Scarborough staggers Kennebunk in semis
SCARBOROUGH—A rivalry game with a trip to the regional final at stake is almost assured to produce a close score.
Shockingly, that wasn't the case Saturday afternoon at the Kippy Mitchell Sports Complex.
In a Western Class A semifinal round showdown featuring the two teams who have combined to win the past four regional titles, top-ranked, two-time defending state champion Scarborough dug an early hole against No. 4 Kennebunk, then elevated its game to another, nearly perfect level.
The Rams were up 2-0 just over two minutes in and almost added a third goal, but the rest of the game belonged to the Red Storm, which closed the first half on a 9-1 run, won 11 successive draws in one stretch, induced a mercy rule running clock nine minutes into the second half and never looked back en route to an emphatic 16-6 victory.
Scarborough had a 2-1 advantage in ground balls, a nearly 4-1 bulge in shots and won 16 of 23 draw controls. Senior Laura Przybylowicz paced the balanced, dynamic offense with five goals, classmates Mary Scott and Maggie Smith each added four and senior Kelsey Howard scored twice, set up two other goals and did a little of everything else to help the Red Storm improve to 13-1, end Kennebunk's season at 8-6 and set up a Western A Final meeting with No. 3 Marshwood (11-3) Wednesday at a time to be announced.
"I always get nervous no matter what and early in the season, I didn't know what team would show up, but for some reason in the playoffs, we've been focused and have stepped it up," said Scarborough coach Marcia Wood. "What a beautiful game. Other than the first few minutes, everything else was absolutely superb."
Scarborough has won successive Class A championships, including last year's 13-11 win over Brunswick.
The Red Storm slipped up just once this spring in another superb campaign. Scarborough defeated McAuley (13-0), Bonny Eagle (16-3), Yarmouth (12-5), South Portland (11-4), Massabesic (8-5) and Cheverus (11-10) before losing to Cape Elizabeth, 11-5. The Red Storm bounced back with a 7-6 victory over Thornton Academy, then dominated Gorham (17-5) and Marshwood (11-5), squeaked out a 9-8 win at Kennebunk and closed with a 16-10 win over visiting Windham to wind up 11-1 and first in the Western Class A Heal Points standings.
Thursday, Scarborough made quick work of No. 8 Bonny Eagle in the quarterfinals, 17-2.
The Rams, who made it to the Western A Final last spring before losing to Scarborough, opened with a 14-8 victory at Portland and after a 10-8 home loss to Waynflete, defeated host Westbrook (12-2), visiting Bonny Eagle (13-3) and host Sanford (11-4). Then, Kennebunk suffered a series of frustrating losses, falling at home to Marshwood in three overtimes, 10-9, at Falmouth (17-10) and at home to Massabesic, again in overtime (8-7). The Rams bounced back by outlasting host Cheverus, 16-15, then triumphed at Gorham, 18-9. A 9-8 home loss to Scarborough followed, but they closed with a 9-6 home victory over Bonny Eagle to finish 7-5 and fourth in Western A.
Kennebunk went on to eliminated fifth-ranked South Portland, 12-5, in Wednesday's quarterfinals.
Scarborough and Kennebunk haven't just been two of the state's premier girls' lacrosse powers in recent seasons, they've also established one of the area's best rivalries, one which has produced annual June memories.
The Red Storm lost to the Rams in the 2008 regional final (10-9, in overtime) and 2009 quarterfinals (13-9), but eliminated Kennebunk in the 2010 semifinals (11-3) and in last spring's regional final (9-6).
Scarborough also eked out the win at the Rams earlier this season.
Saturday, there was no eking necessary.
Kennebunk came out with great energy, winning the opening draw and breaking the ice when senior Kate Graydon found junior Rose Bryant for a goal just 1 minute, 40 seconds in.
The Rams won the next draw as well and Graydon finished with 22:48 to go in the first half (from senior Alyssa Fallon) and just like that, the visitors had a 2-0 lead.
Kennebunk would have a couple of possessions with chances to go ahead even further, but couldn't capitalize and suddenly, the Red Storm roared to life.
With exactly 20 minutes to go before halftime, Przybylowicz took a pass from Smith and beat Rams junior Lizzie Stockbridge.
The tying goal came at 18:41 when Smith scored on a free position.
When Scott scored unassisted, just moments after she'd hit the post, at the 14:13 mark, Scarborough was ahead to stay.
Quick goals from Przybylowicz (set up by Smith) and Scott (unassisted) forced Kennebunk coach Annie Barker to call timeout with 11:21 left in the half.
It didn't help as just 35 seconds later, Howard got in the scoring column with an unassisted tally to make it 6-2.
