PORTLAND—When you’re learning to win games, it takes all hands on deck.

And a little luck.

Tuesday afternoon at Fore River Fields, Waynflete’s girls’ soccer team put its four-game win streak on the line against visiting Traip Academy, a team which beat the Flyers earlier in the season, and thanks to a strong effort from everyone on the field, and a fortuitous bounce, Waynflete prevailed again.

In the game’s fourth minute, sophomore Lucy Hart sent a seemingly harmless shot on goal which somehow got past Rangers senior goalie Olivia O’Leary for a 1-0 lead.

The Flyers weren’t able to score again, but thanks to a smothering defensive effort and some timely saves from senior goalkeeper Jesse Connors, were able to hold on for a pivotal victory.

Waynflete has now won five games in a row, its longest streak since 2015, improved to 7-4 and in the process dropped Traip Academy to 7-4 as well.

“We’ve had good energy lately and hopefully we’ll carry that into the playoffs,” Hart said. “If we keep working together, hopefully we’ll get good results.”

Hitting their stride

Waynflete, which is playing without its top two strikers, senior Devan Sherry and sophomore Morgan Earls, both out with knee injuries, has gradually improved over the course of the season and moved up the standing in the process.

After opening with shutout losses to visiting North Yarmouth Academy, the two-time reigning Class D state champion (5-0), and at Traip Academy (3-0), the Flyers blanked visiting Sacopee Valley (4-0) and Richmond (1-0). A 6-0 loss at two-time reigning Class B champ Cape Elizabeth followed, then Waynflete lost at home to Old Orchard Beach (2-0), but the Flyers turned things around with a 5-1 win at St. Dom’s, then blanked host Lake Region (2-0), visiting St. Dom’s (2-0) and visiting Fryeburg Academy (5-0).

Traip Academy, meanwhile, has been streaky, beginning the season by beating Sacopee Valley, St. Dom’s, Waynflete, Wells and Old Orchard Beach. The Rangers then lost to NYA, York and Gray-New Gloucester, before downing Sacopee Valley and St. Dom’s.

“When we first lost Devan and Morgan, it was tough for us, but we’ve turned it around, worked well as a team and have gotten some wins,” Hart said.

In the teams’ first meeting, Sept. 10 in Kittery, Connors made five saves, but freshman Keira Alessi, junior Noelle Denholm and junior Quinn McPherson scored goals to produce the Traip Academy victory, its fifth straight in the series.

Tuesday, on a beautiful mid-October afternoon (72 degrees at kickoff), Waynflete snapped that skid and managed to defeat the Rangers for the first time since Oct. 4, 2016 (1-0, in overtime).

Traip Academy took the first shot, as Alessi served a long bid on frame that Connors saved.

Waynflete sophomore Lucy Hart winds up and shoots for the lone goal of the game. Ben McCanna / Portland Press Herald

The Flyers then transitioned to offense and with 36:37 to play in the first half, Hart got the ball, turned and sent a low shot on target which got past O’Leary and Waynflete had the lead.

“I had an open shot and I took it and it was just a lucky bounce,” Hart said. “You can’t score unless you shoot it.”

“We definitely were due some good luck,” said Carrie Earls, who co-coaches the Flyers along with George Sherry. “We tell the girls to put balls on frame and you never know what will happen and we wound up on the right side of that today. Before losing Morgan and Devan, we had Lucy playing in the middle, but when we lost our starting strikers, we had to find somebody who could score. We pushed Lucy up and she’s done the job.”

Traip Academy senior Julia Durling and Waynflete senior Cece Marshall struggle for possession

The visitors tried to answer when Denholm weaved through the defense and sent a shot that appeared ticketed for the goal, but it rolled just wide of the far post.

Connors then denied Gilbert and Sawtelle, Sawtelle floated a shot atop the net, Alessi missed just wide and Waynflete senior captain Lolie Millspaugh broke up a rush by McPherson keeping the score 1-0 at the break.

“Lolie’s size is huge, but she’s confident and the girls trust her and listen to her,” Earls said. “She never lets us down.”

Traip Academy would continue to push for the equalizer in the second half, but never got it.

After Denholm had a shot blocked in the box, Sawtelle had a long shot denied by Connors.

The Flyers tried to extend their lead, but junior Lucy Sarno and junior Iris Stutzman missed just wide.

Waynflete’s defense stood tall the rest of the way, as Hart blocked a shot by Denholm, Gilbert missed just, Millspaugh broke up a rush by Denholm and Connors saved shots from Denholm and Gilbert.

Finally, with 1:25 remaining, the Rangers had one last look, but Denholm’s shot deflected off senior Emily Girard, allowing Connors to make the easy save.

The Flyers then ran out the clock and celebrated their 1-0 victory.

Waynflete celebrates at the final horn.

“Traip’s a really good team,” Hart said. “It was a physical battle.”

“It was scary at the end,” Millspaugh said. “At halftime, I hoped we’d get another in, but we didn’t. It got frantic and I was just booting the ball out. We’ve figured out our defensive lineup. It was our last home game, my last game here and Senior Day. It feels so good to win.”

“Protecting a lead isn’t easy, especially with some injuries,” Earls said. “We’re finding out where the girls can be successful. I’m the most competitive person in the world, so to win five in a row is great. Along with some positional changes, we brought the team together and said, ‘We’re already on course to have the best season in years.’ We dropped a disappointing game to Old Orchard Beach, but since then, they’ve taken advantage of every minute on the field.”

Connors stopped all eight shots she faced.

Traip Academy had an 8-5 edge in shots on frame, got four saves from O’Leary and took four corner kicks to the Flyers’ two, but were left lamenting missed opportunities.

“It’s disappointing, but give credit to Waynflete,” said Rangers coach Michael Jackson. “They played with a lot of energy. They beat us to a lot of 50-50 balls. They were very good defensively on stopping our attack. They knew who our most dangerous players are and keyed on them. We didn’t adjust well to how they were doubling or triple teaming some of our players. We had some chances too. It’s a very frustrating day for all of us. We all know we can do better. ”

One week left

Traip Academy (currently ranked sixth in the Class C South Heal Points standings) has games remaining versus Richmond, Old Orchard Beach and NYA.

“We’re a good team,” said Jackson. “We’ve been very competitive against Class B teams. If we show up and play the way we can play and train to play, I think we have a shot in the playoffs.”

Waynflete, meanwhile, is now ranked seventh in the region. The Flyers are at NYA Wednesday, go to Sacopee Valley Friday and close at Old Orchard Beach Tuesday of next week.

“Team camaraderie is at an all-time high,” Earls said. “We’re living in the moment. We’re looking forward to getting some redemption. We’re aiming to frustrate the heck out of NYA tomorrow, doing business Friday at Sacopee, then more redemption at Old Orchard Beach. I feel good. We typically compete pretty well.”

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

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