Tuesday, December 10, 2013
By GREG REID Special to the Press Herald
SACO - The Thornton Academy girls' soccer players typically gather to ring the school's victory bell only after home playoff games.
Jessica Meader of Scarborough heads the ball to a teammate during Thursday’s SMAA girls’ soccer game at Saco. In a battle of unbeatens, Thornton won, 1-0.
Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer
Thursday night, they made an exception.
Amanda Arnold tucked a hard shot from 20 yards under the crossbar with 11:50 left to give the Golden Trojans a 1-0 victory over Scarborough in a playoff-like matchup between unbeaten SMAA teams at Paul G. Hill Stadium.
The deciding play was set up when Thornton defender Katelyn Pierson drove a long, arcing ball toward the Scarborough box. A Red Storm defender chest-trapped the ball just beyond the arc with Arnold lurking. They scrambled for control, Arnold won and hit it. The ball eluded the leaping Sydney Martin (six saves).
And it was one of the few Arnold got off.
"You definitely have to be patient," said Arnold, who has 15 goals in nine games. "Their defense is definitely very strong, so it was tough to move the ball forward."
When the chance finally appeared?
"I just went for it."
Team defense by the Red Storm (7-1), ranked No. 1 in the Western Class A Heal points, was rock solid. Bolstered by the back line of Katie Wahrer, Maria Philbrick, Ainsley Jamieson and Sam Sparda, Scarborough repeatedly stepped up to pick off passes and push the ball up.
No. 6 Thornton (9-0) came into the game averaging five goals per game; Arnold's strike was only the second goal Scarborough had allowed this season.
"The one mistake that we made, Amanda buried it from distance," Scarborough Coach Mike Farley said. "It was a good shot, and sometimes you lose on decent shots. Those are the breaks."
The game was the second of three trying matches for the Red Storm. Next up: No. 2 Windham on Saturday.
"It's best to lose at this part of the season because we have a tomorrow," said midfielder Jessica Meader. "This is a wake-up call for us. We'll just focus on the weak spots in our game and be ready to bounce back."
Not that Scarborough ever dozed. Ashley Gleason's glancing header off a corner kick was stopped by a defender on the goal line with 3 minutes left. Hadlee Yescott's direct kick from 20 yards sailed high with just under 2 minutes to go. And Katherine Kirk's blast from the top of the box caromed off the left post with a minute on the clock.
"The kids knew what to expect," Thornton Academy Coach Chris Kohl said. "We knew we weren't going to win 8-0. We just focused on the next play."
Until the final whistle. Then they headed for the victory bell.