Scarborough's reign ends with loss to Kennebunk
SCARBOROUGH—Scarborough's three-year reign as the Class A girls' lacrosse state champion has come to a close, but it took a nearly perfect effort to do the trick.
The Kennebunk Rams, in their final season in Class A (the school is moving to Class B next year), came to the Kippy Mitchell Sports Complex Saturday morning for a Western A semifinal having lost seven straight times to the top-ranked Red Storm, including each of the past three postseasons, and had just lost by five at Scarborough 15 days prior, but this time, the fourth-ranked Rams had the answers.
Kennebunk took advantage of yet another slow Red Storm start, jumping to leads of 2-0 and 5-2, then, in the second half, it put forth a jawdropping display of ball control, as senior standout Rose Bryant won every single draw she took, the Rams played keep-away for much of the half and even though Scarborough drew within a goal on four different occasions, it could never catch up and Kennebunk went on to a stunning 9-7 upset victory.
Rams junior Allie Truman led the way with three goals, freshmen Olivia Sandford and Kyra Schwartzman both scored twice and Bryant had one goal and was 7-for-7 in the circle as Kennebunk was able to overcome three goals from Red Storm senior Avery Pietras to improve to 9-5, end Scarborough's season at 9-5 and advance to meet No. 2 Massabesic (11-3) in Wednesday's Western Class A Final, at a time to be announced.
"You never what's going to happen," said Red Storm coach Marcia Wood. "I don't feel like we lost. I feel like we just ran out of time. They ran that stall and we never know what to do. We tried so hard. We tried to double. (Kennebunk's) passing and catching were flawless today."
Rite of spring
Since Kennebunk moved up to Class A for the 2008 season, the Rams and Red Storm have done battle every June in the playoffs.
Kennebunk took the first two meetings en route to losses in the state final, but in each of the past three seasons, Scarborough, on its way to the title, dispatched the Rams.
The Red Storm beat Kennebunk in the 2010 quarterfinals, 11-3, did it again in the regional final two years ago, 9-6, then beat the Rams with stunning ease last spring in the semis, 16-6.
The teams just met May 24, when Scarborough prevailed, 13-8, as part of a late-season surge which gave the Red Storm the top seed in Western A, something which didn't come easily.
Scarborough began with easy wins at McAuley (17-2) and Bonny Eagle (12-3), then let a five-goal second half lead slip away in a stunning 8-7 home loss to Yarmouth. The Red Storm quickly bounced back with a 15-1 home romp over South Portland and earned an impressive 10-6 win at Massabesic. Frustration then ensued as Scarborough lost at home to Cheverus in overtime, 9-7, and a night later, let a two-goal second half lead slip away in a 10-8 loss at Cape Elizabeth. The Red Storm got back on track with an 8-7 come-from-behind home win over Thornton Academy (Wood's 100th career victory), then earned an impressive 11-6 win at Gorham. After losing at home to Marshwood, 9-5, Scarborough closed with a 14-4 victory at Windham to wind up 8-4 and first.
In the quarterfinals Wednesday, against No. 8 Bonny Eagle, the Red Storm got off to a slow start, but pulled away for a 14-4 win.
Kennebunk began the 2013 season with an 8-7 win at Thornton Academy, then dominated visiting Portland, 16-5. A stunningly decisive 15-1 loss at defending Class B champion Waynflete followed. After romping over visiting Westbrook (16-5), at Bonny Eagle (18-5) and at home over Sanford (15-2), the Rams lost at Marshwood (16-7) and at home to Western B power Falmouth (14-9). After squeaking out an 8-7 win at Massabesic, Kennebunk lost at home to Cheverus (13-6), then bounced back to beat visiting Gorham (19-12), before closing with the loss at Scarborough.
Wednesday, in their quarterfinal, the Rams defeated No. 5 Thornton Academy, 9-6, in an effort that foreshadowed what would transpire Saturday.
Kennebunk started strong, as one of its four freshman who played a pivotal role in the game, Schwartzman, scored unassisted 4 minutes, 6 seconds in for a 1-0 lead.
A little over a minute later, another freshman, Sandford, got in on the fun with an unassisted tally to make it 2-0.
