Scarborough's stirring rally falls one goal short in state final

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Scarborough senior Gaby Panagakos, left, junior Molly Murnane, senior Lauren Sabatino and junior Leah Dickman celebrate Panagakos’ second half goal during the Red Storm’s showdown with defending champion Camden Hills in the Class A state final. The goal cut Scarborough’s deficit to 3-1 and the Red Storm added one more goal, but fell just short.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.

PORTLAND—Scarborough’s girls’ soccer team wasn’t able to take home a Gold Ball Saturday afternoon from the Class A state final at Deering High School’s Memorial Field, but the Red Storm earned tremendous respect for their resilience and refusal to give up in the face of a superbly talented foe and a seemingly insurmountable deficit.

Battling defending champion Camden Hills in a showdown between undefeated squads, Scarborough found itself in a most unfamiliar spot, trailing, when the Windjammers got a goal from junior Kassie Krul in the 14th minute.

If that wasn’t daunting enough, what happened early in the second half was even more demoralizing.

With 34:16 to go in regulation, Camden Hills sophomore Kristina Kelly, who already holds the program record for goals, finished for a two-goal lead and five minutes later, Krul finished a free kick to seemingly ice another title.

But the Red Storm weren’t about to roll over.

With 18:59 left, Scarborough got some life, as junior Leah Dickman’s hustle kept the ball alive and senior Gaby Panagakos banged home a rebound.

With 7:02 on the clock, sophomore Ashley Sabatino headed home a rebound and suddenly, the Red Storm were only down by one.

While Scarborough tried to complete its unthinkable rally late, it couldn’t score again and time ran out on the game and the season as the Windjammers repeated, 3-2.

Camden Hills finished the year 17-0-1 and ended the Red Storm’s campaign at 16-1-1 in the process.

“I knew my kids wouldn’t give up,” Scarborough coach Mike Farley said. “It’s a credit to my players. It’s easy to pack your bags at 3-0 but to come back and get two goals was great.” 

Oh so close

Scarborough won Western A every year between 2010 and 2012 and took home Gold Balls in bookend seasons during that run, blanking Bangor (4-0) in 2010 and edging the Rams, 2-1, on Sarah Martens’ goal in the second overtime, in 2012 (the Rams beat the Red Storm, 3-0, in the 2011 state final).

Scarborough, which also went 2-1 in state games in Class B (see sidebar, below, for previous results), was very competitive the past four seasons, but couldn’t get past the likes of Gorham or Windham.

This fall, the Red Storm had no peer in their region, winning 13 times in the regular season (by a composite 62-5 margin) and suffering just one blemish, a scoreless tie at defending Class A South champion Gorham. 

As the top seed in the region, Scarborough was pushed by eighth-ranked Windham in the quarterfinals (a 2-1 victory) and by fifth-seeded Cheverus in the semifinals (a 1-0 win on a late goal from junior Molly Murnane), but in Wednesday’s regional final, the Red Storm rolled to a 6-0 win over No. 2 Kennebunk.

Camden Hills, meanwhile, which won its first state title a year ago (edging Gorham in overtime, 1-0), also went 13-0-1 in the regular season (tying host Bangor, 2-2, back on Sept. 7 in its only non-victory), outscoring the opposition, 92-11.

As the top seed in Class A North, the Windjammers advanced by ousting No. 8 Mt. Blue (11-0) in the quarterfinals, fifth-seeded Edward Little (6-0) in the semifinals and No. 3 Bangor (3-1) in the regional final.

Scarborough and Camden Hills had no previous playoff history prior to the state final.

Saturday afternoon, on a cool (51-degrees) but dry day, the Windjammers showed what makes them special, but the Red Storm roared back to produce a white-knuckle finish.

The early moments were a showcase for Scarborough senior goalkeeper Emily Royce.

Just 38 seconds in, Royce had to deny Camden Hills sophomore Kaitlyn Krul.

After Kassie Krul sent a free kick just wide, she was robbed a sprawling Royce in the fourth minute, setting up a corner kick which was headed out.

In the eighth minute, Kassie Krul was again robbed by Royce, but after the Windjammers had a corner kick cleared, they would break through on their next opportunity.

With 26:13 to go in the first half, junior Eliza Roy passed across the box to Kassie Krul, who settled the ball, then sent a left-footed shot to Royce’s left that the keeper couldn’t reach and the ball rolled just inside the far post and into the net for a 1-0 lead.

That goal awakened Scarborough, which earned a corner kick, then got a free kick which saw junior Sophia Martens pass to Panagakos, who shot just wide.

Kelly, who had 39 goals entering the game, had her first chance in the 23rd minute, but with Royce off her line, Kelly’s shot was blocked.

After Panagakos’ bid to tie sailed wide, Red Storm senior Lauren Sabatino sent a shot just high.

Late in the half, Scarborough senior captain Ellie Patten broken up a Kelly rush and a Red Storm free kick was cleared, keeping Camden Hills on top, 1-0, at the break.

In the first 40 minutes, the Windjammers had a 5-1 edge in shots on goal and a 3-2 advantage in corner kicks. Royce’s four saves kept the game close.

Camden Hills then appeared to blow it open early in the second half, but the fun was just beginning.

