The 2010 soccer playoffs are underway and there’s already been plenty of excitement and one enormous surprise.
Not this year
Scarborough’s boys’ juggernaut didn’t lose a game in capturing the 2008 and 2009 Class A championships. This fall, the Red Storm proved mortal, losing at home to Gorham and at Deering, but at 12-2, they still managed to secure the No. 1 seed for the seventh straight year.
The team entered the playoffs expecting to make another deep run, but it didn’t turn out that way.
Scarborough hosted No. 8 Kennebunk in Wednesday’s quarterfinals. The Red Storm were 3-0 winners at the Rams on Oct. 2. The teams had never met in the postseason, in either Class A or B. Kennebunk advanced with an improbable preliminary round win over No. 9 Windham on a late miscue and kept the good times rolling in the rain.
Both teams had four corner kick opportunities in the first 40 minutes, but couldn’t convert. With 11:15 remaining in regulation, Scarborough senior Kevin Philbrick and sophomore Austin Wilcox had a total of four point blank looks at the goal, but Rams’ senior keeper Christian Elkington stopped every three and the fourth went high. The contest would go to overtime, then a second OT, but neither team could score, necessitating penalty kicks to determine a winner.
Each team had five shooters. The Red Storm saw junior Andrew Jones, senior Connor Gullifer, Wilcox and sophomore Austin Downing all convert, but Philbrick hit the post, giving Kennebunk the opportunity to end it. Senior Ben Whitney did just that, burying his shot and the Rams (10-4-2) completed their stunning upset, 1-0 (5-4 on PKs), ending Scarborough’s season at 12-3.
“I thought we had the ball most of the game, but we couldn’t put it away, especially in the second half,” lamented Red Storm coach Mark Diaz. “The weather didn’t help, but they had to play in the weather too. That’s how it goes. Kennebunk’s a good team. We have to give them some credit. I have to congratulate them. Don’t be fooled by them being an eight-seed.
“(PKs) are terrible. They’re a coin toss. Our guys gave all they had and they lost on PKs. We had a good run.”
Cape Elizabeth, despite dropping two of its last three, wound up 9-3-2, good for the third seed in Western A, as it qualified for the playoffs for the 25th year in a row. The Capers hosted No. 6 Marshwood (8-4-2) in Wednesday’s quarterfinal, a team they didn’t face in the regular season and one they had no prior playoff history against. Cape Elizabeth managed to get the job done and advance, scoring an early goal, then pulling away behind a second half flurry to triumph, 5-0. Senior Timmy Takach and junior Tim Lavallee both scored twice.
The Capers will go to No. 2 Portland (13-1-1) for Saturday’s semifinal round. The Bulldogs are arguably the hottest team in the state, regardless of class or region, after pounding No. 7 Cheverus, 6-0, in the quarterfinals for their 12th straight triumph. Portland and Cape Elizabeth don’t play in the regular season. The Capers hold a 4-2 all-time edge versus the Bulldogs, but Portland won the most recent playoff meeting, 3-0, in the 2003 quarterfinals.
South Portland was supposed to play Wednesday as well, but bad weather postponed its game 24 hours. The Red Riots went 10-3-1 this fall (their best mark since 1988) and earned the No. 5 seed in Western A, drawing No. 4 Gorham (9-3-2), which they tied, 2-2, back on Oct. 12. The teams’ last postseason meeting was in the 1988 quarterfinals (a 2-1 South Portland victory).
The winner hosts Kennebunk Saturday. On Oct. 5, the Red Riots beat the visiting Rams, 4-2. They squared off in the preliminary round in 2007 (a 1-0 Kennebunk triumph) and last year (a 3-2 South Portland victory in OT).
In Western D, Greater Portland Christian School earned the fourth playoff seed after a 6-6-1 campaign. The Lions hosted No. 5 Buckfield (7-4-1) Wednesday in the quarterfinals. The Bucks won both regular season meetings, 6-5 and 3-2, but GPCS got revenge when it counted most, eking out a 2-1 decision in double-overtime (Matt Hammond scored the winner). The Lions visit top-ranked Greenville (10-2-2) in Friday’s semifinals.
On the girls’ side, Scarborough has excelled in recent regular seasons, but has been fallen short in the playoffs. This year’s edition of the Red Storm has been truly invincible, not losing a game or surrendering a single goal in 14 outings. Scarborough earned the top seed in Western A for the second year in a row (and the fourth time since 2004) and drew a very difficult (and familiar foe) in the quarterfinals.
