Tables turned on Red Storm in state final
A year ago, the Scarborough girls' soccer team was as close to perfect as any in state history.
This fall, the Red Storm finally met its match.
After winning all 18 games and allowing only one goal (on a penalty kick) during a first-ever Class A championship season in 2010, Scarborough's bid for a repeat was extinguished Saturday by the squad which it beat to win the state game last year, Bangor.
This time around, the Rams concluded their season-long domination with a surprisingly easy 4-0 victory over the Red Storm, which ended Scarborough's season at 14-2-2.
"It was a tough one," said Red Storm coach Mike Farley. "My kids played hard and really tried to turn the momentum around, but we were never able to get into our game because of the amount of pressure their backs and midfielders put on us."
Not this year
Even though it ultimately fell short, Scarborough produced an abundance of memories again.
After graduating some key contributors from last year's squad, the 2011 Red Storm barely missed a beat, losing only once in the regular season, 1-0 at home to Gorham, way back on Sept. 10 and tying two other games by 1-1 scores, at home against Cheverus and Thornton Academy. After surrendering six goals in the first eight games, Scarborough shut out its last six foes to finish 11-1-2 and earn the No. 3 seed in Western A.
After downing No. 6 Cheverus, 2-0, in the quarterfinals, the Red Storm was nearly knocked off at second-ranked Cape Elizabeth in the semis, but they rallied to tie the game late, then won on senior captain Jess Broadhurst's goal in the second overtime.
Scarborough then had a chance to avenge its loss when it went to Gorham last Wednesday for the regional final. The teams had met three times prior in the postseason with the Red Storm winning twice, but the Rams took the most recent meeting, 1-0, in the 2006 regional final.
This time, the game was scoreless into the final minute when junior Jessica Meader pounced on a loose ball and buried it to give Scarborough a 1-0 win and set up a state final rematch.
Bangor outscored its regular season foes, 80-8, in winning all 14 contests. As the top seed in Eastern A, the Rams advanced to states with wins over Lawrence (7-0), Waterville (5-0) and Brunswick (2-0).
Saturday afternoon, in a game played at Falmouth High School, Bangor left no doubt that it was the best team in Class A.
The Red Storm fell behind on a goal 10 minutes in and after senior defensive standout Emily Tolman was lost to injury late in the first half, the Rams dominated the second half, scoring three times to end all doubt.
"Bangor really came out and really put us on our heels with the amount of pressure they put on us," Farley said. "When we got control of the ball, we were being pressured by one or two players every time. We gave up the first goal on a play that we mis-cleared and Bangor made us pay for that mistake by playing the ball to the middle and the ball headed right into the left side of the goal.
"We held on the rest of the half at 1-0, but taking Emily out of the back allowed them to get in behind us on a couple occasions. They scored about 10 minutes into the second half and that really put us in a bad situation where we had to try to press forward to try to get one back. Bangor made us pay for trying to go forward and really kept the pressure on us throughout the second half. Bangor really came out and from the opening whistle. Every time they won the ball, they quickly got it forward to their dangerous forwards and really made it hard for us to sustain any possession. Their forwards played quick combinations and were able to get in behind us and that put (senior) Katie Mader (our keeper) in a tough position trying to make saves with players coming in alone on her."
Scarborough has now won 32 games, a state championship and a regional crown the past two seasons.
"I’m very proud of my team this year," Farley said. "I loved coaching them, they had a great work ethic and they all have high soccer IQs. We graduated 12 seniors last year, seven starters and the rest were important role players. We had a lot of juniors step up and assume starting spots and leadership roles on this team and after some early season stumbles, while we tried to figure out how we were going to play, we ended the season and went into the playoffs playing some really good soccer.
"To make it back to the state finals having basically lost half the team, is a real accomplishment and says a lot about my players this year. They had a never-say-die attitude and basically willed themselves to win some very tough games under tough circumstances. I think this group and last year’s group really changed the culture of our program and started a tradition of expecting to do well and performing at a very high level every year."
Scarborough will lose 11 seniors who played huge roles over the past two seasons, but as always, the Red Storm stands to reload in 2012.
"We're losing another 11 players and seven starters," Farley said. "They will be sorely missed and will be really hard to replace. They all have been a big part of our program the last two years and they really led the way this year to get us back to the state game. At Scarborough, we are very lucky to have about 50 players that can all play at a high level and I have every confidence that we'll be one of the teams to beat once again. If we can figure things out during the summer and through the regular season, we’ll have another chance to get back were we all want to be and that’s in the state game again."