Scarborough senior goalie Meg Kirsch, who has come up huge in so many big games over the years, kept it a two-goal deficit when she robbed Rams sophomore Haley Fecko on a free position, but at the other end, sophomore Bailey Adams' free position bid to get the Red Storm on the board was turned aside by Kennebunk senior goalie Lizzie Stockbridge and moments later, Stockbridge twice denied Scarborough junior Ainsley Jamieson.
With 13:19 to play in the first half, the Rams stretched their lead to 3-0, as Schwartzman took a pass from Fecko and beat Kirsch to force Wood to call timeout.
It worked as the Red Storm broke through with 11:54 left, as tenacious senior Maiti Kent pounced on a ground ball after Stockbridge denied Pietras and shot it past the goalie to break the ice.
When Pietras scored unassisted 35 seconds later, Scarborough was within one, 3-2, but in a theme that would recur all day, Kennebunk refused to let the Red Storm draw even.
A free position goal from Sandford with 10:16 left in the half restored a two-goal lead and with 9:38 to go, Truman scored her first goal, unassisted, to push the lead back to three, 5-2.
Kirsch kept the game from getting out of hand, denying a shot by Truman, then robbing Bryant.
With 2:25 to go before halftime, Pietras scored unassisted and 37 seconds later, Jamieson converted a free position to again bring Scarborough within one, 5-4.
In the waning seconds of the half, the Red Storm had a pair of great opportunities to draw even, but first freshman Abby Corbin, then Jamieson had free position shots denied by Stockbridge and the game went to the half with Kennebunk still in front.
"Liz is our rock," Bryant said. "She keeps us sound and brings us wins."
First half stats were almost even, as the Rams had a 12-11 edge in shots and forced 10 turnovers while committing eight, while the Red Storm won 18 ground balls to Kennebunk's 16. Each goalie made six saves and draws were even, 5-5, but that would change emphatically in the second half.
Setting the tone, freshman Jenny Bush won the opening draw and after senior Betsy Craig hit the crossbar, the Rams got some breathing room on an unassisted tally from Truman with 20:15 to play.
With 17:18 left, Scarborough got within one again, 6-5, as Kent took a pass from Jamieson and finished.
Again, Kennebunk answered, as Fecko scored unassisted with 16:37 to go.
After Bryant hit the post and Stockbridge robbed Pietras, Adams took a pass from Corbin and finished with 11:43 to play, making the score 7-6.
The Red Storm was once again on the brink of catching up and perhaps seizing momentum for good, but the Rams simply wouldn't buckle.
Bryant (who had moved into the draw circle after Truman's goal early in the second half) won possession and with 10:23 to play, Truman scored unassisted to make it 8-6.
When Bryant scored her first and only goal (unassisted) with 9:01 left, the lead was back to three, 9-6, and Wood had to call timeout again.
"Early in the season, we had a senior, me, scoring most of the goals, but now it's balanced," Bryant said. "We spread the scoring all around."
Scarborough was eager to rally, but to do so, the Red Storm needed the ball and Bryant wasn't about to oblige, winning yet another draw.
"Rose going both ways, she's strong on every part of the field, so why not have her do that?" Kennebunk coach Annie Barker said. "Jenny did such a good job on draws Wednesday, but it wasn't working today, so we had to go back to Rose. We'd rather not have her in the circle because we'd like to get her the ball, but we had to do it."
The Rams then played keep-away, running nearly four minutes off the clock before Scarborough forced a turnover, but the Red Storm gave the ball right back.
Kennebunk then ran the clock all the way down to the 1:18 mark before finally giving it away.
"We just knew if we could stay composed, we could burn the clock," Barker said.
The Red Storm kept its flickering hopes alive when Pietras scored the final goal of her high school career with 1:01 remaining, but sure enough, after a timeout, on the ensuing draw, Bryant won possession.
"I used to kind of work more on reaction timing, because I have quick reactions," Bryant said. "Today, I kind of just pushed and hoped to get it to myself. I tried to time my jumps. When I couldn't get it to it myself, we had Betsy Craig, we had Haley, we had (Olivia), we had Kyra coming in. It was a team effort entirely."
