Waynflete celebrates one of its three goals in Saturday’s 3-2 victory at Deering. Brianna Soukup / Portland Press Herald photos.

PORTLAND—Waynflete’s boys’ soccer team prides itself on playing anyone, anywhere, anytime.

And one of the positive benefits of the COVID-delayed 2020 campaign is that the Flyers can finally square off with some city rivals in countable games.

Saturday morning at Memorial Field, Waynflete, the two-time defending Class C champion, made the very short jaunt to battle Class A contender Deering in the teams’ first-ever contest.

And it turned out to be a very entertaining contest.

Which ended once again in victory for the Flyers.

Waynflete had the majority of chances early, but couldn’t finish, then it fell behind, 1-0, when Rams’ sophomore Adilson Vidal buried a low shot in the 29th minute.

The Flyers then awakened and turned momentum with just 31.4 seconds to play in the first half, when senior Alex Vest set up classmate Patrick Shaw to tie it, 1-1.

Waynflete then went ahead to say with 23:58 left in regulation, when senior Aidan Kieffer scored on a rebound and when Shaw produced a second goal 10 minutes later, it appeared the Flyers were home free.

But Deering wasn’t about to go quietly and a gorgeous free kick goal from senior Muntasir Ahmed with 10:47 left made things very interesting.

The Rams hoped to complete their rally, but they couldn’t solve the Waynflete defense or senior goalkeeper Ben Talpey and the Flyers closed out their 3-2 victory.

Waynflete improved to 3-0 on the season and dropped Deering to 1-1 in the process.

“This group is unbelievable,” said longtime Flyers coach Brandon Salway, who earned his 295th win with the program. “I’m very fortunate to coach them. They love playing the game. Try telling them this season doesn’t matter. They’re excited to get out here and play. It’s great to play city schools in countable games and show we’re as competitive as anybody. A lot of that is due to this group of kids.”

First time

Deering, which went 5-7-3 last season, losing, 2-0, to Kennebunk in the Class A South preliminary round of the playoffs, started its 2020 campaign Tuesday with a 2-1 win at South Portland.

Waynflete went 16-2 a year ago, losing only to eventual Class B champion Yarmouth and Class B South runner-up Greely, capped its campaign with an emphatic 4-0 victory over Mt. View in the Class C state final.

The Flyers rolled in their first two outings this fall, 5-1, at North Yarmouth Academy last Saturday and 6-1 at home over Gray-New Gloucester Wednesday.

While Waynflete had never played Deering before in a countable game, the Flyers did enjoy a huge victory on the Rams’ turf in the 2018 Class C South Final, when poor field conditions at Fore River Fields moved the game across town and Waynflete edged Maranacook, 1-0, en route to the first of its back-to-back championships.

Saturday’s contest began under chilly 57-degree skies, but the temperature warmed up and the play on the field followed suit.

Deering senior Francis Matonga defends Waynflete senior Alex Vest.

Just 40 seconds in, the Flyers had their first chance after a failed Deering clear, but junior Samir Sayed missed just wide.

Vest then missed just wide, senior Harry Millspaugh was high on a header off a corner kick, Sayed missed twice and a free kick from Joey Ansel-Mullen was cleared from the box.

The Rams’, whose early chances included a free kick from senior Calvin Benider which was blocked by Ansel-Mullen and an Ahmed left-footed shot after a long run blocked at the last second, finally broke through with 11:10 to go in the first half.

Senior midfielder Benjamin Chatterjee set the goal up, getting the ball to Vidal, who found room in the middle before launching a low shot that Talpey, diving to his right, couldn’t reach and the ball tickled the twine for a 1-0 Deering advantage.

Waynflete looked to equalize, but when Rams’ senior keeper Sam Spach denied Ansel-Mullen and Ansel-Mullen sent a free kick just wide of the near post, it appeared the visitors would go to the half trailing.

Until the Flyers struck with 31.4 seconds on the clock.

Vest set it up with a nice run and move past a defender. Vest then sent the ball across the goal mouth to Shaw in front and Shaw knocked it home to tie the score.

“We definitely had some chances at the beginning and it was unfortunate we didn’t put (our earlier chances) in the back of the net, but personally, it gave me energy to keep pushing,” Shaw said. “Alex set that one up. I was just there for the goal.”

Waynflete senior Patrick Shaw, left, is congratulated by classmate Alex Vest after scoring the tying goal Saturday.  

