Seven games into the defense of its Class A state title, the girls on the Scarborough soccer team knew something was amiss.

A loss to Gorham and ties with Cheverus and Thornton Academy revealed that something was not quite right with the Red Storm. Sure, there were injuries. The loss of senior Emily Tolman, who missed the season’s first four games with a strained ligament in her foot, clearly took a toll on the defense.

Of course, every team deals with injuries. Trying to replace 12 graduated seniors from a team that went 18-0 and allowed only one goal was another challenge, but Scarborough appeared up for it.

Coach Mike Farley finally zeroed in on the midfield.

“We were getting kind of discombobulated in the midfield,” he said. “We had all kinds of trouble.”

So after the 1-1 tie against Thornton Academy in late September, with the team’s record at 4-1-2, Farley pulled aside junior midfielders Sarah Martens and Taylor Leborgne and assigned them specific roles. You, he told Martens, play offense. You, he told Leborgne, play defense.

Stagger yourselves.

“It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it’s huge,” Farley said. “Now they know where they need to be, how they cover for each other, who’s going forward, who’s staying back. That one little change has seemed to galvanize the midfield and helped us go forward as the season progressed.”

The first game with Scarborough’s new midfield shape was a 3-2 victory over Deering. The next seven games resulted in shutout victories. Throw in a 2-1 decision over No. 2 Cape Elizabeth in the Western Maine semifinals and a 1-0 upset in the final minute of the regional final against No. 1 Gorham, and the Red Storm are 10-0 since tweaking their middle, with a 40-3 advantage in goals scored.

Scarborough (14-1-2) will face Bangor (17-0) at 3 p.m. today at Falmouth High in a rematch of last year’s Class A final, won 3-0 by the Red Storm.

Martens and Leborgne said they relish their redefined roles.

“Now I stay up and she stays more defensive,” Martens said. “I try to win the header balls –“

“– and I get behind,” Leborgne said.

“Yeah, and whatever comes off of that,” Martens said, “she snags it and dribbles it up.”

“So we don’t get beat anymore with flat passes,” Leborgne said.

That subtle change, combined with a return from a reaggravation of her foot injury by Tolman, has Scarborough brimming with confidence in its bid for a second straight Class A title.

The stagger restored some swagger.

“It was good we fixed that when we did,” Farley said.

“Having a defined role on the field certainly helps, when you know where you need to be instead of reading off what another player is doing. A lot of times, we were getting caught with both of them going forward, and that middle of the field was left wide open.”

Scarborough’s midfield will be challenged today.

Bangor boasts a high-powered offense, led by Ashley Robinson (28 goals) and Grace Maclean (24). In three playoff games, the Rams have outscored opponents 14-0.

“They haven’t lost much (from last year),” Farley said. “We played them during the summer and every game was a battle.”

Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: [email protected]

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH