan (Woodhouse), but we all we had to step it up and we did. You see a lot more people scoring and assisting. The skill level is raised up. Each person has it. That’s what I love about this team. The games have been nailbiters, but we have a really relaxed stall and we trust each other. We make good passes. We do whatever we can not to lose possession.”

While Cole and Veroneau continued their season-long offensive onslaught with four goals each, they had help, as Thompson scored twice and Chap and Haffenreffer each had a goal. Berrang, Chap, Crane and Veroneau all had one assist. Cole and Rindlaub tied for a team-high five ground balls, while Haffenreffer and Veroneau each collected four. Torrey finished with four saves, but they were all critical.

For NYA, Wellenbach sparkled with six goals and an assist. Smith added two goals, Madore and Millett one apiece. Fortier had three assists, while Millett and Smith both added one. Wellenbach finished with a game-high 10 ground balls. Fortier collected seven, senior Caroline Bowne and Smith both grabbed five, while Madore and Millett each had four. Leslie made five saves.

“We almost won that game,” said Panthers coach Julia Sterling. “Waynflete’s very, very good. I thought the girls really stepped it up. I think the reason we lost were the ridiculous mistakes we don’t make in practice, like getting beaten to ground balls and throwing the ball away. It’s a young team, but I’m really proud of them. It’s the best game we’ve played and it was against a really tough team.”

The Panthers won 14 of 24 draws, as Wellenbach went 8-of-14 and Fortier 6-of-10. For the Flyers, Cole went 4-for-9. Haffenreffer won 6-of-15.

“Lilly definitely has the height,” said Haffenreffer, about their draw encounters. “She’s a really, really good player. I just try to put myself in the zone and really focus.”

“It’s definitely a team effort, knowing (Lilly’s) a stallion lacrosse player,” Rindlaub added. “We keep our eye on her. We just communicate and trust each other.”

NYA had 19 turnovers to 15 for Waynflete. The Panthers finished with a 25-20 shots-on-goal advantage., but the Flyers put 17 shots on frame, to just 14 for the visitors.

Halfway home

NYA hasn’t lost four games in a regular season since 2007, but finds itself 2-4. Despite their record, the Panthers remain one of the top five teams in the state and actually lead the Eastern Class B Heal Points standings. By playoff time, this team projects to be very, very dangerous.

After compleing a four-game road trip, NYA returns home Tuesday to face York. The Panthers meet Eastern A contender Messalonskee next Saturday in a crossover game. Then, the schedule reads at Yarmouth (May 19), home versus Waynflete (May 24), at Cape Elizabeth and home with Falmouth.

“I think we have a chance to build on this,” Sterling said. “Our spirits are higher. It’s been a really strange season. We have to do the best we can do. We won’t get Christina back. We might get Katie Cawley back. I don’t think we’ll get Abby McKelvy back, but other kids are stepping into their places. We need to win some games. If we come out and do the best we can do, that’s all I can ask. We have our work cut out.”

On paper at least, Waynflete’s schedule will get easier. The Flyers (first in the Western B Heals) host Greely Tuesday, but the Rangers are coming off their upset win over NYA. Next Saturday, in a crossover game, Waynflete goes to Cheverus. The following week, the Flyers close the home portion of their schedule against regional rivals Cape Elizabeth and Falmouth, then finish on the road at NYA, York and Yarmouth (June 1).

“Each year, I love everyone on the team more and more and I think that’s why we play so well together,” Rindlaub said. “We all know we need to get better.”

“We know we’ll see (NYA) again,” Thompson said. “It’s good to know we can beat them. We still have a long way to go. We could still improve in anything. We just need to work together and work on relaxing a little bit more and keeping possession. We have some really hard games ahead of us and I’m really excited.”

“Hopefully we can keep it going throughout the season,” said Haffenreffer. “I think we’re just going to keep doing what we’ve been doing, working together and keeping up our team connection.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Waynflete senior Izzer Berrang tries to bottle up NYA senior Lilly Wellenbach. Wellenbach managed to score six times, but it wasn’t enough for the Panthers.

Waynflete sophomore Sadie Cole splits the defense and gets past NYA senior Caroline Bowne as she eyes the goal. Cole scored four times in the victory.

NYA sophomore Molly Strabley races upfield as Waynflete junior Maddy Agnew tries to keep pace. The Flyers improved to 4-1 with the win, dropping the defending champion Panthers to 2-4.

Sidebar Elements

Waynflete sophomore Martha Veroneau gets a step on NYA senior Lilly Wellenbach and fires one of her four goals during the Flyers’ 12-10 home win over the Panthers in a Class B state final rematch Saturday afternoon.

More photos below.


Waynflete 12 NYA 10

NYA- 5 5- 10
W- 6 6- 12

First half
23:27 NYA Madore (Fortier)
16:42 NYA Wellenbach (free position)
15:32 W Cole (unassisted)
9:06 W Cole (un)
8:42 NYA Millett (un)
5:20 W Veroneau (un) MAN-UP
5:08 W Veroneau (un) MAN-UP
4:23 W Cole (Chap) MAN-UP
2:52 W Cole (free position) MAN-UP
1:34 NYA Wellenbach (un)
1:19 NYA Wellenbach (Smith)

Second half
24:11 W Thompson (Crane)
17:39 W Haffenreffer (un)
17:03 NYA Wellenbach (un)
16:22 W Chap (Berrang)
14:19 W Thompson (Veroneau)
13:02 NYA Wellenbach (Millett)
11:26 W Veroneau (free position)
11:15 NYA Smith (Wellenbach)
8:41 W Veroneau (un)
4:25 NYA Smith (Fortier)
:57 NYA Wellenbach (Fortier)

NYA- Wellenbach 6, Smith 2, Madore, Millett 1
W- Cole, Veroneau 4, Thompson 2, Chap, Haffenreffer 1

NYA- Fortier 3, Millett, Smith, Wellenbach 1
W- Berrang, Chap, Crane, Veroneau 1

NYA- (Leslie) 5
W- (Torrey) 4

Draws (NYA, 14-10)
NYA- Wellenbach 8-of-14, Fortier 6-of-10
W- Haffenreffer 6-of-15, Cole 4-of-9

Ground balls (NYA, 43-28)
NYA- Wellenbach 10, Fortier 7, Bowne, Smith 5, Madore, Millett 4
W- Cole, Rindlaub 5, Haffenreffer, Veroneau 4

NYA- 19
W- 15

Shots on goal:
NYA- 25
W- 20

Shots on frame:
NYA- 14
W- 17

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