SCARBOROUGH—It’s bad enough for the opposition that the Scarborough boys’ soccer team is good.
Very good in fact.
But it’s almost unfair when the Red Storm are getting the bounces to go their way as well.
That’s what happened Saturday afternoon when two-time defending Class A champions hosted Cheverus at the Kippy Mitchell Sports Complex.
The Stags were every bit the Red Storm’s equal in a back-and-forth first half, but Scarborough got a break in the 12th minute when a shot from junior Matt Caron deflected off a Cheverus defender and went over the head of helpless Stags junior goalkeeper Jake Tomkinson into the net.
The Red Storm added a second goal with 34 minutes to play, when a shot was deflected and as Tomkinson came out to play the ball, but Scarborough sophomore Garrett King outleaped him and headed it into the net.
The Red Storm defense then capped a terrific 80-minute effort by holding Cheverus at bay and Scarborough went on to a 2-0 victory.
The Red Storm improved to 6-0 with their 23rd straight victory over the past two seasons and dropped the Stags to 3-2 in the process.
“Cheverus is a good team,” said Scarborough coach Mark Diaz. “They’re good defensively, well organized. We knew we wouldn’t get a lot of easy chances. We got some opportunities, we made the most of them and it worked out for us. We got some bounces. We were in the right place.”
Scarborough has dominated virtually every foe it has faced since joining the Southwestern Maine Activities Association in 2003 and Cheverus has been no exception.
Over the past 11 seasons, the Red Storm beat the Stags on 10 occasions and tied the other, outscoring Cheverus, 29-3, in the process (see sidebar, below). Last fall, in Portland, Scarborough enjoyed a 3-0 triumph.
So far this season, the Red Storm, despite having to fill a lot of holes, have played up to their usual level of dominance, while the Stags have responded nicely to new coach Colin Minte.
Cheverus opened with a 2-1 home loss to Deering, then turned around and won at Marshwood (1-0) at home versus Windham (2-0) and at home over Biddeford (2-1).
Scarborough enjoyed a 4-1 win at South Portland in its first game, then won at Portland, 1-0. Home shutouts of Biddeford (6-0) and Marshwood (2-0) were followed by a 3-1 victory at Sanford.
Saturday, the Red Storm might have been lucky, but they made their own luck as they improved to 42-2-4 over the past three-plus regular seasons.
After a couple early shots from Scarborough senior Sam Ware were off the mark, Cheverus junior Andrei Vile sent a pair of shots on goal, but Red Storm senior goalkeeper Sam Warren saved them both.
The hosts then pushed to take the lead, but King shot just wide, Ware had a left-footed blast saved by Tomkinson and King sent a header wide.
After Stags junior Brady Levesque was just wide after making a nice run, Scarborough broke through.
The play began innocuously as a Cheverus defender appeared to be clearing the ball out of the box, but Caron intercepted the pass and he fired a shot while being hit. The ball bounced off a defender and changed trajectory, giving Tomkinson no chance to make the save and with 28:19 to play in the first half, the ball sailed into the net for a 1-0 Red Storm lead.
“The defender tried to clear it, I got it, kind of took a touch and tried to put it on net,” Caron said. “It got deflected and went over the goalie who came out. I had no clue if it was going in. I was on the ground after the shot.”
Cheverus looked to equalize, but senior Ethan Grove shot wide, junior standout Mackenzie Hoglund had a shot saved by Warren, senior Aston Kritzer shot high and senior Jerry Wagner’s header off of Vile’s free kick just sailed over the crossbar, sending the game to the half with Scarborough ahead, 1-0.
“I thought we had good chances in the first half, but we couldn’t capitalize,” Minte said. “You can’t give up soft goals and you can’t miss opportunities against a good team.”
The Stags’ chances were fewer in the second half and it wasn’t long before the Red Storm added an insurance goal.
After Tomkinson made a diving save on a header from senior Wyatt Bridgham, Scarborough took a 2-0 lead with 34:24 to play as a ball got played outside the box, deflected off a defender then hung in the air in front of the goal. Tomkinson came out to get it, but the taller King rose higher and got his head on the ball, nudging it past Tomkinson and into the empty net.
“Garrett brings the height aspect to our team,” Caron said. “We’re not a tall team. He can get the headers.”
“(Garrett and Matt) been clutch in close games,” Diaz said. “They both work hard, but we’ve actually done most of our scoring this year by committee.”
