LEWISTON—Talk about a quick-strike offense!

Tuesday evening at Don Roux Field on the campus of Lewiston High School, Waynflete’s boys’ soccer team took part in yet another Class C South Final, this time against a daunting, undefeated foe, Mt. Abram.

And after a scoreless first half, the second-ranked Flyers fell behind when the top-seeded Roadrunners got a goal from senior Trevor Phelps just over five minutes into the second half.

But the deficit lasted all of 31 seconds, as Waynflete turned the game around and pulled even when sophomore Nils Burton-Johanson scored.

Two minutes later, Burton-Johanson struck again and the Flyers had the lead for good.

Then, with 26:42 to play, sophomore Andrew Rogers buried a beautiful shot and Waynflete had three goals in just over five minutes and a 3-1 lead.

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Plucky Mt. Abram didn’t go quietly, however, and made things very interesting when senior Cam Walters buried a long free kick with just over 4 minutes left, but the Flyers were able to hold on from there and survive and advance, 3-2.

Waynflete improved to 13-2-2, ended Mt. Abram’s fine season at 14-1-2 and advanced to take on Fort Kent (15-2) in the Class C state final Saturday, at 12:30 p.m., in Presque Isle.

“I love how we answered,” said longtime Flyers coach Brandon Salway. “Mt. Abram’s really good. (Coach Darren Allen’s) done an amazing job there. They were a formidable opponent who put us on our heels a little bit early. To go behind and to answer like that, these guys are an amazing group.”

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The Flyers gotten used to playing in regional and state championship games and after missing out during the COVID-shortened campaign in 2020, this Waynflete edition has been title-worthy yet again.

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.

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Last Wednesday, in the quarterfinals, the Flyers blanked No. 10 Sacopee Valley, 2-0, then Friday, in the semifinals, Waynflete erased an early deficit and knocked out third-seeded Lisbon, 4-1.

Mt. Abram, meanwhile, didn’t lose a game all year, twice tying Monmouth Academy and winning its 12 other regular season games by a composite 88-3 margin. The Roadrunners then defeated No. 8 Maranacook, 2-0, in the quarterfinals and outlasted fourth-ranked Monmouth Academy, 1-0, in double-overtime, in the semifinal round.

Mt. Abram and Waynflete didn’t play this year. The Flyers had beaten Mt. Abram in all four prior playoff encounters, with a 2-0 win in the 2018 Class C South semifinals the most recent.

Tuesday, Waynflete quickly discovered that the Roadrunners were the real deal, but once again, responded to adversity with will, skill and championship heart.

Mt. Abram threatened in the first minute on a cross from senior Wyatt Sieminski, but Flyers junior goalkeeper Lincoln Smith snared the ball at the last moment.

Walters then took his first free kick and sent it just wide.

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Waynflete then started to threaten, but Roadrunners senior goalkeeper Ian Allen got to a through ball from senior Henry Hart, a cross by Burton-Johanson was cleared and a pass from junior Jasper Curtis to sophomore Jacob Woodman was broken up by Mt. Abram senior back Caleb Thibodeau.

In the 10th minute, the Roadrunners got their best look of the half, as Sieminski played the ball in and junior Kaden Pillsbury beat Smith to the ball, but shot just wide of the open net.

After Hart had a shot saved by Allen, then missed just wide, senior Liam Slocumb was just off the mark and Burton-Johanson set up senior Arnau Phillips-Vila for a shot that Allen stopped.

Late in the half, Allen had to react quickly to deny senior Liam Slocumb, junior Liam Anderson got his head on a corner kick, but Allen made the stop, Hart sent a one-timer just wide and a free kick from junior Roan Hopkins just missed finding the head of junior Cole Isherwood near the back post.

In the first 40 minutes, the Flyers had a 4-0 advantage in shots on frame and had the lone corner kick, but couldn’t break the ice.

Offense then showed up in a big way in the second half.

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The Roadrunners produced their first shot a minute into the half, a free kick from the side by Walters, which was saved by sophomore Nico Kirby, who came on to play goalie after the break.

Mt. Abram then got another free kick with 34:40 to play and this time, Walters made Waynflete pay, as he lofted the ball in to the box, where Phelps was waiting to head it to the right of a diving Kirby and into the left corner of the goal for a 1-0 lead.

“He’s a beast in the air, he’s tall,” Walters said, of Phelps. “And he’s been practicing all year on attacking the ball, so I knew that if I put it on his head, he would score the goal.”

“I think we just broke down,” said Hopkins. “We had some confusion with the (defensive) wall and with marking. We needed to put a big body on (Phelps).”

But before that goal could even be announced, the Flyers answered.

In stunning fashion.

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Hart sent the ball in, it ricocheted off a defender and came right to Burton-Johanson, who had the easy finish to make it 1-1 just 31 seconds after the Roadrunners had taken the lead.

“I wasn’t worried,” Burton-Johanson said. “I knew we could pull it back together. We get fueled by goals. I knew we had to put one in. Right when they scored, I yelled to Roan and told him I was going to sit on the far end and he would ping me all the way down. That’s what we did. The ball came across to Henry, I followed it in and put it in. It was amazing.”

“We were in a euphoria of celebrating and we weren’t focused for a split-second and they capitalized and took the wind out of our sails,” Walters said.

Waynflete had the momentum and built on it, as with 31:56 left, off a long serve from junior Matt Adey, Burton-Johanson was there to bury the ball for a 2-1 advantage.

“Matt chipped it over and I didn’t even see the goal,” Burton-Johanson said. “I got the wind knocked out of me, hit the ground and everyone just came around me to celebrate.”

“Nils took over the game,” said Salway. “It was a team effort, but he stepped up today. He usually comes off the bench, but he started today and I thought he played a great game.”

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The Flyers kept the pressure on and were rewarded, as after a free kick from Adey was saved by Allen and Curtis and Woodman just missed, Rogers made his presence felt in impressive fashion.

Just seconds after subbing in, Rogers took a pass from Woodman, dribbled to his right, found a little room, then from 25-yards out, lofted a blast that sailed over Allen and into the net to make it 3-1 with 26:42 to play.

“Jacob passed me the ball and told me shoot,” Rogers said. “I saw top corner and hit it and got hit immediately and I didn’t even see it go in. I felt like I hit it well. I saw the ball go up, then I was on the ground. Nils and I played JV last year and we looked up to the older players and wanted to be a part of it this season. It’s a nice feeling to contribute to a winning team.”

“We’ve put a lot of time into finishing,” Salway said. “The past couple games we’re starting to really put some balls in. That takes the pressure off. You can play well and not finish and that’s frustrating, but when you start finishing, that gives everybody a boost.”

“It was like a 10-minute, 15-minute span where we kind of lost it and they scored three quick ones,” Darren Allen lamented.

Waynflete nearly scored a fourth goal, but Rogers and Hart just missed.

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That kept the door open just enough for Mt. Abram to get back in it late.

With 4:15 on the clock, the Roadrunners earned a free kick and from 45 yards out, Walters sent the ball into the box where Kirby acted as if he expected someone to kick or head it, but no one touched the ball and it got past Kirby and into the net to cut the deficit to one.

“I had no idea it went in,” Walters said. “I was looking for Trevor’s head again. I knew I had to get it in the box, so I launched it in the box and I hoped for the best and luck was on my side.”

“We’ve been in a lot of tight games like this, so you’re not surprised when a team answers,” said Salway. “It was a little unfortunate to give up free kicks because one of our goals is to not foul. It would have been nice to coast to a 3-1 win, but that’s the kind of effort you get from a championship-caliber team like Mt. Abram.”

Mt. Abram had one look to complete a miraculous rally, but senior Adam Luce shot way high with 1:48 remaining and the Flyers’ defense was able to run out the clock from there to bring the curtain down on a 3-2 victory.

“I thought we could do it,” Hopkins said. “It’s a good group of boys. We have a good core and a bunch of kids coming up. Great additions, who slid right into where we needed them to play. We have the speed and footwork.”

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“To start the year, I told the guys that you have to leave your own mark here and make your own name,” Salway said. “(Last year’s seniors) are gone. They were awesome, but these guys have answered the bell. They’ve played great and improved every week, every game.”

Waynflete finished with a 9-3 shots advantage, got one save from Kirby and had a 3-0 edge in corner kicks.

The Flyers also played their usual strong defense, despite some lineup changes, which included Hopkins again filling in in the back after sophomore Dana Bigelow suffered a season-ending leg injury in the semifinals.

“It’s pretty fluid playing back there,” said Hopkins. “Playing with Matt is super-easy. He’s a great center-back and the wing backs do a great job getting up the line.”

“We were worried about our transitional defending, to be honest,” Salway said. “I thought we got away with some lunges in the first half. We pressed a lot, but we were taking too many chances when they went north-south. We wanted to slow them down and force them to play the ball backwards and not get a head of steam and we did a good job of that.”

The Roadrunners got six saves from Ian Allen.

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“We came out, we played with them, we had some chances,” Darren Allen said.

One more for gold

Waynflete beat Fort Kent, 3-1, in the 2018 state game in the teams’ only other postseason encounter.

The Flyers are close enough to taste another championship and after a long, long bus ride Saturday morning, they look forward to doing what it takes to secure another shiny piece of hardware.

“Last year was a bummer, but we’re a great team again,” Hopkins said. “If we do, it will feel as good as the last one.”

“We’re a strong team, so we just have to play our game and keep our heads in it,” said Rogers.

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“This means a lot to us,” said Burton-Johanson. “At the beginning of the year, a lot of people doubted us after we lost all those seniors. We wanted to prove our point. It would be amazing to win. We’d like to redeem the coaches, because they were robbed last year.”

“We’re getting better and I just hope we have enough healthy players to play one more game,” Salway added. “It’s a long trip Saturday, but worthwhile. We’ll just do what we’ve done. These guys making it to the last game is a huge accomplishment. Obviously, you get to the last game, you want to win, but honestly, for this group to just get there is a huge deal.”

Sun Journal staff writer Wil Kramlich contributed to this story.

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

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