SCARBOROUGH—Two weeks ago, the seemingly unbeatable Scarborough boys’ soccer team played host to a Portland squad it has owned for the better part of a decade.
And promptly lost.
That early-season hiccup proved to be a blessing in disguise and it now appears that the Red Storm has returned to form.
With a vengeance.
Just ask the heretofore red-hot Noble Knights.
Noble, which beat Portland just after the Bulldogs upset Scarborough, came to the Kippy Mitchell Sports Complex without a loss Tuesday evening, but it didn’t take long for the Knights to learn that the gold standard in Western A boys’ soccer is still the defending champions.
The Red Storm put on a dazzling display of possession and finishing and put this one away by halftime as senior Sam Cekada provided the only goal the hosts would need, just over five minutes in, and before the break, freshman Noah Stracqualursi, senior Jordan Luong and senior Austin Doody tickled the twine for a commanding 4-0 advantage.
In the second half, sophomore Josh Morrissey and junior Sam Warren added goals and Scarborough went on to an emphatic and most impressive 6-0 victory, as six different players scored.
“This was big for us,” said Red Storm coach Mark Diaz. “We knew how well (Noble had) been playing. They’re worth a lot of (Heal) Points. They’ve beaten some good teams. The guys were up for it tonight. They reacted the right way. We talked about a quick start. The effort was there.”
Scarborough entered 2013 as the favorite, not just because it won the Class A state championship a year ago, but because it’s always good, even in years when Diaz warns that growing pains might be in store.
After dominating visiting South Portland, 5-0, in the opener, the Red Storm was stunned at home by Portland, 1-0 and promptly learned its lesson.
“We got ready for the next game and knew we’d come out strong the rest of the season,” Cekada said. “I don’t think it was the worst thing. It definitely got us going.”
“I was just upset and shocked after the Portland game,” Morrissey said. “I don’t think we went into it as hard as we should have.”
“We just made a lot of mistakes in that game and Portland did a lot right,” Diaz added. “It was really a baptism for my younger and less experienced players. They felt the pressure. They tried to grow from that.”
Scarborough bounced back to defeat host Marshwood and visiting Sanford by 4-0 scores.
Noble entered the year with no expectations, but has been a very pleasant surprise. After opening with a 3-2 win at Massabesic, the Knights held off host Marshwood, 4-3. Noble then welcomed Portland, which was coming off its upset win at Scarborough, and shocked the Bulldogs, 1-0. After playing host Deering to a scoreless tie, the Knights defeated visiting South Portland, 4-1, and visiting Thornton Academy, 4-1.
Scarborough has dominated Noble over the years, beating the Knights nine straight times since 2003 by a 61-4 composite margin. Last year’s game, in North Berwick, was close, but the Red Storm prevailed, 4-2.
Tuesday, Scarborough did it again, without leaving any doubt, and restored its claim as the team to beat in Western A.
The Red Storm seized control from the opening kick and took advantage of its first good opportunity.
With 34:51 still to play in the first half, sophomore Matt Caron launched a long throw from the right sideline and the ball came to Cekada, who one-timed a blast past Noble senior goalkeeper Drew Martin.
“The throw came in and I was waiting for it,” Cekada said.
“We capitalized tonight,” said Diaz. “We talked about putting shots on frame. We got fortunate with it. When you get that first goal, you can roll off of that. Cekada’s goal was really nice.”
Not content to score just once, Scarborough continued to press and with 26:07 left before halftime, senior Charlie Mader fed a pass to Stracqualursi, who has turned heads in his first varsity season. Stracqualursi chested the ball past a defender, then fired a low shot to the left of Martin into the net to make it 2-0.
The third goal came with 8:10 remaining in the first half. This time, senior standout Wyatt Omsberg made it happen with a lead pass to Luong behind the defense. Luong went one-on-one with Martin and finished to stretch the lead to 3-0.
Then, in the final minute, after Martin and a defender collided, failing to clear the ball, Doody bounced and finished (Omsberg got the assist) and the Red Storm was firmly in control at the break, up, 4-0.
“I think we came out strong and had good passes,” Morrissey said. “We worked hard and were able to finish. We were pumped up to play. We all wanted to win.”
In the first 40 minutes, Scarborough ousthot Noble, 13-2.
Little changed in the second half.
For starters, the Red Storm possessed the ball most of the time and when it didn’t, Scarborough’s defensive unit limited the chances of dangerous Knights junior Josh Emard.
“We were mainly worried about (Emard),” Morrissey said. “We put our solid defenders on him and marked him hard. They played great. I love our defense.”
“(Emard) is really fast and he moves around a lot,” Diaz said. “He’s smart. We talked about him quite a bit. He was on our radar. Fortunately, we had the ball a lot.”
After Omsberg was denied on a couple of occasions by Martin, Scarborough returned to its scoring ways late in the contest.
With 11:43 left, the ball came to Morrissey up top and he one-timed a blast into the goal to make it 5-0.
“I was standing outside the box, I took a touch and ripped it,” said Morrissey. “When it went in, I gave (my brother, senior Andrew Morrissey) a hug. It felt great.”
Exactly four minutes later, junior reserve Sam Warren got in on the fun, burying a rebound to make the score 6-0.
“It was good to see guys off the bench getting goals,” Cekada said. “Everyone played well. That was good to see.”
“We have a lot of people who can score,” Morrissey said.
“I’m very happy with six scorers,” Diaz added. “That’s how we try to do it. We don’t care who scores. We try to put people in spots. If they finish, great. We don’t want to be a one- or two-man team. We know we have good players.”
The Red Storm then put the finishing touches on their 6-0 triumph.
“We played really well together as a team,” Cekada said. “We connected some passes. We kept possession. That was all it took and the goals came. It was really big to come out and beat these guys, 6-0. It was kind of a statement.”
For the game, Scarborough outshot Noble, 26-3 (12-2 on frame). The Red Storm had a 10-2 advantage in corner kicks. Martin made six saves, while senior Pat Stanton had one save for the Red Storm.
Noble (now second to Deering in the Western A Heals) returns to action Thursday, when it hosts Bonny Eagle.
Scarborough, meanwhile, goes to Cheverus Saturday. After hosting Massabesic Tuesday of next week, the Red Storm (fourth in the standings) will be tested by a pair of Rams, at Gorham and at Deering. Westbrook, Biddeford, Windham, Thornton Academy and Bonny Eagle remain as well.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” Cekada said. “We’ll keep getting better and be a strong team going into the playoffs.”
“I think we have a long way to go,” said Morrissey. “We have to work every day.”
“We’re still working on finishing and situations,” Diaz added. “We have to get the ball served in better too. Cheverus will be tough. The guys know they have to bring their ‘A’ game every time. The next two weeks are serious.”
Scarborough senior Sam Cekada battles Noble senior Jake Coffey for possession.
Scarborough freshman Noah Stracqualursi goes way up to head the ball away from Noble seniors Jake Coffey (15) and Sean Jackson.
Scarborough senior Charlie Mader drives the ball forward by any means necessary.
Scarborough senior Austin Doody follows the ball into the goal to make the score 4-0 Red Storm at halftime.
Scarborough senior Sam Cekada reacts after scoring the first goal (as classmate Charlie Mader joins the celebration) of the Red Storm’s 6-0 home win over Noble Tuesday night.
Brandon McKenney photos.
Scarborough senior Jordan Luong is congratulated by junior Sam Ware after Luong gives the Red Storm a 3-0 lead in the first half.
More photos below.