Scarborough rallies to tie Windham
SCARBOROUGH—With just under four minutes to play Saturday afternoon, the Scarborough girls' soccer team was staring in the face of a second successive frustrating 1-0 loss to a top ranked foe.
Two days after falling, 1-0, at Thornton Academy, the Red Storm was similarly on the ropes against undefeated Windham. The Eagles had scored on a penalty kick in the first half and made it stand up, but these Red Storm are nothing if not resilient and confident that if there's a single second remaining on the clock, hope still lives.
Despite a steady mist and staunch Eagles defense, Scarborough kept the pressure on and was rewarded with 3:54 remaining when junior Hadlee Yescott scored to tie the game.
The contest would go to overtime and in the second extra session, the Red Storm came within a fabulous save by Windham junior goalkeeper Kate Kneeland from stealing a victory.
Instead, Scarborough and Windham settled for a 1-1 draw in what was quite possibly the first of two meetings this fall.
"We had to battle back after a tough week," said Red Storm coach Mike Farley. "You could tell we were fatigued, but we pushed to the end and got the tying goal. It shows the character of this team."
Changing of the guard?
Scarborough has won the past two Western Class A titles (and the state championship in 2010), but entering this season, the Windham Eagles were the "it" team and prior to Saturday had certainly lived up to billing.
The Eagles entered the game 8-0 after wins at Portland (3-0), at home over Gorham (2-1) and McAuley (6-3), at Biddeford (5-0), at home over Marshwood (4-0) and Cheverus (3-1) and at South Portland (4-0) and Noble (9-0).
The Red Storm had been pretty impressive as well. Scarborough opened the 2012 campaign by downing visiting South Portland, 4-0. Impressive 3-0 victories followed at Marshwood and Gorham. The shutout parade continued against visiting Portland (3-0), at Cheverus (3-0) and at home against Kennebunk (5-0). The Red Storm finally surrendered a goal (on a late penalty kick) Tuesday at home versus Deering. Then came the 1-0 loss at Thornton Academy.
The Red Storm has handled the Eagles over the years, even going back to the schools' days in the Western Maine Conference. Last fall, Scarborough triumphed at Windham, 2-0.
Saturday, both teams put on a show and fittingly wound up tied.
In the ninth minute, Scarborough got the game's first good chance when sophomore Ashley Gleason sent a through ball to senior Jessica Meader, who broke in on Kneeland, but the goalie made the save.
Windham's first bid came in the 13th minute when sophomore Melissa Morton sent a low shot which was saved by Red Storm junior goalkeeper Sydney Martin.
In the 21st minute, a shot by Scarborough sophomore Katherine Kirk was deflected by a defender, forcing Kneeland to make a sprawling save.
The Eagles then began to pressure on offense and after a weak shot went just wide and a free kick was cleared away by a defender at the last second, Windham broke the ice with 6:01 to go in half.
Senior Jillian Levesque fired a shot in the box which hit the hand of a Red Storm defender, giving Windham an opportunity at a penalty kick. Levesque took it and buried it for a 1-0 lead, which the Eagles took into the half.
While Scarborough pushed hard for the equalizer in the second half, the Eagles had some chances to double their lead.
First, Martin was forced to make a diving save on a cross from Morton to sophomore Jenna Soucy with 32:18 to play.
With 27:12 to go in regulation, a long serve by junior Lauren Shoemaker was headed by freshman Ciera Berthiaume, but Martin made the save.
After Red Storm sophomore Sam Sparda's free kick from the top of box sailed high, the visitors had another chance on a shot by Soucy, but again Martin made a diving save.
The rest of regulation would belong to the hosts.
With 11:42 left, senior Taylor Leborgne's shot deflected wide, setting up a corner kick, which was deflected away by the Windham defense.
A minute later, a blast by senior Sarah Martens went wide of the mark.
In the 72nd minute, Scarborough earned a corner kick, but it didn't result in a shot. Seconds later, the ball came to Yescott, whose low shot was saved.
Finally, with time ticking away, the Red Storm broke through.
The play started with another free kick from Sparda. The ball squirted through the box to Kirk, who sent the ball on net. Yescott was in the right place to redirect it past Kneeland and with 3:54 showing, the game was deadlocked.
