BOX SCORE

North Yarmouth Academy 8 Waynflete 6

W- 4 2- 6
NYA- 5 3- 8

First half
16:17 W Millspaugh (Birknes)
16:03 W Birknes (unassisted)
14:38 NYA Tran (Holt)
12:53 NYA Holt (free position)
9:37 NYA Tran (free position)
7:45 W Millspaugh (unassisted)
5:43 NYA Tran (free position)
3:52 W Birknes (free position)
2:37 NYA Holt (free position)

Second half
22:20 W Kelly (unassisted)
20:44 NYA Sharp (Holt)
16:50 NYA Holt (sharp)
5:32 NYA Sharp (Hol)
2:21 W Kelly (unassisted)

Goals:
W- Birknes, Kelly, Millspaugh 2
NYA- Holt, Tran 3, Sharp 2

Assists:
W- Birknes 1
NYA- Holt 3, Sharp 1

Draws (8-8)
W- Millspaugh 5 of 9, Kelly 3 of 7
NYA- Tran 6 of 8, Holt 2 of 8

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Ground balls:
W- 22
NYA- 25

Turnovers:
W- 17
NYA- 15

Shots:
W- 15
NYA- 17

Shots on cage:
W- 12
NYA- 16

Saves:
W (Girard) 8
NYA (Gee) 6

YARMOUTH—North Yarmouth Academy’s third-ranked girls’ lacrosse team got a tougher than expected fight from No. 6 Waynflete in the teams’ Class C South state quarterfinal Saturday afternoon at Lewis Field.

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So the Panthers fought back.

And did just enough to punch their ticket to the semifinals.

The Flyers, the reigning state champions, playing without senior standout Jesse Connors, who scored six goals in the teams’ first meeting before breaking her ankle midseason, shot to a surprising and quick 2-0 lead behind goals from senior Lolie Millspaugh and freshman Lydia Birknes, but NYA awakened and behind goals from junior Vy Tran,  senior Maggie Holt and Tran again, went on top for the first time.

Waynflete would twice tie the game up again, but with 2:37 to go before halftime, a Holt free position allowed the Panthers to take a 5-4 lead to halftime.

When Flyers sophomore Tilsley Kelly scored three minutes into the second half, Waynflete entertained upset dreams, but with 20:44 to go, senior Emma Sharp gave NYA the lead for good and Holt and Sharp added insurance goals, which loomed large as multiple yellow cards forced the Panthers to play the final minutes two players down.

They managed to persevere and held on for an 8-6 victory.

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Holt and Tran both scored three times as  NYA improved to 9-5, ended Waynflete’s title reign and its season at 7-7 and advanced to face No. 2 Freeport (10-3) on the road in the Class C state semifinals Tuesday at a time to be announced.

“We really dug deep and believed in each other and trusted each other,” Holt said. “We all wanted to win and pulled it out.”

Start and finish

The teams opened the 2022 season against each other back on April 14 when Connors scored six times for the Flyers, but it wasn’t enough, as the Panthers rallied late, then prevailed in overtime on Holt’s goal.

That was the start of an up-and-down campaign for Waynflete, which suffered a jolt midway through when Connors broke her ankle in a loss at Greely. The Flyers lost five of their last seven regular season games, but in the preliminary round Wednesday, they had no trouble with No. 11 Traip Academy (15-0).

NYA was 2-3 at one juncture, but wound up 7-5, then handled No. 14 Oceanside, 12-2, in its prelim Wednesday.

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Once upon a time, NYA-Waynflete state finals were almost an annual event, as the squads met six times in 10 years on the final Saturday (see sidebar). The Flyers captured the first five before the Panthers broke through in 2010 to win their first championship.

Saturday, in the teams’ first postseason meeting since that game, Waynflete made things interesting for 50 minutes, but NYA was able to overcome and advance.

NYA senior Maggie Holt and Waynflete sophomore Tilsley Kelly fight for possession on the opening draw of the Panthers’ 8-6 victory Saturday. Hoffer photos.

Both goalies came up big early, as NYA senior Acadia Gee denied a shot from Waynflete sophomore Morgan Earls and Flyers senior goalie Emily Girard robbed both Sharp and Holt.

Waynflete struck first with 16:17 to go in the first half, as Birknes passed to Millspaugh in front and Millspaugh turned and fired the ball into the net.

A mere 14 seconds later, off a draw win, Birknes raced in and scored unassisted for a 2-0 Flyers’ advantage.

The Panthers finally got on the board with 14:38 left before halftime, as Holt waited for Tran to break free, then set her up for a goal.

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After Girard denied Tran’s bid to tie the score, Holt buried a free position shot with 12:53 remaining and the game was tied.

NYA then went ahead for the first time with 9:37 left, as Tran’s free position made it 3-2.

After Gee denied a shot from Earls, the Flyers tied the score with 7:45 on the clock, as Millspaugh cut through the defense before finishing.

The Panthers countered with 5:43 left, as Tran scored on a free position of her own.

Waynflete again battled back to tie, as Birknes scored on a free position with 3:52 to play in the half, but with 2:37 remaining, Holt scored on a free position and NYA clung to a 5-4 advantage at the break.

The Panthers had an 11-6 shots advantage in the first 25 minutes, but five Girard saves kept the Flyers close.

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Waynflete senior Lolie Millspaugh races upfield as NYA junior Vy Tran gives chase.

Waynflete then looked for the equalizer when the second half commenced and after Millspaugh missed just wide, Kelly weaved through the defense and beat Gee with 22:20 to play, tying the score for the fourth and final time, 5-5.

The Flyers never had a chance to take the lead, however, and with 20:44 on the clock, Holt set up Sharp for a shot which Girard got a piece of but couldn’t keep out of the net and at last, NYA was on top for good.

Kelly had a chance to tie the score with 18:57 to go, but Gee made the save.

At the other end, with 16:50 on the clock, the Panthers went up by two for the first time, as after a turnover, Sharp found Holt to make it 7-5.

“It started with our goalie,” Holt said. “She made some amazing saves. Defense got it in transition and attack just had to kill time and put goals in. We pride ourselves on assists.”

Longtime Waynflete coach Cathie Connors called timeout to stem the tide, but it didn’t work, as Earls had a shot saved by Gee, Kelly missed wide and after a pair of yellow cards on NYA, Earls had a free position shot saved and Gee robbed Millspaugh in close.

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Then, with 5:32 to go, in transition Holt set up Sharp for an 8-5 lead.

After Earls missed wide on a free position and junior Yen Wilson had a free position shot saved by Gee, Kelly finally broke through, scoring unassisted through a tight window with 2:21 to play, cutting the deficit to two.

Having an advantage in personnel, the Flyers could have made things very interesting, but after winning the ensuing draw, they turned the ball over and the Panthers were able to run out the clock and celebrate their 8-6 victory.

NYA rushes the field to celebrate at the final horn..

“We knew (Waynflete would) be as competitive as before because it’s playoffs,” Holt said. “It was very hard down two players, but we knew what we had to do. We just had to run around, make smart choices and keep the ball in our possession.”

The Panthers’ offense featured three goals apiece from Holt and Tran and two from Sharp.

Holt also had three assists and Sharp added one.

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Gee made six saves.

NYA had a 25-22 edge in ground balls (Holt scooped up a game-high eight), enjoyed a 17-15 advantage in shots (16-12) on cage and overcame 15 turnovers.

They gave their all

Waynflete got two goals apiece from Birknes, Kelly and Millspaugh.

Birknes also had an assist.

Girard bowed out with eight saves.

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Wilson had a team-high four ground balls.

The Flyers committed 17 turnovers.

Waynflete huddles following the loss.

“I’m really proud of the girls and how they played so hard until the very last minute,” Cathie Connors said. “We had a good start, then the girls were just playing scared. It was a mental game. I don’t mind physical, but it was too much. I’m pleased with our effort. I just wish it could have been a prettier game.

“It’s hard to say goodbye. It’s such an amazing group. We had to deal with injuries and COVID every week and they had to change positions constantly and never complained and they always rallied. I’m grateful to have been their coach.”

Waynflete has to part with five players, including Girard, Millspaugh, Cece Marshall and Vera Shattuck and Jesse Connors, who emerged as one of the special players in program history, even if her career was all-too-short.

“The seniors played big roles on this team,” Cathie Connors said. “They’re sad. They wanted to have another game. They were great leaders. I’m psyched for our young kids. We have a whole lineup of young kids, so we’ll be back next year.”

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Third time a charm?

NYA twice lost to Freeport this spring, 12-6 at home and 8-7 on the road.

The teams have met three previous times in the playoffs with the Panthers winning all of them, including a memorable 17-16 overtime victory in the most recent encounter, the 2019 Class C state quarterfinals.

NYA will be the underdog Tuesday, but believes it can move on.

“That’s going to be a tough one,” Holt said. “We know what we have to do. We’ll try our best and hopefully, we’ll succeed this time. All of us want to make it to states really badly.”

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

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