PORTLAND—Adversity stared Waynflete’s boys’ soccer team in the face Friday afternoon.

But the Flyers didn’t blink.

Facing No. 3 Lisbon in a Class C South semifinal at Deering High School, second-ranked Waynflete, the two-time reigning state champion, hit the post in the game’s third minute, lost sophomore back Dana Bigelow to injury in the fourth, then fell behind in the 21st, when Greyhounds forward Hunter Brissette opened the scoring.

The Flyers didn’t buckle and instead, they rose up and played like the champions they are and hope to become yet again.

With 14:35 to go before halftime, off a free kick from senior Henry Hart, junior Matt Adey headed home the tying goal and the score was 1-1 at the break.

Waynflete then roared to victory in the second half, getting the go-ahead goal from senior Samir Sayed with 30 minutes remaining and insurance tallies later in the half from junior Jasper Curtis and sophomore Jacob Woodman and went on to an impressive 4-1 victory.

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The Flyers improved to 12-2-2, ended Lisbon’s season at 13-3 and advanced to take on either top-ranked Mt. Abram (14-0-2) or No. 4 Monmouth Academy (13-2-2) in the Class C South Final Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., at Lewiston High School.

“We enjoy playing from ahead more than from behind, but we’ve shown we can come back a few times this year,” said Waynflete’s veteran coach Brandon Salway. “I thought Lisbon was great today. Credit to them. We really had to earn it.”

Home away from home

Waynflete is no stranger to playing home games on Deering High’s Memorial Field turf and due to poor field conditions, had to host the quarterfinal round there, as well as Friday’s contest.

Of course, the past several seasons, it hasn’t mattered where the Flyers play, because they beat just about everyone just about everywhere.

After dominant runs to the Class C championship in both 2018 and 2019, Waynflete arguably had its best team of all a season ago, but the schedule was shortened by COVID and there was no postseason, preventing, or at least postponing, a three-peat run.

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This year’s squad has remained elite.

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 (9-0), held off visiting York (1-0), then won at Traip Academy (1-0) and at home over Sacopee Valley (7-1), before closing with an encouraging 1-1 tie at reigning Class B champion Yarmouth.

Wednesday, in the semifinals, the Flyers blanked No. 10 Sacopee Valley, 2-0, to advance.

Lisbon, meanwhile, had a solid 11-2 regular season, then eliminated No. 14 Boothbay/Wiscasset (8-0) in the preliminary round before advancing Wednesday with a 2-1 victory over No. 6 Traip Academy in the quarterfinals.

The Flyers didn’t face the Greyhounds this year and were 2-1 against them all-time in the postseason. Waynflete prevailed, 7-2 in the 2013 Western C preliminary round, lost on penalty kicks in the 2016 Class C South semifinals, then rolled, 8-1, in the 2019 Class C South quarterfinals.

Friday, on a 54-degrees and sunny, but breezy afternoon, the Flyers got pushed early like they haven’t been pushed in multiple postseasons, but they pushed back and moved on.

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Waynflete senior Samir Sayed plays the ball while Lisbon’s Ethan Brown defends during the Flyers’ 4-1 victory Friday in a Class C South semifinal. Hoffer photos.

Waynflete started strong, but was stymied when Curtis’ pass to Sayed was broken up by Lisbon back Caden Boone in the second minute.

In the third minute, after a shot from junior Liam Anderson sailed high, Hart got free and sent a shot past Greyhounds goalkeeper Sean Moore, but it hit squarely off the far post and the rebound caromed right back to Moore.

Lisbon then moved the ball down the field and a collision resulted between an offensive player and Bigelow, who landed awkwardly on his arm and after play was stopped for several minutes, Bigelow, wearing a sling, was helped from the field.

“That was tough to see,” Adey said. “We just had to tell ourselves that we knew he’d want us to go win, so we were thinking of him.”

After play resumed, Lisbon tried to take the lead, but off a throw from Brissette, Levi Tibbetts headed the ball just high.

The Flyers threatened to go on top, but senior Liam Slocumb missed wide, Sayed headed a long free kick from Adey just over the bar, Sayed missed just wide, then a feed from Woodman to sophomore Nils Burton-Johanson was saved by Moore and moments later, Burton-Johnson headed a pass from sophomore Andrew Rogers on frame, but Moore stopped that shot too.

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The Greyhounds then struck with 19:33 left in the first half, as Danny Levesque passed the ball ahead to Brissette, who found room down the right side, drew Waynflete junior goalkeeper Lincoln Smith out of the cage, then fired a low shot past Smith and into the net for a 1-0 lead.

“It was a good ball and a really good finish,” Adey said. “He beat our keeper far post. Sometimes, you have those great plays and we had to bounce back from it.”

A minute later, the Greyhounds nearly doubled their lead, but a free kick from the side off the foot of Ethan Brown was saved by Smith.

With 14:35 on the first half clock, Waynflete answered.

After a foul to the side of the box, the Flyers earned a free kick and Hart served the ball across beautifully where Adey, near the back post, managed to get his head on it and sent it past Moore and in to tie the score and completely change momentum.

“We had so many chances in the first 10 minutes, I knew we wouldn’t go without scoring and I knew we’d get back in the game,” Adey said. “I’ve played a lot of sports with Henry. We have a good connection. I knew he was thinking where I wanted to go. He sent it to a perfect spot and I just had to run through it and get something on it and get it in.”

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“We were fired up,” said Sayed. “We knew we could come back and when (Matt) scored that goal, that’s when we went crazy.”

