Cape girls, Scarborough boys on verge of state finals
Just two local soccer teams remained alive at press time and both have a great chance to capture a Gold Ball.
The Cape Elizabeth girls, after beating Poland in the quarterfinals and Freeport in the semifinals, hosted Greely in a Western B Final showdown (see theforecaster.net for the full game story).
The three-time defending Western A Scarborough girls saw their championship reign come to a close last weekend. After advancing over Marshwood in the quarterfinals, the Red Storm was ousted at Windham in the semifinals on penalty kicks.
Scarborough's boys were more fortunate, eliminating South Portland in the quarterfinals, then beating Gorham in a tough test in the semifinals to reach Wednesday's Western A Final, where it hosted Portland, the lone team to hand the Red Storm a defeat this fall.
Cape Elizabeth's first trip to the Western B playoffs produced a quarterfinal round victory over Lincoln Academy, but the Capers were no match for Yarmouth in the semifinals.
Greater Portland Christian School dropped its first playoff game in Western D.
Party like it's 1999?
Cape Elizabeth's girls have lived up to preseason billing, going 11-2-1 in the regular season, earning the top seed in Western B and after a 4-0 quarterfinal round win over No. 8 Poland, the Capers got a break as fourth-ranked Yarmouth, which gave them fits in the regular season, was upset by No. 5 Freeport, meaning Cape Elizabeth hosted the Falcons instead in Saturday's semifinals.
In the first ever playoff meeting between the schools, the Capers came out sizzling and were rewarded just five minutes in when senior Addie Wood scored.
"I think it set the tone," said Wood. "I think it gave us confidence. They really tested us tonight. We needed that confidence to settle us down. I think I shot it, it sort of rebounded and I was angry and I kicked it again. I've been practicing volleying a lot. That came in handy."
Tallies from junior Kathryn Clark and sophomore Kate Breed (both assisted by Montana Braxton) put Cape Elizabeth firmly in control, up, 3-0, by halftime. Freeport got a goal of its own with 8:29 to play, but the Capers prevailed, 3-1, improving to 13-2-1.
"It was kind of a relief not to play Yarmouth, but Freeport tested us," Clark said. "They came out hard, nothing to lose in the second half. They deserved that goal they got."
"Some of the soccer we played was breathtaking for a high school team," said Capers first-year coach Craig Fannan. "Some of what we showed was fun to watch. I told the girls we have to respect every team. No team will lie down and give us a win. Freeport had a good win at Yarmouth. That second half, they put us under a lot of pressure. They showed how they got this far, but we're confident playing everybody."
Cape Elizabeth advanced to the regional final, where it hosted No. 2 Greely (11-4-1). The Capers beat the Rangers, 2-1, in Cumberland, but let a 2-0 halftime lead slip away in the second meeting and lost on its home field, 3-2.
"I'm really excited," Breed said. "I want to get back at them and get a win. For them to come back from 2-0 last time was incredible."
"We lost our composure (last time), Fannan said. "We let them get a sniff and get back in it. We have to be composed and frustrate them. We did a great job in that first game at Greely. I hope we learned our lesson. I think last year, we enjoyed getting to the regional final (a loss to Scarborough in Western A). Now, we're here to win. Hopefully we'll just relax and play. Enjoy the emotion before and after."
Cape Elizabeth is seeking its first state final berth since winning the Class A championship in 1999. If the Capers beat the Rangers, they'll play either Hermon (16-0) or Waterville (15-1) Saturday at 3 p.m., at Hampden Academy.
Cape Elizabeth has no history with Hermon, but beat the Purple Panthers in both the 1997 (2-1) and 1999 (2-1, in overtime) Class A state finals.
"I think we're the best team around," Fannan said. "It's been a long season. It's been a great season. We've come a long way. Hopefully we can go one further."
Scarborough earned the No. 4 seed after a 11-1-2 regular season. The Red Storm held off No. 5 Marshwood, 4-2, in the quarterfinals, but Saturday in the semifinals, at top-ranked Windham, Scarborough just couldn't score. The game went through 80 minutes of regulation and 30 more of overtime, necessitating penalty kicks, where the Eagles prevailed, 1-0 (3-1 on PKs).
"Emotionally, it was a tough loss to take," said Red Storm coach Mike Farley. "I was extremely proud of how my players competed. From the opening whistle, I could see on their faces that they really wanted the game and it showed in their effort. Windham is a great team and their effort was off the charts as well, so it was a really tough game to lose, but a very fun game to be a part of."
