AUBURN — Tucker Geoffroy didn’t have much time to think.
In that frantic moment, with an open net, a scrambling defense and the game on the line, the Waynflete senior had a simple thought — don’t miss.
“I saw the ball drop, and there was the whole side of the net open,” said Geoffroy.
Geoffroy didn’t miss. His goal with 1:49 left in regulation broke a hard-fought stalemate and lifted the Flyers to a stunning 1-0 win over the defending Class C state champs from St. Dom’s. The Western C semifinal win advances Waynflete to next week’s home regional final for the second time in three years.
“Both teams were ready to play,” said St. Dom’s coach Matt Erickson. “Obviously, it could have gone either way. We hit the crossbar once if not twice. It’s obviously disappointing, but honestly, I think we played great. In fact, I think this was one of our best games this year.”
Both teams had ample chances and each club hit the crossbar twice. It just so happened that one of the Flyer’s near-misses hit the bar and bounced back into play. That created the scramble that led to Geoffroy’s game-winner.
Omar Abdille had hit the crossbar. The ball bounced back and forth between St. Dom’s defenders and Waynflete forwards. Then Geoffroy found the ball at his feet with an open net at the right side.
“It was a melee,” he said. “Omar took a shot. It went off the bar. It went off one of our player’s heads and off the goalie. I was just there to pick up the pieces.”
The third-ranked Flyers (12-1-2) had some great opportunities in the second half but couldn’t finish. St. Dom’s goalie Cam Hainey was superb, making 10 stops. Waynflete coach Brandon Salway said the key for his club was that they were getting good shots and putting themselves in the right spot for the chances.
“The ball didn’t find Tucker a couple of times earlier even though he was unmarked,” said Salway, a Bethel native. “I thought if it squirts to him, he’s going to bury it. He scored a similar goal at Gray to win it with under two minutes.”
The Flyers eliminated the Saints two years ago in the semifinals en route to the state title but was stunned by Georges Valley in the first round at home last year. With a tough schedule against quality Western Maine Conference teams, the Flyers were tested and prepared for such a challenge Saturday.
“We’ve been in tough games all year,” said Salway. “This was like 75 percent of our games, back-and-forth. You’ve got to be on your toes every second because it could come down to that one play.”
The second-seeded Saints (13-2-1) started strong and had a near-miss early when Jack Erickson had a blast from the right side hit the crossbar.
“That one in the first half that Jack let go that hit the crossbar, another four inches lower and we have a goal in the first half and it’s a different game,” said Erickson.
The Flyers had a nice shot from Abdille and Geoffroy that Hainey saved in the opening half.
In the second half, the Saints came out even stronger and put pressure on the Flyers. Waynflete did a nice job pushing the Saints to the outside and limiting open chances in front or loose balls in harm’s way. Keeper Zander Majercik only had to make two saves, even though St. Dom’s had a 8-3 advantage in corners.
“Our defense played phenomenal for what’s been like the fifth game in a row now,” said Geoffroy. “Hats off to Tommy Ryan, our sweeper. He really held the defense together.”
After weathering the Saints early pressure to start the second half, Waynflete was able to counter and produce some of its best chances. Kevin Kanakan had a bid go wide while Geoffroy hit the crossbar. Peabo Knoth got by two defenders for an open shot but Hainey made a fine save.
The Saints had quality shots of their own. Alex Parker had a redirection that hit the crossbar. St. Dom’s also had an indirect kick inside the box with just over five minutes left. Waynflete was called for a dangerous play and was shorthanded for that moment because a player was without a mouthpiece, but Parker’s shot sailed over the net.
“Both teams left it on the field, and that’s the way it should be,” said Erickson.