Scarborough and Portland battle to 1-1 tie

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SCARBOROUGH—This one had a little of everything.




And physical play.

Lots and lots of physical play.

Thursday evening at the Kippy Mitchell Sports Complex, two of the three remaining unbeaten boys’ soccer teams in Class A South did battle in more ways than one and after 90 minutes, there was no resolution to be found.

Portland, which came in unbeaten and unscored upon, jumped to a surprising 1-0 lead on a terrific free kick goal from senior Sam Farr late in the first half and a series of Scarborough near misses, combined with the play of Bulldogs senior goalkeeper Bobby Brittingham, kept the visitors on top deep into the second half.

Then, with 17:36 remaining in regulation, on a seemingly harmless play, Red Storm junior Noah Stracqualursi fought through the Portland defense and tied the score.

Neither team could find the net from there and after 80 minutes of regulation and 10 minutes of overtime failed to produce a winner, the game, which featured eight yellow cards, went in the books as a 1-1 tie.

Portland is now 5-0-4 on the season and Scarborough 6-0-2.

“Obviously, we wanted the 1-0 result, but it is what it is,” said Bulldogs coach Rocco Frenzilli. “They’re not one of the top teams in the state every year for nothing. I’m happy we got a result.”

“We had some opportunities and didn’t finish, but we did come back,” said Scarborough coach Mark Diaz. “Overall, I’m proud of our effort.”

Something had to give

Both teams entered the game without a loss.

Scarborough is accustomed to having a ‘0’ in its loss column, producing undefeated regular seasons seven times since 2004, including last year. This fall, the Red Storm started with a 4-0 win at Deering, then handled visiting Bonny Eagle (5-1) before settling for a scoreless tie at Gorham. Scarborough then edged visiting South Portland (2-1), blanked visiting Sanford (4-0) and host Biddeford (6-0), then somewhat avenged last year’s playoff ouster with a 4-2 home win over Cheverus in Tuesday’s rematch of the 2014 Western A Final.

Portland opened with a scoreless home tie against defending Class A champion Cheverus, then won at Noble, 3-0, to give Frenzilli his 200th career win. After handling visiting Windham, 3-0, the Bulldogs settled for another scoreless home tie, this time against Thornton Academy. Portland followed that up with shutout wins at Marshwood (1-0), at home over Massabesic (4-0) and at Westbrook (1-0), before playing visiting South Portland to a 0-0 tie Tuesday.

Prior to Thursday, Scarborough had gone 13-3-1 all-time (including a 4-1 postseason mark) against Portland, even though the Bulldogs won the first two meetings (see sidebar, below). Last year, the Red Storm prevailed, 1-0, at Portland.

Thursday, the Bulldogs appeared primed for a rare win over Scarborough, but the Red Storm stayed composed and rallied.

In the first half, Scarborough had some great chances, none better than a blast from junior Garrett King which hit the crossbar and landed at the foot of senior Jacob McGarvey, who was denied on the rebound by Brittingham.

With 5:19 to go in the half, Portland got a break, as Red Storm senior goalkeeper Cam Nigro was ruled to have played the ball with his hands outside the box, giving the visitors a free kick which Farr buried for a 1-0 lead.

Physical play had already been established and multiple cards were issued in the first half. 

That didn’t change in the second as Scarborough pushed for and eventually produced the tying tally.

Just 34 seconds into the second half, King’s shot in the box was deflected out, giving Scarborough a corner kick, on which senior Nick Lorello shot just wide.

Senior Matt Caron then had a rush broken up by Bulldogs senior back Erick Molina-Garcia.

With 31:23 to play, Red Storm senior Jacob Kacer got a great look in close and fired a blast that Brittingham somehow managed to tip over the crossbar.

The hosts kept pressuring, but Brittingham leaped to snare a Caron throw, then Brittingham fell on a loose ball in the box.

Finally, with 17:36 left, Scarborough broke through.

Kacer sent the ball ahead toward Stracqualursi, but he appeared surrounded by defenders. Somehow, Stracqualursi managed to possess the ball and split two defenders, then as Brittingham came out to contest, as he was being forced to the turf, Stracqualursi managed to fire a shot into the net to make it 1-1.

The goal ended Brittingham’s amazing run of 732 minutes and 24 seconds this fall without surrendering a goal.

With all the momentum in their favor, the Red Storm hoped to take the lead.

