Cheverus freshman Emma Gallant and Scarborough sophomore Jess Rinaldi battle for the ball during the Red Storm’s 3-1 victory Wednesday night.
Mike Strout photos.
Scarborough coach Mike Farley talks to his team during halftime. The Red Storm’s come-from-behind triumph gave Farley 150 victories in his 12 seasons leading the program.
More photos below.
SCARBOROUGH—The upstart Cheverus Stags made things interesting, but in the end, Scarborough’s girls’ soccer team did what it almost always does.
And it wasn’t just a run-of-the-mill victory Wednesday evening at the Kippy Mitchell Sports Complex either.
It was a milestone.
The Stags continued their excellent play of late when they carried play much of the first half and grabbed a 1-0 lead on junior Mackenzie Johnston’s goal with 21:59 to go before the break.
Cheverus pushed hard to double its lead early in the second half, but wasn’t able to and the Red Storm turned the tide.
With 29:03 remaining, junior Gaby Panagakos scored on a rebound to tie the score, 1-1.
Then, late in regulation, with overtime looming, Scarborough converted a gorgeous corner kick, as sophomore Leah Dickman redirected Panagakos’ serve into the goal to put her team ahead to stay with only 2:18 remaining.
Then, with 56.6 seconds to go, junior Lauren Sabatino ended all doubt with a goal of her own and the Red Storm went on to a 3-1 victory.
Scarborough won its fourth game in a row, improved to 5-1-2, ended Cheverus’ six game unbeaten streak, dropped the Stags to 5-2-1 and most notably, handed longtime coach Mike Farley his 150th victory with the program.
“It’s a really nice milestone, but for me, the way we played in the second half is way more important than any victory,” said Farley.
Class A South appears wide open and Cheverus and Scarborough are both very much in the race for a high playoff seed.
The Stags began the 2016 season with a 3-0 loss at Portland, then got things rolling with a 3-1 home victory over Marshwood and wins over visiting Massabesic (3-0), host Westbrook (3-0) and host Noble (3-2). Last Wednesday, Cheverus and visiting Windham played to a 3-3 draw after the Stags couldn’t hold a two-goal second half lead. Friday, Cheverus bounced back with a 2-0 home victory over Thornton Academy.
Scarborough beat host Deering in the opener, 3-1. After tying visiting Sanford, 2-2, the Red Storm were upset by visiting Bonny Eagle, 1-0, and settled for a scoreless draw at defending regional champion Gorham. Scarborough then hit its stride, blanking host South Portland (4-0), visiting Maine Girls’ Academy (5-0) and host Biddeford (10-0).
Scarborough held on for a 2-1 win at Cheverus last year, behind goals from Panagakos and Jillian Ware, to improve to 11-3 all-time against the Stags (see sidebar below).
Wednesday night, the Red Storm found the winning formula again, but they waited awhile to come to life.
Cheverus came to Scarborough to win and wasn’t fazed by the turf, the bigger field or the partisan Red Storm crowd.
The Stags were rewarded with 21:59 to go before halftime when a Johnston shot deflected off a Scarborough defender and over the outstretched hand of junior goalkeeper Emily Royce into the net for a 1-0 lead.
Early in the second half, Cheverus had their chances to go up by two, but after failing to get a shot on consecutive corner kicks, a bid from senior Katie Gordon was snared by a sprawling Royce.
The Red Storm then went on the attack and the tying goal came thanks to the tenacity of Dickman and senior Ashley Perriello.
Perriello managed to get through the defense and get a shot on goal which was saved by Stags junior keeper Katie Boynton, but after the Cheverus defense couldn’t get the ball out of the box, Dickman tipped it to Panagakos and Panagakos’ low shot eluded Boynton to make it a 1-1 game with 29:03 remaining.
“Coach told us to keep calm,” Panagakos said. “We had to keep the pressure up. Leah did a great job fighting for the ball and it came right to me and I just shot.”
The hosts then looked to take the lead, but Boynton made a sprawling save on a Panagakos header, a header from junior Sophie Glidden on a corner was just wide, Sabatino shot just high and a shot from Panagakos on a corner was saved as well.
After Cheverus freshman Emma Gallant bid to put the visitors on top in the 63rd minute, only to see Royce make the save and have the rebound cleared, the Red Storm returned to the attack, but Boynton denied Sabatino and Boynton dove to rob Panagakos.
With 7:12 left, Johnston missed just wide. Johnston missed again and Gordon did the same and that set the stage for Scarborough to go on top.
With 2:50 left, the Red Storm earned a corner kick which didn’t result in anything but the ball going out of bounds.
Most on hand expected a goal kick for the Stags, but instead, Scarborough was given another corner and this time, the Red Storm capitalized.
Panagakos served the ball perfectly right in front where Dickman, not far from the near post, waited for it to come down before sending it into the cage with her knee.
With 2:18 to play, Scarborough was on top, 2-1.
“We talked about stepping it up on offense because our defense was holding their own,” Dickman said. “We knew we had to finish. I hate overtime. It’s not fun. I’m sick of ties. I really just wanted to win. I give credit to Gaby’s corner kick because I know she’ll get it on frame. I had to get there and get my body on it.”
The Red Storm’s front line is showing a flair for the dramatic.
“We’re strong together as forwards,” Dickman said. “I can’t do it alone, Gaby can’t do it alone and AP can’t. If we’re all together, we’ll help each other finish.”
“I don’t think we’ve shown how dangerous we can be,” Farley said. “Ashley Perriello is a really good offensive player. Gaby scores a ton of goals. If Leah can be physical and hold her own and keep the ball, that’s huge for us. We’ll always be good as a team defensively, but we have to show our offensive ability.”