"Katherine had it," said Yescott. "It hit off a defender, went back to her and I was waiting there ready. Coach told me to be desperate for it. I was desperate for it. It came to me and I tapped it in."
"We spend a lot of time on dead balls," said Farley. "Sam is dangerous on dead balls. She drives them into the box. We've worked on getting more chances on those. The goal was being physical and challenging for the ball. Sometimes you don't score directly from the set play, but it's the pressure you put on and someone is at the right place at the right time. Fortunately, Hadlee was there and finished it. I thought a goal was come. I was concerned with fatigue. The bench was getting shorter. I was worried about making it through. We turned the pressure on them. I thought we'd get one if we stayed patient."
Just 25 seconds after drawing even, Scarborough almost went ahead when Kirk crossed the ball to Meader, who fired a shot that was saved.
That would be it for regulation chances and it was on to overtime.
In Maine girls' high school regular season soccer, teams play two five minute "sudden victory" sessions. If the game remains deadlocked, it ends in a tie.
Neither squad was content to sit back and settle for a draw and as a result, both had chances to win it.
In the first OT, Morton shot wide, a rush by Berthiaume was broken up, a rebound shot by Morton was saved and a late shot from Leborgne was denied at the other end.
The Red Storm had the advantage in the second session and almost won it.
With 3:25 to go, Gleason won a contested ball and fired a shot which appeared to be ticketed for the top shelf, but Kneeland leaped and managed to tip the ball over the crossbar.
"We owe our goalie for a couple very good saves," said Windham coach Deb LeBel.
Scarborough could only tip its cap.
"I thought that one was going in," said Yescott. "I give credit to the keeper. She got it going high."
"That shot nine times out of 10 goes in," said Farley. "The keeper made a great save."
That set up a corner kick and the ball eventually came to junior Ainsley Jamison, but her header was just wide.
The final chance went to the visitors. With 1:02 remaining, Shoemaker appeared to have a look at a shot, but a Scarborough defender got in the way and blocked the shot and that did it.
Scarborough 1 Windham 1.
"We tied them, but I'm happy with the tie," Yescott said. "We knew Windham's a great team. It's a little disappointing, but we'll take it. We always talk about being desperate. It's the first time we've been down going into halftime. We have a lot of heart. Everyone wanted it."
"This week has been a hard week definitely. We had a week off, then played Deering, had a day off, played TA, had a day off and played Windham. We've been pretty exhausted, but we love it. It was hard having a loss, but it's a great character builder. We wanted to show we could lose and still come out strong. It was tiring, but I love it."
"Especially the way the fist half went, we could have been down on ourselves," Farley said. "We didn't finish our chances. Usually that comes back to bite you. I'm proud of how the kids got through the week. "
The Eagles felt they let a potential statement victory slip away.
"We had it. Ugh," LeBel lamented. "I feel like we had one little letdown and they capitalized on it. I do feel like it wasn't our best game. Scarborough's a very good team and I'm sure we haven't seen the last of them. I think them having come off two tough games helped them play a little faster than we did. I think our kids stepped it up in the second half. I don't feel like we've had as many opportunities today as we've had in the past."
The immediate aftermath of the tie sees Scarborough in the top spot of the Western Class A Heal Points standings with Windham second and Thornton Academy in third.
Windham's remaining schedule is as follows: at Westbrook, home versus Deering, at Sanford, home against Massabesic and at Bonny Eagle. The Eagles do not face Thornton Academy in the regular season.
Windham wants to keep improving to have a chance at late October/early November glory.
"(Windham's) young," said Farley. "They have a bunch of sophomores and juniors. They'll be around for awhile. They're tough this year and they'll be tough for awhile. Last year, they played us really hard. They're in the top two or three teams. I think we'll see them again. Us, them, TA, we're all in the mix. It's going to be a battle."
"I feel like we're in the top three," LeBel said. "I think we can continue to get better. (This game) showed us what we need to work on."
The Red Storm is back in action Tuesday at home versus Noble. Scarborough also hosts McAuley and Biddeford and plays at Westbrook and Massabesic in a favorable remaining slate.
The pedigreed Red Storm has what it takes to contend for another championship.
"We have to get in the momentum of scoring more goals," Yescott said. "That's what we'll focus on. I'd like to play them again."