BOX SCORE

Waynflete 11 North Yarmouth Academy 4

NYA- 1 2 1 0- 4
W- 3 4 3 1- 11

First quarter
7:07 W Millspaugh (unassisted)
6:29 W Whipple (unassisted)
1:42 NYA Warde (Thomas)
51.0 W Hopkins (unassisted)

Second quarter
10:51 W Lane (Millspaugh)
8:57 W Millspaugh (unassisted)
6:47 W Hopkins (Millspaugh)
2:48 NYA Warde (Peretz)
2:28 NYA Lathrop (unassisted)
12.8 W Hopkins (Millspaugh)

Third quarter
10:06 W Whipple (Millspaugh)
9:22 W Burton-Johanson (O. Anderson) (MAN-UP)
1:47 NYA Waterman (unassisted)
1:00 W Whipple (unassisted)

Fourth quarter
2:52 W Whipple (Millspaugh) (MAN-UP)

Goals:
NYA- Warde 2, Lathrop, Waterman 1
W- Whipple 4, Hopkins 3, Millspaugh 2, Burton-Johanson, Lane 1

Assists:
NYA- Peretz, Thomas 1
W- Millspaugh 5, O. Anderson 1

Faceoffs: (Waynflete, 11-8)
NYA- Thomas 4 of 11, Tourigny 4 of 8
W- Holdridge 11 of 18, Talpey 0 of 1

Ground balls:
NYA- 43
W- 36

Turnovers:
NYA- 37
W- 34

Shots:
NYA- 26
W- 33

Shots on cage:
NYA- 14
W- 24

Saves:
NYA (Curtis) 13
W (Vest) 10

PORTLAND—It’s not a state championship, but to the Waynflete boys’ lacrosse team, it feels pretty darned close.

Wednesday afternoon at Fore River fields, the Flyers beat their biggest rival in their biggest game so far and they did so with surprising ease.

Waynflete, the top seed in Class C, hosted reigning champion North Yarmouth Academy, the No. 4 seed, in a state semifinal and the Flyers were fired up from the get-go and never looked back.

Senior standouts Harry Millspaugh and Sam Whipple scored early to send Waynflete on its way and after sophomore Brayden Warde got the Panthers on the board, unheralded sophomore Roan Hopkins scored his first goal to give the Flyers a 3-1 advantage after one  period.

Waynflete kept the pressure on in the second quarter, as senior Ned Lane, Millspaugh and Hopkins added goals to make it 6-1.

But NYA showed a little life late in the half, as Warde and senior Luke Lathrop scored 20 seconds apart to seemingly give the Panthers momentum, but with just 12.8 seconds on the clock, Millspaugh set up Hopkins to put the Flyers up, 7-3, at the break.

Waynflete dashed any remaining NYA hopes when Whipple and freshman Nils Burton-Johanson scored early in the third quarter and after junior Caleb Waterman answered for the Panthers, Whipple scored unassisted for a 10-4 advantage.

The Flyers’ defense slammed the door from there and Whipple scored one final time to bring the curtain down on a most impressive 11-4 triumph.

Whipple led all scorers with four goals, Hopkins added three and Millspaugh had two, to go with five assists, as Waynflete improved to 13-1, ended NYA’s season at 9-6 and advanced to take on No. 2 Oak Hill/Monmouth/Lisbon (13-0) in the Class C state final Saturday at a time to be announced at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.

“We were feeling so good coming in,” said Flyers first-year coach Andrew Leach. “The guys were fired up, ready to go. I’m amazed how these guys keep showing up for big games and go beyond expectations. It’s amazing.”

State game come early

In both 2018 and 2019, the winner of the Waynflete-NYA semifinal went on to decisive victory in the state game and many observers feel that could be the case again in 2021.

Both teams flashed greatness at times this season and it’s been clear all spring that the rivals were on a playoff collision course.

NYA 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 double-overtime decision at Greely (8-7) before beating visiting Gray-New Gloucester (15-2) and Gardiner (12-4) and falling to Class A South runner-up Berwick Academy, 11-2. After losing at Waynflete, 8-7, NYA closed with a 15-7 loss at York and a 15-2 home victory over Freeport.

The Panthers opened postseason play with a 16-2 home win over No. 13 Erskine Academy in the Class C state preliminary round, then ousted No. 5 Gray-New Gloucester, 11-2, in Saturday’s quarterfinal round.

