Waynflete senior Kilee Sherry (4) and NYA sophomore Vy Tran battle for a loose ball as Flyers junior Lollie Millspaugh and Panthers junior Maggie Holt enter the play. Waynflete eked out a 5-4 victory. Hoffer photos.

BOX SCORE

Waynflete 5 North Yarmouth Academy 4

NYA- 1 3- 4
W- 3 2- 5

First half
22:06 W Dinapoli (free position)
16:36 NYA Farrell (Holt)
5:11 W Sherry (Earls)
1:29 W Sherry (Connors)

Second half
22:50 NYA Tran (Holt)
14:07 NYA Reischmann (Sharp)
10:26 NYA Tran (Holt)
8:48 W Connors (unassisted)
1:02 W Connors (unassisted)

Goals:
NYA- Tran 2, Farrell, Reischmann 1
W- Connors, Sherry 2, Dinapoli 1

Assists:
NYA- Holt 3, Sharp 1
W- Connors, Earls 1

Draws (NYA, 11-0)
NYA- Holt 11 of 11
W- Connors 0 of 7, Millspaugh 0 of 3, Sherry 0 of 1

Ground balls:
NYA- 39
W- 31

Turnovers:
NYA- 24
W- 16

Shots:
NYA- 16
W- 21

Shots on cage:
NYA- 11
W- 16

Saves:
NYA (White) 11
W (Girard) 7

PORTLAND—Even on a day when five shots hit either the post or the crossbar and its top scorer broke her stick, Waynflete’s girls’ lacrosse team still found a way to come on top in a close game.

Again.

Friday afternoon at Fore River Fields, the Flyers hosted longtime rival North Yarmouth Academy and needed a comeback in the final nine minutes to earn a critical late-season victory.

On Senior Day, senior Claire Dinapoli opened the scoring for Waynflete on a free position goal, but the Panthers answered when senior Natalie Farrell scored.

Then, late in the first half, the Flyers got a pair of goals from senior Kilee Sherry to go up, 3-1, at halftime.

But Waynflete wouldn’t score for 18 minutes and NYA rallied to tie, as junior standout Maggie Holt set up sophomore Vy Tran for a goal and senior Naomi Reischmann scored to make it 3-3.

Then, after Sherry hit the crossbar and the post on successive shots, the Panthers went ahead with 10:26 to play, as the Holt-to-Tran connection produced another goal and the Flyers were on the ropes.

But Waynflete has played in an abundance of down-to-the-wire contests this spring and saved its best for last.

With 8:48 on the clock, junior Jesse Connors, who broke her stick earlier in the game and who had been denied on multiple occasions by Panthers senior goalie Ally White, found the net to tie it up.

Then, with 1:02 to go, Connors scored unassisted and the Flyers were ahead for good.

But Holt, who won every draw on the day, got possession back and with 21 seconds left fired a shot that was just off the mark.

Connors then ran out the clock and Waynflete was able to survive, 5-4.

Connors and Sherry both scored twice and the Flyers improved to 7-4, ending NYA’s regular season at 7-5 in the process.

“We’re pulling it out in the big minutes, which is really exciting because I don’t think (the girls) thought they could do that,” said longtime Waynflete coach Cathie Connors, who tied former Brunswick boys’ coach Don Glover as the winningest lacrosse coach in state history regardless of gender with her 303rd career victory. “I’m just so happy for the girls.”

Longtime rivals

Waynflete and NYA have played for a quarter-century and Cathie Connors and Panthers coach Julia Sterling (who as Julia Littefield also coached at Yarmouth for over a decade) have coached against each other off and on dating back to 1993.

The Flyers and Panthers met six times in the state final between 2001 and 2010, with Waynflete taking the first five meetings before NYA finally broke through for its first championship.

The teams haven’t met in the playoffs since and the rivalry has cooled, but now that both squads are Class C contenders, that could change.

The Panthers started with a 15-6 home loss to Greely, then downed visiting St. Dom’s (15-9), host Gardiner (14-6) and host Mt. Ararat (10-5), before falling at Lake Region (10-7). NYA then defeated visiting Wells (14-6), host Cheverus in come-from-behind fashion (12-11), visiting Gray-New Gloucester (19-4) and host Fryeburg Academy (14-1) before successive losses earlier this week to visiting Freeport (13-10) and at Yarmouth (14-5).

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. After losing at home in a close game to Class B powerhouse Yarmouth, 8-5, the Flyers went to a Class A squad, Gorham, for a memorable back-and-forth contest, prevailing, 6-5, on Jesse Connors’ overtime goal. Next came a historic 7-4 home victory over Cheverus, which gave Cathie Connors her 300th career win, and a 10-2 victory at Wells. Waynflete then lost at Freeport (9-6) and at Berwick Academy (11-10) before holding off host Lake Region (4-3) Wednesday.

