SCARBOROUGH—It’s been feast or famine for the Scarborough boys’ soccer team this fall.
Either the Red Storm has been stuck kissing its proverbial sister, tying two games against top competition, or Scarborough has dominated the opposition.
Thursday evening against a promising Cheverus squad, the Red Storm went the middle route, not running away to an easy victory or settling for an unsatisfactory result, instead putting a notch in the victory column after a relative challenge.
The teams battled in a first half that saw the Stags draw even with 14:31 to go, but less than three minutes later, junior Wyatt Omsberg was held in the box, leading to a penalty kick, and Omsberg delivered, putting Scarborough ahead to stay. The Red Storm added a third goal midway through the second half and went on to a 3-1 victory.
In addition to Omsberg, senior Dan Ornstein and junior Charlie Mader scored as Scarborough improved to 3-0-2, dropping Cheverus to 3-2 in the process.
“We just settled down a little bit in the second half,” said Red Storm coach Mark Diaz. “We just tried to do too much, too fast. We slowed down. I got people to stay in their positions. One of our drawbacks is that we take off too quick. Patience is what we’re working on right now. We were patient in the second half. That’s how we envision playing soccer. We took our time and switched the point of attack. We had more chances. I was happy overall with our second half.”
Scarborough, which reached the Western A Final last fall before losing to Windham, entered the game 2-0-2, having battled host South Portland (2-2) and visiting Gorham (0-0) to ties, while handling visiting Marshwood (7-0) and host Portland (6-1).
Cheverus, a semifinalist in 2011 before losing to Windham, got off to a hot start this autumn, handling visiting Sanford (3-1) and Biddeford (7-0) and host Bonny Eagle (3-0), before suffering a surprising 1-0 home loss to Noble Tuesday.
The teams started playing in 2003 and over nine seasons, Scarborough held an 8-0 advantage (with one tie) over the Stags heading into Thursday night.
The Red Storm had enjoyed a composite 23-2 goals advantage in the series.
Thursday, form held, but it wasn’t easy.
In the first second of the 11th minute, Scarborough got the jump as senior Trevor Sparda’s long shot wasn’t cleanly handled by Cheverus junior goalkeeper Charlie Mull and Ornstein raced in to bang the loose ball home.
Three minutes later, the Red Storm almost doubled its lead as senior Austin Downing beat Mull to a loose ball, leaped and headed it on goal, but at the last second, a Stags defender kicked it out of harm’s way.
In the 26th minute, Cheverus freshman Andrei Vile sent a long lead pass to junior Elijah Yeboah who beat Scarborough junior goalkeeper Pat Stanton to the ball and tucked it into the net to tie the game, 1-1.
The lead didn’t even last three minutes.
With 11:43 left before halftime, the ball came into the box and play was halted as the Red Storm was awarded a penalty kick.
The ruling was that Omsberg was held in the box and Omsberg did the honors, shooting his PK into the right corner of the net, in the complete opposite direction of Mull’s dive.
“I was just thinking to hit it,” said Omsberg, who transferred to Scarborough from Messalonskee, which was a state finalist in 2011. “Not much more to it. Pick a spot and hit it. I looked at the goalie first, but I just tried to relax and hit it. I took one against Portland a couple days ago and made that.”
“That was a shirt grab,” Diaz said. “They had Wyatt’s shirt. We could clearly see it. I think it was the right call. That was a big momentum shift for us. (Wyatt’s) unselfish. He’s good at distributing the ball. He helps us in the air obviously. He creates space for people. His attitude is positive. He’ll do whatever it takes to help the team. That’s why guys on the team like him.”
While the first half was relatively even, the second was all Scarborough.
In a nine-minute span, Omsberg (from senior Kenny Hodgdon) headed a shot just high, junior Sam Cekada’s shot was saved, Sparda’s long free kick was punched away by Mull, junior Brendan Lorello’s header (from junior Jordan Luong) was saved and junior Andrew Morrissey’s shot (on a cross from Cekada) went just high.
The Red Storm finally got some breathing room with 18:02 to go as Mader fired a shot that deflected off a Cheverus defender and into the goal for a 3-1 advantage.
The Stags never threatened again and Scarborough put the finishing touches on its win.
“The first half, we didn’t play our best,” said Omsberg. “The second half, I think we kept the ball more and played our game. We tried to transition the ball better. It’s nice to play a good second half after playing a weak first half.”
The Red Storm finished with a 22-8 advantage in shots (17-3 on frame). Both teams had three corner kicks. Mull made 14 saves (12 in the second half) and Stanton stopped a pair of shots.
Cheverus hoped to get out of town with some kind of positive result, but did stick closer to Scarborough than it has in year’s past.
“We played defensive,” said Stags coach Bill LeBlanc. “We played a 4-5-1 and tried to counterattack. We’re young. Only three or four guys have played a varsity game at this level. I thought we competed with them. If a few bounces go the other way, we’re right there. They’re a quality, traditional program. Omsberg is very, very good. He’s a force in the air. He’s probably the best player I’ve seen this year. I thought as a group, we all competed. The potent offense from last year is gone. We don’t have the finishers we had last year. We tried to play more defensive and beat them, 1-0, or tie, 1-1. This was a good experience for a lot of guys.”
Cheverus is back at it Tuesday when it hosts defending Class A champion Windham. The Stags also have home tests remaining versus city rivals Portland and Deering and trips to South Portland and Gorham.
Cheverus should be in the hunt all season.
“We should be competitive against most teams,” said LeBlanc. “We should go in thinking we should win most games. It’s a work in progress with these guys.”
Scarborough returns to action Tuesday at Kennebunk. The Red Storm still has remaining tests at Deering (Sept. 25) and at home versus Windham (Sept. 29).
Scarborough has the pieces in place to play into November, but is still ramping up.
“We need to just play our game and do what we do,” Omsberg said. “Go out every day and work hard. We have a good bench and a great starting 11. No weaknesses. Everyone’s a threat to score. It’s tough for opposing defenses to guard all 11 players at once.”
“We still need to work on patience, defense in the central part of the field and finishing,” Diaz said. “We’re not comfortable at all. I’ve been pushing them hard. I’ve been pretty mean. It’s a tough stretch we had. Kennebunk’s big. We’ll get ready for them. Everyone is getting better. It’s great for the league. Every night, you have to earn it. We’re in a good place right now and we still have time to grow. We got some answers tonight.”
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