BOX SCORE

Waynflete 8 North Yarmouth Academy 7

NYA- 5 2 0 0- 7
W- 2 4 0 2- 8

First quarter
11:00 W Lane (Whipple)
9:47 NYA Thomas (unassisted)
9:17 NYA C. Rohde (unassisted)
9:01 NYA Waterman (unassisted)
4:02 NYA Waterman (Thomas) (MAN-UP)
3:00 NYA Peretz (unassisted)
2:40 W Burton-Johanson (Millspaugh)

Second quarter
10:53 NYA Warde (Waterman) (MAN-UP)
10:22 W Whipple (Millspaugh) (MAN-UP)
9:15 W Lane (Hopkins) (MAN-UP)
7:24 NYA Warde (unassisted)
6:57 W Kirby (Lane)
1:23 W Millspaugh (Hopkins)

Third quarter
No scoring

Fourth quarter
10:03 W Whipple (Hopkins) (MAN-UP)
1:27 W Whipple (Hopkins)

Goals:
NYA- Warde, Waterman 2, Peretz, C. Rohde, Thomas
W- Whipple 3, Lane 2, Burton-Johanson, Kirby, Millspaugh 1

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Assists:
NYA- Thomas, Waterman 1
W- Hopkins 4, Millspaugh 2, Lane, Whipple 1

Faceoffs: (NYA, 12-6)
NYA- Tourigny 11 of 17, Thomas 1 of 1
W- Holdridge 4 of 11, Hopkins 1 of 5, Talpey 1 of 2

Ground balls:
NYA- 42
W- 36

Turnovers:
NYA- 23
W- 21

Shots:
NYA- 27
W- 30

Shots on cage:
NYA- 15
W- 15

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Saves:
NYA (Curtis) 7
W (Vest) 8

PORTLAND—Friday afternoon’s boys’ lacrosse showdown between North Yarmouth Academy and Waynflete at Fore River Fields was everything it was advertised to be.

And the rematch could be even better.

And if local lacrosse fans have their way, that rematch will come in the Class C state final next month.

The undefeated Flyers dug a mighty first period hole as Panthers junior James Tourigny won every faceoff and after Waynflete scored the game’s first goal, from senior Ned Lane a minute in, NYA rattled off three goals in 46 seconds, as sophomore Wyatt Thomas, junior Chas Rohde and junior Caleb Waterman scored to produce a 3-1 lead.

The Panthers then opened it up even more, as Waterman scored for a second time and junior Nat Peretz capped the surge with another goal.

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The Flyers got a goal back from freshman Nils Burton-Johanson, but trailed, 5-2, after one quarter.

NYA then began the second period with a man-up goal from sophomore Brayden Warde, but Waynflete, seeking belated revenge from an upset loss in the 2019 Class C state semifinals, awakened and got right back in it by halftime.

After a man-up goal from senior Sam Whipple (remember the name) started the comeback, Lane added a man-up goal to cut the deficit to 6-4.

With 7:24 to go before halftime, Warde scored for the second time, but shockingly, that would be it for the Panthers’ offense.

After freshman Nico Kirby answered for the Flyers, senior standout Harry Millspaugh scored his only goal of the day, on a highlight-reel backhanded shot, to pull the hosts within a single goal, 7-6, at the break.

Both offenses dried up in the second half, as Waynflete senior goalie Alex Vest and NYA sophomore goalie Jack Curtis stood tall and the score remained 7-6 heading for the fourth period.

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There, with 10:03 left, Whipple tied it with a bounce shot.

Neither team could go back on top until 1:27 remained, when Whipple unleashed a long, long shot that found the net.

Senior Ilo Holdridge then won the ensuing faceoff and the Flyers were able to run out the clock and prevail in a thriller, 8-7.

Whipple scored three goals, Waynflete held the Panthers scoreless for over two-and-a-half periods and the Flyers improved to 8-0 on the season, dropping NYA to 6-4 in the process, while leaving everyone on hand hoping for more from these teams down the road.

