YARMOUTH—A lot of teams start tentatively in their season-opening game, but not the powerhouse Waynflete Flyers.

Facing longtime rival North Yarmouth Academy Wednesday afternoon, the Flyers needed less than four minutes to break the ice, when sophomore Jacob Woodman scored.

Four minutes later, senior Samir Sayed tickled the twine as well and it appeared Waynflete was on its way to an easy win.

Guess again.

After being held without a shot in the first half, the Panthers came out strong in the second half and less than 10 minutes in were rewarded when junior Daxton St. Hilaire headed home classmate Wyatt Thomas’ corner kick.

But the Flyers, who haven’t lost a game since 2019, were able to hold on, thanks in large part to new sophomore goalkeeper Nico Kirby, who made six critical saves to help finish out a 2-1 victory.

Waynflete started with a win for the fifth consecutive season, made it 15 consecutive victories over a three-year span and in the process, dropped NYA to 1-1.

“To come here and get a win against a quality opponent that’s going to win a lot of games is a nice start,” said longtime Flyers coach Brandon Salway, who now has 303 victories with the program. “It’s nice to win and learn a lot and see what we need to improve upon.”

Gearing up again

Waynflete is coming off the most successful three-year span in its history, winning the Class C championship in both 2018 and 2019, then going a perfect 10-0 a year ago against a schedule which included Class A foes like Cheverus, Deering and Portland.

“Last year wasn’t the same since we didn’t have a trophy to compete for, but we still had a great year,” said Sayed.

Over those three years, the Flyers had a record of 41 wins, two losses and three ties.

This fall, however, after losing a ton of accomplished talent to graduation, Waynflete doesn’t expect to go undefeated, but it does expect to be there at the end once again.

NYA, meanwhile, has been pretty successful itself in recent seasons, capturing the 2018 Class D championship, getting to the state final in 2019, then going 5-3 a year ago. The Panthers began their 2021 campaign with a 1-0 victory at Richmond Friday.

Last year, the Flyers won both meetings, 5-1 in Yarmouth and 7-1 in Portland, to cut the Panthers’ lead in the series to 18-16 (with five ties) dating to 1999 (see sidebar, below)

Tuesday, on another great late-summer afternoon (kickoff temperature was 76 degrees), NYA hoped to beat its rival/recent nemesis for the first time Oct. 6, 2016, but instead Waynflete made it six in a row in the series.

Waynflete senior Samir Sayed, right, knocks the ball away from North Yarmouth Academy junior Daxton St. Hilaire as sophomore Jacob Woodman defends early in the Flyers’ 2-1 victory Wednesday. Hoffer photos.

The Panthers couldn’t generate a shot on an early corner kick, then the Flyers transitioned to offense and got the jump.

With 36:23 to go in the first half, Sayed set up Woodman up top, who ripped a strong, low shot just inside the right post, just beyond the reach of diving NYA senior goalkeeper Michael Belleau to make it 1-0.

Then, with 32:19 remaining, it was Sayed’s turn, as senior Henry Hart got him the ball and he fought past a defender before finishing for a quick two-goal advantage.

“It was all communication,” Sayed said. “That’s what we’ve worked on in practice. Without communication, we can’t be a team. That first goal uplifted the team. After that, we knew we could score again. It was exciting to score, but I knew the game wasn’t over yet.”

“The first 10 minutes were tough,” said Panthers coach Matt Williams. “We just didn’t come out right. I think the guys saw the name on the front of the Waynflete uniform and know their reputation and I think that weighed on them a little bit. We gave them too much space and good players take care of business when you give them that kind of opportunity.”

While Waynflete dominated the rest of the first half, it couldn’t extend the lead or put NYA away.

After Belleau denied a long bid from junior Roan Hopkins, he dove to rob junior Bryan Stark-Chessa.

Later in the half, Hopkins spun and shot only to have Belleau make the save, Hart fired a low shot that Belleau dove to snare and Hopkins missed just wide and Woodman sailed a shot just high, keeping the score 2-0.

The Flyers had an 8-0 shots advantage in the first 40 minutes.

“That’s sort of been us all preseason,” Salway said. “We’ve played some good teams and we’ve been as good as anybody for 15, 20 minutes, but we haven’t been able to sustain it.”

Waynflete coach Brandon Salway talks to his team at halftime.

The Panthers, who had to play without senior captain and sparkplug Chas Rohde for most of the first half, came out a completely different team for the second half and would make things very interesting.

With 38:55 remaining, NYA generated its first shot, a long bid from Rohde which was easily saved by Kirby.

Four minutes later, the Panthers earned a corner kick and Thomas found junior Seamus Rohde in the box, but Kirby saved the shot.

NYA got another corner and this time, was rewarded, as Thomas’ serve found the head of St. Hilaire to cut the deficit to 2-1.

“The second half was a lot different,” said Kirby. “We talked at halftime how we knew they’d come out and want to beat us. They had a lot of time to come back. I’m not super-experienced playing goalie. It’s my first year. I thought that was going wide, but it went top left.”

“We talked about the third goal either putting them away or giving them life and we absolutely gave them life,” Salway said. “They took it to us on set pieces. We’ve got to work on that and do a better job defending balls in the air. That’s an area where we have to get better. That’s a lack of experience and a little bit of rust and obviously, NYA has good players who made big plays at the right time.”

NYA junior Jack Byrne possesses the ball as Waynflete senior Henry Hart defends.

