PORTLAND—Waynflete’s boys’ soccer team might be a work in progress, but it’s been a case of so far, so good for the Flyers in the first full week of the 2021 regular season.

Friday afternoon, two days after an encouraging season-opening victory at rival North Yarmouth Academy, Waynflete welcomed Traip Academy in its home opener and while the Flyers carried play most of the way, finishing was a problem.

Until it wasn’t.

The Flyers weren’t able to convert any of their seven first half corner kicks and had at least that many good shots on goal blocked by Rangers defenders, but with 4:34 left before halftime, the hosts benefited from an “own goal,” when junior Roan Hopkins served the ball in and a defender attempted to clear it, but instead sent it into the goal.

Waynflete scored a more traditional goal with 28:20 to play in regulation, when sophomore Jacob Woodman scored for the second straight game, from senior Henry Hart.

The Flyers held the explosive Traip Academy offense at bay the entire game and closed out a 2-0 victory.

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Waynflete is now 2-0 on the young season, has won 16 consecutive games, dating to 2019, and dropped the Rangers to 1-2 in the process.

“We didn’t finish today, but I thought it was our most consistent 80 minutes by far we’ve put together,” said longtime Flyers coach Brandon Salway, who now has 304 victories with the program. “We were far from perfect, but we moved the ball pretty well most of the game.”

Persistence

Waynflete started with a 2-1 win at North Yarmouth Academy Wednesday.

Traip Academy started with a 2-0 loss at Sacopee Valley, then erupted for 10 goals in a home shutout win over St. Dom’s Tuesday.

The teams didn’t meet last year. In 2019, the Flyers swept the Rangers, winning 3-2 in Kittery, 5-0 at home and 2-0 in the Class C South semifinals, in a game played at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.

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Friday, on a 71-degree afternoon, playing on a wet field due to a pre-game shower, Traip Academy hoped to beat Waynflete for the first time in 24 tries (since a 2-0 home win Oct. 16, 2008), but the Flyers made it six straight victories in the series.

Even if it didn’t come easily.

Waynflete senior Liam Slocumb defends Traip Academy’s Conor McPherson early in Friday’s contest. Hoffer photos.

The visitors had the first good look, in the game’s second minute, but Owen Woolacott missed just wide.

In the sixth minute, the Flyers threatened to go on top, but a shot from senior Arnau Phillips Vila was denied by sprawling Traip Academy goalkeeper Jack Downs.

In the eighth minute, Waynflete sophomore goalkeeper Nico Kirby got his first chance, as he denied a free kick from Conor McPherson.

After Downs saved a shot from Hart, Hopkins missed just wide.

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At the other end, Kirby saved a shot from Woolacott.

The rest of the half saw the Flyers fighting to break the ice and they finally did.

First, a header off a corner kick from junior Matt Adey was just wide.

Downs then robbed senior Samir Sayed on successive shots and junior Cole Isherwood missed high.

With 7:31 left before halftime, Hopkins had a lot of net to shoot at, but a Rangers defender blocked his shot at the last second.

Waynflete junior Roan Hopkins possesses the ball.

The next time the ball found Hopkins, Waynflete finally broke through.

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With 4:34 on the clock, after taking a pass from Sayed, Hopkins served the ball in and a Traip Academy defender tried to clear it, but instead, the ball sailed over Downs’ head and into the net for a 1-0 Flyers lead.

“We had a little bit of frustration, but we possessed the ball well and had good chances,” said Woodman. “We just couldn’t finish.”

“We had a decent amount of shots on frame, but credit to Traip for getting bodies in front of us,” Salway said. “I’m not sure you deserve an own goal, but it came off of our pressure. We’d had a lot of chances leading up to that, so we’ll take it.”

Hopkins had a chance to add a goal before the half, but he sent a free kick high and the score remained, 1-0.

In the first 40 minutes, the Flyers had a 6-2 shots advantage, got two saves from Kirby and took seven corner kicks.

The Rangers hoped to answer when the second half commenced and Pedro Farias had a good look, but Kirby made the stop.

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After Traip Academy couldn’t convert on a corner kick, Waynflete returned to offense and doubled its lead.

In a more traditional fashion.

After Sayed missed just high and Downs beat Sayed to a through-ball from Hart, the Flyers struck with 28:20 remaining, as Hart passed in front to Woodman, who quickly shot and scored to make it 2-0.

“I took a touch, the ball hit off a defender and I just kicked it in,” Woodman said.

“We talked about the second goal, having to get it or it would be a totally different game,” Salway said. “I was happy to see the ball go in the net. Jacob brings great composure and his technical skills are terrific. He has a knack for finishing. He doesn’t over-hit it. He just puts it on frame with a solid strike.”

Down the stretch, Adey twice was denied in frustrating fashion, as his shot off a corner kick hit the underside of the crossbar and his header off a subsequent corner hit the post.

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After Kirby made a save off a long, low shot from Pietro Ariemma and Woolacott sent one last bid wide, the Flyers ran out the clock and celebrated their 2-0 victory.

Waynflete rushes sophomore goalkeeper Nico Kirby to celebrate the 2-0 victory.

“We have a lot of pride,” Adey said. “The guys we lost from last year were spectacular and it’s hard to fill their roles, but we have guys coming off the bench from last year and we learned a lot. I think we can be a really good team again.”

Waynflete had a 10-4 edge in shots on frame, got four saves from Kirby and had a 13-3 advantage in corner kicks.

Best of all, the Flyers completely stymied a team coming off a 10-goal effort.

“I think this shows that even though we lost four defenders from last season, we’ve worked hard all summer and we’re getting better every game,” Adey said. “Last game, we gave up one goal and this game, we gave up no goals. We’re clearly improving. We’ve worked on defending corners. The second half of the NYA game, there were three or four straight corners where we weren’t marking guys. We had to get that sorted out.

“Last year, I was kind of a role player, even though I was starting, but this year I really get to help the team.”

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“Matt’s been really consistent back there,” Salway said. “Now, he’s starting to take a leadership role on, especially in the back, where everyone is new.”

Downs made eight saves for the Rangers.

Quick turnaround

The Rangers are idle until Saturday of next week when they go to NYA.

Waynflete, meanwhile, is right back in action Saturday at St. Dom’s. Tuesday, the Flyers go to Sacopee Valley.

“I think we’re coming together really well,” said Woodman. “We just need experience. We still need to work on our first touch and possessing the ball.”

“Coach said to us at halftime that we need to have more of a killer instinct,” Adey said. “We’re going to have to do that to beat the better teams.”

“We’re still a work in progress,” Salway added. “After two games against opponents we’ll see again, it’s nice to get the first win. We need to get better in the air and next week, we have some work to do for sure on corners. We’ll see if we can get through tomorrow, then it’s back to work. It’s a process, but I’m happy with where we are right now.”

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

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