“It was definitely a fun game to get revenge from our playoff loss two years ago,” Whipple said. “I’m just happy that we won. It’s good to know we can beat NYA if we see them in the playoffs.”

The wait ends

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After Waynflete beat NYA in the Class C state semifinals en route to the championship in 2018, the Flyers beat the Panthers again in the 2019 regular season, 18-12, but in the rematch, again in the semifinals, NYA sprung a 9-7 upset, then went on to win a title of its own.

Waynflete desperately wanted to avenge that loss last spring, but the Flyers didn’t get to play the Panthers, or anyone else, as the season was lost to the pandemic.

This year, Waynflete has had the NYA game circled on its schedule, but has been able to take care of business in the meantime, starting with a 14-2 win at Lake Region, then downing visiting Wells (11-6), blanking host Gray-New Gloucester and visiting Freeport by 14-0 scores, then earning its biggest win of the year, 6-5, at reigning Class B champion Yarmouth, before defeating host St. Dom’s, 7-1, and visiting York, 7-5.

NYA, meanwhile, has been very strong as well, even if it doesn’t boast as glowing a record. The Panthers opened with shutout victories over visiting Fryeburg Academy (14-0) and host Traip Academy (16-0). After a hard-fought 8-7 home loss to Yarmouth, the Panthers rolled at St. Dom’s (14-2) and at home over Mt. Ararat (17-4), then dropped a palpitating double-overtime decision at Greely (8-7) before beating visiting Gray-New Gloucester (15-2) and Gardiner (12-4) and falling to Berwick Academy, 11-2.

Friday, on yet another beautiful afternoon (66 degrees with a light wind), NYA seemingly had control of the game early, but the Flyers roared back to steal one.

Tourigny won the opening faceoff, but the Panthers turned the ball over Waynflete put four straight shots on goal.

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After Whipple, Millspaugh and Whipple again all missed wide, Whipple set up Lane for a shot which found the mark exactly a minute in and the Flyers had a quick lead.

But most of the rest of the first quarter would belong to the visitors.

With 9:47 left, Thomas finished unassisted to tie it.

Thirty seconds later, Rohde bounced a shot past Vest to give the Panthers the lead and with 9:01 on the clock, Waterman’s unassisted goal capped a three-goals-in-46-seconds surge for a 3-1 lead.

Flyers coach Andrew Leach called the early timeout, but it didn’t help, as Tourigny kept winning faceoffs and when Waynflete did get the ball, it couldn’t hold on to it.

With 4:02 remaining in the opening stanza, after a Flyers penalty, Waterman scored for the second time (from Thomas), then with exactly 3 minutes left, Peretz weaved through the defense before scoring to make it 5-1.

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Waynflete restored a little order when Millspaugh fed Burton-Johanson for a goal 20 seconds later, but NYA still held a three-goal advantage after 12 minutes, thanks in large part to Tourigny’s dominance in the faceoff circle.

“Dominating faceoffs hasn’t been a trend for us, so that was great to have that going,” said NYA coach Peter Gerrity.

And the Panthers went back up by four when Waterman set up Warde for a man-up goal 67 seconds into the second period. Vest had been called for a push and had to leave the game. Freshman Paulie Mukerango came on, but couldn’t stop the only shot he faced before Vest returned.

But the game soon tilted toward the Flyers, thanks in large part to NYA penalties.

With 10:22 to go before halftime, playing man-up, Waynflete cut the deficit to 6-3, as Millspaugh set up Whipple for a shot that Curtis couldn’t stop.

Then, after a slashing penalty on the Panthers, Lane scored for the second time, from sophomore Roan Hopkins, with 9:15 remaining to make it a two-goal game.

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With 7:24 left, Warde fought through the defense and scored unassisted and it appeared the Panthers’ attack would never slow, but in reality, the curtain had come down on NYA’s offensive production.

Not for the half, but for the entire game.

Just 27 seconds later, in transition, Lane set up Kirby for a goal.

