Waynflete coach Brandon Salway talks to his team during a first half break during the Flyers’ 6-0 win over Sacopee Valley Friday. The victory was Salway’s 300th as Flyers’ coach.

PORTLAND—Way back in 1989, Brandon Salway was at a crossroads.

Become a sportswriter or a boys’ soccer coach?

Suffice it say, Salway made the right decision.

A decision which continues to pay victorious dividends to this very day.

Friday afternoon at Fore River Fields, Salway reached the rarefied air of 300 coaching victories when his powerhouse, two-time defending Class C champion Waynflete boys’ soccer team blanked Sacopee Valley, 6-0.

The Flyers ended the competitive phase of the contest in the first half when six different players scored and the party started early as Waynflete went on to its eighth victory without a loss this unorthodox season.

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“Honestly, it’s a program accomplishment,” said Salway, who has guided the Flyers to a dozen regional titles and six state championships during his tenure. “I’m proud of the program and what we’ve accomplished and it’s definitely ‘we.’ We’ve had a lot of great assistants and thousands, maybe, of players. People surrounding the program have made it so enjoyable. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have landed here.”

Triumph and class

Waynflete has won a ton of games over the past three decades and has done so the right way, with character emphasized as much as soccer skill.

This particular senior class might be as accomplished (or even more) as any in program history, capturing the last two Class C championships while playing and beating some of the top teams in the region along the way.

While the Flyers can’t compete for a traditional crown this autumn, they’ve proved to be as strong as anyone and if there would have been a postseason, they would have been heavy favorites to capture another Gold Ball.

“It’s really hard to put one group over another when you’ve coached so many great players, but this group of seniors is just unbelievable,” Salway said. “I’m not sure how many wins they’ve been a part of, but I’d guess over 50. They played a big part in the 300 (wins), but so did kids way back when.”

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Back in 1989, Salway passed up playing his senior season at the University of Southern Maine and at the ripe age of 22 (he’s now 53), opted to become the boys’ soccer coach at a small private school in Portland with little history of success (just three winning seasons in the previous decade).

The decision wasn’t easy, however.

“I had a job offer to be a sports reporter at the Lewiston Sun Journal, or take a part-time gig here coaching soccer and that turned into teaching and other coaching opportunities,” said Salway, who also led Waynflete’s girls’ basketball team to the 2013 Class C state title. “I just got lucky.”

You could argue that the school has been even more fortunate, as Salway soon produced a perennial contender.

Waynflete went undefeated in the regular season his first autumn and reached the Western D Final before losing to Richmond. The following fall, the Flyers got to the state final but fell to Machias. After another state game loss (to Jonesport-Beals) in 1992, Waynflete broke through the following year and beat Ashland, 2-1, to capture an elusive state title.

“The 1993 team won the school’s first state championship,” Salway said. “That was a really exciting time.”

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Class D state titles followed in 2001 and 2002 and after moving up to Class C in 2005, Waynflete won crowns at that level in 2011 and did so again in 2018 and 2019.

Victory number 100 came at the end of the 2001 regular season, 1-0, over Poland. Number 200 also came against Sacopee Valley, 8-0 in Hiram on Sept. 18, 2012.

This fall, the Flyers have left no doubt that they’re at the very least, the best team in the city of Portland, during an undefeated run.

Waynflete started its 2020 campaign with a 5-1 victory at two-time Class D South champion North Yarmouth Academy and a 6-1 home win over Gray-New Gloucester. The Flyers then won a first-ever countable game at Deering (3-2) and knocked off visiting Cheverus (4-0), again, in a first-ever countable meeting. Next came a first-ever countable game against visiting Portland, a contest Waynflete captured, 2-1. After a 7-1 home victory over NYA, the Flyers held off host Cheverus Monday, 3-2, to set the stage for Friday’s drama.

Sacopee Valley had a delayed start to its season, then beat Mountain Valley, tied Fryeburg Academy and lost to Lake Region.

Last year, Waynflete won both meetings, 8-0 at home and 3-1 in Hiram.