"I thought about a timeout after the first two goals, but we had plenty of time and I decided to let them get back into it and they did," said Wood.
The visitors snapped the run on a free position goal from Graydon with 10:12 to go before halftime, but Smith answered unassisted at 8:49 and after Red Storm junior goalie Meg Kirsch denied a Bryant free position, Przybylowicz (unassisted) and Howard (unassisted) tickled the twine for a 9-3 halftime advantage.
Scarborough won the final four draws of the first half for a 9-4 advantage and was just getting warmed up in that category. The Red Storm collected 23 ground balls to just 12 for Kennebunk, forced nine turnovers while committing just a half dozen and enjoyed an 18-4 edge in shots.
Scarborough didn't let up in the second half.
Just 1:29 in, junior Avery Pietras scored unassisted.
Over the next seven-plus minutes, Scott (from Howard), Smith (unassisted), then Przybylowicz (from Scott) scored to make it 13-3 and run the clock due to the 10-goal margin.
The Rams did manage to get back to 13-4 when Graydon scored unassisted with 13:44 to play, but Scott (from Przybylowicz) scored at 9:23, Przybylowicz (from Howard) struck at 6:16 and Smith (unassisted) beat Stockbridge at 3:04 for a 16-4 advantage.
Kennebunk got a goal back with 1:41 showing as Bryant finished a pass from senior Alli Bush. With time winding down, Graydon scored on a free position shot and that brought the curtain down on the Red Storm's impressive 16-6 win.
"It's always nerves with playoffs and they're a good team. but we just needed to relax," said Howard. "We started working with each other. We're confident with each other. We got the nerves out and played our game. We took our time, passed it around and looked for the cutters. We see the key players and they know what to do when they get it. We played an incredible game. Everyone was at the top of their game."
Scarborough has now reached double figures in scoring in 10 of 14 games, including five of the past six. Saturday's production was typical.
Przybylowicz led the way with five goals.
"We came out and I think we had a lot of nerves, but I knew once we got our momentum we'd catch up," Przybylowicz said. "We were a little frazzled, but we cooled down and came out and played our game. Our offense is looking strong. We look for each other and found each other really well today. I looked around at the seniors and told them I didn't want the season to be done today. The whole team came out to play today, which is so important since we have such a strong offense, defense and midfield."
Scott and Smith each had four goals, Howard finished with a pair and Pietras added one.
Howard and Smith both had two assists, while Przybylowicz and Scott both contributed one.
Kirsch didn't see an abundance of shots and wound up with two saves.
The Red Storm won 11 straight draws and 16 of 20 in one stretch. It finished with a 16-7 advantage as Przybylowicz went 12 of 15 and Howard 4 of 8.
"Possessions are so important for lacrosse," Howard said. "Winning the draw is a big key to it so we can get the ball down on offense, work it around and do what we want. Laura was doing such a good job on the draw."
"I said at halftime, 'I don't know how you're coming up with them,'" Wood said. "There was a crowd of people. I'd see Kelsey or (junior) Sarah Martens coming out of the crowd like Superman. Laura played out of her mind. Not just her scoring, but everything."
Scarborough finished with 41 ground balls to 20 for Kennebunk. Team leaders were Howard with eight, Scott and senior Kat Gadbois with six apiece and Smith with five.
In the crucible of a high-stakes 50-minute playoff game, the Red Storm committed only 10 turnovers.
Scarborough finished with a 30-8 advantage in shots (23-8 on cage).
For Kennebunk, Graydon ended her stellar career with four goals and Bryant added a pair. Bush and Fallon both had assists. Stockbridge stopped seven shots. The Rams had 14 turnovers.
Bring on Marshwood
Scarborough has qualified for the regional final for the sixth time in seven years and will face a tough test Wednesday against Marshwood. The Red Storm won the only previous playoff encounter, 13-12, in the 2008 semifinals.
The Hawks, the No. 3 seed, are coming off playoff wins against sixth-ranked Thornton Academy and No. 2 Massabesic. On May 21, the Red Storm beat host Marshwood, 10-5, but it knows doing so again won't be easy.
"We want to win a state title and now we're one step closer," said Przybylowicz. "I think we just need to take it one game at time."
"I think we just need to keep being confident in each other and ourselves and we can make it to (states) next Saturday," said Howard. "After the last two years, we want to get back there again. We're getting closer."
"We'll just do our thing," Wood added. "If everyone plays like they just did, wow, I think it'll be tough to beat us. These girls have a goal. They don't know better. Kat Gadbois, who also played out of her mind today, said the other day, 'I don't know any different than winning a state championship.'"