The Panthers nearly tied it with 28:01 to go off another corner kick, as Thomas again served the ball to St. Hilaire, who appeared to head it into the net, but Kirby dove in the nick of time to knock the ball out for another corner kick.

“Corners are something I have to get used to,” said Kirby. “I have to read where the ball is, especially headers that can go any direction. The repetition we do in practice set me up to save that.”

“Nico really bailed us out there,” said Salway. “He’s going to be special. He’s so new to the position, but he came up big for us today.”

After Panthers junior Alex Wignall sent a 30-yard rocket just high, the Panthers earned another corner kick and again, nearly drew even, as Thomas served the ball in front to freshman Justin Corporon, who headed the ball on target, but Kirby was positioned to make the stop.

“Their goalkeeper came up huge on two set pieces,” Williams said. “He was in the right spot.”

Down the stretch, the Flyers relied on their defense to slam the door.

First, junior Matt Adey broke up a rush by Corporon.

“Matt was outstanding today,” Salway said. “He’s been our most consistent player all preseason, so I’m not surprised to see him step up and play like that. I have big expectations for him.”

Junior Jasper Curtis then knocked the ball away from Thomas at the last moment.

NYA had one more look at the goal, a 35-yard free kick from Thomas with 3:34 on the clock and Chas Rohde got his head on it, but the ball sailed just over the crossbar.

Waynflete ran out the clock from there and celebrated its 2-1 victory.

Waynflete sophomore goalkeeper Nico Kirby (yellow jersey) and his teammates celebrate at the final horn.

“It was pretty exciting,” Sayed said. “A fun game. This win means a lot. We want to keep our streak going and represent our school.”

The Flyers finished with an 8-7 shots advantage and got six saves from Kirby.

“The defense made life easy for me, especially in the first half,” Kirby said.

The Panthers got six saves from Belleau and held a 4-3 edge in corner kicks, but their comeback fell just short.

“It was a tale of two halves,” Williams said. “I was really happy with our response. It’s not easy to go down two goals. Getting Chas back really helped. He’s such a spark for us. He’s a danger in behind. When he wasn’t in there, we were limited offensively and we found ourselves defending a lot. Once he came back, we stretched the field and got in behind. He and Justin did an excellent job.”

Quick turnaround

The teams will square off again Sept. 23 at Waynflete, but each squad has several tests to pass first.

NYA is back in action Saturday at home versus Wells. Next week brings a trip to St. Dom’s and home games versus reigning Class B champion Yarmouth and Traip Academy.

“We’ve got a lot of growing up to do,” Williams said. “We’ve got a lot to learn as far as figuring out where to be. A lot of guys are doing too much and they don’t need to. We’re where we need to be for this point of the season and we still have a long way to go.

“We played three Class A teams in the preseason, we play Waynflete twice and Yarmouth once and some good Class C teams. Those games will prepare us for Class D playoffs.”

The Flyers play their home opener Friday against Traip Academy, then go to St. Dom’s Saturday. Next Tuesday, Waynflete is at Sacopee Valley, then two days later, the Flyers host Richmond.

“I still think we can work on communication even though we do that well,” Kirby said. “Miscommunication can lead to something bad.”

“I think it’s a work in progress,” Salway said. “I think our ceiling’s pretty high. We look great at times, but at other times, we have areas we need to work on.

“It’s a busy week for us with Traip coming on Friday, who just scored 10 goals, then at St. Dom’s.”

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

Recent Waynflete-NYA results

2020
Waynflete 5 @ NYA 1
@ Waynflete 7 NYA 1

2019
Waynflete 2 @ NYA 0

2018
@ Waynflete 2 NYA 1 (OT)

2017
@ Waynflete 3 NYA 0

2016
NYA 1 @ Waynflete 0
@ NYA 1 Waynflete 0

2015
@ NYA 2 Waynflete 0
@ Waynflete 1 NYA 0

2014
@ Waynflete 5 NYA 0 
@ NYA 2 Waynflete 2 (tie)

2013
NYA 1 @ Waynflete 0
@ NYA 3 Waynflete 0
Western C quarterfinals
@ NYA 2 Waynflete 1 (OT) 

2012
Waynflete 5 @ NYA 0
@ Waynflete 2 NYA 0
Western C quarterfinals
@ Waynflete 7 NYA 1 

2011
@ Waynflete 1 NYA 1 (tie)
Waynflete 2 @ NYA 1
Western C Final
@ Waynflete 3 NYA 1

2010
@ Waynflete 2 NYA 0
Waynflete 1 @ NYA 0
Western C Final
NYA 1 @ Waynflete 0

2009
Waynflete 4 @ NYA 2
NYA 1 @ Waynflete 0

2008
@ Waynflete 1 NYA 1 (tie)

2007
@ NYA 2 Waynflete 1

2006
@ NYA 3 Waynflete 0
NYA 5 @ Waynflete 2

2005
@ Waynflete 2 NYA 2 (tie)
Waynflete 4 @ NYA 2

2004
@ Waynflete 1 NYA 1 (tie)
@ NYA 5 Waynflete 0

2003
NYA 2 @ Waynflete 0
@ NYA 3 Waynflete 1

2002
NYA 5 @ Waynflete 1

2001
@ NYA 6 Waynflete 0

2000
NYA 1 @ Waynflete 0

1999
@ NYA 3 Waynflete 0

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