They got a great chance with 13:51 left when a Portland defender was given a yellow card for a push just outside the box. That gave King a free kick, but his well-placed bid was denied by a diving Brittingham and an ensuing corner kick was headed out of harm’s way.

With 8:36 to go in regulation, Scarborough senior Josh Morrissey shot just wide.

At the other end, Farr shot high.

The Red Storm earned a couple corners late, but the first was headed out and the second saw Kacer shoot wide.

The game would go to overtime, where teams get two five-minute sessions to score and end the game and if no one converts, it goes in the books as a draw.

That would be the case in this one.

The only good chance of the first OT saw Caron blast a free kick high.

Then, in the second overtime, Brittingham saved King’s left-footed chip, Farr sent a long shot wide, King had a rush broken up by Bulldogs senior Wade Faria and a last second free kick from Portland’s Sam Madrdi-Brenis was sent out of harm’s way bringing the curtain down on the 1-1 tie.

Following the game, which featured too many hard hits to count, some of which resulted in cards and many more that did not, the two coaches had a protracted (albeit civil) discussion about what transpired and suffice it to say, neither was happy afterwards.

“”I’m really at a loss right now,” said Frenzilli. “It was an exciting game, but there was too much extracurricular stuff happening. I’m on the sideline trying to watch play and things are happening and I’m being told things are happening. As a coach, you feel helpless because you don’t see it. We weren’t blameless, they weren’t either. I think it was just a hard, hard game played between two teams who really wanted the game. I thought the play was good. It was spirited. It was incredibly emotional for me and my players and I’m sure it was for Mark and his kids too. I have the utmost respect for Mark and his program. I want to feel good about my boys and how we played. I thought we reacted well.”

“It was not soccer, I know that,” Diaz said. “We had one card, they had seven. It was that way right from the start. I told the kids to keep their composure, which I think for the most part, we did. We can’t play that style. We don’t want to play that style. I think we got caught up in it and we played a little fast.”

Scarborough finished with a 16-9 edge in shots and had nine corner kicks to just one for Portland. Nigro made three saves to nine for Brittingham.

Playoffs near

With the midway point of the season in the rearview mirror, both teams will look to finish strong and finish as high in the standings as possible.

Portland (fourth in the Class A South Heal Points standings at press time) is back in action Tuesday at Bonny Eagle, then will be tested by visiting Gorham Thursday. After playing at Biddeford, the Bulldogs close with home games versus Sanford and rival Deering.

“We’re just trying to get better,” Frenzilli said. “It doesn’t get any easier. Everybody’s playing tough.”

Scarborough (now ranked third in Class A South) goes to Westbrook Tuesday, then has a key home showdown versus undefeated Thornton Academy Thursday. The Red Storm have games at Noble and Marshwood, host Massabesic, then finish the regular season at Windham.

“We’re still growing and maturing and learning,” Diaz said. “It’s good for us because in the playoffs we might run into physical play like that. We have big games next week. We have to keep getting better. I like this group. I like that they’re starting to figure it out. They’re playing playoff-style soccer already.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Scarborough seniors Jacob Kacer (left) and Josh Morrissey and Portland senior Brady Cyr go for a header during the teams’ 1-1 tie Thursday night.

Bruce Feeley photos.

Scarborough senior Andrew Porada plays keep-away from Portland senior Brady Cyr as Red Storm senior goalkeeper Cam Nigro looks on.

Scarborough senior Jacob Kacer prepares to unleash a shot.

Portland senior goalkeeper Bobby Brittingham leaps to make a save. Brittingham allowed his first goal of the season Thursday, but stopped nine shots.

Sidebar Elements

Previous Scarborough-Portland meetings

Scarborough 1 @ Portland 0 

Portland 1 @ Scarborough 0
Western A Final
@ Scarborough 4 Portland 0 

Scarborough 6 @ Portland 1
Western A quarterfinals
@ Scarborough 3 Portland 0 

@ Scarborough 0 Portland 0 (tie) 

Scarborough 3 @ Portland 1 

@ Scarborough 3 Portland 0
Western A semifinals
@ Scarborough 7 Portland 2 

Scarborough 5 @ Portland 2 

@ Scarborough 5 Portland 0 

Scarborough 4 @ Portland 0 

@ Scarborough 3 Portland 0 

Scarborough 5 @ Portland 2 

Portland 3 @ Scarborough 1
Western A semifinals
@ Scarborough 3 Portland 2 (3 OT) 

Western A prelim
@ Portland 2 Scarborough 0 

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