The game remained intense in a second half which would feature three goals.

Early in the second stanza, Shaw’s header on a corner was cleared, an Ansel-Mullen blast was punched away by Spach and a Vest header from the doorstep sailed over the crossbar.

Deering looked to go on top when sophomore Carlos Adriano-Muaco raced for Ahmed’s feed, but Millspaugh knocked it away at the last second and at the other end, Vest’s rush was broken up by a Rams’ defender.

With 23:58 to go, off a corner kick, Waynflete’s ability to stay with the play led to the go-ahead tally.

While the serve was knocked back toward midfield, senior back Ben Adey came up to play the ball, sent a nice pass to Shaw and Shaw’s serve back into the box resulted in a scrum in front which ended when the ball wound up on Kieffer’s foot and Kieffer banged it home for a 2-1 lead.

“It was just a big scramble down there,” Kieffer said. “I saw the ball and I hit it. We’re a big team, so we pride ourselves on winning balls in the air.”

“We did a great job creating chances,” Salway said. “Patrick finished today and Aidan’s goal was key. I thought we moved the ball great. Our outside backs, Ben and (senior) Ilo (Holdridge), press up the field and put so much pressure on the opposing team. That happens often. Other teams wonder where they come from.”

After Spach robbed Waynflete junior Henry Hart, Ahmed looked to tie it, but his rocket went high and another foray by Ahmed into the box was broken up by a Flyers’ defender.

Waynflete then appeared to ice it with 13:48 on the clock, when Ansel-Mullen set up Shaw for his second goal, a blast that Spach had no chance to stop, and the lead was 3-1.

Deering then saved its best soccer for last.

With 10:47 to go, after a Waynflete foul, Ahmed lined up a free kick fro 20-yards out and tucked it just inside the near post and suddenly it was a one-goal game again.

“That was a great hit by the Deering player,” Salway said. “We’ve given up four goals now, two penalty kicks and a free kick here. One of our goals is not to foul and we had too many fouls today. We’ll try to shore that up this week.”

Waynflete senior goalkeeper Ben Talpey dives in vain as he attempts to stop Deering senior Muntasir Ahmed’s shot which pulls the Rams within a goal late in regulation.

The Rams had one final look to tie it up, but with 1:06 to go, a free kick by senior Andrew James was headed away by Kieffer and the Flyers were able to run out the clock and celebrate their 3-2 victory.

“It was tough to hold (Deering) off,” Kieffer said. “They got reinvigorated when they scored. It comes down to us not fouling.”

“We’ve played the same teams the last few years, so it’s nice to have some new opponents this year,” said Shaw.

“It felt like a playoff game toward the end,” Salway added. “I’m proud of our guys. We played really well. We could have finished some chances early that might have changed the complexion of the game, but it was fun to feel that stress toward the end of the game. It’s different than our other games when we played 25 people..”

Waynflete finished with a 7-3 shots advantage and had all six of the game’s corner kicks.

Deering got four saves from Spach, but didn’t play its best until desperation time.

“I expected Waynflete to play the way they did, but I didn’t expect us to play the way we did,” said Rams’ coach Joel Costigan. “We kind of lost that game in the first 10 minutes. You could see our energy was down and our lack of discipline. Most of the game, we defended on our heels, not what we worked on in practice. We weren’t able to put it together until the last 10 minutes of the game, defending as a team, pushing the ball forward, but it was too little, too late.”

Next week

Deering is back in action Thursday when traditional rival Cheverus pays a visit.

“The shorter season is a challenge, but it’s fun to be able to play,” Costigan said. “We think our team has great potential and we’ve played really well in spurts. We’re treating every game like there are playoffs. Guys have their sights on having a winning record. We play a lot of good teams. If we play the way we’re supposed to and have better training sessions, you’ll see we’re a very talented group.”

Waynflete has never played Cheverus in a countable game, but that’s about to change. The Flyers will host the Stags Tuesday, then the teams meet again Oct. 13 at Cheverus.

Waynflete wants to keep its good times rolling.

“It’s great to play and compete,” said Kieffer. “We’re just super-hyped we can play. It’s disappointing we can’t go for that third (championship), but we’ve played together for so long. It’s nice to finish it off together.”

“Being here with all the kids I’ve played with the last couple years, it’s nice to finish it off as a community,” Shaw said. “We want to be the best team we can be and play as well as we can.”

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

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