BOX SCORE

North Yarmouth Academy 7 Waynflete 4

W- 0 1 1 2- 4
NYA- 1 0 3 3- 7

First period
8:14 NYA Waterman (Warde)

Second period
5:36 W Kirby (Woodman)

Third period
8:57 NYA Oney (Warde)
7:07 NYA Thomas (unassisted)
3:23 NYA Thomas (unassisted)
1.9 W Hopkins (unassisted)

Fourth period
10:40 NYA Warde (unassisted)
7:52 NYA Thomas (unassisted)
3:15 NYA Pelletier (Warde)
3:08 W Burton-Johanson (Woodman)
1:30 W Burton-Johanson (Hopkins)

Goals:
W-Burton-Johanson 2, Hopkins, Kirby 1
NYA- Thomas 3, Oney, Pelletier, Warde, Waterman 1

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Assists:
W-Woodman 2, Hopkins 1
NYA- Warde 3

Faceoffs (Waynflete, 8-6)
W- Isherwood 8 of 14
NYA- Thomas 4 of 8, Donnelly 2 of 5, Warde 0 of 1

Ground balls:
W- 37
NYA- 31

Turnovers:
W- 24
NYA- 29

Shots:
W- 35
NYA- 21

Shots on cage:
W- 14
NYA- 16

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Saves:
W (Mukeragingo) 9
NYA (Curtis) 10

YARMOUTH—North Yarmouth Academy’s boys’ lacrosse team delivered its dose of revenge.

Even if it took a little while to take effect.

Thursday evening at a rainy Lewis Field, the Panthers hosted their rival, defending Class C state champion Waynflete, in a highly-anticipated season opener, a rematch of last year’s state semifinal which didn’t exactly go NYA’s way.

But this time around, the Panthers, thanks to a staunch defensive effort and an offense which caught fire in the second half, managed to come out on top.

NYA grabbed an early lead on a goal from senior Caleb Waterman, but that would be it for the Panthers’ offense in the first half and when sophomore Nico Kirby answered for the Flyers midway through the second period, the contest was even and surprisingly low-scoring, 1-1, at halftime.

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But after waiting 10 long months to get another shot at Waynflete, NYA came to life in the third quarter and never looked back.

A quick goal from senior Elliott Oney put the Panthers on top for good and junior Wyatt Thomas added consecutive goals for a 4-1 lead.

The Flyers seemingly gained momentum when junior Roan Hopkins scored just before the horn, but NYA ended all doubt in the fourth period, as junior Brayden Warde, Thomas and Noah Pelletier scored in succession.

Sophomore Nils Burton-Johanson scored a couple late goals for Waynflete, but it wasn’t enough and the Panthers went on to a 7-4 victory.

Thomas scored a game-high three goals and NYA got its season off to an optimal start.

“I wanted this so badly,” Thomas said. “We lost to them twice last year, so we were fired up.

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Sweet revenge

The rivals last met June 16 of last year, in a Class C state semifinal (which in truth was the de facto state game) and host Waynflete pulled away for a surprisingly decisive 11-4 victory. The Flyers (who also beat the Panthers in a regular season thriller, 8-7) then handled Oak Hills in the state final, 17-5, but after graduating top scorers Harry Millspaugh and Sam Whipple, this year’s team is young and has some holes to fill.

NYA, meanwhile, likes its chances this spring with a veteran squad.

Thursday, with a light rain falling and darkness threatening, Waynflete hoped to make it three straight in the series, but instead, the Panthers beat the Flyers for the first time since the 2019 Class C state semifinals.

NYA had the first good scoring chance 43 seconds in, but Warde’s bid was denied by Waynflete goalie Pauli Mukeragingo.

With 8:14 left in the opening stanza, the Panthers opened the scoring, as Warde set up Waterman for a blast which tickled the twine.

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Late in the period, Mukeragingo robbed senior James Tourigny to keep the deficit at one after 12 minutes.

The game remained shockingly defensive in the second period as well.

The Flyers began to control play, but Hopkins twice missed wide and bids from sophomore Jacob Woodman and junior Seth Cloutier were also off-target.

After NYA junior goalie Jack Curtis robbed Hopkins, Woodman found Kirby for the tying tally with 5:36 to go before the half.

Mukeragingo made sure the game remained deadlocked, as he denied freshman Zach Leinwand and Thomas and the score remained, 1-1, at the break.

The Panthers then turned it up a notch in the third quarter and got some breathing room.

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Cloutier had a chance to give Waynflete the lead early in the frame, but Curtis saved his shot.

Then, with 8:57 remaining, Warde found Oney and Oney finished and NYA had the lead for good.

With 7:07 left in the third, Thomas got some room up top and bounced a shot past Mukeragingo and in for a 3-1 lead.

“We were a little nervous at the start, but it picked up in the third quarter after we got a couple goals,” Thomas said.

Curtis preserved the lead with saves on shots from Burton-Johanson, Woodman and junior Cole Isherwood.

Then, with 3:32 to go in the frame, Thomas bounced home another shot to make it 4-1.

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“It’s a slick surface, so the ball can skip on the turf and go in,” Thomas said.

“The bounce shots are something guys learn when they’re really little and if you do it, it works,” NYA coach Peter Gerrity said. “I think we settled into our offense and stopped pushing the ball. We had a hard time slowing down on the offensive end and once we did, the goals started coming.”

But the Flyers would close the period strong, as Hopkins fought his way past a defender and beat Curtis with just 1.9 seconds showing and the deficit was just two going to the final stanza.

Where the Panthers ended any lingering doubt.

Just 80 seconds into the fourth, Warde scored unassisted to restore a three-goal advantage.

After killing a man-down situation, NYA made it 6-2 with 7:52 remaining, as Thomas scored for the third time.

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With 3:15 to go, the Panthers scored their final goal, as Warde set up Pelletier.

To its credit, Waynflete fought hard to the final horn, as Burton-Johanson scored from Isherwood seven seconds later, then he scored a man-up goal with 1:30 left (from Hopkins), but NYA was able to run out the clock from there and celebrate a 7-4 victory.

“This feels great,” said senior defensive standout Henry Bergeron. “We’ll see them again at the end of the year I’m sure. It meant a lot to beat them here on our field.”

“We were excited,” Gerrity said. “It’s fun to end a season with a rivalry game, but it’s awesome to start with one. It’s nice to kind of avenge last year’s loss right off and set the tone.”

Thomas led the Panthers’ attack with three goals, while Oney, Pelletier, Warde (three assists) and Waterman added one apiece.

Bergeron and junior Seamus Rohde each collected a team-high five ground balls.

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“We had a lot of communication on defense,” said Bergeron. “We work well together and kept on top of things. We knew (Millspaugh and Whipple) were huge to their team, so we wanted to keep them to the outside and we have a great goalie.”

“(Waynflete’s) a dangerous team, but our defense is very good,” said Gerrity. “We had our hands full keeping them in check. Henry’s excellent. Just his figure deters guys from dodging.”

Curtis made 10 saves.

“Jack’s great and we’re going to make sure he stays tip-top through the season,” Gerrity said.

NYA had a 16-14 edge in shots on frame and overcame 29 turnovers.

Waynflete’s offense was led by Burton-Johanson, who scored twice. Hopkins and Kirby also tickled the twine.

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Woodman had two assists, while Hopkins also set up a goal.

Mukeragingo made nine saves.

The Flyers had an 8-6 faceoff advantage, a 37-31 edge in ground balls (Isherwood had a game-high seven), a 35-21 shots advantage and committed 24 turnovers.

“We knew it was going to be a tight, physical game,” said Waynflete assistant coach Dan Thomsen, who co-coached with Ralph Nelson with head coach Andrew Leach unavailable due to a family emergency. “It was a defensive battle at the beginning. The offense clicked at the end, but it was too little, too late. They were very aggressive. They have big guys with strong sticks. More pressure than what we’re used to and we had some nerves in our first game.”

“We’re a young team and we’re still trying to figure out our identity on both ends of the field,” Nelson said. “We won’t score many goals with the turnovers we had and their goalie showed up today and stood strong. We won’t win the way we shot either. We’re young and we’re excited to have the opportunity to keep growing the rest of the season. Pauli showed a lot of courage and we take a lot of pride in the courage the guys have.”

Long season ahead

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Waynflete is back in action next Thursday, when it goes to Class B top contender Greely.

“Dan told the guys we don’t mind having a game like this to start the season,” Nelson said. “It’s a humbling moment. We’ll watch film and talk about adjustments. It’s exciting to think about playing these guys again.”

NYA returns to action April 25 at home versus Traip Academy and knows it has still has a long way to go.

“We have to work on ground balls, especially on faceoffs,’ Thomas said. “We need to communicate and keep scoring.”

“We’ll enjoy this for tonight, then get ready for practice and our next game,” Bergeron said.

“I feel good, but we have a lot to work on,” Gerrity added. “There’s stuff all over the field we want to get better at. We told them to savor the moment and be excited about beating Waynflete, but it’s a long season and we’ll see them again.”

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

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