Cheverus was initially upset about the call, but coach Craig Roberts dismissed its importance.
“I’m 80 yards away and I thought it should have been a goal kick, but (the official) was right there and I’ve been around enough soccer to know that good teams don’t go anywhere by blaming external factors,” said Roberts. “You can’t blame other people. The refs had a job to do and they did their job. We had a job to do and we didn’t get it done. I didn’t get us prepared well enough to withstand those last five minutes.”
The Red Storm weren’t finished, as with 56.6 seconds showing, Dickman got the ball to Sabatino and Sabatino ripped a shot off a defender and past Boynton for a 3-1 lead.
“Lauren’s done it all for us all year,” Farley said. “She’s unappreciated because she’s had to defend a little bit. She’s the connection between the forwards. She wanted a goal really bad. For her to jump in that space and score, that was big and hopefully that will propel her forward. She’s been a little unlucky so hopefully this will get her going.”
Scarborough then ran out the clock and celebrated the win.
“In the second half, we put our stamp on the game,” Farley said. “We acted like we wanted it. We went out and played with passion. We did just enough to get the win. We have to scrape to get wins the hard way. Cheverus put us under a lot of pressure in the first half, got the goal on the deflection, then pressured us at the beginning of the second half. When we got it turned around, that’s when the tide of the game turned. That has to happen at the start of the game, not 60 minutes in. Coach Roberts has always been organized. He gets them to play a system. Now they’ve added players with speed and technical ability. Add them to the players from last year who are good and that makes you competitive. They really put us under pressure.”
Farley took over the Red Storm in 2005 and after several agonizing close calls, led them to the Class A championship in 2010. After losing to Bangor in the 2011 state game, Scarborough won it again in 2012.
Consistency has been the hallmark of his teams and Wednesday, Farley reached a benchmark and is now 150-24 with 14 ties.
“It means I’ve had really good players and really good teams,” Farley said. “It’s more a reflection on the players I’ve had than on myself.”
His players paid tribute after the win.
“He’s a great coach,” Panagakos said. “He works really hard for us.”
“It’s amazing that we get to be a part of his record,” said Dickman. “He calms us down when we’re shaky. He always has the right thing to say and gives us good advice.”
Cheverus was hoping for a different result, but left the field with its head held high.
“You have ebbs and flows in the game,” Roberts said. “We had 10 minutes where we shot just over, just wide. You have to finish those and put them down 2-0 on their home field. That gave them a little momentum. We did a good job I thought of withstanding their momentum, but a failed clear tied the game. They had a nice set piece for the lead and for their third goal too. I think it was a lot closer than 3-1, but this team isn’t into moral victories.”
Cheverus (now eighth in the Class A South Heal Points standings) looks to bounce back Friday when Bonny Eagle pays a visit. The Stags still have games remaining at Gorham, Sanford and Maine Girls’ Academy and at home versus South Portland and Deering.
“We can take a lot away knowing we can play with Scarborough,” Roberts said. “It doesn’t get any easier. I told the girls they could feel bad tonight, then we have to focus on our next game. I’m confident we’ll bounce back. It’s a resilient and focused group. We have to play 80 minutes against these good teams.”
Scarborough (second to Gorham in Class A South) hosts Portland Saturday afternoon, then goes to Westbrook and welcomes Thornton Academy next week. The Red Storm close by sandwiching trips to Marshwood and Windham around a home tilt versus Massabesic.
“There’s no pressure on us,” said Panagakos. “We just come in and play our game. That helps us. We have to work on our new formation. We played more of a 4-4-2 last year and now we’re playing three up top. I’m working on playing balls out wide and getting good crosses in.”
“We only really have one player back from last year playing in the same spot and we’re playing a different system,” said Farley. “We have a lot of players new to the program, so it’s a learning experience. We’ll have moments where we don’t look good, but it’s all about effort. We have to get a consistent level of play. If we do, we’ll be in really good shape.”
Scarborough junior Lauren Sabatino heads the ball away from Cheverus senior Katie Gordon. Sabatino scored the game’s final goal.
Scarborough sophomore Sophia Martens gets her head on the ball.
Scarborough senior Ashley Perriello plays keepaway from Cheverus junior Abby Cavallaro.
Scarborough junior goalkeeper Emily Royce tries in vain to get a hand on Cheverus junior Mackenzie Johnston’s first half shot. The Stags took a 1-0 lead on that goal, but couldn’t hold it.
Scarborough junior Ellie Patten heads the ball away from Cheverus freshman Emma Gallant.
Scarborough senior Ashley Perriello shields Cheverus freshman Samantha Belaire from the ball.
Cheverus sophomore Tholia Hallett, left, junior Mackenzie Johnston, freshman Samantha Belaire and freshman Alexandra Hammond build a wall prior to a Scarborough free kick.
Scarborough 3 @ Cheverus 0
@ Scarborough 1 Cheverus 1 (tie)
Western A quarterfinals
@ Scarborough 2 Cheverus 0
Scarborough 2 @ Cheverus 0
Western A semifinals
@ Scarborough 2 Cheverus 1
@ Scarborough 1 Cheverus 0 (OT)
@ Cheverus 3 Scarborough 2
Cheverus 2 @ Scarborough 0
Scarborough 3 @ Cheverus 0
@ Scarborough 3 Cheverus 0
@ Cheverus 3 Scarborough 2 (OT)
Western A semifinals
@ Scarborough 1 Cheverus 0 (2 OT)
Scarborough 3 @ Cheverus 1