As expected, the Scarborough field hockey will be playing for the right to go to the Class A state finale.
The Red Storm, undefeated and absolutely dominant in the regular season, continued to have their way with all comers in the Western A tournament, blanking No. 8 Thornton Academy, 2-0 in the quarterfinals Saturday and No. 4 Bonny Eagle, 6-0 in the semifinals Wednesday to set up a regional final showdown with No. 2 Cheverus (15-1) Saturday (time to be announced).
Scarborough, a state finalist in 2008, is now two wins away from a first-ever championship.
The Red Storm won their 14 regular season games by a composite 80-9 margin and were victorious by at least two goals every time out, but scores tend to tighten up in the playoffs and that’s what Scarborough has faced in its first postseason test.
Saturday, the Red Storm hosted No. 8 Thornton Academy, which was coming off a 2-0 win over No. 9 Deering in the preliminary round.
Scarborough beat the visiting Golden Trojans 4-1 back on Sept. 10. Saturday marked the first-ever playoff meeting between the schools.
Red Storm senior standout Brittany Ross gave her team the only goal it would need when she converted a pass from junior Kristen Felt midway through the first half. Senior Ellie Morin made it 2-0 in the second half (Ross had the assist). Senior goalie Jordi Saunders only had to make two saves and Scarborough went on to the victory, ending Thornton Academy’s season at 9-6-1.
Wednesday, the Red Storm hosted No. 4 Bonny Eagle, which defeated No. 5 Windham 3-0 in the quarterfinals. On Sept. 14, Scarborough was a 4-1 home victory over the Scots. The teams had met just once before in the postseason (a 4-1 Bonny Eagle victory in the 2004 quarterfinals). This time around, the Red Storm carried the day from the onset.
Ross started the game by dribbling past several defenders into the box where she was eventually stopped, but that set the tone. Just 37 seconds in, Morin took a pass from Carrier and fired a shot into a cage for the only goal Scarborough would need.
“We had a big motivational speech not to underestimate them and we came out ready,” Morin said. “It worked.”
“We’ve started adjusting our offense toward (Ellie) because she’s been performing,” added Scarborough coach Kerry Mariello. “She’s been executing.”
The Red Storm had four corners in the first five minutes, but weren’t able to extend their lead until 9:58 remained in the first half when Carrier passed to senior Akashia Gergler, who redirected a shot past Bonny Eagle junior goalie Rebecca Coney. With time winding down in the first half, Gergler set up sophomore Mo Hannan for a goal and a commanding 3-0 advantage.
As was the case in the first half, Scarborough came out hot again in the second as Morin scored just 50 seconds in to make it 4-0.
“Our passing was on,” Morin said. “We just played well together tonight. We brought it. We have a lot of other players who can do other things and score. If Brittany doesn’t do it, someone else will.”
With 10:09 to play, Ross got in on the act with an unassisted goal. Then, with 8:15 remaining, Ross (from Carrier) scored to account for the 6-0 final.
“We played outstanding,” said Mariello. “You’re always nervous. I think the semifinal game is always the toughest to play because you can look ahead. We knew Bonny Eagle was good and what their record was, but we also know that we’re good and that we’ve improved. We just wanted to play our game and score quick and that was a momentum shift for us. We wanted to get them back on their heels and make them play catch-up and make mistakes. We kept pushing through and scored a lot of goals. It was great.”
The Red Storm wound up with 24 shots on goal and a 14-2 edge in corners. Saunders stopped five shots.
The regional crown will come down the Red Storm and the Cheverus Stags Saturday. Scarborough won 3-1 at the Stags on Oct. 8, then beat them 4-1 at home in the non-countable SMAA championship game Oct. 13. The teams have no playoff history.
“We wanted to see Cheverus more than Gorham,” said Morin. “We’ve beaten them twice and know we can do it. There’s pressure. We’ll have to bring our ‘A’ game.”
“It’s going to be physical,” added Mariello. “Both teams are maxed out with seniors and will play hard. It will come down to making plays at the right time. (Cheverus has) done outstanding. They have a driven, athletic senior class. They’ll come out fierce. They’ll come in with the third time’s a charm mentality but we’ll be ready for them.”
The Class A state final is Saturday, Oct. 31 at Yarmouth High School (time to be announced). The Scarborough-Cheverus winner will either face eight-time defending state champion Skowhegan or Messalonskee.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Scarborough senior Heather Carrier defends a Thornton Academy attacker during the Red Storm’s 2-0 home win over the Golden Trojans in Saturday’s Western A quarterfinal round game.