SCARBOROUGH – The West has been conquered. Now it’s time for the Scarborough High field hockey team to face the Beast of the East.
Playing on its home field, top-ranked Scarborough finished off second-seeded Cheverus 3-0 to win the Western Class A title Tuesday night.
With goals from Emily Bunting, Alison Pelczar and Abby Walker, and a defense that continued to be unscored upon, the Red Storm ran their record to 17-0. In the process, they wiped away two years of playoff disappointments, and set up a rematch of the 2008 and ’09 championship games against Skowhegan.
“Ever since we beat them back in 2009, we’ve wanted to be back there. We have a rubber match to deal with. (In) 2008 they took one from us and we returned it to them and we’re hoping that we can challenge them again. I think with this team there’s no doubt that (we’ll) be ready,” Scarborough Coach Kerry Mariello said.
Skowhegan took its 12th consecutive Eastern Maine championship with Tuesday’s 2-1 victory against Messalonskee.
Saturday’s state championship game at the University of Maine (time to be announced) pits the Red Storm’s impenetrable defense against the Indians’ unstoppable offense (144 goals in 17 games).
Skowhegan has won 10 of the last 11 state championships, its lone setback coming to Scarborough.
But Scarborough first had to get past Cheverus.
“We knew Cheverus would be a great battle. It always is. And we just didn’t want to have any sort of sting like we’ve had from the past,” Mariello said.
Bunting gave Scarborough a 1-0 lead just 3:05 into the game with a quick shot from the left side.
Bunting also scored first in the semifinal vicory against Westbrook and now is known to teammates as the Storm Starter.
“That’s her niche. She’s known as that person now and what a title to carry,” Mariello said.
Pelczar converted a penalty stroke 10 minutes later. The stroke came when Cheverus goalkeeper Libby DesRuisseaux was called for lying atop the ball.
Pelczar said she wasn’t as nervous as she always figured she would be while taking a stroke — Scarborough’s first of the year – and crisply lifted a chest-high shot into the interior netting on the right side.
Abby Walker scored the final goal with 13:09 to play, knocking in a rebound.
Cheverus (15-2, both losses to Scarborough) put on sustained pressure over the final five minutes of the first half.
In the second half the Stags’ best chance came in the final minute when Scarborough goalie Shannon Hicks had to make a diving stop.
“I honestly came into this game not expecting at all to have a shutout,” Hicks said. “It’s the Western Maine final. We didn’t expect a shutout at all (and) that’s OK as long as we win. But at that moment I was like, I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do to make sure that doesn’t go in.”
Cheverus’ willingness to compete was exemplified by Elyse Caiazzo.
Just before halftime a Scarborough drive caught her flush in the right hand, causing a bloody gash and a possible broken finger. Caiazzo played most of the second half.
“We’re fighters and we will fight until the very end, and I could not be prouder of these girls,” Cheverus Coach Amy McMullin said.
“I don’t know how that last shot right there at the end didn’t go in. She made a great save. But to continue to put pressure on, especially down 2-0, 3-0, I couldn’t be prouder of these girls.”
Pelczar said Scarborough welcomes other teams’ all-out efforts.
“It just kind of fires you up to throw even more back at them,” she said.
“We’re definitely very used to getting pushed around. You just keep your head and play your game. As long as we stay calm, we’ll be fine.”
Coming out calm and confident was important Tuesday night and will be again Saturday, Mariello said.
“You never know if the nerves will cause mistakes, but they just came out focused and they wanted this as badly as anybody,” Mariello said.
“Who would have thought? To finish like this. Another shutout and now Skowhegan. We’re ready.”
Staff Writer Steve Craig can be contacted at 791-6413 or at: [email protected]