PORTLAND—After 19 games over three years of dominance, Waynflete’s boys’ soccer team finally met its match Tuesday afternoon at Fore River Fields.

And in the process, learned a valuable lesson in defeat.

Courtesy the surging Cape Elizabeth Capers.

The Capers clearly came to play, as they almost scored 12 seconds in, then they went on top to stay in the 20th minute, when junior Eddie Caldera scored a goal while sliding.

Cape Elizabeth kept the pressure on in the second half, extending the lead with 23 minutes to go, when senior captain Stewart Kelley set up sophomore Sam Cochran, then striking again five minutes later, when Caldera scored for the second time.

Senior Liam Slocumb got a goal back for the Flyers, but that’s as close as they would come as the Capers went on to a 3-1 victory.

Cape Elizabeth won its third game in a row, improved to 3-2, dropped Waynflete to 5-1 and in the process, handed the Flyers their first setback since Oct. 22, 2019.

“I’m proud of all the guys who have played in the program and (19 wins in a row) was a program-result,” said Waynflete coach Brandon Salway. “To play the schedule we play, you have to expect some lumps along the way, so to not have any losses the last 19 games was nice.”

“I think it was really important to keep the pressure on to force (Waynflete) into mistakes,” said Capers coach Ben Raymond. “The kids reacted really well.”

Measuring stick

Cape Elizabeth is a top contender in Class B South, while Waynflete has dominated Class C over the past three seasons, winning the state title in 2018 and 2019, then going 10-0 but never getting a chance to go for a three-peat a year ago due to COVID restrictions.

The Capers opened their 2021 season with a 2-0 home loss to reigning Class B champion Yarmouth and a 2-1 setback at rival Greely, then defeated visiting York (5-3) and Freeport (1-0).

The Flyers started with a 2-1 win at North Yarmouth Academy, then blanked visiting Traip Academy (2-0), won at St. Dom’s (8-2), at Sacopee Valley (3-0) and at home over Richmond (4-1).

The teams last met during the 2019 season, a 3-1 home win for Waynflete, which gave the Flyers a 2-1 edge (with a pair of ties) in meetings over the past decade (see below, for results).

Tuesday, on the final full day of summer, under sunny, 68-degree skies, Waynflete finally tasted defeat as Cape Elizabeth got off the bus hungry and confident.

It took all of 12 seconds for the Capers to make a statement, as senior Tiernan Lathrop, always a matchup nightmare regardless of the sport, got loose and fired a promising shot which Flyers sophomore goalkeeper Nico Kirby had to leap to save and knock out for a corner kick.

“A game right after school is tough to get warmed up for, but I was pleased with how we started and how we kept it up all game,” Kelley said.

After Caldera missed just wide on his first attempt and junior Sebastian Moon missed high with Kirby off his line, Waynflete nearly jumped on top in transition in the 14th minute, but a soaring blast from Slocumb rang off the crossbar.

Then, with 22:25 remaining in the first half, Kelley fired a shot that rolled wide, but Caldera timed his run to the far post perfectly, slid and kicked the ball past Kirby and home for a 1-0 advantage.

“I made my run, ‘Stew’ fed me, it was a great ball by him and I just finished it with a little tap-in,” Caldera said. “I was more comfortable since I slid.”

“I’d like to say I passed it, but I’m pretty sure I missed the shot,” said Kelley. “All props to (Eddie). He hustled to get that.”

“It was a great ‘shass,'” joked Raymond. “We’ve talked about anticipating things in both boxes and being faster to the ball. We’ve made that a point of emphasis and Eddie reacted really well.”

Late in the half, Kelley missed just wide and after junior Jasper Curtis shot high for Waynflete off a corner kick, Moon missed a good look in the box before senior Crispin Duryee had a promising bid for the Capers which Kirby tipped out to keep the score 1-0 at the break.

