Quick start leads Scarborough field hockey past Westbrook
SCARBOROUGH—The potent offense of the Scarborough field hockey team produced 17 goals in its first two outings.
Wednesday evening, in the Red Storm's first serious test of the 2012 season, it made sure it produced an early cushion.
Just 80 seconds into a Western Class A showdown with rival and perennial contender Westbrook, Scarborough went ahead, 1-0, when sophomore Maddie Dobecki scored. Later in the first half, senior Ellen Walker rattled the cage and even though the Red Storm did virtually nothing on offense the rest of the way, those initial tallies held up and Scarborough improved to 3-0 with a 2-0 victory over the now 2-1 Blue Blazes.
"It's always nice to get (the other team) on their heels," said Red Storm coach Kerry Mariello. "We wanted to take it to them and make them play catch up. We were in a good situation. Westbrook always comes ready to play and we knew that. We knew we had to play our 'A' game."
Scarborough and Westbrook have regularly been near the top of the Heal Points standings in recent seasons.
Last fall, the Red Storm went 13-0-1 in the regular season and earned the top seed for the tournament, but was stunned by Windham, 1-0, on penalty corners in the quarterfinals. Despite some serious graduation losses, Scarborough has excelled again early in 2012, having its way with visiting McAuley (10-0) and host Bonny Eagle (7-0) in its first two outings.
Westbrook sprung a quarterfinal round upset at Cheverus last autumn, then was eliminated by Portland, 2-1, in the semifinals to finish 12-5. This season, the Blue Blazes handled host Noble, (4-0) and visiting South Portland (3-0) prior to coming to Scarborough.
Last fall, Scarborough won at Westbrook, 3-0.
Wednesday, the Red Storm beat the Blue Blazes again by coming out sizzling.
Scarborough pressured and with 28:40 to go in the 30-minute first half, Dobecki was in the right place to bang home a rebound and the Red Storm had the lead for good.
"The past two games we did really good, so the energy of those games carried through to this one," said Dobecki. "It was a scramble in front of the net. (The ball) came to me and I just shot it. It's really good to start out your best."
The Blue Blazes' best scoring chance of the night came in the 11th minute when they got a shot on Scarborough senior goalie Shannon Hicks, but Hicks made the save. Westbrook wound up earning a penalty corner, but couldn't finish and the score stayed 1-0.
It did so until the 5:37 mark when Walker beat a defender and flicked a shot past Blue Blazes junior goalie Nicole Miranda (three saves).
"We tired them out and played even better," said Dobecki. "A second goal was really important. It's scary just one goal ahead."
The second half featured little action. Scarborough did earn four penalty corners (and had a 5-2 edge for the game), but couldn't build on its lead.
Westbrook pressured late and with 2:39 remaining, senior Allison Lemay's shot on a penalty corner went just wide.
The Red Storm ran out the clock from there and went on to a 2-0 win, its 20th straight in the regular season.
"In the first half, it showed we did what we needed to do," Mariello said. "In the second half, we did some good things, but we made mistakes as well. Westbrook always comes to fight. I give them a lot of credit."
Hicks only needed to make two saves, thanks in large part to a superb defensive effort led by seniors Mikaela Gove, Sam Nablo and Ali Pelczar and sophomore Rose Kirsch.
"We had to keep up the pressure," said Pelczar. "We've scored plenty of goals this season. The score doesn't matter, as long as we win. We're doing pretty well on defense. We have to always be ready. It's important not to get relaxed. We have to stay vigilant and stay on our toes."
"I'm a defensive coach and I know they're the key ingredient," said Mariello. "They worked well together. They'll be a backbone in future games."
Just getting started
While Westbrook returns to action Friday at home versus Gorham, Scarborough is idle until next week when it sandwiches home games against last year's regional finalists, Portland and Marshwood around a trip to rival Sanford.
First, the Red Storm will take part Saturday in a scrimmage against a team from Enfield, Conn.
Scarborough has been terrific so far, but knows it still has work to do.
"We need to keep communicating and possessing the ball," Dobecki said.
"I'm really excited," Pelczar said. "We have a great team. We're all really close. I feel the new faces are a positive."
"We still need work, but who doesn't?" Mariello added. "We 're doing a lot of good things. It's a matter of building and continuing to grow. We're a true team. There's no outstanding one player. Playing Enfield is a yearly thing. We've hooked up 10 years now. It's a chance to play a different color jersey, get game speed and game energy for big games later on."