Scarborough's title hopes denied by Gorham in regional final

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Scarborough senior Ashley Perriello plays the ball in the middle of the Gorham defense during the Rams’ 2-0 win in Wednesday’s Class A South Final. The Red Storm’s season ended at 12-3-2.

Adam Birt photos.

More photos below.

GORHAM—Following Wednesday’s Class A South Final, Gorham girls’ coach Jeanne Zarrilli told Scarborough coach Mike Farley, “You guys are going to kill it next year.”

While the Red Storm may be the team of the future, they won’t be the squad representing the region in the state final Saturday.

That’s because the top-ranked Rams, the defending regional champions, have a smothering defense and an opportunistic offense.

Gorham got the only goal it would need in the ninth minute when sophomore Hallie Shiers scored.

Second-seeded Scarborough had more shots and corner kicks as the game progressed, but never could solve the Rams and with 2:56 remaining, Shiers scored again, this time on a gorgeous blast, and Gorham went on to a 2-0 victory.

The Rams improved to 16-0-1, won the regional title for the second year in a row, set up a clash with Class A North champion Camden Hills (16-1) in the state final Saturday at 3 p.m. at Fitzpatrick Stadium and ended the Red Storm’s season at 12-3-2 in the process.

“We’ve played really well through the playoffs, but for whatever reason today, we didn’t play our ‘A’ game,” lamented Scarborough coach Mike Farley. “It’s unfortunate because I know the girls wanted it badly. I think we’re better than what we showed today, but it didn’t come out that way.” 

Gold standard

Gorham and Scarborough, once Western Maine Conference schools competing in Class B, have excelled in the Southwestern Maine Activities Association this century. The Red Storm’s appearance Wednesday was their eighth regional final berth in 15 years, while the Rams have won five of the past 11 regional crowns and captured three state titles in that span.

Last year, Gorham got to states only to lose to Bangor, 2-0. This fall, the Rams won every regular season game but one, a 0-0 home tie against Scarborough Sept. 14.

Gorham went on to earn the top seed and after surviving a mighty scare from eighth-ranked Kennebunk in the quarterfinals (winning, 2-1, in double overtime), the Rams downed No. 4 Falmouth Monday, 2-0.

The Red Storm tied Sanford and Gorham and dropped 1-0 decisions to Bonny Eagle and Marshwood during the regular season, but won 10 other games and earned the second seed in Class A South. Scarborough advanced with 2-0 victories over No. 10 Sanford in the quarterfinals and sixth-seeded Windham in the semifinals (see sidebar, below, for links to previous stories).

Gorham and Scarborough (12-2-2) played 90 scoreless minutes Sept. 14 in Gorham.

The Red Storm hold a 3-2 all-time edge over the Rams in the playoffs with a 2-1 Gorham victory in last year’s semifinals the most recent (see sidebar, below, for prior results).

Wednesday, on a pleasant afternoon (59 degrees at kickoff), the Rams struck early, then again late to advance.

Scarborough earned a free kick in the fifth minute. Sophomore Sophia Martens sent the ball past Rams senior goalkeeper Emma Smith, but it sailed just wide.

The Red Storm then got a corner kick, but Smith came out to snare the ball,

At the other end, Scarborough junior goalkeeper Emily Royce had her first chance and stopped a long shot from Gorham junior Maddie Hincher.

The Rams kept possession, however, and struck, as senior Tiril Wiig got the ball in the corner, sent it in front and Shiers found herself unmarked and managed to kick the ball past Royce, who got a piece of it but couldn’t stop it, making it 1-0 Gorham.

“We’ve had a missed clearance problem all year,” Farley said. “Hand it to Gorham. They were quick to the ball. To their credit, they got the ball settled down and found the pocket of space there. We needed to do a better job of defending there. She was all alone inside the 6 and it’s tough to stop a shot from there.”

“We always talk about using the outsides and crossing,” said Rams coach Jeanne Zarrilli. “I think we caught them on their heels a little bit early. We found our moments.”

The Red Storm hoped to answer, but consecutive corner kicks didn’t result in a shot and after junior Gaby Panagakos, the program’s all-time single season scoring leader, had a shot saved, Panagakos shot wide.

With 16:29 left before halftime, Panagakos got the ball from senior captain Ashley Perriello and had a good look, but couldn’t get much on the shot and Smith made the save.

After Royce knocked away a Gorham corner kick, the visitors had two more chances before the break, but a blast from junior Lauren Sabatino went just wide and a bending shot from Panagakos through traffic was caught by Smith.

