Scarborough girls go cold, lose at TA
SACO—It started fast, progressed into frustration and in the end, was a microcosm of the Scarborough girls' lacrosse team's season.
Scarborough traveled to neighboring Thornton Academy for a Western Class A semifinal Saturday afternoon and as they did in starting the year with a surprising upset win over Yarmouth, the third-seeded Red Storm got off to a sizzling start, grabbing a 5-2 first half lead.
But as was the case in the second half of the season, the Red Storm couldn't sustain their strong play and the second-ranked Golden Trojans not only rallied, but eventually pulled away.
Thornton Academy got an important goal before halftime and by the time the second half was 92 seconds old, had drawn even.
The Golden Trojans went ahead to stay on an unassisted tally from junior Kaitlyn McCrum with 18:16 to go and never looked back, eventually scoring nine straight goals and holding Scarborough scoreless for over 29 minutes en route to an 11-6 victory.
McCrum and senior Hannah Wuerthner both scored three times as Thornton Academy improved to 11-3 with its seventh consecutive victory and ended the Red Storm's season at 8-6 in the process.
"We were ready and amped," said Scarborough coach Marcia Wood. "We felt prepared. I honestly don't know what happened. It was one of those games where things didn't go our way. It's a learning experience. This is how it goes. Someone has to lose."
One step closer
Scarborough has ridden a roller coaster this spring, looking like a championship caliber squad one day, then resembling one that just doesn't have enough firepower the next, but as always, it has to be taken seriously.
The Red Storm got their season off to a fast start with a 9-7 home win over Eastern B favorite Yarmouth. Wins at South Portland (15-3) and at home over Windham (12-4) followed, but Scarborough then lost three straight for the first time in eight seasons, falling at two-time reigning Class B champion Waynflete (12-7), at home to Gorham (14-13) and at Thornton Academy (9-5). After getting back in the win column against visiting Portland (12-5), Scarborough got a huge victory, 13-11, at Marshwood. After losing at home to defending Western A champion Massabesic, 8-5, the Red Storm won at Westbrook, 16-10., then dropped a 14-12 overtime decision at defending Class A champion Cheverus before closing with a 12-1 home victory over Biddeford.
Scarborough wound up third in Western A and easily dispatched No. 6 South Portland in Wednesday's quarterfinal round, 15-4.
Thornton Academy lost its opener at Massabesic, 12-6, then beat visiting Gorham (12-10) and host Westbrook (9-5). After an 8-6 home loss to Falmouth, the Golden Trojans rolled at Bonny Eagle (11-4) and downed visiting Scarborough (9-5). A 9-6 loss at Cheverus followed, but Thornton Academy closed by winning its last five: 11-2 over visiting Biddeford, 5-4 at Lewiston, 14-7 over visiting Portland, 9-6 over visiting Marshwood and 15-6 at Sanford to wind up second in Western A.
Wednesday, in its quarterfinal, Thornton Academy ousted No. 7 Biddeford, 5-1.
Entering play Saturday, Scarborough had won both prior playoff meetings (see sidebar, below) and it looked for awhile like the Red Storm were on their way to a third, but the Golden Trojans roared back with a vengeance.
Scarborough junior Kaitlin Prince won the opening draw, the Red Storm set up on offense and just 35 seconds in, senior Ainsley Jamieson scored unassisted for a quick 1-0 lead.
Prince won another draw and with 23;33 to play in the first half, Prince set up junior Bailey Adams for a goal and the Red Storm were up two.
Scarborough sophomore goalie Regan Mars preserved the lead by denying Thornton Academy sophomore Faith Sinclair on a free position, but with 20:11 left in the half, on another free position, senior Carly McKenna finished to get the Golden Trojans on the board.
Sophomore Julianna Grondin tried to tie the score 51 seconds later, but Mars made the save.
Then, at the other end, after Adams was robbed by Thornton Academy junior goalie Allie Spinney, Prince finished a pass from Jamieson to make it 3-1 with 16:32 to play in the half.
Scarborough kept the pressure on and after a Prince shot was saved, sophomore Emma Smith scored unassisted to push the lead to 4-1 with 15:21 remaining.
The hosts answered, as McCrum set up Wuerthner with 14:18 left, but after an apparent Jamieson goal was waved off for a crease violation, a shot from senior Rachael Wallace was saved by Spinney and Prince shot wide, sophomore Abby Corbin scored unassisted with 8:51 to go in the half, giving the Red Storm a seemingly comfortable 5-2 advantage.
But Scarborough wouldn't score again for a long, long time.
McCrum cut the deficit to two with a free position goal with 6:33 remaining and that would be the final goal of the half.
