PORTLAND—Scarborough’s girls’ soccer team knows that it’s going to produce a stellar defensive effort every time it takes the field.
And when the offense comes through, the Red Storm are close to unbeatable.
Monday afternoon, against Cheverus at Boulos Stadium, Scarborough surrendered its first goal in seven contests, but the offense did enough to ensure the Red Storm stayed undefeated.
In just the fourth minute, sophomore Gaby Panagakos finished a feed from junior Jillian Ware to give Scarborough a quick 1-0 lead, an advantage which lasted until 13:27 remained in regulation, when Ware got her foot on a cross from senior Maddie Chen to make it a 2-0 game.
That goal proved huge as the Stags got a score from junior Katie Gordon with 2:09 to play to make things interesting, but the Red Storm managed to slam the door from there and get out of town with a 2-1 victory.
Scarborough made it seven straight victories and improved to 8-0-1 overall, dropping feisty Cheverus to 3-4-2 in the process.
“Credit to (Cheverus),” said Scarborough coach Mike Farley. “They played really organized and defensive and the grass slowed us down a little bit. In the first half especially, we didn’t handle it very well. In the second half, we strung passes together better.”
Over the past decade, Scarborough has averaged 13 wins per season and has three regional and two state titles to its credit. Last fall, the Red Storm lost to eventual repeat state champion Windham in the regional final and has been solid throughout the first half of the 2015 campaign.
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) and host Portland (4-0)
Cheverus lost at home to Portland in its opener, 4-1, then got in the win column, 4-2, at Massabesic. After a 0-0 home tie with Westbrook, the Stags blanked visiting Noble, 7-1, before losing at Windham, 4-1. A 1-0 victory at Thornton Academy and a 1-1 tie at Bonny Eagle followed.
The teams didn’t meet in 2013 or 2014. Scarborough won the most recent encounter, 3-0, Sept. 14, 2012, in Portland. That gave the Red Storm a 10-3 all-time record (see sidebar, below) against the Stags (including victories in the 2004, 2010 and 2011 playoffs).
Monday, Cheverus sought its first win over Scarborough in seven years and one day, but the Red Storm instead extended their win streak to seven over the Stags.
Cheverus actually produced the game’s first chance, but a bid from junior Meredith Cilley in the third minute was denied by Scarborough sophomore goalkeeper Emily Royce.
The Red Storm then transitioned to offense and took the lead.
The goal came off of a throw in from the side, as Ware got the ball to Panagakos in space and Panagakos managed to flick home a shot past Cheverus sophomore keeper Abby Cavallaro, just inside the far post.
“Jillian played a really good ball to me,” said Panagakos. “I was calm and kept going. I didn’t really think I’d one-touch it. Usually I dribble more, but I hit a good ball.”
“It was kind of a bang-bang play, a nice pass by Jillian,” said Farley. “I don’t even know how Gaby got it in there. It was just a flick of her foot, but we’ll take it.”
Scarborough had three corner kicks in the first half, but couldn’t add to its lead. The Red Storm did come close a few times, as Panagakos sent a shot high, Cavallaro denied a long bid from senior Sophia Zidow and senior Aly Atherton’s header on a free kick from senior Elise O’Reilly was also snared by the goalie.
Cheverus’ best chance came on a cross from Cilley which was just beyond the lunge of freshman Maeve McGarrity.
Scarborough pushed hard for an insurance goal in the second half, but it took awhile.
After Cavallaro batted away an O’Reilly free kick, then saved shots by Chen, O’Reilly and O’Reilly again, the Red Storm took a 2-0 lead with 13:27 to go, as Chen made a nice run down the left side and crossed the ball on the ground, through the box to a wide open Ware, who, while sliding, tapped it into the net.
“Maddie played a really good ball,” Ware said. “I would’ve been really embarrassed if I didn’t score. It was right there and I just hoped for the best.”
“We got Maddie on the outside a little bit in the second half and got her in 1-v-1 situations,” Farley said. “That second goal was obviously the difference in the game. She did a good job pushing by a player and driving at the goal.”
Instead of opening the floodgates, the Stags hung tough and were rewarded after a rare Scarborough defensive lapse.
After a Red Storm foul was called just outside the box, Cheverus sophomore Michaela Jordan sent a free kick on target which Royce couldn’t handle and the Scarborough defense couldn’t clear and Gordon was there to clean it up and bang it home with 2:09 to play, cutting the deficit to just a goal.
“I was proud of our resiliency after their second goal,” said Stags coach Craig Roberts. “With their weapons, it could have been 3-0 or 4-0 and we wouldn’t have felt as good. To get a goal and put some pressure on was great.”
The Red Storm weren’t happy about giving one up.
“That was a mistake,” Ware said. “They happen sometimes. We weren’t in the right place.”
