WINDHAM—Never, ever overlook the Scarborough girls’ soccer team.
All autumn, the Red Storm heard how the list of the Class A title contenders started and ended with defending state champion Windham and Wednesday evening, Scarborough got a chance to square off against the Eagles.
As it turned out, the Red Storm measured up quite nicely and announced that the upcoming postseason could be very compelling.
Windham struck first when junior Ciera Berthiaume headed home senior Jenna Soucy’s corner kick in the 17th minute, but the Eagles, who entered the game with an average of nearly eight goals per contest, wouldn’t score again.
While Scarborough’s defense was its usual stellar self, the offense created some chances and with 2:51 remaining in the first half, a serve from junior Emma Koukos to junior Maddie Chen resulted in Chen beating Windham senior goalkeeper Elizabeth Mycock to the ball and heading it home to tie things up.
The game would stay that way through the second half and two five-minute overtimes as the squads settled for the 1-1 draw and split Heal Points as a result.
The Red Storm turned heads with their effort, are now 10-1-1 on the season and the Eagles now have a blemish on their 11-0-1 record.
“It was frustrating not winning, but how can you honestly be upset with how we played tonight?” Chen said. “We came here ready to play and ready to beat them.”
Scarborough and Windham have been responsible for the past four Western A championships and three of the past four state titles.
After the Red Storm won the region in 2010, 2011 and 2012 and bookended that run with championships, the Eagles took their turn a year ago, edging Scarborough, 3-1, in penalty kicks to win, 1-0, in the semifinals along the way.
This year, while the Red Storm remain a top contender, all eyes have been on Windham, which hasn’t disappointed.
The Eagles won their first 11 games by a composite 84-2 margin with both goals surrendered coming in a 4-2 victory at Thornton Academy Sept. 19. Windham hadn’t trailed for a single second of the 880 minutes it had played.
Scarborough, meanwhile, 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). Scarborough then returned to form by defeating visiting Sanford (6-0) and Noble (7-0), host McAuley (7-1), visiting Massabesic (6-0), host Gorham (2-1), host Deering (2-0) and visiting Westbrook (6-0).
Wednesday, Windham looked to stay perfect and beat Scarborough in the regular season for the first time since Sept. 20, 2005 (2-0) while the Red Storm hoped to make a statement, which they did.
On the Eagles’ Senior Night, Scarborough had the first chance, but senior standout Katherine Kirk was beaten to a through ball by Mycock.
Windham then got its offense going.
After a cross from Berthiaume was just off the mark to senior Melissa Morton, Berthiaume shot just high off a corner kick and Berthiaume was robbed by Red Storm junior goalkeeper Molly LeComte, the Eagles broke through.
The goal came with 23:54 remaining in the half and came on a textbook corner kick serve from Soucy, which Berthiaume calmly headed into the goal for a 1-0 lead.
“I think it was a marking issue,” said Scarborough senior back Sam Sparda. “I mark a space usually. It went over our head. It was unfortunate.”
While most of Windham’s foes this year buckled after surrendering a goal, the Red Storm hung tough and looked to answer.
In the 20th minute, Kirk got her left foot on the ball and floated a shot that looked promising, but Mycock made a save. After freshman Maggie Symonds and Berthiaume both shot high for the Eagles, Kirk forced Mycock to make another save.
Then, after playing with fire defensively for several minutes, Windham got burned.
The equalizer came with 2:51 left before halftime.
Koukos sent the ball into the box as Chen made her run. Mycock came out to get the ball, but Chen beat her by a split second and headed it home to tie the game, 1-1.
“Emma played a really good ball in the middle,” Chen said. “I was thinking of Coach (Mike Farley) saying, ‘You have to make a decision to win it’ and I decided to do it. I got my head on it and it went in.”
“I’m disappointed we gave up a goal on a corner early on, but I’m really proud of how we reacted after we gave it up,” Farley said. “Windham can pound teams into the ground, but we came right back and got a goal, which was really big.”
“We need to clean up our marking and getting back every time,” said Eagles coach Deb LeBel. “We can’t just rely on (senior back) Jordan (Sargent) to always be there.”
A similar play a minute later almost saw the visitors go ahead, but this time Mycock got to a through ball from Gleason just as Kirk arrived and after the ball momentarily sat free, it was cleared by a Windham defender and the game went to the half tied, 1-1.
The Eagles outshot the Red Storm, 14-3, in the first half and had four corner kicks to none for Scarborough, but had nothing to show for it.
The second half would see a lot of near misses.
The first came just 3:23 in when Kirk got free for a shot which Mycock had to save.
With 32:13 to play in regulation, Soucy took a cross from Symonds and ripped a shot that sailed just high.
With 26:55 remaining, talented Red Storm sophomore striker Ashley Perriello sent a shot on target, but Mycock saved it.
After Berthiaume sent a shot high, Sparda cleared a loose ball from the box.
Symonds then set up Morton for a shot which LeComte saved and after Windham kept the pressure on, senior Cassie Symonds fired a pair of shots over the crossbar and Soucy made a nice move on a defender and shot, but it too was a little high.
Sparda had a look at a free kick with 14:25 remaining, but Mycock made the save.
The Eagles then counterattacked and got bids from Morton (saved) and Soucy (high).
With 6 minutes left, a long, low, left-footed shot from Gleason was saved. A Chen rush was then broken up in the box.
