SCARBOROUGH—The schedule gets tougher by the day, but Scarborough’s girls’ soccer team continues to meet every challenge.
The Red Storm put their number one ranking and undefeated record on the line Wednesday evening against the red-hot Marshwood Hawks and got pushed for 80 minutes, but found a way to keep the good times rolling.
Both teams made the most of their few opportunities in the first half.
Scarborough took a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute when senior Mary Farnkoff scored on a penalty kick.
Marshwood drew even with 19:55 to play in the half, when sophomore Marin Smith finished, but just 81 seconds later, Red Storm sophomore Gaby Panagakos got free and sent a shot into the goal for a 2-1 lead.
Scarborough wasn’t able to add to that advantage, but the Red Storm’s stellar defense slammed the door in the second half and Scarborough went on to a 2-1 victory.
With the win, their 10th in a row, the Red Storm improved to 11-0-1 and snapped Marshwood’s six-game win streak in the process, dropping the Hawks to 9-2.
“They’re one of the best teams we’ve played,” said Scarborough coach Mike Farley, of the Hawks. “This game was so close. It could have gone either way.”
In a year devoid of a heavy favorite, several teams are battling for Class A South supremacy, making Wednesday night’s contest crucial.
Marshwood beat Noble, Cheverus and Thornton Academy to start the season, then lost at home to two-time defending Class A champion Windham. The Hawks then hit their stride, defeating Portland, Westbrook, Massabesic, Sanford, Deering and Biddeford.
Scarborough opened with a 2-1 home win over Deering, then settled for a 2-2 tie at Sanford. The Red Storm then put it together, blanking host Bonny Eagle (3-0), visiting Gorham (1-0), visiting South Portland (2-0), host McAuley (4-0), visiting Biddeford (3-0), host Portland (4-0), host Cheverus (2-1), visiting Westbrook (3-0) and finally host Thornton Academy (1-0).
Last year, Marshwood won the regular season meeting, 3-2, in South Berwick, handing Scarborough its lone regular season loss, but the Red Storm earned payback in the Western A semifinals with a 4-1 victory.
Wednesday, both teams had a chance to come out with a win, but Scarborough found a way.
After 10 minutes of back-and-forth, Panagakos took a lead pass from Farnkoff and appeared bound for a breakaway shot, but she was knocked down from behind and a penalty kick was called.
“I was on a fastbreak and I felt a push from behind,” Panagakos said. “I thought I’d get the call.”
Panagakos didn’t get to take the PK, however, as Farnkoff did the honors.
With 29:54 to play in the first half, Farnkoff buried Scarborough’s first PK of the season just to the right of diving Marshwood senior goalkeeper Emily Robida for a 1-0 lead.
“Mary’s really calm with PKs,” Panagakos said. “I think she’s our best PK shooter.”
“Mary’s composed,” Farley said. “She’s a really smart player.”
Three minutes later, Panagakos had a chance to double the lead, but she shot just wide.
Then, the Hawks’ first shot resulted in their first goal.
With 19:55 to play in the half, a pass from freshman Natalie Herbold deflected off a defender to Smith, who fired a shot past Red Storm senior goalie Molly LeComte and just inside the far post to tie the score, 1-1.
Instead of hanging its head, Scarborough bounced right back.
With 18:34 to play before halftime, senior Maggie Murphy fed Panagakos, who had a step on a defender. Robida came out to cut off the angle, but Panagakos calmly launched a shot over the goalie and into the net to make it 2-1 Red Storm.
“Our team always bounces back from goals,” Panagakos said. “We always encourage each other to get the ball forward and they get the ball up to me. Marshwood has a fast defense. I thought I had the shot and I just took it. The goalie was coming out. I felt confident with the shot.”
After LeComte’s lone save of the first half, which denied junior Zoe Janetos, Scarborough had a great chance to gain even more separation when senior Elise O’Reilly set up Murphy for a breakaway in the 33rd minute, but her shot was saved by Robida, sending the game to halftime, still 2-1 in the Red Storm’s favor.
“We had chances in the first half that we should have ended the game with,” Farley said. “Overall, we had good offensive chances.”
Neither team scored in the second half, but there were opportunities.
With 31:23 to play, Scarborough senior Maddie Chen set up Panagakos for a great look, but Robida robbed her in front.
With 23:50 left, Marshwood earned a corner kick, but the Red Storm defense cleared it.
With 20:32 to go, Hawks junior Hannah Fife lofted a high shot that LeComte had to punch out of the way.
Marshwood junior Molly Ferguson and Herbold then each had looks, but both were off target.
Scarborough nearly iced it with 18:55 left, but after taking a pass from O’Reilly, sophomore Lauren Sabatino just missed the mark.
The Hawks got another corner kick with 5:30 to play, but a shot was blocked, then the ball was cleared.
A minute later, Smith was hit in the box, but no call was made.
Inside the final minute, Marshwood had one final chance, but a free kick from junior Reagan Nichols was cleared and the Red Storm held on to win, 2-1.
“Marshwood’s a really good team, but we have a solid back line,” Panagakos said. “We worked hard to pressure and stop their crosses. We had to step to every shot.”
“(Marshwood’s) a phenomenal team,” Farley said. “Defensively, I thought we settled down in the second half, which is a big deal. The first half, we were so worried about them keeping possession that we yanked ourselves in spots we didn’t need to be. They did a really good job pressuring us up top, but I feel good defensively because of how many veteran players we have and how solid we are.
“We need to be able to create chances and exploit the opportunities we have. We could have easily had one or two more goals tonight and if we get three goals, we’ll be tough to beat. We have to focus, take the chances we get and if we do that, I’m really confident.”
Scarborough finished with a 9-8 shots advantage (shots on frame were 5-5) and got three saves from LeComte.
Marshwood had a 3-2 edge in corner kicks and got four saves from Robida.
While Marshwood (third in the Class A South Heal Points standings at press time) closes with a game at Bonny Eagle, a home game versus Gorham and a makeup game against McAuley, Scarborough (ranked first) plays at Massabesic, then hosts Windham in a pivotal showdown in the regular season finale Tuesday.
“We’re really excited to play Windham,” Panagakos said. “They’re a great team. I think we’re ready for them. We want the homefield advantage. There’s always stuff to improve, but I think we’re ready.”
“(Windham’s) a big game,” Farley said. “We haven’t beaten them in a few years. We want to show we can do it. I think we do much better on turf with our speed, so we want homefield. I think it’s because I’m a defensive coach and we hang our hats on what we do defensively. It’s not just our backs, but the whole team. This team buys in. They don’t give up anything easily. We have a good shot.”
Scarborough celebrates the go-ahead goal during Wednesday’s 2-1 home win over Marshwood.
Mike Strout photos.
Scarborough senior Maddie Chen gets her head on the ball.
Scarborough senior Mary Farnkoff buries a penalty kick for the game’s first goal.
Scarborough junior Jillian Ware heads the ball forward.
Scarborough senior goalkeeper Molly LeComte collects the ball just before Marshwood sophomore Marin Smith can reach it as sophomore Ellie Patten goes flying.
Scarborough senior Elise O’Reilly heads the ball away from Marshwood sophomore Marin Smith.
Scarborough senior Bryce Nitchman is brought down by Marshwood junior Natalie DuBois.
Scarborough sophomore Gaby Panagakos gets some room. Panagakos’ breakaway goal late in the first half was the difference.