PRESQUE ISLE — Junior striker Oneko Lowe has been the centerpiece of the Washington Academy offense all year long, but the defense of Waynflete School of Portland did not give him much room to maneuver throughout Saturday afternoon’s Class C soccer state championship contest at the Dr. Gehrig T. Johnson Athletic Complex.

Great scorers always seem to find a way, though, and Lowe finally had his opportunity to break through early in the first overtime period. Just 2:07 in, running down the right side, he collected a low pass from junior Simon Surin. Lowe one-timed the ball from 10 yards out past the dive of Waynflete goalkeeper Milo Belleau and inside the left post, giving the Raiders a 1-0 victory.

“They were very clever in positioning themselves and stopping our deep balls,” Lowe said, “but our training focuses on through balls and we work on them and work on them, and finally got our goal.”

“That combination (Surin to Lowe) has worked for us all year long,” Washington Academy coach Chris Gardner said. “We looked for them again and they performed on the biggest stage.”

Flyers coach Brandon Salway said the job sophomore midfielder Ilyas Abdi did marking Lowe in the second half was admirable, but keeping a player of his caliber off the scoreboard for an entire match is virtually impossible.

“(Lowe) is really dangerous and it was a case of a special player making a special play,” Salway said. “When you play someone that crafty, eventually he’s going to get behind you and it’s just a matter of a finish and he made a nice one there.”

The East Machias-based school capped an 18-0 season and earned the Class C state title for the first time since 2008. In the process, WA outscored its opponents this season 105-4. On Saturday, the Raiders received their toughest test of the fall.

During the 80 minutes of regulation, the defensive corps for both squads stood out. WA held a 19-7 advantage in shots on goal, including an 11-2 edge with the wind at their backs in the second half. However, Waynflete defenders Jack Meahl, Cooper Chap, Willy Burdick and John Moran, with the help of Abdi, were brilliant in controlling Lowe and the other talented Raider attackers, Bion Parsons, Takyh Dnye-Jha Sharrieff-Hayward, Dilon Townsend and Jordi Valls Rottmann.

Lowe attempted 11 of WA’s shots, but either he was just off the mark, like on his best chance in the first half when his blast from 12 yards away skimmed off the side of the left post, or Belleau was able to make one his many tremendous saves for the Flyers.

“He covered the net better than anyone we’ve seen,” Gardner said. “He’s the only ’keeper who has shut us out in regulation and there is something to be said for that.”

Belleau finished with eight saves in goal for Waynflete, while Cameron Varney had to make just three as his Raider team earned its fourth shutout of the postseason and 14th overall. WA has allowed just one goal in its last 11 matches, dating back to Sept. 30.

Waynflete, which went 11-0-1 after starting off with a 3-2 mark, came in as the No. 2 seed in the South region but like WA had not allowed a goal during the playoffs prior to the state game.

“It was a great year for a great group and I’m so proud of my guys,” Salway said. “I think when they look back, they will realize how special it was.”


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