Here we go again...Scarborough field hockey back to states
For the fourth time in six seasons, the Scarborough field hockey team will meet Skowhegan in the Class A state championship game.
Tuesday evening at Thornton Academy, the top-ranked Red Storm punched its ticket with a strong performance against No. 2 Massabesic, outscoring the plucky Mustangs, 6-3.
It took Scarborough just under eight minutes to strike first, courtesy junior Abby Walker, but Massabesic drew even 53 seconds later, as Emma Desrochers scored on a rebound. The Red Storm quickly rose off the deck, however, and went ahead to stay when senior Maggie Carbin scored on a rebound with 17:05 to go in the first half. A second Carbin goal with 8:53 left gave Scarborough a seemingly safe 3-1 halftime lead.
Instead, the Mustangs refused to go quietly in the second half. After Walker made it 4-1 with 22:22 remaining, a tally from senior Logan Provencher made things interesting. Junior Kristen Murray pushed the lead back to three with a penalty stroke goal with 10:26 left, but again, Massabesic refused to fold, as senior Jacqueline Guillemette scored on a rebound to make it 5-3. After a timeout, a rebound goal from freshman Ashley Levesque finally slammed the door and Scarborough went on to a 6-3 victory.
The Red Storm improved to 16-0-1, ended the best season in Mustangs' history at 14-3 and advanced to set up the latest chapter of its rivalry against Skowhegan Saturday in the Class A state final at Yarmouth High School at a time to be announced.
"It feels amazing," Carbin said. "Just amazing. It was back and forth. They kept with us and we answered back. I'm so proud of my team. Massabesic gave us a run for our money."
Business as usual
Simply put, since the start of the 2008 season, it's been Scarborough and everyone else in Western Class A.
After pitching 17 straight shutouts before losing, 3-0, in the Class A Final to Skowhegan a year ago, this year's Red Storm had some question marks, but other than a 1-1 home tie versus Cheverus Oct. 10, Scarborough passed every other test and earned the top seed in the region for the fifth year in a row.
After blanking No. 9 Gorham, 5-0, in the quarterfinals, the Red Storm got a much tougher test from No. 5 Marshwood in the semifinals Saturday, but prevailed, 1-0.
Massabesic, one of the favorites entering the season, lost at home to Scarborough, 5-1, Sept. 7, and after a nine game win streak, fell, 2-1, at Marshwood Oct. 8. The Mustangs' 12-2 mark gave them the No. 2 seed and they downed No. 7 Westbrook, 1-0 in the quarterfinals and third-ranked Falmouth, 2-0, in Saturday's semis.
The teams met just once before in the playoffs, a 3-1 Scarborough win in the 2010 quarterfinals.
Tuesday night, with the temperature dipping below the freezing mark, goals were plentiful and in the end, a familiar scene played out.
The first good scoring chance resulted in the game's first goal, as Walker beat Mustangs senior goalie Abby Greenleaf to the far side of the cage 7:53 in.
Just as the Red Storm was feeling good about it lead, it disappeared courtesy Desrochers, who banged home a rebound of a shot by Provencher and the game was even, 1-1, with 21:14 to play in the first half.
Scarborough went ahead to stay with 17:05 left before halftime. Off a corner, Walker sent a shot on goal which Greenleaf stopped, but Carbin was there for the rebound and it was 2-1.
"Abby sent it, Kristen Murray tipped it and I was able to hit it in," Carbin said.
After Scarborough sophomore goalie Alyssa Souza made a save on a potential game-tying Guillemette bid, Carbin struck again with 8:53 to go, dribbling in from the left side, then shooting past a prone Greenleaf to make the score 3-1.
"I brought it up the left side, kind of saw I had an opening, shot it around the goalie and it went right in," Carbin said.
"I didn't expect an offensive battle like this," said Scarborough coach Kerry Mariello. "I thought it would be 1-0 or an overtime situation. We broke through over the circle and got some goals on power shots. Their goalie was a little overzealous a couple times and we capitalized."
Massabesic actually had a 6-5 shots advantage in the first half, but the Red Storm was up, 3-1, where it counted.
The excitement continued in the second stanza.
Early on, a long shot by Provencher was redirected by Desrochers, but Souza made the save. Desrochers had another look, but again Souza stood tall.
Then, with 22:22 to go, Murray sent the ball ahead to Walker, who one timed a beautiful shot which Greenleaf had no chance to stop and the lead was up to 4-1.
"Maggie and Abby showed up to play, especially in a game like tonight," Murray said. "Abby has great stick skills."
Just when it appeared the Red Storm would cruise home, however, Massabesic pulled within 4-2 on Provencher's goal with 11:12 showing, but a mere 46 seconds later, play was stopped when Greenleaf played a ball outside the circle and Scarborough was awarded a penalty stroke.
Murray did the honors and beat Greenleaf with a low shot to make it 5-2.
"It's a lot of pressure in that one moment," Murray said. "It's a guaranteed goal if you place it right. I just had to keep calm."
But the Mustangs still wouldn't give in and with 8:46 to go, Guillemette kept a long hit inbounds, then dribbled in and beat Souza to cut the deficit to 5-3, forcing Mariello to call timeout.
"You can score, pow, pow," Mariello said. "That's how quickly it can happen. We were back on our heels a few times. They had a great attack. It was a great challenge for us. Very exciting."
Like good teams do, the Red Storm responded and with 7:09 to play, Levesque ended all doubt by scoring on a rebound after Murray was robbed by Greenleaf.
Scarborough ran out the clock from there and got to celebrate another regional crown.
"It feels awesome," Murray said. "The best feeling in the world right now. We lost a lot of seniors, but we knew we had a lot of talent coming up. We were ready to go. We could see this off in the future at the start of the season. We're both very offensively based teams. There was a lot of back and forth. It's hard to beat a team that doesn't give up and they gave us a great game. Props to them for that."
"We knew last year we could get back (to states)," said Carbin. "We had to work. We graduated 10 seniors, but we have a lot of underclassmen who came in and they've held their own."
The Red Storm finished with a 13-9 advantage in shots. Each team had three penalty corners. Greenleaf made three saves, while Souza stopped four shots.
The Red Storm has played Skowhegan, the state's gold standard, in three previous state games. Skowhegan (which edged Messalonskee, 1-0, in the Eastern A Final), won the 2008 game, 2-1, in double overtime, but the following season, Scarborough earned an OT victory, on Ellie Morin's overtime goal, to prevail, 2-1, and win a state crown for the first time. Skowhegan returned the favor, 3-0, last year and will be seeking its 12th title in 13 years.
Skowhegan will be viewed as the favorite, but the Red Storm will embrace this opportunity and with the game played at the same location as its 2009 victory, believes it's a team of destiny.
"I'm excited to see Skowhegan again," Carbin said. "I think we can do it."
"We have to come in prepared," Murray said. "This is what we worked for. We'll give it our all. Skowhegan's a great team and a great program, but I think we can come out on top if we work our hardest."
"We wanted an opportunity to play Skowhegan again and this is our second chance," Mariello added. "We know what we did that last time we had a second opportunity (2009) and hope to do that again. We just have to play and not think about the game or that, 'Oh my gosh, it's Skowhegan.' We pulled it out the last time we played at Yarmouth. We hope it comes back to us.
"We've called this season, 'Take two' all year. We were there last year. We wanted to get back to that game and have it be a different story. The goal from the start was to get back to that game. We want to show we're a better team than we showed last year. We have an extra year of experience under our belts. We'll see what happens."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.
Previous Scarborough-Massabesic playoff results
Western A quarterfinals
@ Scarborough 3 Massabesic 1