Little goal leads to huge win for Scarborough girls' soccer
GORHAM—Most girls' soccer teams would be happy to leave Gorham with a tie.
This year’s edition of the Scarborough Red Storm is not one of those teams.
With a mere 9.7 seconds to go in the second overtime of a scoreless deadlock, Scarborough senior midfielder Sarah Little unleashed a last-ditch blast from 30 yards out on the left side, some 10 yards outside the penalty box, that sailed over the reach of leaping Gorham goalkeeper Sarah Perkins and nestled into the top of the net to lift the Red Storm to a 1-0 win over the Rams in an early-season battle between two Western A favorites Monday night.
Little gained possession outside the top of the box in front of two Gorham defenders and dribbled in a few strides before firing in the game’s lone score.
“I knew that I had to take a run because there were only a few seconds left, so I saw an opening to take a shot and just ripped it,” she said.
Jubilation set in among the Scarborough players, except for Little, who stood motionless and speechless as her teammates mobbed her.
“I was shocked that it went in,” Little said. “I just took a chance and took the shot.”
The Red Storm improved to 4-0 with the victory, by far their toughest game yet on the young season. Scarborough, a 7-0 winner over Marshwood on Friday, has now outscored its opponents 20-0 after blanking Massabesic (4-0) and Portland (8-0) in its first two games.
“It was a classic Scarborough-Gorham matchup,” said Scarborough coach Mike Farley. “It was tooth-and-nail the whole game. Neither team backed down. There was chance after chance, both ways. It was just a really good early-season game. For this early in the season, it was impressive how both teams played at such a high level. It was a fun game to watch.”
The Rams (2-2) had their run of four straight Western Maine crowns stopped last season by Thornton Academy in the regional title game, but figure to be right back in the mix this time around. Gorham has been nearly unbeatable at home in recent years, which may help explain Scarborough’s hesitant start to the contest.
“I think we were a little nervous and didn’t really settle the ball down,” Little said. “Once we knew what we had to lose, we took our time and played smart.”
The first half provided few good scoring opportunities for either team as both defenses were strong and play was concentrated in the midfield. Scarborough came out on the offensive in the second half, however.
Red Storm forward Haley Carignan had a scoring bid on a hard run in the opening minutes, but Perkins was there to make the stop. Several minutes later, Scarborough midfielder Meghan Tyson made a nice run down the right side, only to have her low shot tipped wide by the dive of Perkins.
“We were kind of helter-skelter, especially at the beginning of the game,” Farley said. “We settled a little bit towards the end of the first half, but we really never got our rhythm down. We’re a possession team. We like to knock the ball around. When we started doing that in the second half, using our outside midfielders, that’s when we started to get chances where we got down the field and looked for people to serve in the box. It got better as the game went along.”
Gorham’s Kylie Perrin had her shot from in close turned away on a diving save by Scarborough netminder Jill Deering with 20 minutes to play in the second half. Perhaps the closest call for the Red Storm came 11 minutes later when Deering was out of position as a bouncing ball was headed for the net before it cleared away by Scarborough back Heidi Bogdanovich just before the goal line.
Deering came up big again with 3:40 left in regulation when she slid to grab a ball just off the foot of Kiersten Turner. The two collided but Deering maintained possession.
Scarborough controlled possession in both overtimes. The Red Storm’s best opportunity in the first five-minute extra session came when Tyson slid to lift a shot past a charging Perkins. The soft shot arched just over the crossbar.
The Red Storm kept the pressure on throughout the second overtime, but it took Little’s improbable score from deep to finally break the tie.
“It was definitely nice to get the win,” Little said. “I knew that our team deserved it. We picked it up.”
After some recent playoff heartbreaks, Scarborough is poised to put it all together this season. With a talented and balanced veteran squad, the Red Storm feel this could be a special season.
“It’s great because we’ve been playing together for a long time, since we were young,” Little said. “We know this is our year to try to go all the way.”
Farley likes what he sees out of his team thus far.
“I think these kids are hungry,” the coach said. “We’ve had a lot of trouble the last couple of years going into playoff time. This team, in every game so far, we’ve put 80 minutes together, which has been a problem for us for a long time. This team is really impressive with the way they are approaching games and they’re really coming out and putting pressure on the other team for the full 80 minutes. It’s been fun to watch.”
Scarborough returns to action next Tuesday when it hosts Westbrook at 7 p.m.