PORTLAND—You can only hold the Scarborough girls’ soccer team at bay for so long.
Wednesday evening at Memorial Field, the Red Storm weren’t able to break through in the first half against a talented Deering Rams squad, but in the blink of eye at the start of the second half, Scarborough struck.
A mere 35 seconds after halftime, Red Storm senior Ashley Gleason finished a feed from classmate Katherine Kirk to put her team ahead to stay.
Nine minutes later, Kirk scored a goal of her own, taking a pass from junior Aly Atherton and tickling the twine and that was more than enough.
Scarborough’s defense slammed the door from there and went on to a 2-0 victory, its sixth in a row, as it improved to 9-1 and dropped Deering to 6-3 in the process.
“It’s never easy to beat Deering,” said Red Storm coach Mike Farley. “They’re organized. It took us awhile to figure out how to break them down. That’s what happens when you play competitive games, you find out what works and what doesn’t work.”
Entering Wednesday’s contest, Deering had never beaten Scarborough, but it looked as if the stars might be aligned this time around.
This Rams’ team has been very consistent and dangerous and the Red Storm, while once again formidable, aren’t viewed as the favorites this fall.
After opening with a 1-0 win at Cheverus, Deering blanked visiting Massabesic (2-0) and edged visiting Portland (1-0). After falling at Gorham (1-0), the Rams bounced back to blank visiting Noble (3-0) and visiting South Portland (2-0), then won at Bonny Eagle (4-2) before falling at Westbrook last Wednesday, 1-0.
Scarborough, which isn’t defending a regional title for the first time in four years, began by blanking host South Portland, 3-0. After wins over visiting Portland (2-1) and host Biddeford (2-0), the Red Storm fell at Marshwood (3-2), a loss they quickly learned from.
“Marshwood was an eye-opener,” Gleason said. “We learned that we have to keep working hard. We can’t get comfortable.”
“It was unfortunate and I think it was avoidable,” Kirk said. “I think we know now how to use our frustration in a positive way.”
Scarborough then returned to form by defeating visiting Sanford (6-0) and Noble (7-0), host McAuley (7-1), visiting Massabesic (6-0) and host Gorham in a 2-1 thriller Friday.
Wednesday, Deering hoped to make history, beat the Red Storm for the first time in 12 all-time tries and earn some big Heal Points, but Scarborough once again did what it took to prevail.
The Red Storm controlled possession for most of the first half and had their first look in the third minute when Gleason fed Kirk, but Kirk’s shot was denied by Rams senior goalkeeper Emily Mooney and sophomore defender Abby Elowitch cleared the rebound.
Scarborough then earned a corner kick, but senior Sam Sparda’s serve was headed away by Deering sophomore Sophie Silva.
“Sophie as a sophomore has done quite well helping fill (former standout and current Saint Anselm’s player) Alexis Elowitch’s shoes,” said Rams coach Kevin Olson.
Gleason had a bid in the sixth minute, but shot wide.
Later in the half, Mooney got to a through ball just in time to deny Red Storm freshman Gaby Panagakos.
Kirk then redirected a shot, but Mooney made the stop.
It took nearly 30 minutes for the Rams to get a good chance.
With 10:47 to play in the first half, sophomore Ewka Varney sent a through ball to junior Simone Lauture, who got a foot on it, but Scarborough junior goalkeeper Molly LeComte made the save.
At the other end, Gleason was again denied by Mooney.
Finally, as time wound down, Gleason lofted a long shot that appeared ticketed for the goal, but Mooney leaped and somehow got a hand on the ball to keep it from going in and as the horn sounded, the game went to the break scoreless.
The Red Storm enjoyed an 8-1 shots advantage, but Mooney’s six saves stymied them.
At the break, Farley emphasized spacing and it immediately led to a goal as the second half began.
Just 35 seconds in, Kirk, after getting some room, delivered a perfect feed to Gleason, who finished, giving Scarborough the only goal it would need.
“Coach always knows what to say and he always gets us going at halftime,” Gleason said. “We knew we had to keep possessing and put it in. All I had to do was tap it in. That pass was crazy-good.”
“A lot of times we’ll switch our formation to two up top,” Kirk said. “We didn’t do that this game because we saw the space to the outside midfielders. Coach pointed that out to us and told us we needed to utilize it. We did and it led to both goals. No one came to me, so I took the space. I saw Gleason and played it through to her and she put it in.”
“I wish all my halftime speeches were like that,” Farley added. “In the second half, we did a good job exposing the space between the center-back and the outside-back. Some of my faster players were able to get around with good passes. They had to make good runs with the ball being played at the right time. We talked at halftime about Ashley getting free in the midfield and that we could play the ball perfectly in there.”
Deering was staggered.
“That goal hurt,” said Olson. “Our body language showed that we were disappointed. It took awhile for us to get back into it.”
