PORTLAND — Revenge came early for the Waynflete boys soccer team.

The Flyers scored the only goal of the game just five minutes after the opening kick and held on the rest of the way, downing defending state champion Maranacook 1-0 in the Class C South final at Deering High School on Wednesday afternoon. Junior Askar Houssein addressed the only ball to make the back of the net all afternoon as top-seeded Waynflete remained unbeaten in advancing to Saturday’s state final against Fort Kent.

It is the third regional title for Waynflete, the school’s first since 2015.

The loss snapped a run of three straight appearances in the Class C state championship for Maranacook, which also won the state title in 2013 and 2014 before a two-year tour in Class B.

“It feels pretty good,” Flyer junior goalkeeper Luca Antolini said. “I think some of the older boys on this team have gone through it before, but every one of our starters except one is not a senior. None of those boys have been through that before. To be able to have this opportunity and play for our school is going to be great.”

The win avenged the Flyers’ 2-1 loss to Maranacook in the regional semifinals one year ago.

“It’s nice to play from ahead,” Waynflete coach Brandon Salway said. “I think you’re a little bit more relaxed. You could tell they were pressing in the second half to get the equalizer, but we did a good job defending.”

“We had one really bad breakdown, and they took advantage of it. That’s what good teams do,” Maranacook coach Don Beckwith said. “We didn’t get that breakdown at the other end. We had a couple of opportunities we could have done more with, but that’s the way we’ve been all year. We’ve been escaping it. You can’t escape it.”

Portland Press Herald photo by Gregory Rec Aric Belanger of Maranacook beats Pat Shaw of Waynflete to the ball and sends it downfield during the Class C South regional final Wednesday in Portland. Portland Press Herald photo by Gregory Rec

Maranacook (14-3-0) was caught early on, crumbling as a collective in the right side of the 18-yard box against a Waynflete counter-attack which would present danger all afternoon long. Junior Diraige Dahia found space there and drew Black Bear goalkeeper Ryan Worster off his line to try and make a play on a 50-50 ball, touching it on goal. Maranacook center back Garrett Whitten tried to recover in time to clear the ball off the line behind Worster, but Houssein beat him to it for an easy finish from one foot away for the 1-0 lead.

“That was a big goal,” Houssein said. “Brandon has been preaching all year to get that first goal, that’s the one that matters the most. We got it.”

The Flyers (14-0-3) looked remarkably comfortable playing from ahead, settling in deep to protect their own goal against the Black Bears’ speed on the flanks. Maranacook tried and tried again to break down the Waynflete back four, but they had no answer for the size and skill they encountered there.

Even when a second or third ball opportunity arose, the Flyers’ midfield retreated far enough to skip those out of harm’s way.

“Our defense has been great at limiting teams to not many shots,” said Antolini, who made five saves to earn his third consecutive clean sheet in this tournament. “When they do get the shots, just make sure that I’ve got a chance at them from either far out or bad angles.”

“I think it was a big difference when we played them there last year,” Salway said. “They were a bit better than we were in the air. But we’re pretty good in the air this year. They had a lot of serves in the box, but our backs were solid today.”

Maranacook’s best chances to equalize — aside from a left-footed blast from Aric Belanger in the 25th minute missing wide to the short side — came in the second half. Bryce Trefethen had a good look at frame in the 44th minute, but Aidan Kieffer headed it clear before it reached Antolini.

Maranacook finished with just 10 shots across the 80 minutes, half of those making it to goal.

“I really thought we’d get it in the mix,” Beckwith said. “We kind of poked and prodded and they kind of screwed up a couple of times (defending). Just one more big screw-up was all we needed, but they didn’t. Kudos to them, they’re a good team. They’re solid all the way around. You can probe them all you want, but they play really good defense and they’ve got a good enough offense to take pressure off the defense.

“We knew they were good.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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