Then, with 1:23 remaining before the break, Hopkins found Millspaugh in front, where for one of the few times all day he had a little space, and with Curtis protecting the left side of the goal, Millspaugh fooled and awed everybody, by firing a shot behind his back just inside the right post to pull the Flyers within a single goal, 7-6, at halftime.

While the Panthers won 11 of 15 first half faceoffs, the other statistical categories were close and the second half would see little separation between the rivals.

Waynflete pushed hard for the equalizer in the third quarter, but Curtis denied Whipple, Lane was just wide with a lot of net to shoot at and Whipple twice missed wide, then had a shot saved.

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At the other end, Vest kept the deficit at one by denying Rohde and Warde.

NYA began the fourth quarter man-up and nearly extended its lead 58 seconds in when Rohde had a great look, but Vest made a critical save.

Then, after a Panthers penalty, the Flyers drew even with 10:53 to play, as Hopkins found Whipple for a bounce shot which got past Curtis to make it 7-7, ending a 15-minute, 20-second drought in the process.

Waynflete then looked to go back on top, but Whipple and Millspaugh missed wide and Whipple was robbed by Curtis.

NYA looked to rediscover its offense, but Rohde missed wide and after a Flyers penalty, Waterman and Warde shot wide of the mark.

With 6 minutes left, Curtis made a clutch save on an open Millspaugh.

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After Whipple shot just high, Curtis robbed Millspaugh again, then denied a shot from Hopkins.

After Vest saved a shot from Panthers freshman Davis Gall, NYA kept possession and called timeout with 2:28 to play in regulation.

The timeout didn’t generate a shot, however, as the Panthers turned the ball over.

Then, with just 1:27 to go, after taking a pass from Hopkins, Whipple decided to unleash a shot from well beyond high-percentage shooting territory and his rocket eluded Curtis and tickled the twine for an 8-7 lead.

“I saw a lane open, so I just shot it from up top,” said Whipple. “It felt good off my stick. I thought it would be tough to save. It felt good. The goalie saved a lot of our shots, but we came around at the end.”

“It felt so good when Sam scored that goal,” Holdridge said. “What a great shot.”

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“Sam Whipple is one of my favorite guys on the team,” Leach added. “He drives me crazy sometimes. He lets it fly from distance. That time, it was a ‘No, no, no, yes!’ shot. I was very happy he was the guy who scored.”

“(Whipple) was very far away,” said Gerrity. “Maybe there was a screen, but Jack stood on his head all game and made great saves. That shot we’d like to have back.”

NYA figured it would get the ball back and have a chance to draw even, but Hopkins cleanly won the faceoff from Tourigny.

“The plan was to rake it back to Harry, but I got the clamp and saw it was open and I just went for it,” Holdridge said. “That felt awesome. I passed it off and had faith in my teammates.”

“Ilo was starting to figure out how to win the clamp and get the ball going forward,” Leach said. “He grinds. His sophomore year, he wasn’t sure if lacrosse was right for him, but I’m so happy he kept battling at it.”

Then, the Flyers turned to their stall game to milk the clock and they executed it to perfection.

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“That’s the same scenario we had against Yarmouth,” Leach said. “So we were able to practice that in-game and that got us ready for today. We have a great attack unit and they know how to move in space.”

The Panthers never were able to force a turnover and Waynflete, with Hopkins and Millspaugh doing most of the heavy lifting, brought the clock to zero before celebrating an 8-7 victory.

Waynflete rushes the field to celebrate Friday’s 8-7 home win over NYA. Hoffer photo

“I thought they’d play a little harder at the end, but they didn’t come out on us, so we were able to keep the ball,” Whipple said. “We weren’t able to go on offense early. Once we started to get ground balls, it started working out. Getting possession was a big part of winning the game. The defense did really well. We locked off who we needed to lock off. Our defense is good, tough to go against in practice.”

“That was just a crazy, amazing game,” Holdridge said. “That’s what you look for. It gets us ready for playoffs. We’re just feeling great. We got down, 5-1, but we knew we could rally and come back. That’s what we do. We have an unbelievable team. We overcome and that shows how strong a team we are.”

