SCARBOROUGH—If Scarborough’s field hockey team looks this good on Sept. 4, just imagine how impressive the Red Storm will be in late October.
And if all goes well, on Nov. 1.
The two-time defending Western A champions were expected to get a stern test in Thursday night’s opener against Marshwood, but instead, it was all Scarborough.
The only problem was it took awhile for the Red Storm to put the ball in the cage.
Scarborough had possession almost throughout against the undermanned Hawks, playing without standout senior Lindsey Poirier, and earned penalty corner after penalty corner, but were frustrated for nearly 43 minutes before finally coming to life.
With 17:01 left, an unlikely hero, sophomore Lily Nygren, broke the ice and from there, the floodgates opened as the Red Storm finally figured out their corners, scoring on two in a row, with seniors Gabby Farino and Kristen Murray doing the honors, and they went on to slam the door on an early-season, statement-making 3-0 triumph.
Scarborough finished with a 10-1 shots advantage and a dominating 17-1 edge in corners as it won its season opener for the 10th straight autumn.
“Talk about hitting the ground running,” said longtime Scarborough coach Kerry Mariello. “It’s a good momentum shift for us. The final 10 minutes we looked good. We came to the ball and we were more patient.”
Scarborough has been the premier team in Western A over the past six seasons, with four regional titles and the 2009 state championship. Last season, the Red Storm, for the second season in succession, were vanquished by perennial champion Skowhegan on the big stage, 4-1.
This year’s team believes it can get back to states and finish the job.
“We’re not just hungry (to win a title), we’re ravenous,” said Murray, who scored Scarborough’s lone goal in last year’s state final. “We want nothing more than to finally get that state title. We’ve come so close. A state championship would mean everything to everybody on this team.”
First things first.
Scarborough entered the game 13-1 versus Marshwood (dating to the start of the 2001 season), which includes a 2-1 victory at the Hawks in last year’s opener and a 1-0 home victory in the Western A semifinals.
Thursday, the Red Storm carried play against the Hawks, but it took a long time to rattle the cage.
In the first half, Scarborough had 10 penalty corner opportunities, but had nothing to show for it.
The Red Storm were further frustrated by Marshwood senior goalie Cassidy Smith, who twice turned aside shots from senior standout Abby Walker.
Smith made back-to-back saves early in the second half to keep the game scoreless, but with 17:01 remaining in regulation, finally, Scarborough got the only goal it would need.
Nygren, who just started playing field hockey a year ago, found herself in the right place at the right time, on the far post, as sophomore Kristen Levesque crossed the ball, which trickled through.
Nygren did the rest, redirecting a high shot over Smith, and the Red Storm had a 1-0 lead.
“Kristen Levesque sent it right across and I my stick was there,” Nygren said. “I decided to just give it a shot. It went right over the goalie’s pad. It went top shelf. I was kind of looking to go there. I didn’t expect it to go in the goal. I was pretty excited. It was my first (varsity) goal. I learned a lot last year. I think that helped me out this year. I have a lot more knowledge.”
Murray nearly doubled the lead with a similar shot (off a feed from senior Maddy Dobecki), but Smith batted the ball away.
Then, with 8:55 left, Scarborough, on its 16th corner, finally produced a goal, even if it took awhile.
The ball was inserted and worked its way around before being sent in on goal. Smith made an initial save, but Farino pounced on the rebound and finished to double the lead.
Just two minutes later, all doubt was ended as, on another corner, Murray deflected Walker’s shot into the cage to make it 3-0.
“We were most frustrated with ourselves (on our failed corners),” Murray said. “We weren’t playing up to our potential. They’re obviously a great team, but we could have put more in if we played with everything we had. We clearly struggled with corners. We had way too many. We finally got the hang of it.”
Marshwood finally managed a corner and a shot (off the mark) in the waning seconds and the Red Storm brought the curtain down on victory number one of what is sure to be many this fall.
“It’s a great way to jump-start the season,” said Murray. “We showed we could bring it out there in the first game.”
“We were getting frustrated,” Mariello said. “It’s a first game. A lot of nerves and trying to get momentum. We had moments of greatness. We got it toward the end. Marshwood’s tough. We knew they would be. Even minus a big player. that says a lot about them. We’ll know we’ll see them later.”
Mariello always does a great job of keeping her team focused and the Red Storm won’t get overly confident after Thursday’s victory. Next up is a test at Massabesic Monday in a regional final rematch.
Scarborough wears a bulls-eye every time out, but this team looks like a legitimate title threat.
With a lot of time to get even stronger.
“We’re meshing well together, but we have to keep learning how each other plays and how we can work better together,” Nygren said.
“We’ll keep growing from game to game,” Mariello said. “We need to keep making adjustments and we will. Everything still needs work. It’s a matter of jelling together. We’ll get there.”
The rest of the league be warned.
Scarborough junior Grace Bailer fights for possession.
Scarborough senior Maddy Dobecki follows through on a shot.
Scarborough sophomore Kristen Levesque fires a shot on goal.
Scarborough senior Kristen Murray is denied by Marshwood senior goalie Cassidy Smith.
Sophomore Lily Nygren (who scored the game’s first goal), prepares to give the ball a whack.
Scarborough senior Kaitlin Prince plays the ball away from Marshwood junior Mikayla Willey.
Scarborough sophomore Victoria Timm runs down a loose ball.
Scarborough senior Abby Walker demonstrates some nifty stickwork.
Scarborough senior Gabby Farino bangs home a rebound to give the Red Storm a 2-0 lead.
Scarborough senior Gabby Farino is congratulated by classmate Kristen Murray (4) and others after her goal.
Another season, more Scarborough celebrations. The two-time defending Western A champion Red Storm rejoice after senior Kristen Murray’s goal iced Thursday’s 3-0 win over Marshwood.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.