November 4, 2012

Steve Solloway: Martin willing to stick her neck out

HAMPDEN - Suddenly, Sydney Martin couldn't breathe and not because she was overcome by the power of the moment. The force of a soccer ball hitting her windpipe and the very top of her chest dropped Scarborough High's goalkeeper to her hands and knees.

click image to enlarge

Sydney Martin of Scarborough made a few big saves for the Red Storm during the Class A state championship game on Saturday. And many came after she recovered from taking a hard shot to the throat in the first half.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

"It was a rocket. It took the wind out of me. I wasn't hurt, but I needed a minute or two."

Goalkeepers dream of making the big save in championship games. It helps keep them sane when they must cope with the shot they can't save. They don't dream of taking a shot to the neck and choking afterward. Literally speaking, of course.

Other than these few minutes midway through the first half, Martin had a clear airway and clear mind throughout Saturday's game.

Scarborough beat Bangor 2-1 in double overtime to win the Class A state title for the second time in three years. Fate or talent turned this into a best-of-three series. Scarborough and Bangor have met in the last three championship games. Bangor won last year.

Familiarity can bring an extra element of tension to the game. Martin felt it. "We came so far this year. I really wanted this game for my teammates. I played on instinct."

The rocket she spoke of came off the foot of Grace MacLean. At least Martin thought so. MacLean is considered one of the best players in the state. Quick feet, strong leg. The ball hit Martin's forearms before getting her neck and chest.

The referee gave Martin a little time to recover. A Bangor player was down, too, and getting the trainer's attention. Martin says she was OK when play resumed but looked a little wobbly. This was Bangor's opportunity.

And then quickly, it wasn't. Maria Philbrick, a senior defender, understood the situation. She and her teammates on defense bought Martin more time. On the sideline, Coach Mike Farley watched, knowing that Philbrick knew what to do.

By the time Bangor put another shot on goal, Martin had recovered. When she came to the sideline at halftime, Farley saw the redness and the impression of a soccer ball panel on her chest.

Both teams scored early in the second half. Libby Huber got Bangor's lone goal off a corner kick. Philbrick and friends still had the clamps on MacLean, who had scored 33 goals this season. Bangor could score in bunches but it hadn't faced a defense like Scarborough's.

Martin saved her best for a moment about two minutes before the end of the game. She jumped high and to her right to save a shot that seemed destined for the upper corner of the net. It was a big-time play.

No, said Martin, that was every keeper's dream save. Leaping, with arms extended. It's the play, years later, you want to see again either on video or in a frame hanging on your wall.

After the game, she eyed her father's camera, hanging by its strap around his neck. Her very proud papa had to admit he didn't get that save in his viewfinder.

No matter. Martin's teammates committed it to memory. When the whistle sounded to end the game, some of the longer hugs were reserved for Martin. "I love you," said one teammate.

Two years ago Scarborough beat Bangor 3-0 in this game. Bangor won 4-0 last year. It seemed fitting that this game would be so close, have so many anxious moment. "It made it more satisfying," said Philbrick.

Martin was the last to join her teammates in front of the goal for the celebration photos. She got the prime spot, in the center and in front of them all, lying on the turf with her arms around the championship trophy.


Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at:

Twitter: SteveSolloway


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