Waynflete’s girls’ lacrosse team rushes to mob junior Jess Connors after Connors’ goal gave the Flyers a 6-5 overtime win at Gorham Friday. Hoffer photo.

BOX SCORE

Waynflete 6 Gorham 5 (OT)

W- 2 3 1- 6
G- 3 2 0- 5

First half
23:13 W Sherry (Dinapoli)
19:19 W Millspaugh (Connors)
11:22 G Dupuis (DeWitt)
4:17 G Dupuis (free position)
11.0 G Stevens (DeWitt)

Second half
22:47 W C. Bliss (free position)
21:13 W Kelly (K. Bliss)
15:02 W C. Bliss (unassisted)
7:19 G Chasse (free position)
6:50 G DeWitt (unassisted)

Overtime
1:03 W Connors (unassisted)

Goals:
W- C. Bliss 2, Connors, Kelly, Millspaugh, Sherry
G- Dupuis 2, Chasse, DeWitt, Stevens 1

Assists:
W- K. Bliss, Connors, Dinapoli 1
G- DeWitt 2

Draws (Waynflete, 9-4)
W- Connors 5 of 7, Sherry 4 of 6
G- Myles 3 of 10, Forgues 1 of 3

Ground balls:
W- 49
G- 49

Turnovers:
W- 32
G- 26

Shots:
W- 13
G- 24

Shots on cage:
W- 12
G- 16

Saves:
W (Girard) 11
G (Guimond) 6

GORHAM—Talk about a storybook ending!

Longtime Waynflete girls’ lacrosse coach Cathie Connors has won a lot of games in her 28 seasons, but it’s safe to say she’ll never forget this one.

Even if it was far from a thing of beauty.

Visiting Gorham Friday afternoon, the Flyers started fast in each half, but an abundance of turnovers, 32 to be precise, prevented them from pulling away and as a result, more than 50 minutes were required to produce victory.

Waynflete jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead behind goals from senior Kilee Sherry and junior Lollie Millspaugh, but the Flyers couldn’t keep possession and didn’t score the final 19-plus minutes of the first half.

The Rams then got their offense going on a free position goal junior Kate Dupuis, who later scored to tie it.

Then, with just 11 seconds left, a goal from junior Emma Stevens gave Gorham a 3-2 halftime advantage.

Waynflete then came out hot to start the second half, as freshman Cece Bliss tied it with a free position, classmate Tilsley Kelly put the Flyers back in the lead and Bliss scored again with 15 minutes to play for a 5-3 lead.

But the Rams, inspired by a turnover-forcing defense, rallied again.

With 7:19 to play, sophomore Miranda Chasse scored on a free position to cut the deficit to one.

And just 29 seconds later, after a turnover, junior Mary DeWitt pulled Gorham even.

Neither team scored from there and the game would go to sudden-victory overtime, where junior Jess Connors played the role of hero, scoring unassisted to give Waynflete a 6-5 victory and more importantly, send her mother to the brink of a landmark victory.

The Flyers got scoring from five different players, 11 saves from junior goalie Emily Girard and improved to 3-2, dropped the Rams to 2-3 and in the process, gave Cathie Connors her 299th victory with the program and a chance to become the first-ever coach of a girls’ lacrosse team to hit the magical 300-win plateau Saturday afternoon.

“We just had this fire,” Jess Connors said, after a wild celebration following her game-winner. “I haven’t seen our team this pumped up about a game. We wanted to play hard and win and we just executed. We were here to play and have fun and we just had to stay positive and amp each other up. I love this team. We all love each other so much. I’m proud of how much we’ve stepped it up. We just have this chemistry.”

Fantasyland

Waynflete blanked visiting Fryeburg Academy to start the season, 14-0, then dropped a close 12-10 home decision to York before defeating visiting St. Dom’s, 14-3. Monday, the Flyers had visiting Yarmouth on the ropes, leading by a goal at halftime and being tied midway through the second half before falling, 8-5.

Gorham, meanwhile, started with losses to two-time reigning Class A champion Falmouth (14-3) and Scarborough (14-5), then edged Cheverus, 9-8, and beat Bonny Eagle, 15-9, in its most recent outing, to even its record at 2-2.

Friday’s meeting was the first between the teams since May 25, 2005, a 14-3 win for Waynflete at Gorham.

After a 16-year pause, the squads played a much closer game, but the Flyers some how, some way found a way to come out on the victorious end again.

Girard hinted at a big day to come when she denied DeWitt just 52 seconds into the contest.

Waynflete then transitioned to offense and went on top with 23:13 to go in the first half, when senior Claire Dinapoli set up Sherry in front for a 1-0 lead.

With 19:19 left in the half, Connors set up Millspaugh for a goal and the Flyers appeared on their way, but they wouldn’t score again until after halftime.

First, Rams junior goalie Brooke Guimond kept the deficit at two by robbing Sherry.

Gorham then got on the board with 11:22 remaining in the half, as DeWitt set up Dupuis for a shot Girard couldn’t stop.

Cathie Connors took timeout to try and settle her turnover-prone team down, but it didn’t work, as the Rams had possession most of the rest of the half and with 4:17 left before halftime, Dupuis scored again, this time on a free position, and the game was tied, 2-2.

Gorham then took momentum to the half when in transition after a Waynflete turnover, DeWitt set up Stevens for a goal with 11 seconds left which produced a 3-2 lead at the break.

