Last year the Scarborough field hockey team was one of the best in the state, but Sanford ended their season in the Western Maine Final. This year, the Red Storm’s goal was to reach the state championship game.
The accomplished that mission on Tuesday night with a 2-1 comeback win over Westbrook.
“We have nothing to lose,” said Scarborough head coach Kerry Mariello. “We have already surpassed what we wanted to. The state championship would be the icing for us.”
For a time on Tuesday it seemed as if the Red Storm might suffer the same fate as last year’s team. Just 10 minutes into the game, the Blue Blazes got their first penalty corner. The ball came inside the circle where Cori Knott was positioned. She sent the ball toward the net and Stephanie Pettis deflected the ball off the goalkeeper’s pads and into the cage.
“Cori has, the last half of the season, just come on for us and she’s definitely the reason we’ve gotten to where we have over the last half of the season,” said Westbrook head coach Beth Murphy. “It’s a big role playing center mid. She’s the kid who stays with the ball. She wasn’t afraid to challenge tonight and she’s been phenomenal this season.”
Shortly after the goal, the Blazes had a great chance to take a 2-0 lead but the shot was wide of the net by just inches. That led Mariello to call a timeout to refocus her team.
After the stoppage, it seemed the Storm were ready to go. Just a couple minutes later, they saw a sure goal waived off when the ball deflected off a Scarborough foot inside the circle. Another great chance with less than 10 minutes left was swatted away before it could reach the goal. The Red Storm launched a flurry of shots in the final minutes, but Westbrook keeper Elizabeth Conley turned them all away.
“I’m sure (Scarborough) came in thinking ‘great it’s Westbrook,'” Murphy said. “We made a couple of defensive changes in this game with Whitney Huff back. She did a great job and Lizzy (Conley) was outstanding. She has had a great tournament. She has been awesome for us.”
At halftime, the Blazes still held their 1-0 advantage. Monday the Blazes hit the road to practice on a turf field to get ready for the game. It showed in the first half.
“We practiced (Monday) at Yarmouth; it helped,” said Murphy. “These kids have been really focused in the tournament. I’m pleased with what I’ve seen in practice.”
Westbrook’s 1-0 lead didn’t last much longer. Just four minutes into the second half, Cara Snyder tied the score when she snuck one past Conley. Conley tried to play it, but Snyder got by her and buried the ball.
“When we see that first goal happen it was just a matter of patience,” Mariello said. “I knew eventually we would plug away and get one in. But they were a lot tougher than the first time around-no doubt about it.”
Just a few minutes later the Storm had a goal waived off that would have given them the lead. Shortly after that, they buried another one in the net, but this one too was waived off.
Midway through the second half, the Blazes had a flurry of chances but couldn’t get any shots to the net.
Finally Scarborough took the lead for good with less than four minutes to play. Heather Carrier took a free hit at the top of the circle and Snyder was hanging around by the post. Snyder deflected the ball into the cage and sent her team into a frenzy.
The final minutes ticked away with the ball still in the Westbrook end and Scarborough taking a series of penalty corners. There was nothing the Blazes could do to tie the score and when time ran out the Storm had a 2-1 win.
For Westbrook, they end their regular season with an 11-3 record and had two memorable overtime wins in the tournament to reach the regional final.
“My kids played with heart today,” Murphy said. “We played with heart all season long. We may not have the speed, but the kids are fighters out there. It was a classy game. There weren’t any confrontations. That’s what its all about to me; that’s what a great championship game is. I’m proud of each and every one of these kids. They can’t hang their heads.”
The Red Storm will face the winner of the Eastern final between Messalonskee and seven-time defending state champion Skowhegan.
“Messalonskee and Skowhegan faced each other twice already and Messalonskee pulled off the two,” Mariello said. “But Skowhegan with their experience I think they’ll pull it off. I’d love to be that team to finally knock them off.”
Cara Snyder, who scored both Scarborough goals in a 2-1 regional final win over Westbrook Tuesday, leads the team on a victory parade in front of the home bleachers.The Scarborough field hockey team celebrates with their regional championship plaque.