GORHAM – Left side.
That’s all Sam Cedaka was thinking. Put the ball to the left.
Alone in front of the goal, Cedaka didn’t miss and his goal put Scarborough High back into the Class A boys’ soccer state championship game.
The second-ranked Red Storm turned back top-ranked Gorham 1-0 Wednesday night in the Western Class A title game on Cedaka’s second-half goal and a first-half defense that was dented but not broken.
Gorham dominated the first half, especially the final 20 minutes, but could never beat Scarborough keeper Pat Stanton. Then the Red Storm took control in the second half and advanced to the state title game for the sixth time since 2003.
Scarborough has three state titles in that time, the last in 2009.
Asked how his team does it, Coach Mark Diaz said, “Great players. I’ve just got great kids and they’re all willing to make sacrifices to win games.”
Scarborough (15-0-2) will play the Eastern Maine champion (Lewiston and Mt. Ararat will play at 5 p.m. Thursday) at Hampden Academy at 10 a.m. Saturday. Gorham, trying to get to the state title game for the first time since 1983, finished 14-1-2.
“The first half, we had a lot of energy, won a lot of the 50-50 balls and created a lot of good chances,” said Rams Coach Tim King. “Then we came out flat in the second half. They consistently beat us to balls and eventually created a chance and put it home.”
That chance came midway through the second half. Austin Downing carried the ball into the left corner and crossed it to the middle. There, Cedaka waited with a Gorham defender. The ball deflected off both and, Cedaka said, “in my favor.” Suddenly Cedaka was one-on-one with Gorham keeper Alex McCarthy.
“Left side of the net,” he said, when asked what he was thinking. “You’ve got to pick your shot. You’ve got to have it in mind where it’s going.”
His shot was low and just inside the left post with 21:41 left in the second half. “He came in and settled us down,” Diaz said of Cekada.
Now, 21 minutes and 41 seconds is a lot of time. And the Rams came back with a chance but Stanton stuffed it and then the rebound was sent over the net. From there, the Red Storm dominated.
They controlled the midfield, keeping the ball deep in Gorham’s end. The Rams didn’t have another shot.
“This was a team effort,” said Chris Cleary, a senior defender for Scarborough. “We came out with a lot of intensity in the second half. The first half we were on our heels a lot. And we had heard that they were a second-half team. Well we wanted to show that we were too.”
Scarborough was fortunate to have Cleary in the first half. With Gorham swarming Stanton, he cleared several balls that were targeted either for the net or an open teammate. The Red Storm actually had the first scoring chances of the game, but McCarthy made two stunning point-blank, rapid-fire saves on Downing seven minutes into the game.
From there, though, the Rams took over, beating Scarborough to the ball and creating opportunities.
Time and time again the Rams forced the ball in, time and again the Red Storm held them off.
“If we could have scored there, it might have been different game,” said King.
“The half couldn’t come fast enough for us,” said Diaz.
Diaz tried to settle his players down at halftime. And it worked.
“We came out with a much better effort,” he said. “At the same time, we were more relaxed. I’m just real proud of the way we played in the second half.”
Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: