PORTLAND—Waynflete’s girls’ soccer team has picked up where last year’s team left off and the result has been a very promising start to the 2022 season.

With some big challenges looming.

Thursday afternoon at Fore River Fields, the Flyers hosted Richmond and continued to demonstrate their offensive prowess.

In the ninth minute, junior standout Lucy Hart scored the only goal Waynflete would need.

Later in the first half, junior Morgan Earls struck and Hart added a second tally for a commanding 3-0 advantage.

Early in the second half, freshman Lucy Olson scored on a rebound and with just under 28 minutes remaining, Hart completed her hat trick with a long blast and the Flyers went on to a 5-0 victory.

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Waynflete won its third game in three tries this fall and dropped the Bobcats to 3-2 in the process.

“I’m pleasantly surprised,” said Carrie Earls, who co-coaches the Flyers with George Sherry. “I knew we had some talent coming in and we got better every game last season and we wanted to pick up where we left off and I think we did.”

Turning the corner

After four straight seasons finishing below .500, Waynflete returned to form last fall, going 10-7 and getting to the Class C South semifinals, losing to Traip Academy.

This year’s team wants to elevate the program even further and after a 5-0 home win over St. Dom’s in the season opener, the Flyers blanked host Sacopee Valley Tuesday, 7-0.

Richmond, meanwhile, opened with a 3-0 victory over Rangeley and after losing to three-time reigning Class D champion North Yarmouth Academy (8-0), edged Sacopee Valley (2-1) and blanked Valley (14-0).

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Last year, Waynflete beat visiting Richmond, 1-0.

Thursday, on another beautiful late-summer afternoon (66 degrees and breezy), the Flyers started 3-0 for the first time since 2009 (when they won their first eight contests).

Waynflete freshman Grace Alexander battles Richmond’s Eden Balduf for possession early in the Flyers’ 5-0 victory Thursday. Hoffer photos.

Waynflete controlled play at the start and had some good early chances, but Hart missed wide, senior Lucy Sarno set up senior Iris Stutzman for a shot which hit the side netting and Hart fired a blast that Bobcats goalkeeper Autumn Lane made a nice stop on.

But with 31:46 to go in the first half, the Flyers broke through, as Stutzman got the ball to Hart in the box and Hart fired a low shot past a diving Lane to make it 1-0.

Richmond nearly answered in the 12th minute, when dangerous sophomore Breonna Dufresne broke free, but with Waynflete freshman goalkeeper Ayla Stutzman coming out at her, Dufresne put just a little too much English on her shot and it rolled just wide of the post.

The Flyers went back on the attack, but Iris Stutzman had a shot blocked by the Bobcats’ defense, sophomore Fallon Culley missed just high, Earls sent a beautiful left-footed bender just wide, Olson hit the far post, Stutzman had a shot saved by Lane and Lane saved a bid from Earls.

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With 16:15 to go before halftime, Dufresne got another chance for the visitors, after a turnover, but Ayla Stutzman went sprawling to make a save to preserve the lead.

Then, with 11:59 on the clock, Culley passed to Earls up top and Earls ripped a shot over Lane’s head to make it 2-0.

The third goal came with 9:08 remaining, as Hart launched a blast from 35 yards out and it eluded Lane and found the net, just inside the far post.

“The last few games, I’ve shot better than I had been before, so I have to keep that up,” said Hart. “If I have space, I usually take a shot, but I’ll pass it off sometimes too.”

Waynflete took a 3-0 lead to the half after enjoying a 10-1 shots advantage.

Waynflete sophomore Fallon Culley plays the ball as Richmond’s Stephanie Balduf looks on.

Any lingering doubt about the outcome was put to rest with 34:42 to play, when Olson banged home a rebound of a Hart shot.

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After Sarno hit the crossbar, Hart scored for the third time, eluding a defender, then launching another long blast that tickled the twine to make it 5-0 with 27:52 remaining.

“I’ve known Lucy since she was 7 and I was her PAYSA coach,” Carrie Earls said. “In my opinion, she’s always the best player on the field and my kid’s on the team, so that says a lot. She always has the green light.”

Down the stretch, Sarno and Morgan Earls had shots saved by Lane and Lane robbed freshman Lucy Mamone off a feed from sophomore Lydia Birkes.

Richmond had one final chance, but junior Leah Noone, who came with 19 minutes left to replace Ayla Stutzman in goal for the Flyers, broke up a rush from Dufresne.

Waynflete ran out the clock from there and celebrated its 5-0 victory.

“We’re starting very well,” said Hart. “We have very good energy this year and hope to continue it. Early confidence is important for us.”

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The Flyers out-shot the Bobcats, 17-2, got one save apiece from Noone and Ayla Stutzman and took three corners kicks to Richmond’s one.

Lane stopped 12 shots for the Bobcats.

Going to get tougher

Richmond hopes to bounce back Saturday at Vinalhaven.

Waynflete, meanwhile, has a huge week upcoming.

After hosting Traip Academy in a playoff rematch Monday, three-time reigning Class B champion Cape Elizabeth, one of the state’s elite programs, pays a visit Tuesday and next Friday, the Flyers travel to NYA.

“We’re very excited to play some top teams,” said Hart. “It’s going to be a challenge, but we’re looking forward to it. We need to continue to move the ball. Passing is important. If we move the ball fast enough, we’ll get more shots on goal.”

“We just really want to learn,” Carrie Earls said. “We haven’t been exposed yet. Our back line hasn’t been tested a lot. We need to see what we’re made of and I think next week we’ll show us. What it’s going to come down to is endurance and perseverance at the end of the season. We’re not that deep, so players off the bench need to be ready to give us minutes and we need to stay healthy.”

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

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