In the first 25 minutes alone, the Flyers turned the ball over 17 times and only managed five shots on frame.

“(Gorham’s) ride was very aggressive,” Jess Connors said. “They got their checks right on us and we had a hard time keeping the ball on our sticks.”

“I don’t know what was going on,” Cathie Connors said. “We had wild passes and we were dropping the ball. It was our first away game. That might have had something to do with it.”

Waynflete got off to a strong start when the second half began, as Jess Connors moved into the draw circle and earned possession and with 22:47 to play, Bliss finished on a free position to end a 21-minute, 52-second scoring drought and tie the game at 3-3.

After Connors was denied by Guimond, senior Kaitlin Bliss set up Kelly for a shot in traffic that got through and put the Flyers back in the lead, 4-3, with 21:13 on the clock.

With 15:02 to go, Cece Bliss scored for the second time, unassisted, and Waynflete was on the brink of seizing control.

But after a timeout from Gorham coach Meredith Bickford, the Rams would rally.

Girard did all she could to hold them at bay, saving shots from DeWitt, Stevens, Chasse, Dupuis and senior Gracie Forgues.

Then, with 7:19 on the clock, Chasse scored on a free position to cut the deficit to one.

Then, after Girard saved a Chasse shot with 6:57 to go, her clearing pass was intercepted by DeWitt, who raced in and scored seven seconds later to tie it, 5-5.

But on the play, DeWitt was injured and had to leave the game. She wouldn’t return.

The Flyers then nearly suffered a costly injury themselves, as with 4:27 to play, Jess Connors was run over from behind and hit the ground hard. She was in pain and had to leave the game, but she would return a little over a minute later.

Neither team scored the rest of regulation and the game went to overtime.

In Maine high school girls’ lacrosse, teams play a three-minute OT session and the first team to score wins.

That team would be Waynflete.

The Flyers got possession off the draw and Jess Connors nearly won it 27 seconds in, weaving her way through the defense and going one-on-one with Guimond, only to be stopped cold.

“It was a great save,” Connors said. “I was frustrated much of the game.”

“That was a beautiful save,” Cathie Connors said. “I wasn’t sure what would happen from there.”

Waynflete kept possession, however, and with 1:38 left, Cece Bliss took a shot to win it, but Guimond saved that one as well.

Junior Cece Marshall kept possession by scooping up a ground ball and got the ball to Connors.

Again, Connors made her move and she again found herself with room to operate and this time, with 1:03 left in OT, Connors fired the ball into the net and gave the Flyers a dramatic 6-5 victory.

“I saw a little window and all that was going through my head was to take the (one-on-one),” Jess Connors said. “I just did my best and took it in. I like to shoot top corner. This goalie was excellent on those shots. When it went in, it was a really exciting moment. I’ve been waiting to play for Waynflete since I was three-years-old, running across the field. Losing last season was devastating. I’ve never had this much adrenaline and drive to play. I’m really glad we put together a win. I just wanted to make my Mom proud.”

Cathie Connors, who, as a coach and a mother, ran the gamut of emotions in a short period of time between anguish over Jess Connors’ injury scare to elation over her game-winner, felt nothing but gratification at game’s end.

“(Jess) saw some space and really wanted it,” Cathie Connors said. “She’d been robbed a couple times and she just decided she was going to bury that one. I’m really proud of her and happy for her.

“Going into overtime, my message was we don’t want to leave here and look back with any regrets. I told them to leave it all out there and give me three minutes of everything they had. We’re just happy to get the win. I think being in previous close games helped us today. I’m so pleased with our progress. I’m really proud of the girls. They all stepped up. They’ve come so far.”

Waynflete featured a balanced offense, led by Cece Bliss with two goals. Jess Connors, Kelly, Millspaugh and Sherry also tickled the twine.

Kaitlin Bliss, Connors and Dinapoli all had assists.

Connors, along with Sherry, helped the Flyers hold a 9-4 edge in draw circle, and she also had a game-high 10 ground balls while Dinapoli and senior Kaitlin McGrath each scooped up six.

Girard excelled, making 11 critical saves.

“Emily just started playing goalie this year and she’s killing it,” Jess Connors said. “She stepped up big-time today. She stayed positive and made those great saves.”

“Emily was amazing today,” said Cathie Connors. “She’s super-steady and improves every single game. She shows up and does her job. Luckily, she was on today. (Goalie coach Laura Bishop) is unbelievable with her.”

Waynflete was able to overcome 32 turnovers.

For Gorham, Dupuis scored twice, while Chasse, DeWitt and Stevens had one goal apiece.

DeWitt had a pair of assists.

Junior Alexandra Myles led the Rams with eight ground balls.

Guimond made six saves.

The Rams out-shot the Flyers, 24-13 (16-12 on cage) and committed 26 turnovers.

History awaits

While Gorham returns to action Monday at South Portland, Waynflete plays again Saturday afternoon, when Cheverus comes to Fore River Fields for a makeup game.

And it won’t be just any game.

Cathie Connors has a chance to join Don Glover (the longtime Brunswick boys’ coach) as the only Maine high school lacrosse coach to reach 300 victories.

Connors, who began coaching the Flyers in 1993 and has won a dozen state titles, downplayed the possible milestone.

“It’s for (the girls), not for me,” Connors said. “But it would be a nice thing to do at home.”

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

Comments are not available on this story.