In the first half, Cape Elizabeth had a 4-2 edge in shots on frame and a 5-1 advantage in corners, but the game was far from decided.

The Capers never let the Flyers answer early in the second half and with 23:26 to play, Kelley passed to Cochran, who fired a shot past Kirby for a 2-0 lead.

“You’re never comfortable at 1-0,” said Kelley. “Sam’s probably the best shooter on the team. When he has an open shot like that, I’m going to feed it to him. I feel more of an accomplishment getting assists than goals.”

After Lathrop had a shot blocked, then just missed, Cape Elizabeth scored for the final time with 18:35 on the clock, as Moon sent a through ball ahead to Caldera, who finished to make it 3-0.

“Seb just put a ball through and their center-back wasn’t really looking at me, so I ran behind him and it was an easy finish,” said Caldera.

Waynflete got a glimmer of life with 15:18 to go, as a 45-yard shot from Slocumb eluded leaping Capers sophomore goalkeeper Raef Curran and rolled across the line, but the Flyers couldn’t convert a corner kick with 9 minutes remaining and after a late shot from Cape Elizabeth sophomore Grant Kelley hit the crossbar, the Capers closed out their 3-1 victory.

“We’ve talked a lot about making sure we’re focused and that the effort and energy were there from the start,” Raymond said. “It wasn’t there against Yarmouth in our first game. It was similar against Greely. That’s been a much bigger focus since and the guys have done a great job. For the majority of the second half, we moved the ball really well. The guys kept the effort and energy and we possessed. That hasn’t been our strength all season, but today, we had a lot of possession.”

Cape Elizabeth finished with an 11-3 shots advantage, a 6-2 edge in corners and got two saves from Curran, as well as a stellar defensive effort against a prolific opponent.

“Our entire back four is really good,” Stewart Kelley said. “They have great chemistry. They’re calm with the ball, especially on grass.”

“Our backs get better and better each game and have done a great job communicating,” Raymond said. “(Junior) Ben Altenburg has been dominant in the air and (senior) Tucker (Livingston) calms everyone down and tells what he needs his teammates to do on the field.”

Kirby made eight saves for Waynflete, which simply didn’t have an answer for the Capers.

“Cape puts pressure on you because of their speed and strength all over the field,” Salway said. “They’re organized and well-coached and play really hard. We weren’t comfortable on the ball in the beginning and didn’t have composure, so we wound up defending for 70 percent of the first half. We wound up settling in and put some pressure on them, but overall, it’s a good learning day for us. We had some good chances, but they wore us down. It’s been a long time since we’ve lost as a program, but we learned a lot today about having to play quicker and a little more physical.”

Getting better and better

Waynflete is back in action Thursday when it welcomes NYA. Next week brings key tests at Class B South contenders Greely and Freeport.

“We as a group will learn what we need to do better,” Salway said. “We have to take advantage of opportunities. We have to get better in both boxes and play with more urgency. That will be a focal point. It’s a tough turnaround with NYA next, then a tough week next week. It’s about learning and getting better.”

Cape Elizabeth will look to bounce back Friday when it hosts Lake Region. After a makeup game at Wells Monday, the Capers are home versus Poland the following day.

“After the Greely (loss), we had a talk and ever since then, things have clicked,” Caldera said. “I think we just need to stay focused in practice and pump each other up in games.”

“This helps us feel confident that what we’re doing is the right path,” Raymond said. “There’s going to be games where things move at a faster pace and we’ll be challenged more and more, but every time we take the field, you can see the improvement. We’ll focus on improving each and every day. With an open tournament, the pressure’s off a little bit.”

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

Recent Waynflete-Cape Elizabeth results

@ Waynflete 3 Cape Elizabeth 1

@ Cape Elizabeth 1 Waynflete 1 (tie)

Cape Elizabeth 2 @ Waynflete 0

@ Cape Elizabeth 1 Waynflete 1 (tie)

@ Waynflete 1 Cape Elizabeth 0

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