PORTLAND—Waynflete’s boys’ soccer team has enjoyed dizzying success the past three seasons and while the Flyers have a lot of new faces in new places this fall, the good times keep on rolling.

Friday afternoon at Fore River Fields, Waynflete hosted Class B South contender York in a pivotal contest with a lot of Heal Points at stake and thanks to a smothering defensive effort and one timely goal, the Flyers came out on top.

Waynflete got the only goal of the game in the 33rd minute, when a pretty passing sequence saw junior Roan Hopkins feed sophomore Jacob Woodman, who got the ball to senior captain Henry Hart, who finished.

From there, the Flyers’ defense stymied the Wildcats, allowing just two shots on frame, and they went on to a 1-0 victory.

Waynflete is now 8-2-1 on the season and in the process, dropped York to 5-5.

“We want to put ourselves in the best position Heal Points-wise to host playoff games as long as we’re in it,” said longtime Flyers coach Brandon Salway. “This win isn’t just a confidence booster, but it’s Heal Points-worthy. I told the guys to play today like it’s like a playoff game. It’s a great win.”

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Tough finish

The second half of Waynflete’s schedule is brutal, but that’s nothing new for a program accustomed to playing the best teams regardless of class.

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) before their 19-game win streak came to an end with a 3-1 home loss to Cape Elizabeth. Waynflete then blanked visiting NYA (2-0), settled for a scoreless tie at Greely, then, after a 2-1 loss at Freeport, blanked visiting St. Dom’s Tuesday (9-0).

York, meanwhile, has largely beaten the teams it was supposed to beat, but has struggled against the elite squads, losing to Freeport, Cape Elizabeth, reigning Class B state champion Yarmouth and Greely, while beating Fryeburg Academy, Gray-New Gloucester, Traip Academy, Wells and Freeport.

The teams last met in the 2019 regular season opener, a 2-0 win for the visiting Flyers.

Friday, on a breezy and increasingly-more-chilly afternoon (61 degrees at the start and plunging from there), Waynflete did it again, but it wasn’t easy.

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Waynflete sophomore Andrew Rogers closes in on York sophomore Connor Roberge in the early moments of the Flyers’ 1-0 win Friday. Hoffer photos.

The Wildcats had the first chance, but junior Nick Mauro missed just high.

The Flyers then went on the attack, but senior Liam Slocumb fired a shot that York sophomore goalkeeper Haydn Forbes tipped out for a corner and on the corner kick, the ball came out to junior Jasper Curtis, who lofted a shot which landed atop the netting.

After Forbes broke up a rush from senior Samir Sayed, he saved a long shot from junior Matt Adey.

After freshman Jack Joyce and sophomore Landon Morrison missed just wide for the Wildcats, Waynflete pressured, but a Sayed shot off a back heel pass from Hopkins was saved by Forbes and Hopkins missed just wide off a corner kick.

Then, with 7:10 to go in the first half, in transition, Hopkins sent a long ball ahead to Woodman, who headed it to Hart, who had a step on a defender and while Forbes came out to try and stop him, Hart sent the ball into the goal for a 1-0 lead.

“When Roan plays those big balls up top to ‘Woody’ I know it will find his head,” Hart said. “I just tried to run off him and it was a great flick behind. The keeper was a bit late coming out and I just flicked it behind him.”

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“That was a great goal,” said Salway. “A lot of composure was showed there. That was a great finish by Henry and a great set-up by Jacob. We moved the ball well and created a lot of chances today. We’ve put a lot of time into finishing and we’d still like to finish those chances, but as long as you’re creating those chances, you’ll eventually put a few in. We had a really good first half. It was nice to have the lead and feel like we played a good half.”

Waynflete then had a 47 minutes to protect its lead, something the Flyers were able to do.

Early in the second half, York senior Roan Spencer sent a long shot on target for the visitors’ first shot, but Waynflete junior keeper Lincoln Smith made the save.

The Flyers then tried to double the lead, but Forbes denied Hart and Slocumb.

With Adey, Slocumb, junior Liam Anderson and sophomore Dana Bigelow holding down the fort in the back, the Wildcats only got one more look, a free kick from Mauro, which was saved by Smith with 24:30 remaining.

Down the stretch, Slocumb broke up a pass in the box, Anderson headed out a free kick, then Anderson broke up a pass from Mauro to Joyce with just over four minutes to go.

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Waynflete didn’t allow another chance and closed out its 1-0 victory.

Waynflete celebrates at the final horn.

“Coach all week talked about this matchup,” Hart said. “We’ve prepared for it. We wanted to pass the ball around, keep our energy up and play our game. Coach said it was like a playoff game and I think we stepped up and really executed well. It was a scrappy game and I love that.”

Waynflete finished with a 10-2 edge in shots, got two saves from Smith and its defense was stellar.

“We’ve played a lot of hard opponents now and each one, we’ve learned about how we can work together better as a defense,” Anderson said. “It’s a new group in the back. For me, it’s all about effort. Showing up today, Matt was phenomenal in the air. He had a lot of great headers. Dana was decisive, playing big balls out of the back. Me and Liam Slocumb worked to build stuff. We wanted to push and make them feel our presence.”

“The back four and Lincoln playing in goal now, they’ve done a nice job of jelling and not letting people get behind them,” Salway said. “The midfield has done a good job helping the back four doing their job ahead of them. Matt’s steady back there and Dana’s constantly improved and the two Liams were both rocks today.”

Rising the ranks

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York (currently ranked seventh in the Class B South Heal Points standings) has four games left: at Yarmouth and Lake Region and at home versus Cape Elizabeth and Greely.

Waynflete (second to Mt. Abram in Class C South) hopes to wind up first or second in the region, to avoid a road playoff game (the regional final is at a neutral site). The Flyers are idle until Wednesday, when they go to Traip Academy. After a home game against Sacopee Valley Oct. 16, Waynflete finishes with a showdown at Yarmouth three days later.

“We’ll have an edge going into the playoffs having competed against high-level teams,” said Anderson. “Other teams haven’t had this experience. This will really pay off. Even in our losses, we learned so many things. Today shows how we’ve grown as a team.”

“We just have to keep the energy going off this win,” said Hart. “It’s a great win to build off. This is a really good step for us going forward.”

“We just want to keep rolling and build off of this,” Salway added. “To get to double-digit wins at some point would be a great accomplishment for this group. We’re happy with where we are. This group’s come a long way in a short time. They were pretty good players who just needed an opportunity. They’ve worked hard and improved every day.”

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

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