The teams hadn’t met since a 16-2 Waynflete victory April 13, 2017 in Yarmouth.

Friday, on a cool (54-degree), overcast afternoon, the Panthers hoped to beat the Flyers for the first time since a 7-3 victory to win the 2010 Class B state title, but instead, Waynflete made it nine in a row in the series (see sidebar, below, for recent results).

While Holt won the opening draw, the Flyers forced a turnover and were able to score first, as with 22:06 to go, after a shooting space transgression on White, Dinapoli got to take a free position with the goalie out of the net and Dinapoli bounced a shot into the goal for a quick 1-0 lead.

It would take 17 minutes for Waynflete to score again, however, as White twice denied Jesse Connors, made a save on a shot from freshman Morgan Earls and both Earls and Sherry hit the post.

NYA junior Maggie Holt races into the offensive zone.

With 16:36 left in the first half, NYA drew even, as Holt threw a high pass to Farrell, who caught it and beat Flyers junior goalie Emily Girard to make it 1-1.

With 5:11 remaining, Waynflete retook the lead, as Earls, from up top, threw a high pass in front that Sherry couldn’t catch, but she did manage to redirect the ball into the goal.

Then, with 1:29 to go, Sherry scored a more conventional goal, from Jesse Connors, and after Girard made a last second save on a Holt shot, the Flyers went into the half with a 3-1 advantage.

Girard then started the second half red-hot, robbing both Tran and junior Alev Yilmaz in the first 15 seconds.

After White denied Sherry at the other end, the Panthers snapped their 18-minute, 46-second drought, as Holt set up Tran with 22;50 to play, cutting the deficit to one.

Girard then saved shots from Holt and junior Emma Sharp, while at the other end, Waynflete freshman Cece Bliss hit the post and Jesse Connors was robbed by White.

Compounding matters for Jesse Connors, she had to get used to using a new stick.

“I think (my stick) was on its way out and it got hit and it just snapped,” Connors said. “(The new one) was weighted weird and hard to cradle.”

Then, with 14:07 remaining, Sharp found Reischmann in front and Reischmann finished to tie the score, 3-3.

After a timeout, the Flyers’ frustrations continued as Sherry’s free position shot bounced off the crossbar with 12:18 to go and a mere 38 seconds later, Sherry took another shot, which hit the post.

“It was very frustrating, but I’m really proud of our team for taking nicely aimed shots,” Jesse Connors said.

“Their goalie was amazing, so we tried to move her,” Cathie Connors said.

NYA then transitioned to offense and with 10:26 on the clock took the lead for the first and only time, as again Holt found Tran with a pinpoint pass and Tran beat Girard to make it 4-3 Panthers.

But Waynflete didn’t get discouraged and battled back.

After Earns and Bliss just missed, Jesse Connors scooped up a loose ball before going one-on-one with White and finishing with 8:48 remaining to tie the score.

“I saw there was nobody behind the goal, so I’d just take my chance and drive it in,” Connors said. “I’m glad it went in. I was hoping I’d finally get one. I was hoping to get a few in after all the shots I got.”

After White saved a shot by Sherry at one end and Girard denied Yilmaz at the other, both teams failed to go ahead, turning the ball over.

With a little over a minute left, the Flyers finally got a settled possession and took advantage.

Jesse Connors got the ball up top, rolled to her right and instead of running all the way around the goal, cut back, then raced in on White and beat the goalie with a back-handed shot.

“I just heard my Mom yell, ‘Take it,’ so I knew if I missed it would be OK,” said Jesse Connors, the coach’s daughter. “I saw a little bit of a lane and I don’t really know what I did. It was a little bit of a weird shot, but it felt good. It’s exciting when you feel like you made the difference in the game.”

“Jesse broke her stick, so she was hanging back and didn’t want to take any risks,” Cathie Connors said. “She hung back until she felt she had a rhythm with it because the new shaft was heavier.

“That wasn’t the play. We didn’t have a play. She just really wanted it. She wanted it for the seniors.”

Just 1:02 remained and Waynflete clung to a 5-4 advantage.

The Flyers would have to play defense one more time, however, as Holt won the ensuing draw and NYA set up for what it hoped would be the equalizer.

Holt would attempt the shot with 21 seconds to play, at a tough angle from Girard’s right. The ball got past the goalie and found the net, but unfortunately for the Panthers. it was outside the goal, as the shot had missed just wide.

“Whenever I miss and don’t save the shot, I just assume it’s going in because I can’t see the net behind me,” Girard said. “I was devastated when I saw the ball get past me, but it was such a relief to see it (go wide).”

Jesse Connors then ran out the clock and in a quick 1-hour and 9-minutes, Waynflete prevailed, 5-4.

“I was just trying to do my best not to drop the ball,” Connors said. “That was probably the most nervewracking 10 seconds of my life. It definitely felt nice to hear the horn. After we lost two games where we played really hard, I feel like we just had a fire to win. We were tired of losing.”

“I think we were struggling a little bit,” Cathie Connors added. “We’ve had some injuries, so we’ve had to figure out who goes where. All the girls are doing what they need to do and playing where we need them to play.”

Waynflete senior Laney Friedland congratulates junior goalie Emily Girard at the final horn.

The Flyers’ offense featured two goals apiece from Jesse Connors and Sherry and one from Dinapoli, while Connors and Earls each had one assist.

Girard made seven saves and every one was critical.

“It was very nervewracking,” Girard said. “My defense is amazing. They save me so much. I try to help out, but they do everything. It’s my first year as goalie and it’s such a hard position to play. My (goalie) coach (Laura Bishop) is amazing. She’s helped me a lot. I’ve improved a lot because of her. My mind kind of goes blank when I see the ball coming at me.”

“Emily’s progression from first game until now has been great,” Jesse Connors said. “She’s not afraid to get her body in front of shots and get hit. She just plays hard.”

“Emily every game has done amazing,” Cathie Connors added. “Against Lake Region, she saved the game for us and today too, she made big saves. She’s so humble and sweet and quiet. It’s great to see her do so well.”

Sherry had a team-high seven ground balls.

The Flyers out-shot the Panthers, 21-16 (16-11 on cage) and overcame 16 turnovers.

For NYA, Tran had two goals and Farrell and Resichmann one apiece.

Holt set up three goals, won all 11 draws she took and had a game-high eight ground balls, helping the Panthers hold a 39-31 advantage in that category.

Sharp also had an assist.

White made 11 saves.

NYA did turn the ball over 24 times.

“It was a great game,” Sterling said. “Waynflete’s very good. A huge rival. They have a strong zone (defense), that we’re not used to and we love to play on turf (Waynflete’s surface is grass). We played a great game. We’re missing couple players, but the girls worked hard.”

On to June

NYA’s regular season is now complete and the Panthers will wait to learn who they’ll meet first in the playoffs.

NYA (ranked fifth in the Class C state Heal Points standings at press time) feels it can make a deep run.

“We just have to work on what we do well,” Sterling said. “We’ve changed some people around and we’ll get a little rest. We’ve played tough teams and we’ve done well. The girls are upbeat and confident and we look forward to the tournament. I think we can make a run. The girls want it.”

Waynflete (third in Class C) has one game left and it will be a critical one for confidence and Heal Points, as the Flyers play at recent nemesis Cape Elizabeth, the two-time reigning Class B champion, Thursday of next week.

“I’m so confident in our team,” Girard said. “If we keep our energy up, I think we’ll do great in the playoffs.”

“I have hopeful optimism,” Jesse Connors said. “We’re doing everything we can and I think we have a good chance. We work well together and I just hope we can pull it together.”

“From every loss, we’ve taken something that we need to work on and we’ve put it in place,” Cathie Connors added. “We’re really struggling on the draw. We have to work on that. We’ve just got to turn it on. I’ll cross my fingers.”

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

Recent Waynflete-NYA results

2017
Waynflete 16 @ NYA 2

2016
Waynflete 11 @ NYA 1

2015
Waynflete 13 @ NYA 4 

2014
Waynflete 6 @ NYA 5

2012
@ Waynflete 15 NYA 5
Waynflete 16 @ NYA 7

2011
@ Waynflete 12 NYA 10
Waynflete 17 @ NYA 4

2010
@ NYA 7 Waynflete 6
NYA 8 @ Waynflete 7
Class B Final
NYA 7 Waynflete 3

2009
@ Waynflete 12 NYA 3
Class B Final
Waynflete 9 NYA 5

2008
@ Waynflete 18 NYA 6
@ NYA 10 Waynflete 8
Class B Final
Waynflete 12 NYA 8

2007
@ Waynflete 8 NYA 5
Waynflete 10 NYA 9 (4 OT)

2006
Waynflete 6 @ NYA 1
@ Waynflete 5 NYA 4

2005
@ Waynflete 8 NYA 4
State Final
Waynflete 5 NYA 4 (OT)

2004
NYA 10 @ Waynflete 9
State Final
Waynflete 9 NYA 6

2003
Waynflete 5 @ NYA 4

2002
NYA 8 @ Waynflete 6
Waynflete 7 @ NYA 4

2001
State Final
Waynflete 9 NYA 5

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