“That goal was a huge answer,” Salway added. “I really felt like once we tied it up, we’d be able to relax some. Not get overconfident, but just settle in a little bit.”

Late in the half, junior Cole Isherwood had a shot that forced Moore to make a sprawling save, then Isherwood shot again just high.

In the final minute, Bryce Poulin sent a free kick wide for the Greyhounds and the contest went to the break deadlocked, 1-1.

The Flyers had a 4-2 edge in shots on frame in the first 40 minutes and took both of the game’s corner kicks to that point, but three saves from Moore kept the game tied.

Waynflete then assumed control in the second half.

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With 33:38 remaining, the Flyers nearly went on top, when Woodman set up Hart for a one-timer, but Moore reacted quickly and knocked the ball out for a corner kick which resulted in Adey getting his head on the ball, but sending it wide.

Waynflete’s next chance resulted in the go-ahead goal.

With 30:57 left, after taking a beautiful through-ball from Burton-Johanson, Sayed got behind the defense and when Moore came out to challenge him, Sayed fired a shot which the keeper got a piece of, but not enough to stop, and the ball rolled into the net for a 2-1 lead.

“The only difference in the second half was more communication and our passes were a little more accurate,” Sayed said. “I saw a perfect pass from Nils and a perfect opportunity to finish the shot. I was just trying to put the ball in the corner. We were feeling pretty good, but we had to stay focused.”

“Nils had to slide into more playing time today and he created some nice chances for us,” said Salway. “That was a great set-up by Nils and finish by Samir.”

Lisbon had a couple chances to answer, but a shot from Brown was blocked by a defender and after a long free kick from Poulin was deflected by sophomore Nico Kirby, who replaced Smith in goal for the second half, the rebound came out to Brissette, who sent the ball high.

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The Flyers then got some breathing room with 14:50 to play, as Curtis played the ball into the offensive zone and when no one challenged him, he fired a shot from about 30 yards out which was perfectly placed and got past the diving Moore and into the net for a 3-1 advantage.

“It’s always great to see Jasper score because you don’t see the work he puts in on the stat sheet,” Adey said. “He wins headers on their goal kicks against a dude who’s 6-foot-5. He puts in hard work every play, so for him to score was really great.”

“Jasper said he took a little bit off, because a lot of times (his shots) end up in Westbrook,” said Salway. “I actually wanted him to play the ball out wide and I couldn’t have been more wrong. That was just a great shot.”

The game then took a bizarre turn, one that the Greyhounds felt was unjust.

Just 30 seconds after Curtis’ goal, Woodman got free and shot, but the ball appeared to hit the post and play went on.

Over a minute later, play finally was stopped and the officials conferred and much to Waynflete’s surprise and Lisbon’s chagrin, Woodman was given credit for the goal and the Flyers had ended any remaining doubt.

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“I saw it pretty well and I would have been so surprised if that shot didn’t go in,” Adey said. “It hit the post and spun in. I think they got that right.”

“The linesman said the ball was in and he couldn’t get the (center referee’s) attention quickly enough,” Salway said. “Play went on and I’m sure it was frustrating for Lisbon.”

The Flyers nearly scored again late in regulation, but first Woodman was robbed by Moore, then, in the waning seconds, a shot right in front by sophomore Spencer Kline was denied by the diving goalie.

Waynflete ran out the clock from there and celebrated its 4-1 victory.

Waynflete mobs sophomore goalkeeper Nico Kirby at the conclusion of Friday’s game.

“We were really resilient,” Salway said. “It was tough to lose Dana. He’s gone above and beyond this year. We threw him into a role we thought he could handle and he’s played so well and was so consistent back there. It’s hard to see him hurting. His teammates really picked him up. (Junior) Roan (Hopkins) really stepped up. He and Matt and Liam Anderson and the other Liam (Slocumb) were outstanding today.”

The Flyers finished with a 14-3 shots advantage, took all six of the game’s corner kicks and got one save apiece from Kirby and Smith.

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“Lincoln’s stepped up and has done a great job and Nico had been out and was just cleared a few days ago,” Salway said. “We played him the last 20 minutes Wednesday. It’s a unique situation. We feel like they both deserve an opportunity to play. We have confidence in both of them.”

Moore made 10 saves for Lisbon.

Off to Lewiston

Waynflete didn’t face either potential regional final foe during the regular season, but has ample playoff history with both teams.

The Flyers have beaten Mt. Abram in all four prior encounters, with a 2-0 win in the 2018 Class C South semifinals the most recent.

Waynflete is just 2-3 in the postseason versus Monmouth Academy, but won the most recent game, 4-0, in the 2015 Class C South Final.

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Regardless of the opponent, the Flyers will be ready as they look to punch their ticket to another state final where most of the team members would be looking to win their first Gold Ball.

“I want to win this badly for our seniors,” Adey said. “A lot of them don’t know what it’s like to win a state championship, so for their last game, I want them to know what it feels like to win one.”

“We just need to have to work hard in training and rest up,” Sayed said. “If we stay focused and composed, we’ll be fine. We really want to win after losing out on last (post) season.”

“Whoever we play, it will be a challenge,” Salway added. “Mt. Abram is really outstanding. They’re really dangerous up top. They’re creative. Monmouth has one really outstanding player and has a good team around him.

“I feel like we’ll have to play even better Tuesday than we did today. We’ll be one game away from a state championship game and that’s where we want to be. I’m really proud of this group.”

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

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