Scarborough finished 12-2-2.
"Our season was filled with adversity and the response from the players after every moment of adversity is something I'll always remember," Farley said. "Their resilience and commitment to the team is something I'll always remember. I couldn't be more proud. I hope when the girls look back on the year, they'll think of everything they accomplished and be proud of themselves."
This was likely a momentary speed bump for the program. Look for the Red Storm to make another run at the top in 2014.
"The younger players on the team were asked to step up and play big minutes in the most competitive games and most pressure-filled moments this year," Farley said. "I'm very optimistic about where we are for next year and I'm looking forward to it already."
On the verge
Scarborough's boys earned the top seed in Western A for the ninth year in a row after a 13-1 campaign and pulled away in the second half of the quarterfinals to oust No. 8 South Portland, 2-0.
Saturday, the Red Storm as expected, got a stern test from No. 5 Gorham, which was coming off a quarterfinal round upset of No. 4 Deering.
The Rams staggered Scarborough with a goal in the first minute, but the Red Storm rose off the deck and tied the game seven minutes later, as Charlie Mader set up Sam Cekada. Early in the second half, Cekada returned the favor, setting up Mader for a 2-1 lead and Scarborough held on to prevail by that score.
"Gorham gave us a tough game, which was no surprise," said longtime Red Storm coach Mark Diaz. "They came out and scored a minute in. It happened so fast that there was no time to worry. My guys grinded it out. Tying it up was critical. We had momentum and we could get back to playing our game. We got one early in the second half and we were in good shape."
The victory was Diaz's 200th with the program, but in typical fashion, he deflected praise to his players.
"I had no idea when I took over that we'd become this good," Diaz said. "No way. The program wasn't what it is now. There weren't a lot of people lining up for the job. We were still trying to catch up to other towns with our youth program. The players have bought in. We have talent. They've created a winning tradition."
Scarborough (15-1) hosted No. 3 Portland (12-2-2) Wednesday in the Western A Final. The Bulldogs came to Scarborough Sept. 10 and sprung a 1-0 upset. The teams had met four previous times in the playoffs with the Red Storm holding a 3-1 edge (including a 3-0 victory in last year's quarterfinals).
"Motivation won't be a problem," said Diaz. "We know how good (the Bulldogs) are. When they turn it on, they're explosive. Their keeper plays well. Their defense is underrated. I think that's why they're here. We need to be consistent. We have to defend and win battles in the middle. We want another trip to the final."
If Scarborough advances to its seventh state final in 11 seasons, it would meet Lewiston (13-1-2) or Hampden Academy (15-1) Saturday at 12:30 p.m., at McCann Field in Bath. The Red Storm hasn't played the Broncos before. It did meet the Blue Devils a couple times in the 1970s, winning, 2-1, in the 1974 semifinals and losing, 2-1, in the 1979 quarterfinals.
"Lewiston is similar to Portland," Diaz said. "They have speed everywhere. I figured this is the year they'd get over the hump."
In Western B, Cape Elizabeth went 5-5-4 in the regular season and earned the No. 4 seed. The Capers had no trouble with No. 5 Lincoln Academy in the quarterfinals, winning, 5-0, behind two goals from Cole Caswell (including one 58 seconds in).
Saturday, Cape Elizabeth went to Yarmouth for a first-ever postseason meeting with the Clippers, who quickly put the Capers away, leading 4-0 by halftime en route to a 5-0 decision which ended Cape Elizabeth's season at 6-6-4.
"(Yarmouth) scored good goals," said Capers coach Ben Raymond. "We didn't give up soft goals. We just didn't win enough balls in the midfield. We didn't win enough second balls. We didn't play very well. We picked the wrong day to not be playing well.
"We played much better at the end of the year. It's unfortunate to end this way. We played very well until this point. We improved tremendously. That's the goal.."
Cape Elizabeth will be affected by graduation, but will be on the short list of favorites again in 2014.
"We graduate a lot of seniors," said Raymond. "(Goalie) Austin (Andrews) will be hard to replace in goal. We have a number of juniors who played well and were a big part of the team. We have a lot to look forward to."
In Western D, GPCS, after an 8-5-1 regular season, wound up sixth in the standings and went to No. 3 Chop Point last week for the quarterfinals. The Lions got a goal from Tyler Steinwachs (assisted by David Davol), but lost, 2-1, as their season ended at 8-6-1.