Scarborough wins Class A girls' lax crown as Morin, Ross complete perfect senior years
PORTLAND - Perhaps the most sensational and unfathomable run of perfection in Maine high school sports history came to a fitting end Saturday afternoon at Fitzpatrick Stadium.
As expected, the Scarborough girls' lacrosse team won the Class A state championship for the first time since 2006, in the process giving two senior leaders their 55th victory without a loss this school year.
Ellie Morin and Brittany Ross played integral roles in first-ever field hockey and girls' basketball championship runs earlier this year, then won one more for the road as the Red Storm gradually broke open a close game and went on to defeat first-time finalist Mt. Ararat, 11-7, behind Morin's two goals and an assist, a goal from Ross and two goals and four assists from senior Lindsay Hagerman.
Morin's first goal, with 13:15 to go in the first half, put Scarborough ahead to stay, 4-3. The Red Storm pushed their advantage to 8-4 at halftime and never led by fewer than three goals in the second half as they finished 15-0.
"I really can't believe it," said Morin. "I look back and wonder if me and Brittany really did it and we did. I played in all the games, so I feel like I was part of all of it. I'm speechless. Anyone would want to go out senior year with three championships."
Scarborough felt good about its chances entering the 2010 campaign. For three years running, the Red Storm suffered agonizing playoff losses (9-8 to Massabesic in the 2007 regional final, 10-9, in OT, to Kennebunk in the 2008 regional final and 13-9 to Kennebunk a year ago in the quarterfinals, when the teams met two rounds sooner than they should have due to Heal Points vagaries).
If that frustration turned into hunger wasn't enough of an impetus, Scarborough also featured two of the ultimate good luck charms in Morin and Ross.
Ross had the tying goal and Morin the overtime winner in the Red Storm's first-ever field hockey championship back on Halloween Day. In late-February, the duo helped lead the girls' basketball squad to a perfect season, culminated by a first title.
With many, many other talents on the roster, it was no surprise that Scarborough blew through its regular season schedule. The Red Storm dominated their first three foes, visiting Sanford (18-6), host Portland (17-3) and visiting Deering (16-3), before making a huge statement with a first-ever win over perennial power Yarmouth (13-9), on the Clippers' turf no less. After dispatching visiting Massabesic (14-7) and host Cheverus (23-11), Scarborough hosted a Mt. Ararat squad that was struggling mightily at the time and held on for a 14-9 home victory. After having their way with visiting Westbrook (15-1) and host Thornton Academy (13-5), the Red Storm fought off visiting Gorham's upset bid, 17-15, and romped, 17-5, at Marshwood, to set up a regular season-ending showdown at Kennebunk. There, Scarborough got a measure of revenge with a 12-9 victory, completing its 12-0 campaign and earning the top seed for the Western A playoffs.
There, the Red Storm avenged the heartache of the past two years by erupting for eight unanswered goals in an 11-3 home win over Kennebunk in the semifinals. Scarborough was on the ropes in the regional final Wednesday, trailing visiting No. 3 seed Gorham by three in the second half and by a goal in the waning moments, but the Red Storm, as always, found a way to win, tying the score on sophomore Mary Scott's tally, then winning, 15-14, in overtime.
Mt. Ararat, meanwhile, won four of its first five this spring, beating Lewiston (17-2), Messalonskee (13-5), Edward Little (14-1) and Westbrook (16-2), while losing only at Cony, 10-8. Th Eagles then hit a rough patch, falling, 12-5, at home to nemesis Brunswick, 14-9 at Scarborough and 13-8 at Messalonskee, to drop to 4-4 on the season. They turned things around at the right time, edging visiting Cony, 9-8, upsetting host Brunswick, 10-9, then having their their way with Oxford Hills (16-7) and Morse (15-7) to wind up 8-4, good for the No. 2 seed in Eastern A.
After eliminating No. 3 Cheverus, 12-9, in the semifinals, Mt. Ararat advanced to its first state game Wednesday with another surprising win at Brunswick, 10-9.
Saturday was the first ever playoff meeting between the Eagles and Red Storm, who were seeking to join the 2006 squad (13-12, triple overtime winners over Brunswick) as title winners.
It took a couple minutes for Scarborough to get its offense going, but the Red Storm never trailed.
After Red Storm senior goalie Marina Sterrer turned away early shots by Mt. Ararat senior standout Whitney Dano and sophomores Carrie Smith and Haley Michaud, Scarborough transitioned to offense and went ahead.
Moments after a Hagerman bid was saved by Eagles senior goalie Evelyn Dickinson, Morin fed Hagerman for a goal with 21:12 to go in the 25-minute first half for a 1-0 advantage.
Mt. Ararat drew even 39 seconds later when sophomore Rowley Jones scored unassisted, but Ross answered with an unassisted goal and with 16:49 to go before halftime, sophomore Maggie Smith scored unassisted to make it 3-1 Red Storm.
The Eagles didn't wilt, however, and bounced right back when Michaud scored off the draw win. Then, with 14:30 left in the half, senior Hayley LaPointe made it a 3-3 contest with an unassisted tally.
Twenty-five seconds later, Dano had a look to give her team the lead, but Sterrer turned it aside.
Morin's unassisted goal with 13:15 to play in the first gave Scarborough a lead it wouldn't relinquish. Just over a minute later, Hagerman threw a pretty pass that sophomore Laura Przybylowicz made a dazzling catch of before she shot the ball past Dickinson to make it 5-3.