In the waning seconds, as it desperately tried to win possession, Scarborough was given two yellow cards for dangerous play, but the Rams, as they were throughout, were unfazed and ran out the clock.
At 12:24 p.m,. the Red Storm was champion no more and Kennebunk had a 9-7 victory.
"I''m so happy for all of us," Bryant said. "We played as a team."
Truman led the way offensively with three goals. Sandford and Schwartzman both had two, meaning freshmen produced almost half of the Rams' offense (including the tone-setting first three goals of the game). Mix in the play of Bush and fellow youngster Carly Sandler, and it was an amazing display of poise and skill from that foursome.
"I'm so proud of the freshmen," Bryant said. "We've talked about the last three years when we came here, we tried to win individually. This year, we really used everyone on the field, including four amazing freshmen."
"The freshmen are strong," Barker said. "They didn't play like freshmen. They're peaking at this point. We knew if we completely came together, we had the talent to do this."
Bryant and Fecko each scored once and Fecko had Kennebunk's lone assist.
Stockbridge made seven saves.
If lacrosse kept a time of possession stat a la football, the numbers would have been staggering. The Rams won 13 of 18 draws (Bryant won all seven of hers, while Bush went 6-of-11) and collected 37 ground balls (Bryant had a game-high 10, Craig seven) to 30 for Scarborough. Kennebunk only turned the ball over 16 times in the crucible of a playoff test against a defending champion which was doing everything in its power to win possession.
"The key was to possess the ball," Barker said. "We knew if we had the ball and kept (Scarborough sophomore midfielder Kaitlin) Prince out of the game, from either scoring or assisting, their attack would be disrupted and it was. It wasn't fluid anymore."
The Rams finished with a 22-15 edge in shots (19-14 on cage).
Kennebunk will look to win at Massabesic for the second time this spring Wednesday in the regional final and hopes to make it to the state final for the fifth time (the Rams lost to Yarmouth in the 2002 and 2006 Class B state games and to Brunswick in the 2007 and 2008 Class A Finals), where it would face either Cheverus (11-3) or Cony (11-3) Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium.
"We're peaking at the perfect time," Bryant said. "That's how we're getting through. We've been on such a roll. Coach said the TA game was the best she's seen us play and I think this game was just as good, if not better. We need to keep growing and keep perfecting everything and get everybody on the same level, which we're darn close to."
"Everybody's so even in Class A," Barker said. "We knew one of us had to rise to the top. We're finally believing it can be us. We'll have to do it on the road again. We've done that before to get to states. It does seem like we're peaking at the right time."
Scarborough's offense came from Pietras (three goals), Kent (two), Adams (one) and Jamieson (one). Corbin and Jamieson had an assist apiece. Kirsch closed her career with 10 saves. Senior Jess Meader led the team with five ground balls, while Prince collected four. The Red Storm committed just 16 turnovers, but its inability to get the ball sealed its fate.
"We couldn't win a draw," Wood lamented. "We made adjustments. We switched up our draw person. I put them on different spots on the circle. We did what we could. At points, they were better than we were, but I'm proud of (my girls). Who thought we'd be sitting No. 1 at all? It's been a roller-coaster ride. We're still at the top. We always want to be toward the top. (Annie) had them prepared for us."
Scarborough loses seniors Kent, Kirsch, Meader, Pietras, Ashlyn Haskell, Sarah Martens, Sam Nablo and Ashley Ronzo.
"We had a lot of seniors," Wood said. "Jess Meader and Ashley Ronzo and Sarah Martens have had great playoff runs."
Next year's team will feature a nucleus of Adams, Corbin, Jamieson, Prince and several others who saw key minutes this year.
Rest assured, the Red Storm's inability to win a championship was likely an aberration.
One soon to be corrected.
"My underclassmen are upset today too," Wood said. "We have a lot of girls who worked hard and played well. We'll be ready next year."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.
Previous Scarborough-Kennebunk playoff results
Western A semifinals
@ Scarborough 16 Kennebunk 6
Western A Final
@ Scarborough 9 Kennebunk 6
Western A quarterfinals
@ Scarborough 11 Kennebunk 3
Western A quarterfinals
@ Kennebunk 13 Scarborough 9
Western A Final
Kennebunk 10 @ Scarborough 9 (OT)