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Friday, on a frigid 36-degree afternoon, which featured the occasional glimpse of sunshine, the Flyers quickly took care of the business at hand to get Salway his milestone.

Waynflete came out on the attack from the get-go, but its first several chances didn’t result in a goal.

First, just 48 seconds in, senior Alex Vest’s shot was deflected off the top of the crossbar.

After Hawks goalie Ryan Meggison came out to break up a rush by junior Samir Sayed, he robbed junior Henry Hart and senior Harry Millspaugh in succession.

Off a corner kick, Meggison punched the ball out to senior Joey Ansel-Mullen, who had a shot blocked.

Then, with 33:49 to go in the first half, the Flyers got the only goal they would need.

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Ansel-Mullen got the ball up top to Hart, who fired a low shot through traffic that got past Meggison and tickled the twine for a 1-0 lead.

Frustration then set in again, as Hart missed just wide, Meggison saved a shot by senior Aidan Kieffer off a corner kick, Vest was denied twice, Vest bent a free kick off the top of the crossbar, Millspaugh missed wide, Kieffer missed high and Ansel-Mullen was robbed after a corner kick.

Then, Waynflete scored five times in 14 minutes to put it away.

First, with 16:36 to go before halftime, off a corner kick which got batted around in the box, Millspaugh banged home the rebound for some breathing room.

“We’ve been slow to finish,” said Salway. “We start OK and move the ball well, but we needed to be more composed when it comes to finishing. Harry’s second goal really relaxed everyone a little bit. It took the pressure off.”

With 14:52 on the clock, off a Hart cross, Ansel-Mullen got in the scoring column for a three-goal lead.

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With 12:14 remaining, Vest set up Sayed for the finish and a 4-0 lead.

Next, it was Kieffer’s turn, as he scored on a rebound off a corner kick with 4:59 to go.

The final goal came with 2:22 left in the half, as Vest set up sophomore Matt Adey for a breakaway tally and a 6-0 lead.

“We wanted to come out fast and get enough breathing room to get the younger guys and older guys who haven’t gotten a lot of time some minutes,” Ansel-Mullen said. “We’ve worked on finishing in practice. Everyone’s worked on getting good shots off.”

The Flyers had 17 first half shots on frame to none for the Hawks and they had a 12-0 advantage in corner kicks as well.

Waynflete went almost exclusively with reserves in the second half.

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Sacopee Valley had some chances to get on the board in the final 40 minutes, but junior James Wing missed wide on a shot in the box, Wing set up junior Erik Fossum a shot that Flyers senior Ben Curtis (who replaced senior Ben Talpey at the start of the second half) saved, freshman Jonah Nataril missed wide and sophomore Wyatt Bukar took a penalty kick, but sent it too far to the right.

Waynflete ran out the clock from there and Salway’s 300th victory was in the books.

“We moved the ball great today,” said Salway. “It was terrific to get everyone in.”

The Flyers finished with a 19-2 shots advantage, got two saves from Curtis and had a 13-1 edge in corner kicks.

Meggison made 13 saves for the Hawks.

High praise

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Following the victory, Salway is presented the game ball by Waynflete senior captain Harry Millspaugh.

After the victory, in a ceremony where he received the game ball from Millspaugh, Salway was hailed by his captains.

“We’re just so grateful that Brandon has been our coach and has created this environment where we have a perfect balance of hard work and knowing how to have fun,” said Millspaugh.

“More important than anything is the standard (Brandon) sets on a daily basis for us and the winning environment he created,” Kieffer said. “The championship runs are all because of the standard he sets.”

“Brandon’s everything you could want in a coach,” said senior Ben Adey. “You see the success of the program and quality of players and coaching staff, so everybody wants the opportunity to work with Brandon. I feel really special to be part of the team that helped him get this milestone.”

“It feels phenomenal to be on the team to get him to 300 (wins),” said Ansel-Mullen. “It’s something we’ll always remember. We’re so happy for him. You can’t say enough good things about coach. He’s the best. He’s really smart with the game, but what separates him is he doesn’t over-coach. He has a lot of trust in his players. He has a lot of patience. He knows when he needs to step in and coach and when to step back and let players learn throughout the game. He’s just phenomenal.”

Praise and congratulations came from far and wide.

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“Coach Salway is the model for coaches at Waynflete and in our state,” said Flyers girls’ basketball and boys’ lacrosse coach Andrew Leach in a tweet.

“Brandon is an amazing coach who players love to play for,” said Waynflete athletic director Ross Burdick, who has been in place for about half of Salway’s tenure. “He has a love for coaching that is seen by his players. He makes everyone feel proud to be part of the team whether they are a leading scorer or a player that sees less game time. He puts competitive teams on the field year-in and year-out for over 30 years. I am so proud and happy for him to reach 300 wins. I hope that he stays on the sideline to reach 400.”

“One of the many things that makes Coach Salway special is his ability to connect with players of all abilities,” added Mike Hagerty, the longtime coach of the powerhouse Yarmouth boys’ soccer program, which has gone head-to-head with the Flyers on several occasions. “His teams are made up of kids who come from many different towns and youth programs, and therefore, come with very different soccer backgrounds yet, they are always connected, organized, and play well together. That is a sign of a talented and knowledgeable coach.

“I have also always been impressed with (Brandon’s) calm demeanor and composure on the sidelines, regardless of the score. He treats his players, as well as officials, opponents and opposing coaches with class, kindness, and respect. He is truly a role model for kids and coaches alike. Congratulations to Coach Salway. He deserves any recognition that comes his way and more.”

As for Salway himself, he was emotional and reflective following his landmark victory.

“I can remember looking at sports previews in the newspaper when I was in high school and thinking, ‘Wow. Someone coached for 18 years. That’s a long time,'” but when you have competitive kids who are talented and they love the game and enjoy playing together, it’s really easy and time goes by so quickly. That makes it very enjoyable.

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“The people here are special. I like the culture of the school and our program. The kids are thirsting to be competitive. At the same time, they’re smart, great kids. This group especially.”

Here’s to 100 more (or at least one)

Waynflete is scheduled to play two more games, at Greely next Thursday and at home versus Freeport Nov. 7.

While the school won’t have a Gold Ball to place in its trophy case this fall, this season has been a unique, resounding success for the Flyers.

“We want to get those last two wins and finish (10-0),” said Ansel-Mullen. “It’s all we could ask for, to get these games in. It’s been so fun to play here. It’s such a great group of guys.”

“Honestly, we’ve played every game like it’s a playoff game and we don’t know if it will be the last one,” Salway said. “I hope it’s been special for the guys because they’ve been such a special group that helped continue the culture of the program.”

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And looking to the future?

“I can’t think about 400 (wins), I’m just hoping for 301,” Salway said. ‘Right now, I really enjoy (coaching) and I really enjoy the kids.”

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

Brandon Salway’s records at Waynflete

1989 9-1
1990 10-2 (Class D state finalist)
1991 4-5-1
1992 8-2-2 (Class D state finalist)
1993 12-0 (Class D state champions)
1994 9-2-1
1995 7-3-3
1996 9-2-1
1997 7-4
1998 12-2
1999 3-9-2
2000 3-7-3
2001 11-4 (Class D state champions)
2002 10-5-1 (Class D state champions)
2003 7-7-2 (Class D state finalist)
2004 11-3-1 (Class D state finalist)
2005 8-4-3
2006 2-11-1
2007 7-7-1
2008 8-8-3 (Class C state finalist)
2009 12-2-1
2010 12-2-2
2011 14-1-3 (Class C state champions)
2012 13-2-1
2013 9-5-2
2014 12-2-2
2015 14-3-1 (Class C state finalist)
2016 8-6-2
2017 10-4-2
2018 15-0-3 (Class C state champions)
2019 16-2 (Class C state champions)

  • Total: 300-117-44
  • Twelve regional championships
  • Six state championships

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