HAMPDEN — The Waynflete boys soccer team had been peppering Houlton’s net throughout the first two overtimes Saturday, only to be denied by Shiretowners’ sophomore Cole Buzzeo.
But the Flyers’ William Cleaves made the most of his chance early in the second overtime, knocking in a rebound off a direct kick to give the Portland school a 2-1 victory in the Class C state final at Hampden Academy.
“It feels good,” said Cleaves, a senior striker. “I was here my freshman year, I didn’t see the field. We’ve been so close, and for me as a senior to come back here and win this is just amazing.”
Coach Brandon Salway’s club finishes the season 14-1-3 while Houlton, making its first state championship appearance, wraps up 14-3-1.
The Flyers’ last state championship appearance came in 2008, a 2-1 loss to Washington Academy of East Machias.
Cleaves’ goal was set up by a high direct kick by Daniel Wiener after Cleaves was fouled. Weiner’s kick got behind the Houlton defenders and the unmarked Cleaves put it home.
“We definitely had chances, a lot of chances,” Cleaves said. “We were just fortunate. It was a great ball.”
Buzzeo was outstanding in goal for coach Mike Carlos’ Shires, making 14 saves on 19 shots, including several gems.
“I thought Cole made some outstanding saves,” said Carlos. “I mean come on, the game was on. He kept us [in it] all the way through the second period. He took us through the first overtime. It just came down to one play. It was a great game by both teams.”
Both teams scored early in the second half thanks to defensive miscues, with Waynflete scoring first.
Sam Martin sent a cross through the penalty area which deflected off a Houlton defender and over to an unmarked Kevin Kanakan, who one-touched the ball home 1:09 into the half.
The Shires responded a minute later, with Jimmy Fitzpatrick attempting a similar cross, which hit off a Waynflete defender and into the net.
There would be no more scoring in regulation, although the Flyers asserted themselves late in regulation and into sudden death, but Buzzeo was outstanding in denying Waynflete several chances.
“Their goalie was great,” Cleaves said. “He talked a lot, he was really the backbone of that defense. He got to a lot of balls.”
Buzzeo’s best stop came early in the first overtime, as he kicked away a Kanakan shot about three minutes in, while Buzzeo later rose up to deflect a Wiener shot over the crossbar.
Houlton’s backs defended the quick Waynflete strikers well in front of Buzzeo, and even though the Shires couldn’t get a shot on net in either overtime, their midfielders also defended well.
“WIthout a doubt we knew we could play with them,” said Carlos. “We just didn’t have our day today.”
Addison St. Onge-May shined at the sweeper spot for the Flyers, clearing away any Houlton breakaway opportunities.
Zander Majercik saved four of nine shots for the winners.