Perfect Storm win first Class A crown!

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FALMOUTH—From the ashes of the agony of previous playoff heartbreaks, a perfect Storm was born.

The 2010 Scarborough girls’ soccer team set a standard to which all future Red Storm squads will aspire.

If it wasn’t enough that Scarborough erased the stain of recent playoff heartbreaks by winning a Class A state championship for the first time Saturday afternoon at Falmouth High School, the manner in which the Red Storm accomplished the feat ensured their immortality.

Scarborough came out and took it to previously unbeaten Bangor from the get-go, scored twice in the first half, added a goal in the second and since it couldn’t have ended any other way, completed its ascendance by shutting out the Rams, 3-0, completing its 18-game season without surrendering a single goal during normal play.

Senior Emma Bagley’s goal (off classmate Sarah Little’s corner kick) midway through the first half put the Red Storm ahead to stay. Senior Cortney Hughes added a goal just before halftime and for good measure, Little scored herself just over six minutes into the second half and Scarborough cruised to an easier-than-anticipated state game triumph.

“We came out today and played with a lot of passion,” said Red Storm coach Mike Farley, who’s produced strong team after strong team in his six seasons and got to taste a title for the first time. “Bangor’s a well coached team and we really turned it to a different level. The first half is something I haven’t seen before. We came out and played really well and it was awesome.”

Dream season

Scarborough has been plagued in recent years by disappointing playoff exits after solid regular seasons (including first round exits in 2005 and from 2007 through 2009) and this fall, the Red Storm knew they’d be judged on how they played in late October and early November.

This season, Scarborough excelled from the get-go, not only winning all 14 regular season contests, but doing so in amazing fashion, by not giving up a single goal.

The Red Storm earned the top seed for the playoffs and earned a huge dose of confidence with a 2-0 win over No. 8 Cape Elizabeth (a recent posteason nemesis) in the quarterfinals. They held off No. 5 Cheverus, 2-1, in the semis, surrendering their first and only goal of the season on a penalty kick. Wednesday, Scarborough rode senior Haley Carignan’s second half goal to a 1-0 victory over No. 2 Thornton Academy.

The Red Storm had never made it to the Class A state final, losing in three previous regional final appearances earlier in the decade. Scarborough did win the Class B crown in 1998 (2-1 over Ellsworth) and 1999 (5-2 over Ellsworth). The then-Redskins dropped a 4-3, double overtime decision to Winslow in their last state appearance, the 2000 Class B Final.

Bangor, which has had fine teams in recent years, only to play in the shadow of Brunswick, Mt. Ararat and Waterville, broke through this time. After a 12-0-2 regular season, the Rams eliminated No. 8 Mt. Blue (1-0), No. 3 Waterville (2-1, 4-3 on PKs) and top-ranked, undefeated and defending state champion Brunswick in Wednesday’s regional final (2-1), to make their first state final appearance since 2005 (a 1-0 loss to Gorham) and second overall.

Saturday, from start to finish, it was Scarborough’s day.

The Red Storm turned on the pressure immediately, but weren’t rewarded with a goal for almost 20 minutes.

First, Hughes took a pass from senior Tori Armishaw and directed a shot on goal that hit a Rams’ defender and appeared bound for the net before Bangor junior goalkeeper Mia Smith made the save.

Three minutes later, an Armishaw rush was broken up at the last second. With 22:55 left in the 40-minute first half, Bagley crossed to sophomore Sarah Martens, but her shot was just off the mark. Seventeen seconds later, Bagley attempted a shot, but Smith made the save.

Scarborough kept pushing and earned a corner kick. Then, with 20:53 to play before halftime, Little’s kick was redirected by Bagley into the goal and the Red Storm had the only score they’d need and a 1-0 lead.

“Emma just kind of went for it and it went right in,” said Little. “It felt good, but we kept thinking it was 0-0 and kept up the pressure.”

The tandem almost hooked up again with 15:10 remaining, but Little’s cross barley eluded Bagley. A minute later, Armishaw nudged the ball just wide.

While Bangor couldn’t do anything offensively, barely advancing the ball past midfield, Scarborough probed the Rams’ defense and took a 2-0 advantage with 1:37 left before halftime when Armishaw’s free kick was saved, but not held by Smith and Hughes was there to bang it home.

“I was shocked because I thought we’d have state jitters since we’d never been here before, but once we settled down and possessed, we controlled the entire game,” Armishaw said.

“You worry about nerves and we just possessed,” Farley added. “We had no letdown and came out passionate from the opening whistle. I think we just wanted it. We won the last two games in the second half. We won this one in the first half. Those early goals really changed the game.”

As expected, with its season on the line, Bangor came out invigorated in the second half and pressured, but senior Nicolette Caron broke up the rush of Rams senior Kim Jordan 1:32 in and after Bangor kept the pressure on for the next few minutes, the Red Storm were able to counter-attack and it led to the backbreaking goal.

With 33:49 to go, junior Kaitlin Reynolds passed to Armishaw, who fed Little with a perfect pass and Little’s blast was too hard for Smith to stop as it tickled the twine for a 3-0 lead.

