Scarborough girls edge Marshwood to stay perfect

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Scarborough senior goalkeeper Emily Boyce denies Marshwood sophomore Casey Perry on a rebound in the second minute of the teams’ showdown Thursday night. The Hawks never did find the net and the Red Storm produced a second half goal to win, 1-0, and stay undefeated on the season. 

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.

SCARBOROUGH—With Wednesday evening’s game barely a minute old, before many in the Senior Night crowd had even found their seats, Scarborough’s unbeaten girls’ soccer team found itself under siege from visiting Marshwood.

Luckily for the Red Storm, senior goalkeeper Emily Royce ensured her team wouldn’t suffer an early deficit and gradually, Scarborough hit its stride.

And when the Red Storm are on, they’re awfully tough to beat.

Scarborough couldn’t take advantage of some golden scoring chances in the first half, but with 19:01 left in regulation, senior Lauren Sabatino set up classmate Gaby Panagakos to put the hosts on top.

After one final late scare on a Hawks’ shot which grazed the crossbar, the Red Storm were able to go on to a critical 1-0 victory.

Scarborough won its 12th game without a loss, dropped Marshwood to 9-2-1 and all-but wrapped up the top seed for the upcoming postseason in the process.

“I knew they were really aggressive,” said Red Storm coach Mike Farley, of the Hawks. “They have two or three difference-makers. They’ll be there at the end. They’re a very good team. They really pushed us.” 

Passing every test

Scarborough has been the model of consistency in 2017, winning every game, most with ease.

The Red Storm started by beating visiting Falmouth (2-1), then rattled off victories over host Thornton Academy (6-1), visiting Westbrook (9-0), host Kennebunk (6-0), visiting Bonny Eagle (2-1), visiting Deering (2-0), host Biddeford (10-1), visiting Sanford (5-0), host Maine Girls’ Academy (10-0), host Noble (2-0) and visiting Cheverus (3-0). 

Marshwood hasn’t been too far behind Scarborough’s pace.

The Hawks won their first three outings: 3-1 at home over Thornton Academy, 3-1 at Kennebunk and 2-1 at Portland. After settling for a scoreless tie at home against South Portland, Marshwood dominated visiting Biddeford, 9-1, blanked host Falmouth (2-0), then won at Westbrook (11-0) and at home over Noble (1-0), before suffering a 1-0 setback at Bonny Eagle. The Hawks bounced back for a 6-0 home victory over Deering and last Friday’s pivotal 2-1 home win over defending Class A South champion Gorham.

Last year, host Marshwood handed Scarborough just one of its two regular season losses, a 1-0 overtime decision.

This time around, on a drizzly night (game time temperature was 60 degrees and steadily dropped), the Hawks hoped to win in Scarborough for the first time since upsetting the Red Storm in overtime of the 2009 Western A quarterfinals, but instead, Scarborough stretched its win streak to an even dozen, even if it didn’t come easily.

After seniors from both teams were honored in the pregame, Marshwood gained possession and just 73 seconds in, senior Marin Smith, who boasts a powerful shot, lofted a blast from 35 yards out that appeared ticketed for the upper 90, but Royce leaped and got a hand on the ball. The rebound sat free in front, however and Hawks sophomore Casey Perry appeared primed to knock it home, but Royce managed to adjust and save that shot as well to keep the game scoreless.

“I was so excited and the crowd was energetic,” Royce said. “The adrenaline was going. There was a lot at stake. It was awesome to make a big save and give my team some momentum. I knew I just had to get the ball.”

“Marin can hit a ball from anywhere,” Farley said. “How do you defend somebody 35 yards out? What was really good about that was that Emily had to make that quick save. (A goal) would have taken the wind out of our sails. We came out a little flat. I don’t know if it was Senior Night or what.”

Marshwood then earned a corner kick and the ball came to junior Courtney Thim, who shot wide. 

Scarborough then began to generate offensive chances, but couldn’t finish.

In the 12th minute, Panagakos had a breakaway, but after Hawks junior goalkeeper Nathalie Clavette came out, Panagakos shot just high.

