SCARBOROUGH—With a new coach and a lot of new faces in new places, Scarborough’s girls’ lacrosse team could have panicked when it fell behind visiting South Portland, 2-0, just 97 seconds into its season opener Thursday evening at the Kippy Mitchell Sports Complex.
Instead, the Red Storm demonstrated their poise and their skill.
Scarborough got its offense going on a free position goal from junior Abby Corbin and rode a smothering effort from its defense to take control of the contest. A transition goal from senior Sydney Hersey put the Red Storm on top for good with 6:33 to play in the first half and senior Emma Smith added an unassisted tally to make it 4-2 at halftime.
A goal from freshman Ellie Smith stretched the lead to 8-2 with 14:46 remaining, but the Red Riots, after snapping a 37-minute-plus scoring drought, rattled off three quick goals to make things interesting before tallies from senior Bailey Adams and Hersey slammed the door on Scarborough’s 10-5 victory.
Senior Kaitlin Prince had two goals, three assists and won nine of 14 draws and Hersey, Ellie Smith and Emma Smith all scored twice as the Red Storm started on a high note and dropped South Portland to 1-1 in the process.
“We started a little slow, but we shook it off and turned things around,” said Scarborough’s first-year coach Michaela Wipfler. “I’m really proud of them. I wasn’t too concerned. Our hard work paid off.”
Scarborough began practicing March 30, but hadn’t yet played a countable game.
South Portland, meanwhile, welcomed new coach Leslie Dyer with an 8-6 win over Bonny Eagle in its opener Tuesday.
The Red Storm were ousted at Thornton Academy in last year’s semifinals, then saw longtime coach Marcia Wood step down and take the job at Freeport.
Despite their geographic proximity, Scarborough and South Portland have played sporadically over the years, just seven times since 2003, and not at all between 2006-11.
The Red Storm entered Thursday’s contest having won five of those seven meetings, all in a row, including two last year: 15-3 in the regular season at South Portland and 15-4 at home in the Western A quarterfinals.
Thursday, the Red Riots sought their first victory over Scarborough since a 15-13 triumph May 17, 2004, but the Red Storm, after a sluggish start, found a way to prevail again.
South Portland scored first with 23:52 to play in the first half, when senior Abby Letourneau scored an unassisted goal.
The Red Riots won the ensuing draw and junior Maddie Hasson beat Scarborough sophomore goalie Sami Shoebottom for a 2-0 lead with 23:23 left before halftime.
At that point, South Portland appeared unstoppable, but the Red Riots wouldn’t score again for a long time.
Scarborough finally got its offense going with 21:19 left, when Corbin beat South Portland’s All-American honorable mention senior goalie Lily SanGiovanni.
With 14:51 to go, the Red Storm drew even in controversial fashion.
Emma Smith took a pass from Hersey, raced in and fired a shot that ricocheted away. Most on hand thought the ball hit the post, but the officials ruled that it hit the net first and just like that, the game was deadlocked, 2-2.
Both goalies then stood tall for several minutes.
First, Prince was robbed by SanGiovanni.
After Scarborough senior Bailey Adams had an apparent goal waved off due to a crease violation, the Red Riots went back on the attack, but Shoebottom saved a free position off the stick of junior Mary Cronin. At the other end, SanGiovanni denied Corbin and Hersey. Shoebottom then preserved the tie with a save on a Letourneau shot.
Finally, with 6:33 remaining in the half, the Red Storm went ahead for good, as in transition, Prince fed Hersey, who finished to make it 3-2.
After SanGiovanni stopped a Prince shot and another Prince bid hit the post, Emma Smith scored unassisted with just 44.6 seconds showing and Scarborough, despite its slow start, had a 4-2 lead at the break.
“I was a little stressed out, but I have so much confidence in these girls,” Prince said. “We’ve come together so much this season. It feels different this year. We’re so positive. We feel so connected. I know no matter what, we’ll come back. We didn’t hang our heads. We knew we had it.”
The Red Storm had a 4-3 edge in draws, a 20-14 advantage in ground balls and a 15-8 shots advantage in the first half. South Portland went the final 23:23 without a goal.
Scarborough kept the pressure on to start the second half and opened up what proved to be an insurmountable lead.
After Prince won the draw to start the second half, the Red Storm took a 5-2 lead 12 seconds in when Prince took a pass from Adams and finished.
With 23:19 left, Prince set up Ellie Smith for a 6-2 advantage.
SanGiovanni kept the Red Riots alive by denying Corbin and junior Alex McCown, but after Hasson had a free position saved by Shoebottom, Prince took a pass from Corbin and finished with 20:23 to go, pushing the Red Storm’s lead to 7-2.
After SanGiovanni saved shots by Corbin and sophomore Lily Nygren, Shoebottom denied South Portland senior Colleen Fleming.
With 14:46 remaining, Adams set up Ellie Smith for a goal and an 8-2 lead, but the Red Riots didn’t quit and battled back to make things interesting.
With exactly 11 minutes left, freshman Paige Fleming scored unassisted to snap a 37 minute, 23 second drought and Scarborough’s 8-0 run.
Just 39 seconds later, Fleming scored again and after SanGiovanni robbed Prince, Hasson scored unassisted with 5:13 to play and South Portland trailed, 8-5.
“Maddie is one heck of an athlete,” Dyer said. “She doesn’t seem to ever get tired. She’s like the ‘Energizer Bunny.’ She’s a solid player in every sport she’s played.”
But again, the Red Storm answered adversity, as Adams scored unassisted with 2:41 remaining to essentially ice the win.
Then, after Prince hit the post again, Prince set up Hersey for a goal and that slammed the door on Scarborough’s 10-5 win.
