SCARBOROUGH — Saturday’s Class A state championship soccer games were a case of good news, bad news for Brunswick High School.
In the boys’ contest, played first, the Dragons gave defending champion Scarborough a scare, but couldn’t overcome a two-goal deficit in going down to a 2-1 defeat.
The girls then took the field and finished the job, shaking off an early Thornton Academy goal by scoring three unanswered enroute to their first championship since 2004, 3-1.
No lead, no problem
The Brunswick girls roared through the regular season, going 14-0, winning 12 times by two goals or more. After edging Bangor 2-1 in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championship game, the top-ranked Dragons consistently had to rally in the playoffs, but erased deficits in the quarterfinals (10-1 over No. 8 Edward Little), the semifinals (2-1, in double overtime, over No. 5 Messalonskee) and the regional final (3-2, in overtime, over second-ranked, defending state champion Waterville), to set up a date with first-time finalist Thornton Academy in the state match.
The Golden Trojans went up 1-0 in the fourth minute, but that only stirred the Dragons from their slumber. In the 12th minute, Brunswick drew even when senior Hilary Champagne set up senior Bekka Miller for a goal. Junior Allison Walton put the Dragons ahead for good with a goal in the 26th minute (junior Morgan Libby had the assist). Then, in the 71st minute, Walton clinched it with her second tally of the game, giving Brunswick a perfect season and the state title with a 3-1 decision.
“The girls played very well in the second half and were convincing winners,” said Dragons coach Martyn Davison. “We were a little off the pace in the first 20 minutes or so and Thornton Academy played well in that time, but once we were accustomed to the artificial turf and particularly after scoring our first goal, we settled down and played some excellent passing soccer. I thought the second half performance by us was outstanding. The third goal sealed the game and it was a comfortable victory in the end. I thought the entire team played well and in particular I thought Allison Walton and (senior) Christina Damon were outstanding. The team deserved the success as they are great kids and great soccer players.”
Brunswick graduates seven seniors, but as always, will be a serious contender in 2010.
Too little, too late
Brunswick’s boys, meanwhile, were once again a force this autumn. The Dragons, who last reached the state game in 2007 (and lost 1-0 to Greely), went 12-1-1 in the regular year (falling only to Lewiston, 1-0, in the third game, and tying Erskine, 1-1) and wound up second to Bangor in the region. After blanking No. 7 Waterville 3-0 in the quarterfinals and No. 3 Hampden Academy 1-0 in the semis, Brunswick shocked the top-ranked Rams, 2-1, in double-overtime in the regional final, to set up a first-ever state game matchup with Scarborough. The teams did previously meet in the 1975 Western A semifinals (a 5-0 Scarborough win) and the 1976 semis (a 3-2 Scarborough victory).
Saturday at Scarborough (the site was pre-selected by the Maine Principals’ Association), the Red Storm had enough to slay the Dragons yet again.
In the 14th minute, Brunswick appeared to take the lead when senior standout Justin Rosner beat Scarborough senior goalkeeper Tennessee Peters, but the score was erased due to an offsides ruling. Peters came up big two minutes later, denying junior Garrett Brann on a free kick.
The Red Storm got the jump in the 21st minute when senior Nate Tolman played a long pass ahead to talented senior Trevor Hoxsie, who eluded a defender, but was taken down, leading to a yellow card and a free kick. Hoxsie, from 20 yards out, then calmly buried his opportunity, beating Dragons senior goalkeeper Peter Morrell with a low blast to the goalie’s left.
Brunswick tried to answer, but on a corner kick, senior Zach McMillan’s serve scooted through the box untouched and a minute-and-a-half later, junior Matt Kasabian’s rush was broken up by Red Storm senior Andrew Nigro.
Scarborough wasn’t content to sit on its lead in the second half and set out to double it and did so with 28:07 remaining when senior Chase Beech (from junior Brett Leighton) scored.
Brunswick responded by moving Morrell out of the goal, in favor of McMillan and it paid off with 21:30 to play when an innocent looking sequence led to a score. With the Red Storm pressuring, a Dragon defender pounded the ball forward and Morrell raced past a defender and headed it past a surprised Peters who was caught in no-man’s land. The ball found the net and suddenly things had tightened up, 2-1.
“When we get the ball up to Peter, he’s tough,” said longtime Brunswick coach Peter Gardner. “He’s a great goalkeeper as well.”
The invigorated Dragons looked to tie it up, but only had a couple more good opportunities. One came in the 64th minute, when on a corner kick (Brunswick had a 4-0 advantage in the game), Morrell’s rush was broken up. With 12:22 to play, another corner set up senior Jesse Benedict in front, but his blast was high.
Less than a minute later, at the other end, Hoxsie looked to ice it, but his low blast was saved by a diving McMillan. With 4:03 left, Hoxsie broke in one-on-one on the goalie, but was robbed. Freshman Austin Downing got the rebound, but his shot was also saved.
The Dragons weren’t able to counter-attack as the Scarborough defense stiffened. The Red Storm then ran out the clock and celebrated their 2-1 victory and another Class A championship.
Brunswick finished 15-2-1, one goal shy of the Gold Ball.
“I’m very proud of them,” said Gardner. “The kids worked hard and deserve all the credit. We made it close. There’s no question Scarborough’s a good side. I thought the kids didn’t give up. Basically, we’ve played the same way all year. What we might lack in abilities here and there, we don’t lack in heart and desire.”
The Dragons will graduate 11 seniors, but will look to finish the job in 2010.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com
Brunswick senior Peter Morrell heads a shot past Scarborough’s Tennessee Peters for the Dragons’ lone goal of Saturday’s Class A boys’ soccer final. Brunswick lost, 2-1.
Brunswick’s girls won the Class A crown Saturday, thanks in large part to this first half goal from senior Bekka Miller.