With 3:24 to go in regulation, Soucy put a shot on target, forcing LeComte to dive, but the keeper managed to keep the ball out of the net.
A minute later, Sparda broke up Berthiaume’s rush.
With just over a minute to go, Scarborough earned a corner kick and after a deflection, Kirk got her left foot on the ball and it appeared goal-bound, but Mycock dove and made her best save to preserve the tie and force overtime.
For the fourth straight meeting, the rivals would need more than 80 minutes to determine a winner.
In Maine girls’ soccer, teams play up to 10 minutes of “sudden victory” overtime and if no one scores, the game goes in the books as a draw.
That’s how this one would finish.
The first five-minute session saw LeComte race out to beat Morton to Cassie Symonds’ feed and Perriello fail to get much on a shot after taking a feed from Kirk, allowing Mycock made the save.
Early in the second OT, Soucy fired a shot just wide.
Then, with just under a minute to go, a Perriello cross to junior Aly Atherton at the far post was just long.
Then, as time wound down, Soucy tried one final time to find the net, but her shot was wide and the game finished 1-1.
“We wanted to come out and get revenge (from last year’s playoff loss),” Chen said. “Everyone played their A-plus game, from our defense, our goalkeeper, our amazing strikers, everyone.”
“I’m really proud we didn’t let them get another goal,” Sparda said. “We held our composure well. Communication was really big for us. We tried to keep them in front of us. We tried to watch the ball and cover their runs. We’re still up there. This was a game to prove that. We can definitely hang with (Windham). Whoever didn’t think that, now they do.”
“For us, it was coming here and realizing we could play with them,” Farley added. “They’re a really good team and we’re a good team. We learned some lessons. It’s a positive result. We’d have liked to have finished, but I’m sure they’d say the same thing. To be fair, they’re used to winning games easily. I knew we’d come in and test them. Next time, they’ll be ready for a test. Whenever we play, it’s a battle. We’ve both got really good players, we both can defend well. It’s about who finishes chances.”
Windham had a 26-10 shots advantage (but Scarborough outshot it, 9-7, on frame) and earned five corners to two for the Red Storm. Mycock made eight saves. LeComte stopped six shots.
“It was an eye-opener,” said LeBel. “We need more of these games to get ready for playoffs. We expected a battle, but they’re good. They’re well coached. They play good defense. They get back and defend nicely. We had good opportunities, but we just couldn’t finish. We were frustrated tonight.”
Windham (which has the inside track to the top seed in the region and the homefield advantage that comes with it) closes with games at Portland Saturday and Noble Tuesday, then it will be the top seed for the Western A playoffs.
There’s one team the Eagles would be happy to avoid.
“I do not want to see (Scarborough) again,” LeBel said. “Let’s hope we have a different draw. We have to clean some things up before playoffs.”
Scarborough (third and in a tense three-way battle for the No. 2 seed) has another showdown looming Saturday when Thornton Academy pays a visit. The Red Storm closes at home versus Bonny Eagle Tuesday.
After that, anything’s possible.
“Ever since freshman year, we’ve always had our hard games in a row and I think that’s really good for us because it gives us momentum,” Sparda said. “I feel like we have something to prove.”
“This was a good game for us,” Chen said. “Everyone has so much confidence now. Hopefully we’ll see (Windham) again in playoffs.”
“It’s a big one on Saturday,” Farley added. “It doesn’t get any easier. We’ve had a run of tough games. These games really prepare us for the playoffs. Hard tackles, winning 50-50 balls.
“These kids believe they’re still one of the best teams. I believe we’re still one of the best teams. You can’t write us off because of how we play defense. We’ll be in every game. We’ll give you a battle. I like where we are right now. We’re getting better and better. We’re learning. We can beat anybody if we defend hard.”
Scarborough junior Aly Atherton goes way up to head the ball away from Windham sophomore Holly Spencer.
Scarborough junior Maddie Chen boots the ball away from Windham sophomore Holly Spencer. Chen had the Red Storm’s lone goal.
Scarborough senior Ashley Gleason has the ball knocked away by Windham senior Cassie Symonds.
Scarborough senior Katherine Kirk, who had another terrific game, tries to head the ball into the goal, but Windham senior goalkeeper Elizabeth Mycock gets a hand up to deny it.
Scarborough junior Emma Koukos chases after a loose ball.
Scarborough junior Bryce Nitchman heads the ball.
Scarborough sophomore Ashley Perriello shields the ball from Windham sophomore Emily Kent.
Scarborough senior Sam Sparda clears the ball out of harm’s way.
@ Scarborough 2 Windham 2 (tie)
Western A semifinals
@ Windham 1 Scarborough 0 (3-1 PKs)
@ Scarborough 1 Windham 1 (tie)
Scarborough 2 @ Windham 0
@ Scarborough 1 Windham 0 (OT)
Scarborough 3 @ Windham 0
Scarborough 4 @ Windham 0
@ Scarborough 1 Windham 0 (2 OT)
Scarborough 4 @ Windham 0
Western A semifinals
@ Scarborough 1 Windham 0
Windham 2 @ Scarborough 0
@ Scarborough 1 Windham 0
Scarborough 3 @ Windham 0
Scarborough junior Maddie Chen (middle) is congratulated by (from left) juniors Emma Smith, Emma Koukos and Kaleigh Scoville and senior Katherine Kirk after tying the Red Storm’s showdown at Windham late in the first half. Scarborough and the undefeated Eagles settled for a 1-1 draw.