After Murnane’s bid to tie the score was broken up on the doorstep with 36:46 left and Panagakos’ shot on a rush with 35 minutes to go was saved by Windjammers junior goalkeeper Isabelle Lang, Camden Hills transitioned to offense and this time, Kelly wouldn’t be denied, as she got the ball up top, dribbled to her right, got a step on a defender, then fired a low shot under the sprawling Royce and into the net for a 2-0 advantage with 34:16 to play.

Then, with 29 minutes to go, Camden Hills earned a free kick after a hand ball and from 30-yards out, Kassie Krul struck the ball perfectly, lofting it just over the outstretched hand of Royce and into the net to make it 3-0 to seemingly put it away.

“We have been working on direct kicks all year, but I honestly wasn’t expecting that,” Krul said. “I tried to listen to what my (assistant) coach (Josh Mahar) said about getting flat on it so that you can really curve it and flick it in.”

Camden Hills coach Meredith Messer expected nothing less of her forward.

“Great players make great moments and they have them for a reason,” Messer said. “She’s practiced that and worked hard at those dead balls, and also keeping her composure. All those little things that great players make it look easy.”

Instead of buckling, however, the Red Storm roared to life.

After Panagakos had a shot saved and a corner kick didn’t result in a shot, Dickman got her team fired up with a nice run down the right flank and into the box, before she sent a shot on Lang. Lang couldn’t handle it, however, and Dickman knocked the ball free and Panagakos launched it into the net to cut the deficit to 3-1.

Panagakos punctuated the goal with a fist pump and Scarborough had a pulse.

After Royce kept it a two-score game by denying Camden Hills junior Grace Blackwell, then somehow keeping the ball out of the goal with a righthanded swat on a blast from Kelly, the Red Storm struck again.

With 7:02 on the clock, senior Sophia Glidden sent the ball in on a free kick and after it was batted around, Ashley Sabatino soared in the air and headed it past Lang and into the goal to cut the deficit to 3-2.

Scarborough hoped to complete the comeback and firmly seize momentum, but a shot from junior Josie Couture was wide and Murnane had a long shot saved.

With 1:33 left, Lauren Sabatino tried to set up Panagakos in the box, but Lang got to the ball first.

That would be the Red Storm’s last chance and the Windjammers ran out the clock and celebrated their 3-2 triumph.

“We had a tough five-minute stretch in the second half,” Farley said. “You have to hand it to (Krul and Kelly). We knew coming in they were world class players. We tried to stop them and they still got free and scored. They stood out and made the difference. I thought we identified the players who were dangerous and they were more dangerous than I thought they would be. (Kelly) can take out two or three players at a time and my backs know how to defend. 

“It was a really well-played game. The most we’d been down all year was 1-0 and we weren’t down that long, but if today’s game was five or 10 minutes longer, we’d have gotten back in it. The kids worked so hard this year. They battled through the SMAA and won big games and went undefeated. They never quit all year.”

Camden Hills finished with an 11-6 shots advantage and a 5-4 edge in corners. Lang made four saves.

“I kind of framed it in that, (the Red Storm) were better,” Messer said. “They have 10 seniors and play in a tougher conference, if I’m being honest. For me, it’s gratifying that the girls buy in on a day-to-day basis with how hard we work. My feeling is that they earned what they deserve, and I’m happy for them.”

Royce bowed out with eight saves.

“Emily was special,” Farley said. “(Kelly and Krul) slotted balls to the back post and she did the best she could.”

Another try

Scarborough loses captains Panagakos, Patten, Lauren Sabatino and Natalie Taylor, along with six other seniors, to graduation.

“It was awesome for the seniors to get here,” Farley said. “We’ll miss them a lot. Gaby’s a world class finisher. Lauren and Ellie were huge. It will be tough to replace them.”

Weep not for the Red Storm, however, as they’ll reload and figure to be at the top of the list of favorites in 2018.

“I have 30 kids this year, so we have a lot of juniors who can play and sophomores who can see minutes,” Farley said. “We’ll just reload.”

Sun Journal staff writer Adam Robinson contributed to this story.

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

Scarborough senior Sophie Glidden heads the ball away from Camden Hills junior Eliza Roy.

Scarborough senior Lauren Sabatino lines up a shot.

Scarborough junior Leah Dickman knocks the ball away from Camden Hills junior goalkeeper Isabelle Lang to set up the Red Storm’s first goal.

Scarborough junior Molly Murnane shoots with her left foot.

Scarborough sophomore Ashley Sabatino heads the ball away from Camden Hills senior Sarah Contento.

Scarborough senior Gaby Panagakos celebrates after the Red Storm pull within 3-2.

Scarborough’s captains receive the runner-up trophy.

Previous Scarborough stories

Season Preview

Scarborough 3 Cheverus 0

Scarborough 1 Marshwood 0

Previous Scarborough state game results

2012 Class A
Scarborough 2 Bangor 1 (2 OT)

2011 Class A
Bangor 4 Scarborough 0

2010 Class A
Scarborough 3 Bangor 0

2000 Class B
Winslow 4 Scarborough 3 (2 OT)

1999 Class B
Scarborough 5 Ellsworth 2

1998 Class B
Scarborough 2 Ellsworth 1

Previous Camden Hills state game result

2016 Class A
Camden Hills 1 Gorham 0 (OT)

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