Scarborough girls hold off Marshwood in first playoff test

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SCARBOROUGH—A seemingly easy victory suddenly turned into a nailbiter Tuesday evening, but as it has done so often in recent memory, the Scarborough girls’ soccer team rose to the occasion.

Hosting No. 5 Marshwood in a Western Class A quarterfinal at the Kippy Mitchell Sports Complex, the defending state champion and fourth-seeded Red Storm shot to a 2-0 lead behind two goals from senior Morgan Rodway in a two-minute span of the first half.

When junior Sam Sparda added a third goal with 33:01 to play in regulation, Scarborough appeared home free, but the Hawks battled back, scoring twice off corner kicks, and with 16 minutes still to play, the Red Storm clung to a 3-2 lead.

Then, with just over 10 minutes to go, sophomore Mary Farnkoff ended the drama, scoring a goal which produced a 4-2 lead, a margin Scarborough would hold as it improved to 12-1-2. The Red Storm ended Marshwood’s season at 11-5 and advanced to meet top-ranked Windham (14-0-1) in the semifinals Saturday.

“Credit to Marshwood,” Scarborough coach Mike Farley said. “Usually when we get a team down, 3-0, they pack their stuff and go home, but Marshwood wouldn’t have any of it. They put us under pressure in the second half and got set plays just from sheer hustle. They got two goals off corners just off their pressure. That’s how you respond to adversity in a game. They made the most of it. If we didn’t get a big goal from Mary at the end, it would have gone down to the wire and it could have gone either way.”

Winning time

Don’t pay much attention to the seeding, because once the calendar reaches late October, no one has been better than the Scarborough girls the past three seasons.

The Red Storm won Class A in 2010 and 2012 and got to the state game two years ago. This fall, despite a loss at Thornton Academy and home ties versus Biddeford and Windham, Scarborough’s 11-1-2 mark was good for the No. 4 seed.

Marshwood lost only at Scarborough (3-1, Sept. 18), at home to Thornton Academy (4-1), at Biddeford (3-1) and at home to Windham (5-0) in going 10-4. The Hawks earned the No. 5 seed and dispatched No. 12 Cheverus, 4-1, in a preliminary round playoff game Friday.

The teams had met just once before in the postseason, when the Hawks sprung a 2-1 overtime shocker at the Red Storm in the 2009 quarterfinals.

This time, Scarborough wasn’t about to be finished this early.

The game’s first goal came with 15:20 to go in the first half and Rodway did the honors, finishing a feed from Sparda to make it 1-0.

“Sam gave me a good ball,” Rodway said. “I kind of fumbled it a little. I pushed it to the baseline and I saw the defender fell and the goalie was out, so I went for the far post.”

Exactly two minutes later, Rodway struck again, this time from junior Katherine Kirk and the Red Storm had a seemingly safe 2-0 advantage.

“Katherine crossed it and I was just there to put it in,” said Rodway.

“When Morgan has the mentality to take players on, she’s the fastest by far at all times,” Farley said. “When you have that kind of speed, it’s such a weapon. You can’t teach it or defend it.”

Sparda got in on the scoring fun with 33:01 remaining in regulation, finishing a feed from freshman Ashley Perriello and it was 3-0.

Then, Marshwood made things very interesting.

First, a mere 80 seconds after the Scarborough goal, junior Lydia St. Pierre headed home a corner (freshman Reagan Nichols got the assist). Then, with 16:40 to play, off another corner, senior Hannah Folger won a battle out of a scrum and finished Nichols’ serve to make the score 3-2.

The Red Storm was on the ropes, but wasn’t about to buckle.

With 10:04 to play, Farnkoff finished (assist to Perriello) and Scarborough had some breathing room, 4-2.

“You can’t key on anybody with us,” Farley said. “That’s been our calling card all season. When we need someone to step up, they step up. We’re getting goals from outside players and center-mid players. We have to get better chances on set plays. If we can get one or two goals, that puts us in the driver’s seat.”

This time, the Hawks couldn’t respond and the Red Storm held on for a 4-2 triumph.

“I was very surprised they came back,” Rodway said. “They picked up the momentum. We had trouble in the back. We weren’t clearing, but we kept the pressure on. We had to play like we did in the first half and remember it was our game. We settled down a little.”

“I was really happy with the first half,” Farley said. “We started attacking on the outside and we scored some easy goals. I thought we’d cruise, but we got sporadic in the back. We were mis-clearing the ball. Corners weren’t the problem. The mis-clears created chances for them.”

Don’t miss it

Saturday, Scarborough goes to Windham, 17 days after rallying late to tie the visiting Eagles, 2-2.

The teams’ only previous playoff meeting came in the 2006 semifinals (a 1-0 Red Storm win).

Scarborough has won its share of road playoff games in recent seasons and believes it has what it takes to keep its season alive.

“We have to keep our defense up and play balls to the outside,” said Rodway. “We can’t give up shots to Windham. If we keep the pressure on, keep passing and take good shots, we should be in good shape.”

“This is not usual for us,” Farley said. “Usually, we have seven or eight seniors in playoff games. We have freshmen and sophomores. We’ll have growing pains, but we have to get there quickly. It will only get more difficult. It was an unbelievable game the first time. A flip of a coin. They’re familiar with their field, but I think we’re a better grass team. It’s going to be a challenge. This is a tough bracket to get through.”

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

Scarborough sophomore Aly Atherton possesses the ball.

Scarborough freshman Ashley Perriello shields the ball from a Marshwood defender. Perriello had two assists in the win.

Scarborough junior Ashley Briggs has a pretty good shot on the hardwood in the winter, but here, she demonstrates her throwing form on the pitch.

Scarborough junior Sam Sparda launches a shot.

Scarborough junior Ashley Gleason finds some operating room.

Scarborough senior Morgan Rodway fights Marshwood junior Lydia Carlson for possession.

Scarborough junior Mairead Clonan fights for the ball along the sideline.

Previous Scarborough-Marshwood playoff results

2009 Western A quarterfinals
Marshwood 2 @ Scarborough 1 (OT)

Sidebar Elements

Somewhere in this mass of humanity is Scarborough senior Morgan Rodway, who is congratulated after a first half goal. Rodway scored twice to help the Red Storm advance with a 4-2 victory over Marshwood in Tuesday’s Western A girls’ soccer quarterfinal.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.

Previous Scarborough stories

Season preview

Scarborough 1 Gorham 0

Scarborough 2 Deering 1

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