Waynflete, meanwhile, started with a 14-2 win at Lake Region, then downed visiting Wells (11-6) and blanked host Gray-New Gloucester and visiting Freeport by 14-0 scores, before earning a 6-5 victory at Yarmouth, defeating host St. Dom’s, 7-1, visiting York, 7-5, and finally visiting NYA in an 8-7 thriller. The Flyers finally fell from the unbeaten ranks, losing, 11-2, at home to Berwick Academy, but bounced back and finished strong by downing host Greely (8-3) and visiting Portland (11-3) and Camden Hills (8-7, in double-overtime).

Waynflete earned a bye into the quarterfinals and Saturday, it made quick work of No. 8 Fryeburg Academy, 12-1.

When the Flyers and Panthers squared off back on May 21, NYA started fast and held a 5-2 lead after one quarter and was up, 7-4, in the second period, but it didn’t score again and Waynflete rallied to tie it on a goal from Whipple with just over 10 minutes to play, then win it, on another Whipple goal with 1:27 left.

The teams had only met twice before in the playoffs, in the 2018 Class C state semifinals (an 18-6 Flyers’ victory) and the 2019 Class C state semifinals (a 9-7 Panthers’ win).

Wednesday, on a breezy but beautiful 73-degree afternoon, Waynflete ripped up the expected script of a down-to-the-wire contest and instead, seized control early and went on to an emphatic triumph.

NYA had a great chance to go on top 32 seconds in, but junior Nat Peretz hit the post.

Senior Mason Bull and Peretz then missed wide and junior James Tourigny had a shot saved by Flyers senior goalie Alex Vest.

“Alex was ready to go in the first quarter,” Leach said. “He was reading everything that was coming in low. He saw the ball well.”

Then, with 7:07 to go in the opening stanza, Waynflete took the lead for good, as Millspaugh, out front, threw a low pass toward the goal that eluded everyone, including Panthers sophomore goalie Jack Curtis, and found the net.

It took just 38 seconds for the Flyers to strike again, as senior Ilo Holdridge, who was terrific all day in the faceoff circle, won possession and eventually the ball came to Whipple, who managed to score unassisted in traffic for a 2-0 advantage.

NYA broke through with 1:42 remaining in the first, as in transition, sophomore Wyatt Thomas set up Warde, who beat Vest to cut the deficit in half.

Burton-Johanson nearly answered off the ensuing faceoff, but Curtis made a point blank save.

Then, with 51 seconds to go, Hopkins scored for the first time, unassisted, and Waynflete took a 3-1 lead to the second period.

There, after Hopkins just missed on a backwards, over-the-shoulder bid, Millspaugh set up Lane for a three-goal advantage with 10:51 remaining in the half.

After Vest denied Bull at one end, Millspaugh raced in, faked out the defense, then shot and beat Curtis for a 5-1 lead.

Vest then robbed Lathrop before Millspaugh found Hopkins wide open in front for a goal with 6:47 on the clock.

Panthers coach Peter Gerrity called timeout and his team responded.

After Curtis robbed sophomore Seth Cloutier and Millspaugh, Peretz found Warde in transition with 2:48 remaining to end the Flyers’ 4-0 surge.

Twenty seconds later, Lathrop buried a long shot and just like that, NYA was only down by three.

But Waynflete saved its best for last in the half, as with 12.8 seconds on the clock, Millspaugh set up Hopkins for a momentum-altering goal and a 7-3 advantage at the break.

“That was big,” Hopkins said. “They felt a little bit of fire, then we put it out, right there. When they cover Sam and Harry, it gives other people the option. I was open some of the time. It feels great to be on this team, especially after not having a season last year.”

“Roan really stepped up,” Leach said. “Usually he has two goals, three assists and today, he had three goals.”

The Panthers hoped to make a run in the second half, but instead, the Flyers added to their lead.

With 10:06 remaining, Millspaugh set up Whipple to extend the lead to five.

Waynflete then went man-up and 44 seconds later, senior Owen Anderson set up Burton-Johanson to make it 9-3.

Curtis prevented it from getting worse by twice denying Lane in close and with 1:47 to go in the frame, Waterman bounced a long shot past Vest.

But again, the Flyers responded, as Whipple scored unassisted with a minute left and the Flyers took a 10-4 advantage to the final stanza.

The fourth period was turnover-laden and neither squad scored until 2:52 remained, when Millspaugh set up Whipple for a man-up tally.

