The boys’ soccer season has come to an end in Forecaster Country, but not before plenty of drama ensued.
After top-ranked, two-time defending Class A champion Scarborough was stunned by No. 8 Kennebunk on penalty kicks in the Western A quarterfinals (more on the Red Storm in a moment), the whole complexion of the region changed, opening things up for Cape Elizabeth and South Portland.
The Red Riots couldn’t advance, however, falling, 2-1, at Gorham in the quarterfinals.
The Capers, ranked third, had no trouble against No. 6 Marshwood in their quarterfinal, rolling, 5-0, but Saturday night in the semifinals at No. 2 Portland, they couldn’t hold a late 1-0 lead and fell in overtime, 2-1.
In Western D, after prevailing in its quarterfinal, Greater Portland Christian School was ousted, 3-0, at top-ranked Greenville in the semifinals as its season ended at 7-7-1.
Cape Elizabeth, despite dropping two of its last three, wound up 9-3-2, good for the third seed in Western A, as it qualified for the playoffs for the 25th year in a row. After rolling over Marshwood, it went to Portland for the semifinals. The teams don’t play in the regular season. The Capers held a 4-2 all-time edge versus the Bulldogs, but Portland won the most recent playoff meeting, 3-0, in the 2003 quarterfinals.
Saturday night, amid chilly but dry conditions, Cape Elizabeth broke the ice with 14:24 to play in the 40-minute first half when senior Jack Queeney got his head on a long kick and directed the ball to senior Timmy Takach, who sent it past Bulldogs’ senior goalkeeper Taylor Mannix for a 1-0 lead.
“We had a great goal,” said Capers’ coach Ben Raymond, who led the school’s boys’ lacrosse team to a surprise state title on Fitzpatrick Stadium’s turf back in June. “Jack flicked it on and Timmy was there on the back post.”
With 20:20 to play, the hosts appeared to get the break they needed when a Capers defender touched the ball in the box, giving Portland a penalty kick. To no one’s surprise, senior standout Fazal Nabi was selected to have the opportunity to pull his team even, but despite a hard, low shot toward the left corner, it didn’t result in a goal as Cape Elizabeth senior goalkeeper Cam Brown guessed right and dove to tip the ball away at the last second.
“Cam was outstanding all game long, as he has been all season long,” added Raymond. “That was a great save.”
Deflated, the Bulldogs could have packed it in, but instead, kept working and were soon rewarded as Nabi got some room with 13:46 left, turned and fired a left-footed rocket through a screen past Brown.
“The tying goal was a great goal,” Raymond said. “Fazal had one scoring opportunity and he made the most of it. He’s an outstanding player. He got free one time, with his back to the goal, turned and hit a shot Cam couldn’t see through a crowd.”
The game would go to overtime and 11 minutes, 11 seconds in, Nabi, off a free kick, passed to junior Brett O’Kelly on the wing, who raced in and crossed to sophomore Tim Rovnak, who headed a shot off the inside of the far post and home for a 2-1 victory, ending Cape Elizabeth’s season at 10-4-2.
“I don’t necessarily think it was a breakdown on our part, but a good goal on their part,” Raymond said, of Rovnak’s winner. “They played a short ball. I don’t think we reacted that well to it. He was open and scored. It was great service and he was in the right place. A good goal.
“We had much better scoring opportunities in the overtime. We had more possession. They have more possession in the second half. We kind of panicked a little bit and were just holding on. That’s not how we play our best.”
An uncertainty entering the year, the Capers won 10 games and had great success against some of the best teams in the state.
“It’s been a good season,” said Raymond. “We had the highest seed we’ve had in quite awhile. We had a great record against our rivals. We beat Falmouth twice, Greely once, tied Yarmouth once. That’s a good season. We only had one or two games where we didn’t come out and play our best.”
Cape Elizabeth will have a hard time matching their success in 2011, but never write this program off.
“We take a big graduation hit,” Raymond said. “We lose 12 kids, Cam, Jack Queeney, Andy Lynch, Timmy Takach, Pat Kelly, Wes Richards, Alex Diaz, kids who play a lot of minutes. Eight starters. We have some work to do.”
A great run ends
South Portland posted its best mark since 1988, 10-3-1, and wound up fifth in the closely-bunched Western A region, necessitating a trip to No. 4 Gorham in the quarterfinals. The teams tied, 2-2, Oct. 12, in Gorham. The Red Riots won the previous playoff encounter, 2-1, in the ’88 quarterfinals.
After a 24-hour delay due to rain, the Rams got the jump Thursday and had enough to hold on. The hosts got a goal in the sixth minute and added a second in the 39th for a 2-0 lead. With 7:12 to go in regulation, the visitors got a break when a Gorham defender touched the ball with his hand in the box, giving South Portland a penalty kick. Junior Nem Kaurin did the honors and shot to his left into an open net while the Rams’ goalie went to his right and just like that, the Red Riots were right back in it, down 2-1. That’s as close as they would get, however, and their season ended at 10-4-1.
“We had a great year,” said Red Riots coach Bryan Hoy. “We played a tough club tonight. Gorham’s a heck of a team. They have good players left and right. They have speed and good skill. It was a tough draw in the first round. To win 10 games and to have to come to Gorham and play one of the better teams in the league, that’s tough.”
While South Portland was disheartened with the result, it’s hard to find anything but resounding positives about its season. While eight seniors will depart, the Red Riots are poised to be a force again in 2011.
“It’s my fourth year,” Hoy said. “The seniors were freshmen and played for me all the way through. They’re quality players and really good kids. Some of the seniors didn’t see as much time as they would have liked, but you wouldn’t know it. They played hard and kept a positive attitude. We’ll miss them, but fortunately, I return a chunk of core players. We’ll try to make a run next year too.”
Not to be
In Western D, GPCS went 6-6-1 in the regular season and earned the No. 4 seed for the playoffs. The Lions edged No. 5 Buckfield, 2-1, in overtime, in the quarterfinals, as Matt Hammond set up Sam Whiting for the first goal and Hammond scored himself in overtime. Friday, in the semifinals, at top-ranked Greenville, GPCS couldn’t score and lost, 3-0, despite 14 saves from Jacob Rudolph. The Lions finished 7-7-1 and say farewell to Anthony Simpson (60 career goals), Ben Hammond (42 goals and 48 assists), Rudolph and Sam Carlson.
Picking up the pieces
Back to Scarborough for a moment.
The Red Storm didn’t lose a game in 2008 or 2009 and got off a promising start this fall, highlighted by a decisive 3-1 win at Portland Sept. 7. Two more victories followed (making it 40 in a row overall and 72 straight without a loss in regular season play) before Gorham came to Scarborough Sept. 16 and won, 2-1. A shocking 1-0 loss at Deering also blemished the record, but at 12-2, the Red Storm earned the top seed for the Western A playoffs for a remarkable seventh consecutive season.
Kennebunk proved to be too much, however, playing Scarborough straight up and scoreless for 110 minutes before winning on penalty kicks, 5-4.
Despite the disappointment, Red Storm coach Mark Diaz had plenty of praise to bestow.
“I feel for the guys,” Diaz said. “I think they played pretty well. We never had the same lineup after the Portland game. Too many injuries. (Sophomore) Austin Downing was out almost all season. I had to ask sophomores to do senior things. That might not have been fair.
“I’m proud we didn’t go down without a fight. I was thrilled to be the No. 1 seed. Some of these guys have two state titles. That’s hard to do in this day and age. Our returning players will work hard. We’ll try to get back there. We’ll have something to say in the future.”
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org