“Unfortunately, we had a couple tough bounces,” Minte said. “You can’t give up those types of chances against a team like Scarborough.”
A minute later, Hoglund almost got the Stags on the board, but his low blast was saved by a diving Warren, who tipped the ball out to give Cheverus a corner kick which resulted in nothing.
After Tomkinson saved a blast from Scarborough sophomore Noah Stracqualursi, Hoglund shot high with 20 minutes to go in what proved to be the Stags’ final good chance.
Senior Ian Corey almost added to the Red Storm’s lead with 16:31 remaining, but a diving Tomkinson save kept the ball out of the net.
Scarborough then slammed the door shut defensively and put the finishing pieces on its 2-0 triumph.
“It was a good game for our team,” said Caron. “Most of our work was on the defensive end. We got kind of lucky goals. We gutted it out. We expected Cheverus to be a good team. We knew we had to shut Mackenzie down. Our strikers up top and our defense have put us over the top. We have four great backs. Ian Corey has been fantastic. Sam Warren has shut the door for us.”
“I thought we played well defensively,” Diaz said. “That’s what I’m most proud of today. It was an 80-minute defensive game for us. We stayed focused.
“To be (undefeated) at this point and to still be growing, I’m pleased for the guys. My young guys have stepped up. My leaders have been leaders. The seniors have been unselfish, taking on different roles, and that’s made us successful.”
Scarborough finished with a 19-9 shots advantage (11-2 in the second half) and had five corner kicks to four for Cheverus. Warren made four saves.
The Stags, who got eight saves from Tomkinson, ultimately had to tip their cap to the state’s gold standard program.
“Scarborough’s so disciplined and well organized,” Minte said. “Defensively, they aren’t going to give up anything soft. They’ve got very good technical players. Their guys come in and know exactly what to do. They’ll play the ball in the middle and the guy out wide will make a run. The striker runs diagonally into space. They may be a little younger this year, by no means are they going to have a down year. They have good athletes. Soccer players who play year-round. I think they’ll contend for another Gold Ball.”
The 2014 regular season still has a long way to go, but both teams are focusing on not only making the playoffs, but locking up high seeds.
Cheverus (11th in the Western Class A Heal Points standings at press time) is back in action when it hosts Sanford Tuesday. The Stags’ scheduled home game versus Portland Thursday has been moved to Oct. 11.
“I think we’re still fighting to find our identity as a team,” Minte said. “We can’t give up soft goals against top teams. They’ll put away their chances. We’ve got a chance to be a team that can do some damage in the playoffs. We haven’t played our best soccer.”
Scarborough (fourth in Western A) goes on the road Tuesday to face Noble. The Red Storm still have a couple big tests remaining on the slate, but both are at home, versus Gorham Oct. 2 and Deering five days later.
“We’re getting better as we go on,” Caron said. “We get better every game, but we’re not even close to where we can be potential-wise.”
“We’ve still go work to do,” Diaz said. “We have to move the ball better and switch fields better. We have to get better in the offensive third. We know we have a long way to go. Next week and the week after will be big tests for us.”
Scarborough senior Ian Corey plays the ball away from Cheverus senior Derek Hammond.
Scarborough senior Sam Ware and Cheverus senior Derek Hammond battle for a ball in the air.
Cheverus junior Mackenzie Hoglund splits Scarborough defenders junior Nick Lorello (left) and senior Sam Ware.
Scarborough junior Jake Kacer plays the ball on the run.
Cheverus junior John Nappi gets his head on the ball.
Cheverus junior goalkeeper Jake Tomkinson dives to prevent a goal.
Cheverus junior Andrei Vile goes way up to head the ball.
Scarborough senior Sam Ware goes one-on-one against Cheverus sophomore Will Peterson.
Scarborough senior goalkeeper Sam Warren goes all out to make a save.
Scarborough 3 @ Cheverus 0
Scarborough 4 @ Cheverus 0
@ Scarborough 2 Cheverus 0
Scarborough 5 @ Cheverus 0
@ Scarborough 3 Cheverus 1
Scarborough 2 @ Cheverus 0
@ Scarborough 1 Cheverus 0
@ Cheverus 1 Scarborough 1 (tie)
Scarborough 2 @ Cheverus 0
@ Scarborough 3 Cheverus 0
Scarborough junior Matt Caron celebrates his first half goal during the Red Storm’s 2-0 home win over Cheverus Saturday afternoon.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.