Atherton almost doubled the lead a minute later, but Mooney made the save.
Sophomore striker Ashley Perriello, who returned from injury Wednesday, had a couple shots denied by Mooney, then set up Kirk, but her shot was also saved.
With 30:40 to go, the Red Storm got some breathing room.
Atherton set it up with a nice diagonal pass to Kirk, who took the feed behind the defense, then quickly shot past Mooney to make it 2-0.
“It was a little chaotic, but I knew the goalie was coming out and I wouldn’t have time to take a touch and shoot, so I just went for the one-touch goal and it worked,” Kirk said.
“(Ashley and Katherine have) been huge all year,” Farley said. “Katherine’s scored a lot of goals. We don’t really have a lot of forward presence. We need outside players to be dangerous and Katherine has been great. Ashley Gleason finds passes that no one else sees. In my mind, I see a pass, but she’s already played the ball. It’s great to have a player who does that.”
Deering came alive and looked to answer, but a long shot from Varney was saved by LeComte and the keeper stopped another Varney shot moments later.
With 15:23 to play, Rams junior Cora Melcher got her foot on the ball on a corner kick, but LeComte again stood tall.
After Perreillo set up junior Emma Koukos for a good look at the other end, only to see Koukos shoot just wide, Lauture sent a blast just wide with 6:23 to play.
Then, with 2:12 remaining, things turned surreal as the field went dark.
The lights had gone out and had to be reset. After a 17-minute delay, the game resumed and Scarborough slammed the door on its 2-0 victory.
“I’m really proud of us for playing our game and not getting rattled,” Kirk said.
“It’s always good to get a win on the road against a good team,” said Farley. “We were feeling each other out out of the gate. Defensively, they’re solid and we’re solid. It got slowed down a little bit. Aly and (junior) Mary (Farnkoff) really clogged the midfield, especially in the second half. They won balls, crisply played it to someone else and got it back and played it to the next level. That allowed us to keep the ball in their end more than in the first half.”
Scarborough finished with a 22-5 shots advantage (16-4 on frame) and had a 3-1 edge in corner kicks. LeComte made four saves.
Deering got 14 saves from Mooney.
“Emily has made some big saves,” Olson said. “She’s been great for us. She knows when to commit. Neither goal tonight was her fault, it was because of defensive mistakes by us.
“We kept fighting, but we couldn’t get into a rhythm. We had opportunities, but we’d turn the ball over in the final third. We made little mistakes here and there. Scarborough’s a fast, talented team.”
The road gets no easier for Deering (now eighth in the Western Class A Heal Points standings), which has to play at powerhouse Thornton Academy Friday before coming home to battle dangerous Marshwood Monday. After hosting McAuley, the Rams go to Biddeford, then close the regular season at home versus Sanford.
“We hope to bounce back quickly,” Olson said. “We have to rebound and keep pushing. We have to find our groove on offense.”
As for Scarborough (third in Western A), it welcomes Westbrook Saturday, then gets its opportunity to move up when it goes to defending Class A champion Windham in a playoff rematch Wednesday of next week.
“I’m really happy with how much we’ve improved,” Kirk said. “The younger girls have filled their roles and have stepped up. We look forward to (Windham). We’re nervous and excited to see what we can do against them.”
“Windham’s always tough,” Farley said. “It’s no secret they’re the best team. We have to our best to keep them from scoring goals and then we have to find a way to manufacture a goal. We’ll give it our best shot.”
Home games against Thornton Academy and Bonny Eagle close the regular season.
“We’re playing really good teams at the end of the season,” Gleason said. “That will get us ready for playoffs. We’ll keep playing like we play. We won’t let opponents dictate how we play.”
Deering sophomore Abby Elowitch knocks the ball away from Scarborough sophomore Ashley Perreillo.
Deering senior Katie Farrell plays the ball up the field as Scarborough senior Katherine Kirk gives chase.
Scarborough senior Ashley Gleason tries to get past Deering freshman Darrah Scott.
Scarborough junior Emma Smith plays the ball.
Deering sophomore Ewka Varney heads the ball away from Scarborough junior Mary Farnkoff.
Deering senior goalkeeper Emily Mooney goes all out to make a sensational diving save late in the first half.
@ Scarborough 2 Deering 1
Scarborough 3 @ Deering 0
@ Scarborough 4 Deering 1
@ Scarborough 2 Deering 0
Scarborough 3 @ Deering 0
@ Scarborough 2 Deering 1
Scarborough 3 @ Deering 0
@ Scarborough 2 Deering 1 (OT)
Scarborough 2 @ Deering 0
Scarborough senior Ashley Gleason (24) is mobbed by her teammates after her goal early in the second half of Wednesday’s 2-0 win at Deering.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.