Waynflete’s defense finished it off from there and the Flyers were able to celebrate their 11-4 victory.

“We did our job,” Hopkins said. “The defense put the ball on the ground, the midfielders picked it up and got it to the scorers and the scorers scored.”

“We know we’ll play a good team Saturday, but this felt like the state final to us and it’s a huge win,” senior defensive standout Ben Adey said.

“The seniors kept talking about this game,” Leach added. “From the beginning of the season, our goal was to make it to the state championship game. We knew more than likely we’d have to go through NYA to get there. It was just a matter of when we’d get them. We hoped to see them in the state championship game, but wanted to get them any way we could and get some payback for two years ago.”

Waynflete demonstrated great offensive balance, as Whipple led the way with four goals, Hopkins added three, Millspaugh had two and Burton-Johanson and Lane one apiece.

Millspaugh was the focal point of NYA’s defense and was happy to defer to his teammates, picking up five assists.

“Harry is such a great feeder,” Leach said. “He cuts through the defense, they show early and he sees the openings on the back side. He does such a great job sharing the ball. He had 32 goals and 33 assists in the regular season. He’s such a balanced player, a special kid.”

Anderson also had one assist.

Vest made 10 saves and got plenty of help from his defense, led by Adey, who won a state title in tennis last weekend and is on the brink of winning another.

“(NYA’s) midfield is their strength, but we have a good (long-stick middie) who locked off one of them and we had some short-stick D middies who did their job,” Adey said. “I think we figured them out. The first game against them, we had a slow start, then we figured them out in the second half. We held to that game plan today from the very first whistle.”

“Having Ben Adey this time after not having him last game was huge,” said Leach. “In my mind, he’s one of the best close defensemen in the state. He’s got a knack for winning, but he’s such a tremendous athlete. He’s deceptively physical. He’s got a great base. He’s patient with the stick. He plays at a high level.

“It came down to our long poles. We have talented guys we can rotate through and press out on hands. They play with confidence knowing we have a great goalie. Guys play free. Ilo, Roan, (senior) Ben Talpey playing those D-middie spots, we have great shorties too. We played great as a unit.”

Holdridge helped the Flyers win 11 of 19 faceoffs and he shared team-high honors on ground balls with sophomore defenseman Jasper Curtis with six apiece.

Waynflete had a 33-26 edge in shots on goal (22-14 on cage) and overcame 34 turnovers.

Disappointment

NYA got two goals from Warde and one apiece from Lathrop and Waterman.

Peretz and Thomas had assists.

Curtis made 13 saves.

The Panthers had a 43-36 edge in ground balls (junior Henry Bergeron had a game-high 14) and committed 37 turnovers.

“We had a couple things that we had worked on coming into the game that we hadn’t shown other teams yet and some of them worked and some of them didn’t and (Waynflete) had a bunch too and they played super-hard and put it together out there,” said Gerrity, who returned to the program as coach this season. “When you have two guys like (Millspaugh and Whipple) who are in charge the whole game, it makes a huge difference. From the start, it felt like we were a handful of good plays away from catching them and it stayed that way. At the end, when you know you have to score every 30 seconds, that’s not going to happen.

“I was really happy with how we did this year. Our five regular season losses, three of them were 8-7 and one was in double-overtime. It was awesome to be back. I wish I had more time with the older kids and the kids going elsewhere next year.

“We’re going to be very good next year. Our Western Maine Conference all-stars are sophomores and juniors, so we’ll be very competitive again.”

Not finished yet

Waynflete didn’t face Oak Hill/Monmouth/Lisbon this season. The teams have played three previous times in the playoffs with the Flyers taking a 2-1 edge after a 13-6 win in the 2018 Class C quarterfinals.

“I want nothing more than another championship,” Adey said. “I’ve never played in a lacrosse state final and I know some of these guys have, but a lot haven’t. We’re right where we want to be. It’s going to be huge. If we play our game, I think we should be fine.”

“We’re getting it done,” Hopkins said. “We have to prepare and our coaches do a great job prepping us. We’ll have to work. We’ve had our eye on June 19th and here it comes.”

“It’s going to be difficult,” Leach added. “Oak Hill is averaging something like 18 goals a game, so it will be a good defensive test against that high-powered offense. We have to be ready to go.

“It doesn’t mean anything unless we win the whole thing. We want to do it for these seniors. Everybody has bought in. We’ll do it for them on Saturday.”

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

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