SCARBOROUGH—A champion knows it will always get its opponent’s best shot.
This champion keeps finding a way to prevail anyway.
So far this fall, Scarborough’s field hockey team, the defending Class A champion, has been pushed on multiple occasions, but the Red Storm continue to have no peer.
Hosting undefeated yet feisty Gorham Friday afternoon at the Kippy Mitchell Sports Complex, Scarborough grabbed a first half lead when junior Tori Timm scored on a rebound, but the Rams responded late in the half on a goal from junior Erin Esty.
The game remained deadlocked until 10:01 remained, when not surprisingly, junior Lily Nygren came up huge.
Nygren, who has made a name for herself with her penchant for scoring at optimal times, finished a cross from junior Cara Reynolds and put the Red Storm ahead to stay.
Junior Liz Callahan added a goal (from Reynolds) 38 seconds later and Scarborough went on to a 3-1 victory.
The Red Storm got scoring from three different players, improved to 4-0, dropped Gorham to 0-4 in the process and stretched their five-year league unbeaten streak to 65 games.
“We always seem to find a way,” said Scarborough coach Kerry Mariello. “There are games where it feels like a setback, but it comes down not every win being pretty. If we can keep pulling wins like this off, we’ll be in good shape.”
Scarborough and Gorham have been squaring off since both teams played in the Western Maine Conference, but like everyone else in the Southwestern Maine Activities Association, the Rams have had no success against the Red Storm in recent seasons.
Gorham hasn’t beaten Scarborough since Sept. 22, 2006 (the teams did tie in 2007).
In the most recent meeting, the Red Storm prevailed, 5-0, in the 2013 Western A quarterfinals.
Friday, Scarborough did it again, but as has been the case most of this season, the Red Storm had to scratch and claw for 60 minutes.
Gorham got the first good look, but senior Sarah Jordan’s backhanded blast in the fourth minute was saved by Scarborough senior goalie Alyssa Souza.
With 21 minutes to go in the first half, junior Kristen Levesque launched a long blast for the Red Storm’s first shot, but Rams’ senior goalie Nicole Watts made the save.
Then, after a nice run up the sidelines by Reynolds, the ball came to junior Ashley Levesque, but her backhander went wide.
Scarborough earned a penalty corner with just under 14 minutes left in the half and that led the game’s first tally.
The ball was inbounded by Nygren and came to Kristen Levesque, who fired a shot. Wells made the save, but couldn’t clear it and Timm was there to finish the rebound for a 1-0 lead with 14:44 remaining before halftime.
Gorham drew even with 7:55 left, as junior Jamie Juskiewicz set up Esty as the Red Storm suffered a defensive breakdown.
Scarborough had four more corners before the half, but couldn’t finish, as sophomore Lauren Topchik, Ashley Levesque, junior Annika Battista and Kristen Levesque all had shots saved by Wells.
In the first half, the Red Storm had an 8-2 shots advantage and took six corners, but found themselves tied.
The deadlock remained for much of the second half, even though Scarborough had its opportunities, including one which was golden.
With 21:57 to play in regulation, Red Storm senior Grace Bailer shot just wide. Scarborough got a couple corners and on the second, after Wells made a save on a Timm shot, a defender kept a follow-up shot out of the cage with her foot, which gave Scarborough a penalty stroke.
Mariello gave Battista the opportunity only to see Wells deny the high shot, keeping the score 1-1.
After Kristen Levesque and Nygren missed shots, Mariello called timeout with 12:57 to play and whatever she said worked as the Red Storm soon retook the lead.
The winning sequence was started by Reynolds, who in her first varsity season, has become a key contributor. Reynolds, from the wing, crossed the ball in front and Nygren, as is her specialty, was in the right place at the right time to finish for a 2-1 lead.
“I just get the ball and go,” Reynolds said. “I think running up the sidelines is my specialty. I like to carry it down the field and set it up. I like to send it across. I know that Lily is always there to bang it home. It’s fun to be out here in close games.”
“I play defense on hockey and I see a lot of missed opportunities, so when I play field hockey, I relate it back to hockey and think about where I should be,” Nygren said. “Cara had a beautiful pass right across. I was there. The goalie was still looking right at Cara and I just hit it in. I knew we really needed a goal.”
“(Lily) just has a knack for going to the ball,” Mariello added. “She has a competitive nature. She wants it. She gets it. She’s the kind of athlete a coach wants.”
Before Gorham knew what hit it, Scarborough extended its lead to 3-1 as Reynolds pass to junior Liz Callahan, who scored with 9:23 remaining.
The Rams pressured a few times down the stretch, but couldn’t dent the Red Storm defense or Souza and Scarborough finished off its 3-1 victory.
“It’s different this year,” said Nygren. “We’re not having cakewalk games like last year. Every game’s a struggle. We have to fill the holes of players we lost. We’ve done really well together. We’re meshing together. People have filled in.”
“I think we’re doing very well,” said Reynolds. “It’s a whole new team. A lot’s changed, but we’re switching it up.”
Scarborough outshot Gorham, 14-5, and had 10 corners to just one for the Rams. Wells made nine saves for Gorham, while Souza stopped four shots for the Red Storm. Scarborough had three different goal scorers and Reynolds had a pair of assists.
“Cara is coming along very well,” Mariello said. “We’re grooming her to hopefully be a large contributor for us.”
While Gorham hopes to get in the win column Monday when it hosts Noble. Scarborough will be at Bonny Eagle. Then, Wednesday, the Red Storm host Cheverus in a compelling showdown. The two undefeated teams were ranked first and second respectively in the latest Heal Points standings.
Scarborough still needs to clean some things up, but the Red Storm keep on winning.
“I think if we keep working, we’ll do great,” Nygren said. “It takes a lot of intensity and never letting up. If you settle down for one second, that can be the second it gets taken away from you. We have to have better starts and execute.”
“We know we need work,” Mariello said. “As long as the girls acknowledge that, I think we’ll be OK. They need more varsity game experience. Cheverus will be a true test. We have to play near perfect against good teams.”
Scarborough junior Lily Nygren (5) is congratulated by classmate Ashley Levesque after scoring the go-ahead goal in the second half of the Red Storm’s 3-1 home win over Gorham Friday.
Mike Strout photos.
Scarborough junior Ashley Levesque propels the ball forward.
Scarborough junior Kristen Levesque tries to get past Gorham junior Mary Adams.
Scarborough sophomore Lucy Malia fires a shot.
Scarborough junior Lily Nygren unleashes a shot.
Scarborough junior Maddie York keeps the ball away from Gorham junior Erin Esty.
Scarborough junior Liz Callahan gets a congratulatory hug from junior Lily Nygren after clinching the victory.