Scarborough rides early goal, great defense to key win at Westbrook

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Scarborough senior Lauren Topchik (13) is mobbed by her teammates after scoring the game’s lone goal early in the Red Storm’s 1-0 win at Westbrook in a battle of unbeatens Friday afternoon.

Joe Carpine / 365digitalphotography.com photos.

More photos below.

WESTBROOK—If anyone was foolish enough to believe preseason prognostications that Scarborough’s field hockey team wouldn’t be its usual dominant self, they’re finding out much to their chagrin that the Red Storm remain a juggernaut.

Scarborough’s latest victim was rival Westbrook, which, like the Red Storm, entered Friday afternoon’s contest on its home grass field undefeated and the Blue Blazes were also confident that they could snap a long skid at Scarborough’s expense.

Instead, the Red Storm came out on fire and just 4 minutes, 18 seconds in, took the lead when senior Lucy Malia capped a long run with a perfect cross to classmate Lauren Topchik, who finished for a 1-0 lead.

Scarborough threatened to add to its advantage, but couldn’t do so and eventually the Blue Blazes would settle down, but they simply couldn’t generate many chances.

Westbrook managed two shots in the first half and only one in the second as the Red Storm produced one of their finest defensive efforts in memory and went on to a pivotal, early-season 1-0 victory.

Scarborough made it six wins in a row to start the season, beat the Blue Blazes for the 13th consecutive time and dropped Westbrook to 4-1 in the process.

“This goes to show that we’re the real deal,” said longtime Red Storm coach Kerry Mariello, whose 192nd career victory had to be one of her sweetest. “We’ve had some big games but not to this level. Westbrook was really hyped up and for us to come out and pull through on a surface we’re not totally comfortable with a big deal.” 

Solving the Storm

Entering play Friday, Westbrook hadn’t beaten Scarborough since eking out a 2-1 overtime decision in the quarterfinal round of the Western A playoffs 11 years ago, on Oct. 18, 2006.

The Red Storm took the next 12 meetings (see sidebar, below), including a pair in the postseason and held a 13-4 all-time edge prior to Friday. That included a 2-1 double-overtime victory last fall in Westbrook.

So far this season, both teams had passed all tests.

Scarborough, which lost to Marshwood in the semifinals in 2016 to finish 13-3, held off visiting South Portland, 3-1, in its opener, then defeated host Falmouth (3-1), host Sanford (6-1), visiting Thornton Academy (5-0) and visiting Portland (5-2).

Westbrook is coming off an 11-3-1 campaign, which ended with a loss to Massabesic in the Class A South quarterfinals. The Blue Blazes enjoyed a 4-1 home victory over Falmouth to start the year, then downed host Sanford (4-2), visiting Portland (8-0) and host Marshwood (1-0).

Friday, the Blue Blazes sought their first regular season victory over the Red Storm since Sept. 16, 2005 (2-1 at home), but Scarborough made it 13 straight in the series to stay undefeated.

The Red Storm were a step quicker to start the game and after pushing for the goal, but not generating a shot, they broke through for the game’s lone score.

With 25:42 left in the first half, after the speedy Malia raced up the right side, she crossed the ball in front and Topchik was there to re-direct it between the pads of Westbrook junior goalie Kimberly Goddard for a 1-0 lead.

“We were all really excited coming into this game,” said Topchik. “It’s always good to get a quick goal to set the tone.  I was just in the right spot to get a tap on it and it five-holed (the goalie).”

“Scoring early is a huge bonus, especially playing on grass,” said Mariello .”We got them on their heels. It’s not a situation they’ve been in and we capitalized on it. It was a speed thing. Lucy found the right person to make contact.”

Theresa Hendrix, who co-coaches the Blue Blazes along with Beth Murphy, gambled and called an early timeout to try and settle her team.

It didn’t help initially, as the visitors came close to doubling their lead a couple times.

First junior Caitlin Tyrrell set up sophomore Carrie Timpson for a shot that was denied by Goddard and Goddard gobbled up the rebound as well.

With 18:53 remaining in the first half, senior Rachel Paradis blasted a shot just wide.

Scarborough then earned a couple penalty corners, but had nothing to show for it. Moments later, Timpson shot just wide.

Westbrook finally got the ball in the offensive end in the 17th minute and had a good look to tie, but Red Storm senior goalie Sam Carriero denied a rush by Blue Blazes junior Alexis Witham.

Westbrook then had a chance on a penalty corner, but that didn’t result in a shot.

In the first half, Scarborough had a 6-2 shots advantage and a 2-1 edge in corners, but thanks to five saves from Goddard, the Blue Blazes were still in the contest.