“All the goals we’ve given up this year have been self-inflicted,” Farley lamented. “We know better than to foul like that. That could have really hurt us.”
Cheverus never did get a look at an equalizer and the Red Storm put the finishing touches on their 2-1 victory.
“I had a lot of faith in our defense,” said Panagakos. “They really keep a good line back there. I really trust them.”
“These games are great to get us prepared,” Farley said. “It’s nice our league is more balanced this year. We’re not worse, everyone else is getting better.”
Scarborough finished with a 10-4 edge in shots and had five corner kicks to one for Cheverus. Royce made eight saves. Cavallaro stopped three shots in defeat.
“We have quite a few injuries and some people out sick, so we wanted to play a formation that was conservative defensively, so they couldn’t run through us,” Roberts said. “They’re very athletic and very good. We didn’t want to sit back on our heels and we wanted to counter when we could and I think we did. We wanted a tie or win, but we’ll take the positives and move forward.”
Both teams have several key games remaining.
Cheverus’ slate gets no easier as Gorham comes to town Wednesday. After playing at South Portland Saturday, the Stags (ranked 11th in the Class A South Heal Points standings at press time) host Sanford, visit Deering and close with a home game versus McAuley.
“We feel like we can play with all the teams,” Roberts said. “We feel there are a lot of games left that we can win. We’ll try to improve each practice and each game and stay in the playoff hunt. Maybe we’ll move up and have a home playoff game. That would be great for the program.
“The girls are positive. It’s a great group to coach. Even when we’ve lost, I have no complaints with the attitudes. I’m confident we won’t roll over for anybody. Gorham will be a similar team. They’re one of the top teams in the state. Hopefully we can build on this and play them tough and see what happens.”
Scarborough (second behind Windham in the region) is back in action Wednesday when Westbrook pays a visit. The Red Storm then have a big test Friday at Thornton Academy. After hosting Marshwood, Scarborough plays at Massabesic, then closes Oct. 20 with a home showdown versus Windham.
“We have to work together and keep creating chances,” said Panagakos. “We’re really excited.”
“We’re anticipating every game will be tough,” said Ware. “We always try our best. We were close with Windham last year. Marshwood will be a good challenge too. We just have to keep our heads up. I think we’re definitely ready defensively. We have a solid back line. We create a lot of opportunities. We just have to make sure we finish. We have strong players up top.”
“I know we can play with the top teams,” Farley added. “I like that defensively we have so much experience and so many solid players. Goalkeeping’s a strength too. Our issue is scoring. If we score, we win games. We have to create one or two goals and we’ll be good.
“Just like we were a couple years ago, until someone beats (Windham), you have to give them the nod. They’re the most talented offensive team. We have to get offense to compete with them. This time of year is what we live for.”
Scarborough junior Jillian Ware picks up senior Maddie Chen in celebration after Chen set up Ware with the second goal of the Red Storm’s 2-1 win at Cheverus Monday afternoon.
Mike Strout photos.
Scarborough sophomore Gaby Panagakos races up the field with Cheverus senior Willa Tarasevich in hot pursuit. Panagakos scored the game’s first goal.
Cheverus sophomore goalkeeper Abby Cavallaro leaps to make a save.
Cheverus junior Katie Gordon shields the ball from Scarborough senior Emma Smith.
Scarborough senior Maddie Chen and Cheverus senior Alyssa Smith meet in the air.
Scarborough junior Jillian Ware and Cheverus senior Willa Tarasevich go for a header.
Scarborough sophomore Lauren Sabatino and Cheverus senior Alyssa Smith chase down a loose ball.
Cheverus freshman Maeve McGarrity tries to kick the ball away from Scarborough senior Mary Farnkoff.
Scarborough sophomore goalie Emily Royce dives on a loose ball as sophomore Natalie Taylor tries to clear it from the box.
Cheverus sophomore Mackenzie Johnston heads the ball away from Scarborough senior Elise O’Reilly.
Cheverus junior Katie Gordon (15) is hugged by junior Emily Turner after her late goal.
Scarborough 3 @ Cheverus 0
@ Scarborough 1 Cheverus 1 (tie)
Western A quarterfinals
@ Scarborough 2 Cheverus 0
Scarborough 2 @ Cheverus 0
Western A semifinals
@ Scarborough 2 Cheverus 1
@ Scarborough 1 Cheverus 0 (OT)
@ Cheverus 3 Scarborough 2
Cheverus 2 @ Scarborough 0
Scarborough 3 @ Cheverus 0
@ Scarborough 3 Cheverus 0
@ Cheverus 3 Scarborough 2 (OT)
Western A semifinals
@ Scarborough 1 Cheverus 0 (2 OT)
Scarborough 3 @ Cheverus 1