“What got the offense going was once we got the first goal, we knew we could do it and then we were clicking.” said Prince. “Most of our goals (seven of 10) were assisted. It was a big team aspect.”
“Everyone played well together,’ said Wipfler, following her first victory as a head coach. “We killed their momentum, which was necessary for us to take the lead. Things are going really well. I’m really excited.”
The Red Storm showed great balance on offense as six different girls scored. Hersey, Prince, Ellie Smith and Emma Smith all had two goals, while Adams and Corbin both added one.
“I really try to make sure everyone has a place on the offense,” Wipfler said. “I want us to have as many as scorers as we possibly can.”
Prince had three assists, Adams finished with a pair and Corbin and Hersey both contributed one.
Shoebottom, a hockey standout who is now the lacrosse varsity starting goalie, made nine key saves.
“It was a rough start, but I saw the ball more and more as the game went on,” Shoebottom said. “I’m on offense in hockey. As a goalie in lacrosse, getting 10 goals scored on you, you can still have a good game, but mentally, it’s hard.”
“When Sami makes saves, that sparks us,” Prince said.
Scarborough won 10 of 17 draws, as Prince was successful on nine of her 14 chances.
“We’ve worked a lot on draws,” Prince said. “My mindset is that I’ll win them. I won’t win them all, but I know where it will go. I have my teammates’ confidence. That pumps me up.”
“Kaitlin really stepped it up for us in the circle,” said Wipfler.
The Red Storm enjoyed a 45-27 advantage on ground balls (Prince had a game-high 12, while Adams and Emma Smith each collected six), outshot South Portland, 29-18 (23-14 on cage) and overcame 17 turnovers.
The Red Riots got two goals each from Fleming and Hasson and one from Letourneau. Cronin and Hasson shared team ground ball honors with five apiece. SanGiovanni impressed with 13 saves.
“Lily is the best goalie in the state, other than Sami, of course,” Prince said. “She works so hard. She always gets in my head a little bit. I know I have to move her. She’s so good. With a goalie like that, the more shots the better. She’ll save the majority of them.”
South Portland turned the ball over 19 times.
“I’m really happy we came back at the end,” said Dyer. “We gave it a full 50-minute fight. We needed a spark. I’m missing two key players, (senior) Aimee LaPlante and (junior) Katerina Filipovic, which hurt us. Going that long without scoring was tough. We were a step behind.”
South Portland hopes to bounce back Monday when Marshwood pays a visit. The Red Riots go to Gorham Thursday of next week, then host Brunswick in a crossover game the following day.
“There are things we need to work on,” Dyer said. “I think we’ll be competitive. We have to continue to build. Three of my top offensive players are freshmen. We have to connect and find our groove. It doesn’t get any easier. I believe we’ll see Scarborough again and be prepared and have more game sense.”
As for Scarborough, it returns to action Tuesday at Windham. After going to Portland Thursday of next week, the Red Storm host perennial powerhouse Waynflete in a crossover showdown May 9.
“I think we’re pretty good,” Shoebottom said. “We lost a lot, but we’re so together. I think we’re contenders.”
“I’m looking forward to the rest of the season,” Wipfler said. “We’re still a work in progress. This shows us what we need to work on.”
South Portland junior Maddie Hasson eyes the goal.
South Portland senior Colleen Fleming looks to shoot on Scarborough sophomore Sami Shoebottom.
Scarborough senior Emma Smith races into the offensive zone.
Scarborough freshman Ellie Smith is defended South Portland senior Colleen Fleming.
South Portland freshman Madi Cyr races in on goal.
Scarborough junior Abby Corbin shoots on South Portland senior goalie Lily SanGiovanni.
Scarborough senior Kaitlin Prince fires a shot on goal.
Scarborough 15 @ South Portland 3
Western A quarterfinal
@ Scarborough 15 South Portland 4
@ Scarborough 15 South Portland 1
Scarborough 11 @ South Portland 4
@ Scarborough 12 South Portland 8
South Portland 15 @ Scarborough 13
West Division preliminary round
@ South Portland 16 Scarborough 7
Scarborough’s girls’ lacrosse team was all smiles following Thursday’s 10-5 home win over South Portland in its season opener.
Ben McCanna photos.
More photos below.
SP- 2 3- 5
S- 4 6- 10
23:52 SP Letourneau (unassisted)
23:23 SP Hasson (unassisted)
21:19 S Corbin (free position)
14:51 S Emma Smith (Hersey)
6:33 S Hersey (Prince)
44.6 S Emma Smith (unassisted)
24:48 S Prince (Adams)
23:19 S Ellie Smith (Prince)
20:23 S Prince (Corbin)
14:46 S Ellie Smith (Adams)
11:00 SP P. Fleming (unassisted)
10:21 SP P. Fleming (unassisted)
5:13 SP Hasson (unassisted)
2:41 S Adams (unassisted)
1:29 S Hersey (Prince)
SP- P. Fleming, Hasson 2, Letourneau 1
S- Hersey, Prince, Ellie Smith, Emma Smith 2, Adams, Corbin 1
S- Prince 3, Adams 2, Corbin, Hersey 1
Draws (Scarborough, 10-7)
SP- Cronin 4 of 7, Hasson 3 of 6, Fleming 0 of 4
S- Prince 9 of 14, Emma Smith 1 of 3
Ground balls (Scarborough, 45-27)
SP- Cronin, Hasson 5, Black, Bushey, P. Fleming 3, Boyce, C. Fleming 2, Haynes, Letourneau, SanGiovanni, Tolan 1
S- Prince 12, Adams, Emma Smith 6, Corbin, St. Germain 3, Hersey, McCown, Page, Shoebottom, Ellie Smith, Souza 2, Nygren, Rusack, Sargent 1
Shots on cage:
SP (SanGiovanni) 13
S (Shoebottom) 9