PORTLAND—Last Monday, Waynflete’s three-time reigning Class C state champion boys’ soccer team suffered a frustrating loss at Class B South contender Cape Elizabeth.

Tuesday afternoon at Fore River Fields, the Flyers hosted another Class B South power, Greely, and rose to the occasion, earning their biggest win to date this fall.

In the 16th minute, Waynflete senior standout Myles Culley first made his presence felt by blasting home a 20-yard shot for a 1-0 lead.

The Rangers threatened to answer early in the second half, but couldn’t do so and with 19:57 to play, in transition, the Flyers got some breathing room, as senior Bryan Stark-Chessa set up junior Andrew Rogers for a second goal.

Culley then brought the curtain down on the victory, as he scored an even more dazzling goal with 13:25 on the clock and Waynflete went on to an impressive 3-0 victory.

Culley scored his 21st and 22nd goals of the season as the Flyers improved to 7-1, while in the process, dropping Greely to 4-3-1.

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“Anytime you play a quality program like Greely that’s well-coached and organized and you come out 3-0 to the good, it’s a great day, so it’s a great win,” said longtime Waynflete coach Brandon Salway, after his 323rd career victory.

Sustained greatness

Waynflete has been in the midst of a golden age the past five years and its dominance has continued this fall, with one exception.

The Flyers began their title defense by downing visiting North Yarmouth Academy (6-0), then defeated visiting St. Dom’s (9-0), visiting Sacopee Valley (7-0) and host Richmond (5-0). After a hard-fought and somewhat controversial 2-1 setback at Class B South power Cape Elizabeth, Waynflete responded by doubling up visiting Traip Academy (4-2) and winning at NYA Saturday (4-1).

Greely struggled out of the gate, blanking visiting Poland in the opener (9-0), then falling at Cape Elizabeth (4-0), tying visiting Freeport (3-3) and losing at home to two-time Class B champion and recent nemesis Yarmouth (2-1). The Rangers then blanked host Lake Region (4-0), visiting Gray-New Gloucester (2-0) and host Sacopee Valley (7-0).

Last year, the teams played to a scoreless draw in Cumberland. In 2020, during the COVID-shortened year, Waynflete rallied for a dramatic 5-3 victory on the road.

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Tuesday, on another terrific early autumn afternoon (69 degrees at the start), Greely hoped to beat the Flyers for the first time since 2019, but Waynflete took advantage of its good looks, while the Rangers could not.

The Flyers threatened early, but Culley had a pair of shots saved by Greely freshman goalkeeper Landon Dominski.

Then, with 24:58 on the first half clock, Culley wouldn’t be denied by Dominski (or frankly any other keeper around), as he got the ball from senior Dudley Holdridge, found a sliver of space and fired a shot with his left foot from 20-yards out that accelerated as it went and sailed past Dominski’s outstretched hand into the net for a 1-0 lead.

“Coach called an iso and I came in and got the ball,” Culley said. “Instinct took over and I hit one and I’m grateful it went in.”

Culley, who played academy soccer as a freshman and sophomore, then was sidelined by injury in 2021, is thrilled to be suiting up for the Flyers this season.

“Absolutely, I’m making up for lost time,” Culley said. “I missed last year with injury and I’m playing this year with a fire inside of me and it feels really good.”

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Waynflete hoped to add to its lead, but sophomore Jeff Adey was denied by Dominski, senior Roan Hopkins set up Rogers for a good look which rolled just wide of the far post, Hopkins spun for a shot which Dominski dove to save, then Dominski went sprawling to deny Hopkins again.

The Rangers had a couple chances too, but a long shot from senior Nick Theodores was saved by Flyers’ junior goalkeeper Nico Kirby, who returned to action Tuesday after missing time with injury, dangerous senior striker Ethan Njitoh had a rush broken up in the box, senior Alex Gamache had a bid saved by Kirby and in the final minute, senior Tommy Bennert served the ball in front to Njitoh, but his one-timer went high, keeping the score 1-0 at the break.

In the first 40 minutes, the hosts out-shot Greely, 8-3, but seven Dominski saves kept things close.

The Rangers had the better of play in the first 20 minutes of the second half, but couldn’t produce the equalizer.

Their best chance came with 31:57 on the clock, as a throw from sophomore Owen Partridge deflected in front to junior Samuel Kim, but Kim missed wide.