That foe was No. 8 Cape Elizabeth (7-5-2 in the regular season), which defeated No. 9 Deering, 1-0, in last Friday’s preliminary round. The teams didn’t play in the regular season. It was the teams’ seventh all-time playoff meeting (the last was a 2-0 Cape Elizabeth victory in the preliminary round in 2004). It took nearly 65 minutes, but the Capers finally got the goal they needed when senior standout Karyn Barrett set up sophomore Maddie Riker.
“I have to give all the credit to Karyn,” said Riker. “She gave me a perfect ball. I was in the right place at the right time. I was nervous and don’t really remember what happened, to be honest. The goalie was really good. I was scared we wouldn’t score.”
They held on for the 1-0 victory and advanced.
“I was worried as long we didn’t cash in our opportunities,” said Cape Elizabeth coach Gary Newell. “We had opportunities, but not that final ball. We got it and it came a little later than I wanted, but it was a great, great goal.”
The Capers went to Scarborough for the quarterfinals Wednesday. The neighbors don’t meet in the regular season, but have squared off four previous times in the playoffs. The Capers were 4-0, which included a stunning upset win in the 2005 quarterfinals on penalty kicks (in a game with similar seeding) and a 2-1 victory two years ago in the preliminary round (on a late Barrett goal). This time, the Red Storm turned the tables.
Scarborough had three great chances in the game’s first 10 minutes, but Cape Elizabeth senior goalkeeper Lexi Weatherbie denied Red Storm junior Meghan Tyson and senior Tori Armishaw (with a diving save) and junior Haley Carignan shot just wide. Barrett was close on a couple long-range shots, but couldn’t convert and the game went to the half deadlocked at 0-0.
Scarborough got the goal it needed with 27:39 to play when Armishaw (off a nice pass from Carignan) raced in one-on-one with Weatherbie and found the net. A second-effort goal from Carignan with 9:49 remaining put it away and the Red Storm advanced with a 2-0 win.
“I feel so good for the kids,” said Scarborough coach Mike Farley. “We’ve played really well the past couple years, but when we got in the playoffs we didn’t play well and we had back luck. Mentally we had to get through this game and have a good game. It’s a team I’ve lost to twice and the kids lost to once. It’s a huge emotional hurdle to get over and now we can relax and play soccer a little bit.
“I thought we really turned it on in the second half and earned the victory. (Senior goalie) Jill (Deering) doesn’t make 10 saves a game, but she makes two or three big ones that keep us in games and give the kids confidence.”
Cape Elizabeth’s season ended at 8-6-2.
“We played well, but we got an education on how to play tonight,” said Newell. “We didn’t win anything in the midfield. As time went on, they got more settled in. We had ambitious shots at best. We can’t be successful against a quality side by having all our shots come from 40-yards out. It just wasn’t enough today. It’s not solely their defense. They’re outstanding front to back. They’re extremely well-coached and play well.
“We did some positive things this year, but they’re things that should be expected. With our talent, year in, year out, we have to find a way to get over the hump. Just getting to the playoffs shouldn’t be a celebration. We should represent the Western Maine Conference better and go deeper.”
The Capers graduate Barrett, Weatherbie, Abigail Armstrong and Anna Darling, but should be right back in the mix in 2011.
“I’m sad to see Lexi go,” said Newell. “We’re not in the playoffs without her. Obviously, we’re not in the playoffs without Karyn. If she’s not an All-State player, I’ll be beside myself. When goals weren’t enough, she transformed to make the team better, doing everything she possibly could. Those two especially will be sorely missed, but as far as us as a program, we’re young and very skilled. We played three freshmen at one point. This was a good season. I just expect more. We have the tools to do it. We just have to put it together.”
Scarborough will host No. 5 Cheverus (11-3-1) in Saturday’s semifinal round. The Red Storm beat the Stags, 2-0, on the road, Sept. 23. The lone prior playoff meeting was a 1-0 (double overtime) win for Scarborough in the 2004 semifinals.
“It’s a tough game because they have three young forwards they can rotate,” said Farley. “They can put us under pressure. We can spread them out on our field, which is an advantage, but it’ll be a battle.”
South Portland fell short of the playoffs with a 6-7-1 mark.
In Western D, GPCS was 4-6-1 this fall and wound up fifth in the seven-team region, falling shy of the postseason.
Looking ahead, the regional final is Wednesday of next week, on the field of the highest remaining seed. The Class A state final is Saturday, Nov. 6, likely at Falmouth High School.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com
Scarborough senior Tori Armishaw launches a shot that would become the first goal of Wednesday night’s 2-0 Western A quarterfinal round win over Cape Elizabeth.
Cape Elizabeth senior Karyn Barrett fights past Scarborough junior Kaitlin Reynolds during the second half of Wednesday’s rainy playoff contest. The potent Barrett was held in check and the Red Storm pitched yet another shutout.