“We had to adjust to what (Scarborough’s) strengths are,” said Hendrix. “The girls responded. They’re very coachable. We settled down a little bit and started to play our game.”

Scoring chances were even fewer in the second half as the Red Storm didn’t manage a single shot and the hosts only took one.

Westbrook had a great look to tie just 30 seconds into the second half, as after an aerial from senior Maddison LeBeau put the ball in the circle, Carriero fell down near the goal before recovering to kick it out of harm’s way.

The Blue Blazes then had a couple penalty corners, but neither resulted in a shot as Scarborough’s defense completely locked down.

“Our defense is one of our strengths,” Topchik said. “We were prepared and I think it showed.”

“We score goals, but people don’t realize what kind of defense we have,” Mariello said. “We’ve even been surprised with what kind of defense we have. They go up against our offense every day, so it’s not like they’re not prepared, but to pull through in a big game is a big confidence boost.”

Westbrook took one final out with 3:05 on the clock, but couldn’t generate any kind of scoring chance and the Red Storm were able to celebrate their 1-0 victory.

“We got the passes and worked well together,” said Topchik. “We were able to keep the lead the entire game. That was vital. Props to Westbrook. They gave us a good game. In the end, we showed them what we have.

“I think coming into the season we knew it would be different, but I think it’s a whole different vibe. We’ve blended really well. We don’t have one player do all the work. There were definitely a lot of holes to fill, but everyone wants to be here. We all work hard in practices and games. That definitely made a difference today.”

“It felt like a playoff game,” Mariello said. “It was the game I expected. To be able to hold them off, that says a lot for this team and our guts. The girls played hard. Westbrook is always tough. It doesn’t matter the records, it’s a competitive, passionate game. The girls with experience understand that. The ones who don’t we talked them up as much as possible. Westbrook always comes to play. I know we’ll see them again.”

Scarborough had a 6-3 advantage in shots and got three saves from Carriero.

Westbrook got five saves from Goddard and had a 3-2 edge in corners, but was left frustrated.

“A lot of the teams we played had a few good girls, but Scarborough has a slew of forwards who put pressure on,” Hendrix said. “They’re extremely fast. We’re used to having our defenders up. Today, we had to play further back to recover and keep us with their speed. It was good for us to see them. We had the ball but we couldn’t get good shots off. Their whole team came back and played defense. It’s hard to play 4 or 5-v-10.” 

Hurdles await

Westbrook looks to bounce back next week when it goes to Deering Tuesday and hosts Noble Thursday. The Blue Blazes also still have big games looming at Cheverus and defending regional champion Massabesic.

Scarborough hopes to stay unbeaten Tuesday when Marshwood pays a visit in a playoff rematch. The Red Storm also have to go to Massabesic and Cheverus later in the season.

“This win verifies what we know about our team, that we can do it,” Topchik said. “We’re a new team, yes, but that doesn’t mean we’re not as strong. Going forward, we have to continue with the passing, connecting as a team. We’re very good at adapting. I’m sure we’ll do that through the rest of the season.”

“There’s always room for growth,” Mariello said. “We have to continue to maintain possession and have proper footing defensively. It comes down to the little things making the difference.”

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

Scarborough junior Caitlin Tyrrell prepares to whack the ball.

Scarborough senior Lauren Topchik plays the ball out of the air.

Scarborough senior Sam Carriero hits the turf.

Scarborough senior Lucy Malia rushes toward the goal.

Scarborough senior Lauren Topchik sends the ball into the cage for the game’s lone goal.

Previous Scarborough-Westbrook results

2016
Scarborough 2 @ Westbrook 1 (2 OT)

2015
@ Scarborough 3 Westbrook 1

2014
Scarborough 5 @ Westbrook 0

2013
@ Scarborough 2 Westbrook 0

2012
@ Scarborough 2 Westbrook 0
Western A semifinals
@ Scarborough 3 Westbrook 0

2011
Scarborough 3 @ Westbrook 0

2010
@ Scarborough 2 Westbrook 1

2009
Scarborough 2 @ Westbrook 0

2008
@ Scarborough 4 Westbrook 0
Western A Final
@ Scarborough 2 Westbrook 1

2007
Scarborough 3 @ Westbrook 1

2006
@ Scarborough 2 Westbrook 0
Western A quarterfinal
@ Westbrook 2 Scarborough 1 (OT)

2005
@ Westbrook 2 Scarborough 1

2004
@ Westbrook 3 Scarborough 1

2003
Westbrook 4 @ Scarborough 3

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