SCARBOROUGH — It was quite a run for the Scarborough boys’ soccer team, but it came to an end a few days earlier than the Red Storm would have liked.
No. 2 Windham scored on a late direct kick to knock off No. 1 Scarborough 1-0 in Wednesday night’s Western Class A final. The Eagles move on to play Messalonskee for the state championship Saturday.
It was the 11th straight victory for the Eagles (15-2), who also handed the Red Storm its only regular season loss, 3-2, back in early October. Scarborough, which entered the season with only two players with playoff experience, wraps up the year at 13-2-2.
The decisive score came with 7:26 remaining in the second half. Windham senior Devin Pelletier was taken down just outside the top of penalty box, giving the Eagles a direct kick. Senior Bryan Soucy took the kick and sent a low, hard shot around the Scarborough wall and into the center of the net, just under the reach of Scarborough sophomore goalkeeper Pat Stanton.
“I was just trying to hit it low and hard,” said Soucy. “He’s huge, so he’s not going to get to those low balls.”
With the goal, the Eagles captured their first-ever regional title.
“I had a good feeling when Bryan lined up for that,” said first-year Windham coach Colin Minte. “It was a good distance for him. He strikes the ball tremendously. It was a huge shot, but the run by Devin created the opportunity. We’ve been talking all year about making that back-post run. He makes that run to the back post and the guy takes out his legs and we get the free kick.”
Scarborough coach Mark Diaz thought the foul call could have gone either way and the Red Storm faithful in the stands certainly did not agree with it.
“My guy and the Windham kid were going for the ball around the 18,” Diaz said. “The ref called a foul and said my guy fouled him. It looked like they were shoulder to shoulder a little bit. He made the call and that’s just the way it goes. He’s an excellent official and we didn’t make the play after that. It’s a tough call considering the time left, but he made it and I respect that.”
Scarborough had several chances for the equalizer in the final minutes, but Windham senior goalie Dana King came up big time and time again. He caught senior John Blaisdell’s kick from 35 yards out with 6:47 left, then leaped to snag junior Trevor Sparda’s free kick three minutes later with three Scarborough players surrounding him.
King saved his best for last, though. The Red Storm had a final chance with 10 seconds to go as senior Andrew Jones managed an excellent header off a long throw-in, sending a shot toward the upper left corner of the net, only to have King make a leaping save at the last moment to preserve the Eagles’ win.
“Dana’s been coming up big for us all year,” Minte said. “He’s a great goalie — consistent, smart. He does all the little things. He’s a great communicator back there. He made some huge saves for us throughout the entire season. None were bigger than that one with no time left.”
After a first half in which scoring opportunities were scarce, the second half began with solid chances for both teams. Just 30 seconds in, Windham junior Jake Mello sent a blast on net from the left side, but Stanton was there to haul it in.
Four minutes in, Scarborough junior Austin Downing broke in on King and fired a shot from 15 yards out. It was deflected wide. On the ensuing corner kick, junior Daniel Ornstein got a shot off from in close, but it too was knocked away.
With 26 minutes remaining, Jones ripped a shot from the left top of the box that got past King’s dive but travelled just wide of the far post. Three minutes later, Sparda sent a cross to Downing, but his one-timer sailed just over the crossbar.
“I thought we played really well in the second half,” Diaz said. “In the first half, we came out really nervous. We’re so young. I thought (Windham) did a better job in the first half. I don’t know if they got a lot of chances, but they certainly put more pressure on us. The second half I thought was more our half. We had some great chances even before they scored. It’s tough. It was a tough goal. But it was one of those games.”
“It was a game that could have gone either way,” Minte said. “I think everybody that watched it probably enjoyed it. Back and forth, end to end. Luckily, we were on the better end of it. But on a different day, Scarborough could have been on the better end of it. That’s the game of soccer.”
Scarborough defeated Greely in the quarterfinals (1-0) and Gorham in the semifinals (2-0). It is the second straight year in which the Red Storm has had the No. 1 seed in the tournament but failed to reach the state championship game. Last year, Scarborough was upset by Kennebunk in the quarterfinals in a penalty kick shootout. The Red Storm won back-to-back state titles in 2008 and 2009 and has won five regional championships and three state championships since 2003.
“My guys didn’t quit,” Diaz said. “I’m awfully proud of them. I start maybe three or four seniors. They battled right to the end. They’ve been through a lot. I’m impressed with them getting to the Western Maine final.”
With plenty of talent returning and some vital experience gained, don’t be surprised if they are right back there in 2012.
Scarborough senior Andrew Jones and Windham senior Robbie Lentine battle for possession.
Scarborough sophomore Sam Cekada works to hold off Windham senior Devin Pelletier as he pursues the ball.
Scarborough junior Kenny Hodgdon tries to fend off Windham junior Tyler DeFosse as he chases down the ball.
Scarborough junior Austin Downing and Windham junior Eric Gumaer go stride for stride as they race after the ball.
Scarborough juniors Daniel Ornstein (6) and Chris Cleary stand in silence as Windham players rush the field in celebration at the conclusion of Wednesday night’s Western Class A boys’ tsoccer championship. Windham, the No. 2 seed, knocked off top-seeded Scarborough 1-0.
More photos below.