After Dano scored on a rebound of her own shot with 9:04 left in the half to pull the Eagles to within one, Hagerman set up Howard for a goal 44 seconds later to restore the two-goal advantage.
Dickinson kept the score 6-4 for awhile, making nice saves on shots by Ross and Morin, but with 5:27 to go, Przybylowicz scored on a rebound. After Dano was denied on a free position by Sterrer at one end, junior Meghan Quirk scored unassisted for the Red Storm with 2:37 to play and Scarborough took an 8-4 lead into the break.
"Our other captain, Meghan Quirk, is awesome," Hagerman said. "She has the sickest shot on the team."
While the Red Storm showed they could win a track meet in the first half, they demonstrated that they could play ball control and defense in the second.
Neither team scored for 11 minutes before Dano ended a 20 minute, 4 second drought for her team with a goal to make it 8-5, but Mt. Ararat would get no closer.
After Sterrer stopped a LaPointe free position, Morin (from Hagerman, in transition), Hagerman (free position) and Howard (from Hagerman) scored in a 1 minute, 42 second span to provide some breathing room and an 11-5 lead.
The Eagles had one final push and drew to within four on goals from Dano (assisted by sophomore Hannah Hauser) and Michaud (unassisted), but Scarborough was able to run out the clock and put the exclamation point on its season with the 11-7 triumph.
"It's the best feeling ever," said Hagerman, who will play lacrosse at Assumption College in Massachusetts next year. "It's so cool. We knew (this game) would be closer because (Mt. Ararat) beat Brunswick twice, who I thought would be our toughest game of the year. We just played Scarborough lacrosse for one last game. Every year we lost in the playoffs, (people) would look at me and say, 'Linds, you have next year.' This year, we had no next year. This was it and we did it."
"I think our senior class, when it comes to sports, we come together and play as a team," added Morin, who will play lacrosse at Southern New Hampshire University next year. "Especially the girls, we've all played together in a lot of sports since fifth grade. We wanted to win every championship. We did it, so it's exciting. (Last year's playoff loss is) what fueled us and helped us pull through in this game. I came in with a lot of confidence. I was more nervous about the Gorham game. We were fired up coming in, knowing we could do it."
"It's amazing," added Scarborough coach Marcia Wood. "We did it. We were nervous about the pressure of being undefeated, but we dug deep and found a way. This is a very tight group. I've had talented teams in the past, but this team's talent goes from the goalie to the attackers to two or three deep on the bench. They trust each other. I've had to take Lindsay off the field crying the past three years. I'm so glad she pulled it out. She wasn't about to lose her last game."
Four different Red Storm players had two goals. Hagerman (four assists), Morin (one helper), Howard and Przybylowicz did the honors. Quirk, Ross and Smith had one goal apiece.
"Everyone played a part in the win," said Morin. "Everyone equally wanted it."
"It's definitely not just me and Ellie," Hagerman said. "The sophomores are incredible."
"In years past, Ellie and Lindsay might have felt they needed to do it on their own, while this year, you can see it was everyone," Wood added. "No one had more than two goals today. We had seven different scorers. We're at our best when everyone is on."
Sterrer stopped 12 shots.
"We wanted Marina to make some big saves," Wood said. "When she gets her momentum going, it gets her pumped up. I'm really proud of her. She's come a long way."
Scarborough won 38 ground balls, with Morin (seven) and Hagerman (six) leading the way. The Red Storm were victorious on 13 of 20 draws, including 11 of the final 13.
A run to remember
Dano paced the Mt. Ararat (10-5) offense with three goals. Michaud finished with two, while Jones and LaPointe had one apiece. Hauser had the lone assist. Dickinson made seven saves. The Eagles finished with 44 ground balls (Dano and LaPointe had a game-high nine each). Mt. Ararat had a 29-24 advantage in shots on goal (19-18 in shots on frame) and forced 22 turnovers, while committing just 16.
"We've really grown together," said Eagles coach Jill Carney. "I'm really proud of how we played today. The plan was to try to pressure the ball wherever it was. We knew Scarborough has a really balance attack and likes to pass into the middle. We tried to crash and keep the shots from happening. We knocked down some passes, blocked some shots and played solid defense.
"We're a team that has a lot of veterans who provide a lot of leadership. Kristina Johnson, Hayley Johnson, Whitney Dano and Evelyn Dickinson, my goalie. We had our backs to the wall (earlier in the season). We were in ninth place and we knew we were better than that. We were happy to be here today."
While Carney is departing to attend graduate school, the Eagles should be right back in the mix in 2011.
"I stayed around to coach the seniors," Carney said. "We started together and we wanted to finish together. I hope they get a great coach. This is a program I've really built the past three years. We've gone further every single year in the playoffs. There's definitely potential there."
No end in sight
Perception might suggest that Scarborough will come back to the pack next spring after graduating Hagerman, Morin, Ross and Sterrer, along with standout defenders Molly Carbin, Akashia Gergler and Jackie Morin, but with a solid core of underclassmen on the team and more talent coming up the pipeline, it's likely the Red Storm will be a state title contender for many years to come.
"What's so exciting is that when you get to these big games you get nervous that just the seniors will really want it, but all the underclassmen really wanted it too," Wood said. "That was a big part of it. They got a taste of how it feels and I hope they can do it next year."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com