SCARBOROUGH—The Western Class A playoff picture is now utterly unfathomable.
One day after second-ranked Sanford and No. 3 Cheverus, the defending regional champion, were both upset in the quarterfinals, top-ranked Scarborough saw its season end in abject agony amid a steady rain Wednesday evening at the Kippy Mitchell Athletic Complex.
Hosting No. 8 Windham, the Red Storm controlled play for almost all of regulation and both overtimes, but couldn’t score. The game was then decided by penalty corners and again, Scarborough had an abundance of chances, but couldn’t convert.
Finally, on the 11th round of corners, the Eagles broke the deadlock when sophomore Katelyn Tucker was in the right place at the right time and one-timed a shot into the cage. The Red Storm had one final chance to answer, but couldn’t even get a shot off and Windham improved to 7-7-2 with the 1-0 victory and advanced to Saturday’s semifinals, ending Scarborough’s year at 13-1-1.
“From the beginning of the season, I told the girls to make goals,” said Eagles coach Christena Dillon. “Our goal was to make the playoffs and we did. We knew Scarborough was beatable because the regular season game was a close game. It helped that two of the other top-seeded teams got knocked off yesterday. It told the girls they could win if they wanted it badly. I told them to have fun, act like you’re a five-year old in the rain. I’m proud of all of them. It’s really exciting for our school.”
Scarborough has become one of the state’s elite programs over the past several years and culminated its rise to the top with a Class A state championship in 2009. After being upset by Cheverus in the semifinals a year ago, the Red Storm continued to excel this fall, winning 13 of 14 games and tying the other, at home against Sanford, and earned the top seed for the third year in a row.
Windham went just 5-7-2 in the regular season, but turned it on after a 1-4 start. The resurgence began with a 3-2 victory over Westbrook. The Eagles finished eighth in the region and had to rally from a 2-1 second half deficit to beat No. 9 Gorham in Saturday’s preliminary round, 3-2.
On Oct. 1, Windham lost at home to Scarborough, 2-0, a close result which gave the Eagles some confidence heading into Wednesday.
For much of the game, most on hand were simply waiting for the Red Storm to score and get things over with, but the Eagles persevered, then shocked the world.
In the second minute, Scarborough set the tone with a penalty corner. The Red Storm would have seven in the game’s first 15 minutes, but either failed to get a shot off, shot wide, or had a shot denied by Windham junior goalie Andrea Feeney.
Scarborough coach Kerry Mariello called timeout with 10:08 to go in the 30-minute first half to fire up her charges and at the 8:35 mark, senior Shauni Cowan shot just wide. Forty seconds later, senior Lindsay Dobecki sent a backhanded shot just wide. Senior Kelsey Howard then shot and Feeney made the save.
With 6:54 to go in the half, off another corner, a Howard shot was deflected wide. With 5:07 remaining, a shot from sophomore Emily Bunting was denied by Feeney. With 2:27 showing, the Red Storm had successive shots, but both were turned aside by Feeney.
Windham had its lone corner of the half as time expired, but couldn’t get off a shot.
Little changed in the second half.
Just 1:45 in, Howard fired a blast on a corner, but it was deflected wide.
With 14:05 remaining in regulation, Howard shot from up top, but it went wide. A little over a minute later, the Eagles got their only opportunity of the half when a cross from senior captain Sarah Skvorak went through the crease untouched. With 7:23 remaining, Dobecki’s rush was broken up.
Scarborough finally scored, or so it thought, with 2:55 left. Off a corner, Cowan fired a shot that found the cage, but the officials waved it off as she was beyond the circle when she shot.
The Red Storm had one final corner as time wound down, but couldn’t convert and it was on to overtime.
In Maine high school field hockey, teams play seven-on-seven for two eight-minute, “sudden victory” OT periods. If no one scores, it’s on to penalty corners.
As was the case in regulation, Scarborough would have ample chances, but never finished.
The Red Storm had two corners early, the second of which resulted in a shot by Cowan that went too high. With 5:43 to go in the first OT, Howard dribbled in close for a shot that Feeney saved. A rebound shot was sent just wide. With 2:07 remaining, Cowan shot wide of the cage. In the final minute, Feeney denied Howard again.
In the second overtime, Scarborough earned three more corners to no avail. Shots from Howard and Dobecki were saved. With 3:32 to go, Howard sent a shot on target, but Feeney kicked it aside.
With 2:20 remaining, Windham earned just its third corner of the evening, but Tucker’s shot was wide.