Mars denied shots by McKenna, Wuerthner and junior Lauren Wells and in the waning seconds, both freshman Paige LeBlanc and Wuerthner hit the post, but it was evident that momentum had turned.
"We beat them the first time and we knew they'd come out hungry and they did," said Thornton Academy coach Craig Agreste. "They played hard and the girls responded. Clawing our way back to 5-3 at the half was huge and the girls had a lot of confidence that we were playing our game."
While the Red Storm won six of nine first half draws, Sinclair would rule the circle in the second half and the Golden Trojans completed their comeback.
Just 47 seconds into the second half, LeBlanc converted a free position.
With 23:28 to play, McCrum had a free position shot denied by Mars, but she managed to scoop the rebound past the goalie and into the net to forge a 5-5 deadlock.
Scarborough got possession back and looked to retake the lead, but an Adams free position was stopped by Spinney, Prince was robbed by Spinney twice and Prince shot wide.
Then, with 18:16 remaining, Thornton Academy went ahead for the first time and for good, as McCrum, after a long run in transition, finished unassisted to make it 6-5.
54 seconds later, Sinclair scored an unassisted goal and Wood called timeout.
It didn't help, as the Golden Trojans continued to open it up.
After Grondin hit the crossbar and Mars stopped a shot by sophomore Rachel Richard, McKenna scored unassisted to make it 8-5 with 12:11 left.
With 10:14 to go, Corbin received a yellow card and Thornton Academy took advantage, scoring a man-up goal for a 9-5 advantage, as McKenna set up Wuerthner with 9:34 to play.
Wood then pulled Mars in favor of freshman Sami Shoebottom, but she couldn't stop Wuerthner (from Sinclair, man-up) and Sinclair (unassisted) from scoring to add to the lead.
Finally, with 4:42 to go, Prince snapped the Golden Trojans' 9-0 run and the Red Storm's 29:09 drought with an unassisted goal, but that only made it 11-6.
Scarborough suffered through one final indignity when Corbin hit the crossbar and time soon ran out the Red Storm's season and Thornton Academy's impressive 11-6 victory.
"We came on a lot," McCrum said. "We always start out a little slow. We knew it was our game and we knew we could take it over and we did. We were unselfish today and we knew we could take them one-on-one. It's a really big deal. No one expected us to be here. We're here and we've improved all season."
"We didn't do too much differently in the second half," Agreste said. "Holding them without a goal for 29 minutes was amazing. It was a nice performance by the girls. Scarborough's the standard. We can't rely on one girl to beat them. We needed all of our performers."
McCrum, who seems to have a flair for the dramatic (she spearheaded an epic girls' basketball upset of McAuley back in January), and Wuerthner both tickled the twine on three occasions. McKenna and Sinclair had two goals apiece and LeBlanc scored once. McCrum, McKenna and Wells each had one assist. Spinney made eight saves.
"I thought Allie really stood out today," Agreste said.
After winning just three of nine first half draws, the Golden Trojans won six of 10 in the second half.
Thornton Academy finished with a 21-16 shots advantage (21-14 on frame).
The Golden Trojans now get another crack at Massabesic and have a chance to go somewhere this program has never been, the state final.
"We're ready to go," McCrum said. "We have to make sure we take care of the ball, don't make turnovers, be unselfish like we were today and play good defense. We're excited and nervous. We want to win really bad. "
"It's a big step for us," Agreste said. "(Massabesic's) a very good team. We're honored to be there."
Scarborough got two goals and an assist from Prince. Adams, Corbin, Jamieson and Smith scored the other goals, while Jamieson also had an assist. Mars made eight saves, while Shoebottom stopped two shots.
"We scored one goal in the second half," Wood said. "They did great with their pressure and their two goals at the start of the second half killed our flow. We practiced breaking a stall and I hoped once we wouldn't have to utilize that, but we did. It's unfortunate."
Scarborough will part with seven seniors, some of whom helped contribute to state titles.
"Hadlee (Yescott) and Ainsley have been on varsity since freshman year," Wood said. "'Wally' was a sophomore on a state team. All the seniors are great players and they'll be missed."
The Red Storm do have ample talent returning and aren't used to falling short two straight seasons, something which could drive next year's squad to great things.
"I had seven seniors and I carried 27 players, so I have quite a few players coming back," Wood said. "Kaitlin and the other girls will be hungry next year."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.
Previous Scarborough-TA playoff results
2011 Western A semifinals
Scarborough 9 Thornton Academy 7
2007 Western A quarterfinals
Scarborough 11 Thornton Academy 7