“I saw Kaitlin was going to cross it and that Tori was going to go for it and I went kind of behind her and I knew I had to keep going for it and I got the ball, looked up at the goalie and just placed it in the far corner,” said Little.

“Coach said that the first 10 minutes of the half, we had to step it up and not settle for the two goals, that the third goal would be the biggest goal,” Armishaw said. “We’ve been playing with each other since the fourth grade and know where each other will be. We click. That’s how we won and how we were so successful.”

“In the second half, to Bangor’s credit, they came out and put up a lot of pressure,” Farley added. “Bangor a tough team to give up no goals against. They’re very dangerous. It was only 2-0, so we knew the next goal was going to be huge. Luckily, after the play was going their way, we got a break to go our way and scored another goal. It was against the run of play. That really changed the game.”

Bangor junior Ashley Robinson had three chances later in the half, but either missed or was denied by Scarborough senior goalkeeper Jill Deering.

Late in the contest, Farley substituted liberally and replaced Deering with senior Abby Van Note (who saw ample playing time this year and helped contribute to the shutout streak).

Down the stretch, there was no way the Red Storm were about to give up a goal and despite seven corner kicks for the Rams (Scarborough finished with 10), the score remained 3-0 and when the final horn sounded, the new champions exulted.

“It’s great, unbelievable,” Armishaw said. “We definitely felt the pressure and getting here the pressure was still on obviously, but it feels great now.”

“It’s an awesome feeling,” said Little. “We’ve worked hard the whole time and knew with 12 seniors, it was our year to go as far as we could and we definitely did that. (The playoff losses) really drove us, especially the 12 seniors. We’ve played soccer together since travel years so we knew we had to play really hard.”

“Everything is just so wonderful,” said junior defensive specialist Emily Tolman. “We knew Bangor would be a difficult team. They have so many talented players. We were shocked to get up by three. We thought it would be a close 1-0 game. We were surprised.”

“I have 12 seniors and I felt so bad for them the last couple years,” Farley added. “For them to come out this year and lead this team the way they did is so awesome. I’m so happy for them. The whole town of Scarborough will love it. It’s good to see these kids earn it. They deserve it.”

The players and Farley felt that the first playoff victory over Cape Elizabeth was the big one and helped set the stage for this championship.

“The first playoff game was our biggest game,” Armishaw said. “Once we got past that, we settled in and played our game and knew how good of a team we were.”

“It made us so motivated,” Tolman said. “No one really expected us to do so well because of the past. We wanted to prove them wrong.”

“Once we won that first game, we got over the hump and we started to play really good soccer,” Farley said. “We had some heartbreaks and this made it all worth it. They certainly wanted it more because of the letdowns we had the past couple years.”

The streak

Coming into the season, Scarborough figured its defense would be solid, but to go nearly 1,500 minutes without giving a goal in the run of play is unfathomable.

In retrospect, it was a complete team effort.

“Our defense is proud,” Tolman said. “Everyone works so hard. Once we got the streak going, we didn’t want to let one in. It’s the whole team. It has to go through everyone to get to the back.”

“Our defense really stayed strong,” Little said. “We had good all-around players, defense, midfield and even strikers. When you work well together, then you’re unstoppable.”

“I would have never thought that in a million years think you can put a season like this together,” Farley added. “All the credit to these players. They did an amazing job of staying focused in every game. It was 25 players. Two goalkeepers and players off the bench. They all earned it.”

More to come?

Scarborough will be hard hit by graduation, but the cupboard won’t be left bare. Several underclassmen saw ample playing time in 2010 and will look to keep the good times rolling in 2011. While next year’s team might not be perfect, it will make a run at a second straight title.

“It will be hard to rebuild, but I think we can do it,” said Tolman. “We have so much talent coming up and the non-starters are all so talented.”

“We’ve played everyone all year long,” Farley added. “A lot of kids got good experience. We have big shoes to fill, but I think we’ll be good again next year.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net

Scarborough senior goalie Jill Deering slides out to put a stop to the scoring bid of Bangor junior Ashley Robinson. Deering and her defensive mates pitched yet another shutout, the Red Storm’s 17th in 18 contests this fall.

Scarborough senior Heidi Bogdanovich (back) and Bangor junior Ashley Robinson are both focused on the ball as they jockey for position and wait for it to land.

Scarborough junior Meghan Tyson sends a shot toward the goal while being closely defended by Bangor sophomore Denae Johnson.

Scarborough senior Margaret Palmer slides a pass ahead before Bangor junior Hanna Colpritt can get a foot in to stop it.

Scarborough senior Emma Bagley is mobbed by happy teammates after scoring the Red Storm’s first goal in Saturday’s 3-0 win over Bangor for the Class A girls’ soccer championship.

The Scarborough girls’ soccer players hoist the Class A gold ball after defeating Bangor 3-0 for the title on Saturday.

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The Scarborough girls’ soccer players celebrate on the field after the final horn sounds on their 3-0 Class A state championship victory over Bangor.

More photos below.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.