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Scarborough field hockey stunned in semis

Sports

Scarborough field hockey stunned in semis

The repeat quest of the Scarborough field hockey team came to a shocking end Saturday afternoon.

Hosting a Cheverus squad they'd manhandled, 6-1, just two weeks prior, the Red Storm were upset, 2-1, in the Western A semifinals as their season came to a close at 14-2.

“Cheverus came to play today,” said Scarborough coach Kerry Mariello. “We can’t hang our heads. We played hard. I asked the girls when I went over to the huddle, ‘Did everybody play their hardest today?’ And they answered yes, and that’s all that matters.”

The Red Storm were once again dominant in 2010, winning 13 times against one loss, at South Portland, and earned the top seed in Western A. In the quarterfinals, Scarborough got a closer-than-anticipated battle from No. 8 Massabesic, but held on for a 3-1 victory.

Saturday would be a different story, however, as Cheverus not only avenged its regular season loss at the Red Storm, but also a 3-2 setback from last year's exciting regional final.

With Scarborough controlling possession in the early going, Cheverus called timeout with 14 minutes remaining in the first half. Immediately after the timeout, the Stags got on the board. Sophomore Gabi Cardona pushed the ball ahead to senior Emily Sawchuck, who one-timed a hard shot from the left side that eluded Scarborough sophomore goalie Shannon Hicks and rattled the cage to give the Stags a 1-0 advantage with 13:50 left in the half.

Sawchuck nearly gave the visitors a two-goal cushion with 4:45 left in the half, but had her breakaway bid stonewalled as Hicks went into a split to make the pad save.

The Red Storm opened the second half with a strong push for the equalizer, and got it four minutes in. Sophomore Karli-An Gilbert converted a pass from sophomore Grace Whelan to make it 1-1 following a flurry of goalmouth activity.

With just under 15 minutes to go, Scarborough senior Kristen Felt unleashed a blast off a penalty corner, but Cheverus sophomore netminder Cindy Clark was there for the save. Eight minutes later, the Red Storm again threatened as senior Sarah Bunting had good position on the left side, but couldn’t redirect a crossing pass on goal and the ball went wide.

Then, with 3:33 to play, sophomore Brooke Flaherty knocked in Cheverus’ biggest goal of the season and possibly in program history. Senior Taylor Witham sent the ball into the circle from the left side, with it eventually bouncing to Flaherty, who was positioned in front of the goalie.

Scarborough nearly tied the score again with 1:30 to play, as Felt sent a shot toward the goal following a penalty corner. Clark — who was tested often in the second half — dove to poke a rebound wide just before Bunting was able to get her stick on it with a backhand effort. The Stags were able to close it out from there and ended the Red Storm's season at 14-2 with the 2-1 shocker.

Mariello said the Stags played much better than they did when the teams met in the regular season, but she was expecting them to.

“It’s the playoffs,” Mariello said. “Nobody’s the same. It doesn’t matter who it is. It doesn’t matter what the regular season results were. It’s about who shows up, and who does the right things at the right times. And they did.”

Mariello said she’s very pleased with how her young team handled the pressure this season, and with only three senior starters and 17 underclassmen on the roster, expects to be back in the hunt in 2011.

“For them to not have a whole lot of varsity experience and to come and have to play with the composure you’re supposed to play with at that level, they did a fantastic job,” Mariello said. “We just have that much more experience rolling into next year. We’ll see what happens then. We’ll be right back in it. I’ve got a lot coming back.”

Freelancer Tom Minervino contribued to this story.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net