With just under a minute to play, the Eagles had a golden opportunity to end it when senior captain Molly McVetty, the hero of the Gorham win, broke free up the right side, got past the defense and broke in on Red Storm junior goalie Shannon Hicks. Hicks came out to cut off the angle and McVetty’s shot was just wide left and it was on to penalty corners.
Playoff penalty corners are done in sets of threes. If no one scores in the first three rounds, it’s “sudden victory” afterwards.
Windham’s first turn didn’t result in a shot. Scarborough then had three chances, but Feeney made two saves. After each team had the ball cleared without a shot, McVetty had a look, but a defender blocked it and cleared it. Scarborough then had the first of its eight opportunities to end the game, but Howard’s shot went off a defender and her second chance shot went wide.
Windham started the next set with a good chance as junior Colleen Holtan passed to McVetty, but she couldn’t make contact and the ball hit her foot, ending the play. Cowan then had a shot that was deflected wide by a teammate. After the Eagles failed to get a shot off, the Red Storm had two chances, but couldn’t score. Senior captain Marina Davidson then had a shot for Windham, but it was saved by Hicks. Howard shot high and it was on to the third set.
The Eagles began with three chances, but couldn’t finish. Dobecki then shot just wide. After Windham couldn’t get a shot, Cowan had a great look, but shot just wide. Scarborough’s defense cleared the next Eagles’ opportunity and Cowan again looked to win it, but her shot hit a teammate.
“We practiced their corner that they do all the time,” Dillon said. “We went to Fitzpatrick Stadium last night and we practiced the defense on it and it worked.”
The start of the fourth set saw Holtan clear to Tucker, but she couldn’t make contact. Cowan then had a shot blocked by a defender.
The 11th time would be the charm.
The play began innocently enough and it looked as if the Red Storm was on the verge of clearing the ball, but suddenly, it came right to Tucker and her shot was true, as she rattled the cage with Hicks not being able to do anything to stop it.
“It was off a pass,” Tucker said. “I knew I hit it well.”
“I was hoping a goal would come for us,” Dillon added. “It was off a flat pass over to Katelyn and she shot it in with a nice drive.”
Windham’s sidelines erupted, but the Eagles still had to stop Scarborough’s final chance to win.
The powerhouse Red Storm, scorers of 55 goals during the season, capped its night of absolute frustration by not even managing to get a shot on goal. Windham cleared the ball past the 25-yard line and the upset was official.
“It was really hard knowing Scarborough was the No. 1 seed, but we pulled together and got the job done,” Tucker said. “Last time we played Scarborough, it was in the rain. It just got us fired up more. We’ve been pumped up for them all week. We finally got it done. It was scary at the end, but we did it.”
“The sideline girls thought we’d won so we had to stop the celebration then re-start the celebration,” Dillon added. “We were lucky quite a few times in this game. I won’t deny that. Scarborough’s a skilled team, but we hung with them and prevailed. I really did think it was going our way. We started playing better late in the first half.
“I’m hoping the younger girls will see that field hockey’s more popular at Windham and we can be a winning program. We hope more fans will start coming to our games.”
As expected, the Red Storm was shocked and utterly heartbroken following the loss.
“What a rough way to finish a season,” Mariello said. “It’s extremely hard to wrap your head around circumstances like this. It’s like a football game where a team is up 48-0 and they end up losing. I will give props to Windham’s goalie, she took a lot of shots and handled things with great confidence. Windham fought hard and should be proud. I wish them the best.”
Scarborough has now gone 75-7-2 over the past five seasons and penned another memorable chapter of excellence this fall.
“These girls gave the Scarborough field hockey program everything they had on a daily basis and have not once disappointed me as a coach,” Mariello said. “They were a well-oiled machine that showed great enthusiasm and passion for the sport of field hockey. The 2011 journey may be over, but Scarborough will remain humble and hungry. We will be back. The seniors are truly special group of young ladies, each of them left a mark and made so many positive things happen is so many ways. Their journey through life will be impressive.”
As for Windham, it will play next on Saturday, at either No. 4 Massabesic (11-3) or No. 5 Marshwood (11-3).
So far, the No. 6 (Westbrook), No. 7 (Portland) and No. 8 (Windham) seeds have all advanced, so it’s really anyone’s region to win.
“We have a good chance to go all the way,” Tucker said. “This is a big confidence booster for us.”
“We hope to keep the ball rolling,” Dillon added.