Scarborough girls win epic state final
You can call them Destiny's Darlings or a team for the ages, but whatever you call the Scarborough girls' soccer team, make sure it includes the words state champions.
Scarborough won its second Class A championship in three seasons Saturday afternoon in Bangor, but the way the Red Storm captured another Gold Ball was inspirational and breathtaking.
Two years ago, the last time Scarborough won it all, it allowed a single goal in 18 games and that came on a penalty kick. The Red Storm capped that year's run with a 3-0 win over Bangor in the state final, winning Class A for the first time in the process.
After getting back to the state game, but losing to the Rams, 4-0, in 2011, this year's group, led by a talented and driven senior class, was bound and determined to settle for nothing short a title.
Scarborough would get to the mountaintop, but was it ever challenging.
The Red Storm won its first seven games, not surrendering a goal until the seventh win. After falling from the unbeaten ranks Sept. 27, 1-0, at Thornton Academy, Scarborough rallied for a 1-1 home tie with Windham two days later. Then, the Red Storm ran the table, finishing the regular year with five straight wins, by a composite 27-0 margin, to finish 12-1-1 and third in the Western Class A Heal Points standings.
After a 3-1 home win over No. 6 Sanford in the quarterfinals, Scarborough avenged its lone loss with a decisive 3-0 victory at No. 2 Thornton Academy in the semifinals and eked out a 1-0 home win over No. 4 Cape Elizabeth (please see story) in the regional final last Wednesday.
That set up Scarborough-Bangor, Act III.
After a pair of one-sided state games, this one was exhilarating as the two best Class A girls' teams in the state produced a nearly 97-minute passion play.
Neither team scored in the first half, but there was plenty of action.
"The first 10 minutes or so, we had chances, but (senior) Sarah (Martens, more on her in a moment) was getting beaten up in the box," Scarborough coach Mike Farley said. "I was afraid we wouldn't have her the whole game. It was 10-minute bursts of momentum."
Bangor struck first just 74 seconds into the second half when Libby Huber scored, but before Scarborough had time to dwell on its deficit and perhaps tighten up, the Red Storm drew even, thanks to a heads-up play from senior Jess Meader, who was in the right place at the right time to bang home a rebound of sophomore Sam Sparda's free kick in the 45th minute.
"There weren't many opportunities, but luckily Jess got one," said Martens. "If there was more time in-between, it probably wouldn't have gone our way. That kept our hopes up and kept us from getting frantic."
"I was going to let it go for a short time, then make an adjustment and push forward to get a goal," Farley said. "It was great Jess got the goal then. It let us stay comfortable."
Late in regulation, Scarborough junior goalkeeper Sydney Martin made the save of her life to keep her team's hopes alive, fully extending to knock away Alli Boulier’s curling left-footed strike headed for the upper far corner.
“I read her foot at first," said Martin. "I knew she was going to put it to my right, so I gave it my best shot. I’ve always dreamed about making a save in the upper-90 (top corner)."
“That was the best save she’s made all season,” said Meader.
Early in the first 15-minute, "sudden victory" overtime, Bangor nearly won it on two occasions.
On the opening kickoff, Grace MacLean found some room in the middle but side-volleyed a thigh-high cross from Jordan Seekins wide of the near post. Just a minute later, an unattended Boulier sailed a low cross from Ally Vanidestine over the crossbar from seven yards out.
“My heart stopped for a second,” said Martin (seven saves).
"I tried to pump them up going into overtime, but right out of the gate, Bangor was all over us," said Farley. "They had some great chances. They could have ended the game. Luckily, we got through it."
Early in the second OT, Scarborough ended it.
Meader fed a through ball to Martens, who already had scored playoff game-winners versus Sanford, Thornton Academy and Cape Elizabeth. Martens had slipped between defenders and broke in alone on Bangor goalie Cordelia Stewart before converting with her left foot.
“I turned around and saw [Martens] make a diagonal run,” said Meader. “We’ve had a real good connection.”
“I was just playing, I was so tired," said Martens, whose goal was her sixth in the playoffs and school-record 20th of the season. "I was very nervous when (Bangor) had chances, but we eventually kept the ball up top and that made me feel better. (Penalty kicks) were going through my head. The other girls were thinking about them too. I'm confident about PKs. We've taken them in practice, but you never know. I knew it would feel so much better if we won in overtime. Jess made a great pass, got it through to me. I just looked up, saw where the goalie was and tried to put it in. I was hoping I hit it well."
"She was celebrating when it came off her foot," Farley said. "She was running around with her hands in the air like she was trying to bring rain. At the beginning of the year, I thought Jess would be the player to slash and get in behind and score goals and Sarah would be the playmaker. It's almost like they reversed roles in the playoffs. Jess barreled down and got loose balls and sent nice passes to Sarah, who's a pure finisher. She's so good technically. She had a game winner in every playoff game. She makes the most of her chances. I'm really happy for her. The past couple years, I played her in the midfield. I could have put her anywhere. It's good to see her be at forward this year. Coming out and playing varsity from freshman to senior year at Scarborough is such a hard thing to do. That says a lot about her as a person. She went out and did the role I asked her to do and did it well. She makes me look really good. Coming into the playoffs, she had 14 goals, nowhere near the school record, but she had six in the playoffs and got it. That's amazing. That's what you write stories about."
New state champion Scarborough 2 Bangor 1.
"I won't forget this feeling ever," said Martens, still sore, yet beaming in an interview 48 hours after the game. "I miss soccer already. It was one of the best days of my life. Fighting that long and coming out with a win felt so good. Scoring the winning goal was great, but having everyone with me was special. It wasn't just my goal. It was the team's goal. Everyone gave 100 percent. Seeing how hard everyone worked made me want to work that much harder. Everyone was just ecstatic. People were crying. It was such a tough game. I knew it would be a really tough game. After losing last year, we wanted it so bad. We knew (Bangor's) a physical team and that it would be tough. Everyone was so relieved it was over. All of us seniors wanted it so bad. We didn't want a repeat of last year. All the underclassmen wanted it for us."
“It was more of a battle than even I was prepared for,” said Farley. “Bangor played so hard and so well, it was a great test for us. We hadn’t been tested like that all season. They were winning 50-50 balls. I take my hat off to them. We were fortunate to win. They could have ended the game twice early in overtime. We stuck with it, created one chance and luckily, it fell to one of our best players.
"It was amazing. It was a big-time battle. The first five, seven minutes of overtime, we were surviving, then we had it in their end and had chances. It was an emotional roller coaster. A drastic back and forth. It was that kind of game, the whole game. I hadn't seen Bangor play since the summertime. I think they played their best game and challenged us from start to finish. Two years ago, it felt different. There was a lot of pressure on that team after losing four years in a row in the first round. This year, the team felt like they were good and mentally strong enough to win. They were mentally stronger than any team I've had. I just had the feeling they'd come up with something and they did."
Scarborough finished 16-1-1 and has won a total of 48 games (and two Gold Balls) over the past three seasons.
"We moved a lot of people around this year and new kids stepped in, so you never know how it's going to go," Farley said. "Even the bench players, who didn't play a lot, gave us some of the hardest games we had in practice."
The Red Storm lose some terrific, talented and obviously clutch players, 11 in all, but, as always, will be a force to be reckoned with when the 2013 campaign begins.
This won't be the last time Scarborough is celebrating a championship, but this group will live on school lore.
"We're returning a lot," said Farley. "We've lost 11 seniors the last three years. That's what blows me away, kids step up and do the role as well, if not better. This is a tough group to lose. To lose this many superstars, it's tough to survive. We're always going to have good players. I'm hopeful we can do the same thing next year."