In the first 40 minutes, the Red Storm had a 5-2 edge in shots on frame and a 4-1 advantage in corner kicks, but thanks to Smith’s five saves, the Rams had the lead.

In the second half, Scarborough pressed for the equalizer, but never got a great chance and Gorham put it away late.

The Red Storm almost scored on a corner kick with 34:10 left, but Panagakos’ serve to the far post wasn’t cleanly handled by sophomore Leah Dickman, who sent the ball just wide.

A minute later, Scarborough got the ball in the box, but after it sat there dangerously for a moment, Gorham cleared it out of harm’s way.

After Royce denied Wiig at one end, Dickman had a promising rush broken up by Rams sophomore sweeper Avery Germond at the other.

With 25:52 to play, Sabatino sent a shot just wide.

With 17:10 to go, Smith had to come out to break up a Panagakos rush.

A little over a minute later, Sabatino’s shot was blocked.

The Red Storm wouldn’t have another bid until 6:35 remained, when Martens’ free kick into the box was blown dead because it hit a teammate’s hand.

With 5:30 left, Scarborough got its final chance, a corner kick, but the ball was kicked behind the goal.

Gorham then put it away.

With 2:56 to go in regulation, Shiers not only eluded two defenders, she also got off a perfect blast that floated over Royce, who only managed to get a fingertip on the ball before it sailed into the upper 90 to make it 2-0.

“(Hallie) did a ton of work Monday night to support other people scoring,” Zarrilli said. “What a great gift to her to finish a couple tonight. She works incredibly hard.”

Shiers almost got a hat trick 53 seconds later, but shot just wide of the near post.

With 1:32 left, Rams junior Brooke Greatorex had a shot saved and from there, Gorham was content to run out the clock on its 2-0 triumph.

“Nothing in playoffs is easy this year,” Zarrilli said. “Having to play Monday night when they played Saturday, we weren’t quite as rested and they’re a quality team. Scarborough won the 50-50 game against us in the first half. We talked at halftime about being better in the second half and we were. They came at us, but we defended really well. The girls have come together as a team. They really like and support each other. Sometimes we make mistakes, but this team regroups and gets back at it. They do it the right way. We’re all on the same page.”

Each team had five shots on frame. Smith stopped all five she saw.

Next year’s champion?

Scarborough got three saves from Royce and took six corner kicks to just one for Gorham, but couldn’t solve the Rams.

“(Gorham’s) a really good team defensively and their midfielders did a great job winning balls,” Farley said. “They got us back on our heels. We never really got in the game in the first half and that put us behind the eight ball and it was tough to get the momentum back. Second half, we tried hard, but the passes were a little bit off and we weren’t winning 50-50 challenges.”

Scarborough had a lot of question marks to answer this season and came a long way in a short time.

“From where we were in the beginning of the year to now, we’re good now and I couldn’t have said that earlier,” Farley said. “The leadership of the seniors was big this year. AP played a lot and led on the field, but Jillian (Ware) and Katie (Farino) led behind the scenes.”

Look for the 2017 Red Storm to be good enough to get back to this level and perhaps finish what this year’s team started.

“We’ll miss the seniors, but I had a bunch of juniors playing in big moments and I have sophomores on the bench who would have played big minutes on any other team,” Farley said. “I’m not ready to think about next year yet, but we’ll be back. If we can hit our stride earlier, maybe we can have a home game, which would have been nice tonight.”

Gold Ball Saturday

Gorham will battle Camden Hills Saturday afternoon on the big stage. The teams have never met in the playoffs.

The Rams are seeking their fourth Class A crown (and fifth overall).

“I don’t know anything about (Camden Hills), so I’ll have to do some research,” Zarrilli said. “Last year, we outshot Bangor, 12-2, and their goalie had a phenomenal game. This time, we’ll need to be sharp.” 

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

Scarborough junior Gaby Panagakos lines up a shot.

Scarborough sophomore Leah Dickman and Gorham junior Michelle Rowe keep their eyes on the ball.

Gorham’s captains receive the championship plaque after repeating as regional champions.

Scarborough senior captains Ashley Perriello, left, Jillian Ware and Katie Farino receive the runner-up plaque.

Previous Scarborough stories

Season preview

Scarborough 3 Cheverus 1

Scarborough 3 Portland 0

Previous Scarborough-Gorham playoff results

2015 Class A South semifinals
Gorham 2 Scarborough 1 

2011 Western A Final
Scarborough 1 Gorham 0 (OT)

2006 Western A Final
Gorham 1 Scarborough 0

1998 Western B Final
Scarborough 2 Gorham 1 (3 OT)

1986 Western A prelim
Scarborough 3 Gorham 1 

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