Defending champion Scarborough handles SP in opener
SCARBOROUGH—Great players depart the Scarborough boys' soccer team every year, but this program simply carries on and excels.
Season after season after season.
The 2013 Red Storm debuted Saturday afternoon at the Kippy Mitchell Sports Complex, hosting a dangerous South Portland squad which gave it fits a year ago, and quickly demonstrated that there is no appreciable dropoff from last year's undefeated champion, despite being a new squad with new faces.
After an early onslaught couldn't produce a goal, Scarborough broke the ice in the 13th minute when junior Brendan Lorello, one of many playing bigger roles this fall, scored his first varsity goal.
Next, it was reigning all-state star Wyatt Omsberg's chance to shine. Omsberg redirected a corner kick for a 2-0 halftime lead and early in the second half, headed home another corner to end the game's competitive phase.
The hosts then got goals from senior Sam Cekada, another returning standout, and unheralded freshman Noah Stracqualursi to finish off the Red Riots, 5-0.
"(Our tradition is) unspoken," said Scarborough's longtime accomplished coach Mark Diaz. "Fortunately, the senior class teaches the younger kids how to do things. They show them how and lead by example and we keep going. The younger kids watch and want their turn. We were unselfish with the ball. We definitely finished well today. It was one of those days. I thought we controlled the middle. That was the key from the start."
Scarborough didn't lose a game in 2012, but the Red Storm did settle for two ties, including one at South Portland, 2-2. That was the first positive result the Red Riots ever enjoyed in 11 all-time meetings with Scarborough, having lost the previous 10 by a composite 30-2 margin (that includes a 4-0 Red Storm win in the 2009 quarterfinals).
South Portland has risen to the point where it is a regular contender until coach Bryan Hoy. Last fall, the Red Riots won eight games, but were upset by Noble, 2-0, in the preliminary round.
Scarborough's third undefeated championship season in a five-year span was followed by another annual rite, the loss of premier talent to graduation, but the Red Storm simply reload and entered the new season as the favorite once more.
Saturday, it didn't take long for Scarborough to impose its will.
Early on, however, the Red Storm was frustrated by South Portland junior goalkeeper Henry Curran.
Just 81 seconds into the game, Omsberg delivered a nice cross into the box that senior Joe Lancaster couldn't quite reach.
A minute later, Curran batted away Ian Corey's 35-yard free kick with his left hand.
In the fifth minute, senior Jordan Luong's throw from the side was headed by senior Max Ornstein on target, forcing Curran to leap and tip over the bar, setting up a corner kick. On the ensuing corner, Ornstein headed the ball just wide of the goal.
With 31:30 to play in the first half, Curran made his best save, robbing Ornstein on the doorstep. Omsberg followed with a one-timer which deflected wide.
The hosts finally broke through with 27:03 to play in the half as Lorello did the honors.
After junior Josh Morrissey won possession in the midfield, he played the ball to a streaking Lorello racing down the right side. Lorello got to the ball and blasted a shot past Curran to the goalie's right and into the left side of the goal for a 1-0 advantage.
"It was just unreal," said Lorello, who had never before scored in a varsity game. "I had a nice pass from Josh, saw the corner and shot it straight in. It felt really good. A great way to start the season. We had to get that first one in. The whole team was behind me. I feel like I'm in the tradition now. Last year, I was off the bench a lot. This year I'm in it and started the season right."
"(Brendan's) goal set the tone for the rest of the game," Omsberg said.
"The first goal's always the tough one to get, especially when you're outplaying your opponent," Diaz added. "That allowed us to relax and from there, we played better."
Scarborough continued to carry play, but it took over 20 minutes for the second goal to be scored.
That happened with 6:40 remaining and it came on a set play.
Off a corner kick, Corey lofted the ball into the center of the box, where Omsberg calmly waited for it to near the ground before one-timing a blast past Curran to make it 2-0, a lead which held into the break.
In the first 40 minutes, Scarborough outshot South Portland, 8-1, and had seven corner kicks to none for the Red Riots.
The Red Storm ended all doubt with three goals in 15 minutes in the second half.
After South Portland's best scoring chance resulted in a shot by senior Robert Graff and a save from Scarborough junior goalkeeper Sam Warren (who bobbled the ball, but regained it), the Red Storm made it 3-0, thanks to Omsberg.
On a corner kick.
This time, Corey's serve found its way to Omsberg's head and he sent the ball pas Curran.
"The two I scored on, I got a little space and just tried to put it on net," said Omsberg. "(Ian) serves a nice ball and it's easy for me to put it in."
"We have some (corner kicks) set up for Wyatt, some for other players," Diaz said. "The ones for Wyatt worked."
"Wyatt is a great player," said Hoy. "He's one of the best players in the league. We thought our two defensive center-mids could defend him, but we kept opening the middle of the field and there was opening after opening for him. We need to sort that out."
Goal number four came with 29:34 remaining and Lorello again played a part, this time setting up senior Sam Cekada, who scored with a low shot from 20-yards out.
"We take good touches, we find each other, have great teamwork," Lorello said. "That's how our goals happen."
Scarborough scored once more with 18:24 left, as junior Wyatt Bridgham set up freshman Noah Stracqualursi, who finished for his first varsity tally.
The Red Storm ran out the clock from there and prevailed, 5-0.
"We lost a lot from last year, but we're back and we're ready," said Omsberg. "We were a little shaky, but once we got settled in, we were fine. This is definitely a new team with new faces, but we're ready to play. We had a different mindset this year. We came prepared."
"The forwards did well," Diaz said. "We've worked really hard on the offensive third. South Portland's a good team, they'll win some games, but we were tough to stop with the way we finished."
South Portland, which was outshot, 13-4, knows it has work to do, but knows it can also play a lot better.
"I don't want to take anything away from (Scarborough), but we're better than that," said Hoy. "We didn't play our best game. It's weird because last year, we played awful in the preseason and came out and tied them and this time, we played great in the preseason and came out and didn't play well. Maybe it was a letdown, but I don't think this is the team we'll have the rest of the season. Everyone's entitled to a bad game now and then, but Scarborough's relentless. They play one-touch better than we do and they're faster. We had trouble controlling and making passes on the turf. Scarborough just bounced it around like a pinball machine."
South Portland is back in action and hopes to get in the win column Tuesday at Thornton Academy. The Red Riots play at home for the first time Thursday, when they welcome another top contender, Gorham.
"We need to figure out something quick, or we'll be in a real hole," said Hoy. "We have to play our game. This is one of 14 regular season games. It's tough to open against the best team. Everyone's a little bit nervous coming out of preseason. Scarborough is just a really good team."
Scarborough has another home test Tuesday, when Portland comes to town for a playoff rematch. The Red Storm has its first game away from home Thursday, when it visits Biddeford.
Despite Saturday's dominance, this edition is still a work in progress.
"We need to get better every day," said Omsberg. "There are things we can work on to get better, but we're looking forward to it."
"We still obviously need to get better," Diaz said. "We can pass the ball better and switch the point of attack. We'll face pressure against Portland Tuesday. They have athletes. They'll come to play. We'll have to run back toward our goal more."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.
Previous Scarborough-South Portland results
@ South Portland 2 Scarborough 2
@ Scarborough 2 South Portland 0
Scarborough 3 @ South Portland 0
@ Scarborough 4 South Portland 1
Western A quarterfinals
@ Scarborough 4 South Portland 0
Scarborough 2 @ South Portland 0
@ Scarborough 2 South Portland 1
Scarborough 4 @ South Portland 0
@ Scarborough 2 South Portland 0
@ Scarborough 6 South Portland 0
Scarborough 1 @ South Portland 0