Panagakos then shot wide again, senior Natalie Taylor did the same and the Red Storm earned a corner kick that didn’t result in a shot.

After long shots from Marshwood junior Katherine Page and Perry were saved by Royce, Scarborough got looks from junior Leah Dickman, whose shot was saved, and junior Molly Murnane, who missed just wide.

Panagakos then had two more chances, but shot high on an open net and had a rush broken up in the box.

“They came out strong and put us under the most amount of pressure we’ve been under all year,” Farley said. “We weathered that storm, luckily, then we turned it around. We settled down and played balls forward.”

Late in the half, Smith missed just wide on a 40-yard free kick for the Hawks, while a Dickman cross went through the goalmouth untouched, a Dickman shot off a pass from Murnane was saved and in the final minute, Perry tried to put the visitors on top, but shot wide.

In the first half, Marshwood had a 4-3 edge in shots on frame and a 3-2 advantage in corner kicks, but four Royce saves kept the score, 0-0.

Early in the second half, Scarborough’s frustrations continued, as after being set up by Panagakos, Murnane shot just high, Dickman had a rush broken up at the last second, junior Josie Couture had a shot saved and Sabatino missed just wide.

Then, with 19:01 to play, Sabatino quickly played the ball to Panagakos, who had moved into the middle, and despite a tough angle, Panagakos managed to fire a low shot past Clavette and into the net for a 1-0 lead.

“We wanted to get past their offsides trap, but we were disappointed in the first half,” said Panagakos. “‘Ren’ gave me a nice through ball and I had to finish on the ground. I hit it where I wanted. Good placement.”

“We persisted and I knew we had it in us,” Royce said. “I’m glad we finally connected. It was exciting to score on a tough chance.”

“That was a great finish,” Farley added. “(Gaby) wanted to play in the middle of the field and it was one of the hardest chances of the night. She was stride for stride with a defender, got a little space and had a nice shot to the corner. She’s a pure finisher. There’s a reason she scores 20 goals a year. She’s at the right place at the right time and she finishes better than anybody.”

The Hawks had a few chances to answer, none better than a blast from Smith with 12:35 to go. Smith fired a shot from 35 yards out that sailed over Royce, but it glanced off the crossbar and was cleared out of harm’s way.

“That one hit the crossbar and I wanted to give that crossbar a kiss,” Royce said.

After Royce got to a through ball from Smith to junior Zoe Bayer and broke up a feed from freshman Ella Nelson to Perry, Scarborough was able to run out the clock on its 1-0 victory.

The Red Storm finished with an 8-5 edge in shots. Each team took five corner kicks. Clavette made seven saves, while Royce finished with five saves.

“Emily saved us big-time,” said Panagakos. “She’s such a big part of our team. It’s great to have her.”

Crucible

While Marshwood (now third in the Class A South Heal Points standings) closes with games at Sanford Friday and at home versus MGA Tuesday, Scarborough still has two tough tests remaining.

Friday, the Red Storm head to Gorham and Tuesday, they close at Windham.

Scarborough will be very tough to beat if it locks up the top seed in the region.

“It’s really important to play at home,” Panagakos said. “We want to be able to have homefield advantage.”

“Our student section is hyped and gets us going,” Royce said. “I feel like if we keep our heads in the game, we’ll keep powering through. We have to keep working hard and doing what’s been working for us.”

“We need to take care of business, control our destiny and get homefield advantage through the playoffs,” Farley added. “We’d rather play on our field, so we can play a little bit faster.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

With Marshwood junior goalkeeper Nathalie Clavette cutting off the angle, Scarborough junior Leah Dickman misses just wide.

Scarborough senior Gaby Panagakos races up the field. Panagakos scored the game’s lone goal.

Scarborough junior Jess Rinaldi fights Marshwood freshman Ella Nelson for the ball.

Scarborough senior Natalie Taylor plays the ball while Marshwood junior Courtney Thim keeps watch.

Scarborough junior Molly Murnane fights her way past Marshwood junior Katherine Page.

Scarborough senior Ellie Patten boots the ball away from Marshwood junior Natalie Herbold.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.