Then, with 19:57 left, Waynflete transitioned and doubled its lead.

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The play was set up by Culley, who drew the defense, then passed down the left wing to Stark-Chessa, who raced in, then crossed the ball in front to Rogers, who only had to redirect the ball into the net past Dominski to make the score 2-0.

“We had a great buildup,” Rogers said. “I saw Bryan was making a run down the sideline and I just made a run front post and I tapped it in. It was a great team goal.”

“That was a huge goal,” said Salway. “Myles drew a crowd, laid it off to Bryan, Bryan made a great run down the line, crossed it like we do in practice and Andrew concentrated and put it right on net. That was big.”

After Kirby made a key save on a header from Bennert, Waynflete ended any lingering doubt with 13:25 left, as junior Jacob Woodman got the ball to Culley, Culley took a touch to his left, then ripped a shot from 30-yards out that bent, rose and soared just under the crossbar into the net for a 3-0 advantage.

“‘Woody’ has done really well in the midfield and he went by two or three players, cut it outside and I was open,” Culley said. “When I get the ball on my right side, my first instinct is to get the ball on my left foot and have a go and it worked out.”

“Myles brings so much to the team,” said Rogers. “It’s hard to explain the difference he makes, but he brings a lot of goals and confidence.”

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“Myles is really special, so dangerous,” Salway added. “He draws a crowd and if he gets a half a yard, he can score. He’s starting to lay it off more and more and the guys are moving for him because he has exceptional vision and he can drop it on a dime to them. He’s an elite player for sure and he’s made the whole team better. He’s fit in really well with our culture. Our school record is 28 goals by Ed Flowerdew in 1993. Amanda Waterhouse had 27 for the girls, so 29 would be a school record, but Myles wants wins, not personal accolades. He could easily have a personal top 10 going this year and each goal is more amazing than the other. We want to keep giving him chances.”

Even longtime Greely coach Mike Andreasen had to tip his cap to Culley’s transcendence.

“Ninety-eight percent of the time we were on him, but the other two percent, he’ll find the back of the net,” Andreasen said. “He’s very good. Myles is probably the most important kid to his team that we’ll see. He scores at big times. He’s really their centerpiece. He makes great plays.”

Down the stretch, Dominski robbed sophomore Lucas Plumb on the doorstep, then went sprawling to save a shot from senior Reed Robinson.

Waynflete then was able to celebrate its 3-0 triumph.

“There was a fire inside all of us, “said Culley. “After the Cape game, we were heartbroken. It was a very close game and we thought we could have come out with a win.”

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“That loss definitely stung, but we made for it today,” said Rogers. “There’s a lot of pride beating Class B teams. Maybe we don’t get the recognition we deserve as a Class C team. It felt great to show them we can really play with anyone.”

The Flyers out-shot the Rangers, 14-4, got four saves from Kirby and took four corner kicks to Greely’s one.

Waynflete’s defense produced its fifth shutout in eight games.

“Our back four was solid once again,” Salway said. “(Senior) Matt (Adey) kind of anchors them, but they all did a solid job. It was a great effort defensively, not just our back four, but our midfielders did a nice job as well marking and containing. It’s great to have Nico back and to get (senior) Cole (Isherwood, the backup keeper) back on the field is huge as well.”

Dominski made 11 saves for Greely, but the Rangers couldn’t generate any offense.

“Finishing has been an issue,” Andreasen said. “I thought near the end of the first half, we carried play, then we started the second half strong, but it’s about sustaining it and playing hard all the time. Waynflete is a tough matchup.”

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Second half push

Greely is at York Thursday, then hosts Fryeburg Academy Monday before beginning one final gauntlet against its top rivals in Class B South, Cape Elizabeth, Freeport and Yarmouth.

“We still have time to find ourselves, but we have no cupcakes on our schedule,” said Andreasen. “I’m not saying we’ll get it figured out, but we’ll keep working at it.”

Waynflete is also back in action Thursday, at home versus Freeport. The Flyers then visit St. Dom’s and York next week.

“We had a phenomenal team last year and debatably, we’re even better this year,” Rogers said. “This team for sure can be a championship team.”

“I feel like every game, we’re improving,” said Culley. “We’re moving the ball well and if we keep our focus, we can be a championship team this year.”

“Every game gets bigger at this time of year, so we’ll celebrate this for 24 hours, then we’ll get ready for another quality opponent Thursday,” Salway added.

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

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