“This is the second time that we’ve come out and a team has beaten us in the first half, but the guys responded and played the next play and that’s all you can ask,” Leach added. “I thought we’d both be in double digits. We were trading goals all the way through. At halftime, we talked about getting stops and putting the ball on frame. (NYA) played hard and they play the right way. Their coaching staff has it going on this year.”

The Flyers featured a balanced offense, as Whipple had three goals, Lane two and Burton-Johanson, Kirby and Millspaugh one apiece.

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Hopkins assisted on four goals, Millspaugh had two assists and Lane and Whipple each added one.

Vest made eight critical saves.

“Alex has really stepped up,’ Holdridge said. “He talks to the defense and makes sure they do the right thing.”

Millspaugh and senior Owen Anderson each collected a team-high six ground balls.

Holdridge managed to overcome a tough start to win four critical faceoffs.

“(Faceoffs were) just tough,” Holdridge said. “I got almost every single clamp, but (Tourigny) knew what I was doing and I couldn’t pick it up. Then I got back out there and got my rhythm.”

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Waynflete had a slim 30-27 edge in shots (shots on cage were even, 15-15) and overcame 21 turnovers.

NYA got two goals apiece from Warde and Waterman and one each from Peretz, Rohde and Thomas, but the Panthers didn’t score once in the game’s final 31:44.

“Our defense started to wake up as far as clamping down on the flight of the ball and getting out and pressuring hands,” Leach said. “We’re down a couple guys, but I have to give credit to our long poles. ‘Vesty’ started to see the ball well from the second quarter on. He got down and made those saves.”

Thomas and Waterman each had one assist.

Curtis made seven saves.

NYA finished with a 12-6 advantage in faceoffs, a 42-36 edge in ground balls (Peretz had a game-high seven and junior defenseman Henry Bergeron collected six) and committed 23 turnovers.

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“I think Waynflete started to figure us out,” Gerrity said. “We came out hot and that felt good, but  they made some adjustments that worked. We play hard and we try to get away from penalties, but sometimes we get calls to go our way and sometimes we don’t. Goalies both ways did great and that slowed the scoring down. We just couldn’t get the ball at the end. That was deeply frustrating. There wasn’t anything we could do because we couldn’t call timeout.”

See you soon

All eyes will be on NYA and Waynflete when the playoffs begin and the final Heal Points standings will determine when the rivals could possibly meet (for the sake of the sport, a state final showdown would be optimal), but both squads have some hurdles in their way first.

The Panthers (ranked third in most recent Class C state Heals) go to York Monday, then close with a home game versus Freeport Thursday.

“The takeaway from today is that we know we can play with these guys,” Gerrity said. “We know what they look like and that they’re not unbeatable. We have to bottle the frustration of being on the wrong side of three one-goal games.

“I can’t wait to play (Waynflete) again.”

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The Flyers (currently first in Class C) welcome Berwick Academy Tuesday, go to Greely Thursday, then finish at home with a makeup game versus Portland June 2.

“I think if we keep practicing and playing hard we can keep it rolling,” Whipple said.

“I think we’re ready for our next challenge,” Holdridge said. “It would be great to have homefield advantage. That would be a dream for senior year. We’ll be ready if we play (NYA) again. Now we have more of a feel for their team. We’ll be ready to get them next time.”

“I’ve been talking to (longtime Waynflete boys’ soccer and former girls’ basketball coach Brandon) Salway and (longtime Waynflete girls’ lacrosse coach Cathie) Connors about their seniors in 2013 and how that was a special group and I feel the same way about this team,” Leach added. “I tell the guys not to take anything for granted. This group of seniors is so great and we’re just enjoying the ride. We’ll get pushed to the end. I hope we can keep this thing rolling. We want homefield advantage. This helps. It’s huge for us to have homefield and know we’d only have to shift over the Fitzpatrick (Stadium) for the state final. That’s not a long drive.”

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

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