SCARBOROUGH – “These games come down to a few bounces here and there.”

That statement, by Thornton Academy Head Coach Chris Kohl, never rang truer than on a frosty Nov. 3 night, when the Golden Trojans and Scarborough Red Storm battled under the lights for supremacy in Western Class A. At stake was a trip to the state title game, and the teams were so evenly matched in this contest that the 1-0 Scarborough victory literally came down to two bounces – one on defense, and one on offense – that both went the Storm’s way. Any different, and TA might have been hoisting the trophy afterwards.

The Red Storm will face East champion Bangor for the Class A state championship on Saturday, the time and place of the game are still to be determined.

“I feel really awesome,” said Scarborough junior striker Haley Carignan, whose second-half goal gave the Red Storm the win. “I am so proud of our team, and I think that we deserve it.”

For the second consecutive game, Scarborough came out looking flat in the first half. Although the Storm played resoundingly strong defense throughout the contest, Scarborough struggled to put anything cohesive together on offense, and first 40 minutes of play was largely a midfielder’s game.

But without the Red Storm pressuring on the offensive end, a defensive breakdown was inevitable. It came just 7:35 into the contest, as Thornton Academy defender Lauren Titus hit a long floater from about the 40 yard line that angled directly towards Scarborough senior keeper Jill Deering.

But what at first appeared to be a routine play – Deering came out of the net to haul in the ball – nearly turned into a disaster. Deering misread the ball, which landed just in front of the flailing Scarborough keeper and soared over her head. However, in arguably the most clutch effort of her career, Deering – with Thornton players pushing in from all sides – was able to dive backwards into her own net and make a second effort on the loose ball, barely punching it out to the right side. It was as close as the Trojans ever got.

“I really don’t know how I got to it,” Deering said afterward. “I knew that the ball was somewhere behind me, and I was able to just go back and hit it out somehow.”

Despite their goalie’s decisive athleticism, Scarborough still couldn’t gain any traction in the first half. The Storm fought off several Thornton Academy corners before entering the break.

“The last couple of games we have come out flat,” said Scarborough Head Coach Mike Farley. “However, today we were a lot better defensively. So when that happens, and we come out flat, and we can’t get our offense moving together, I’m not quite as concerned when we’re at least defending well.”

The Red Storm went on the attack in the second frame, largely controlling the pace of the game and caging the Trojans in their own end of the field. As time wound down, it began to feel increasingly like whoever scored first was going to prevail.

And with 21:05 remaining, it was Scarborough who finally broke through, as senior forward Cortney Hughes took advantage of a momentary defensive lapse by the Trojans just outside the penalty area and hammered a clear shot towards Thornton Academy senior goalie Sydney Proctor. Proctor was able to get her hands on the ball, but such was the force of Hughes’ kick that it instantly ricocheted out of the goalie’s grasp, and bounced into the possession of Carignan. This was the critical second bounce, and with the chink in the Trojans’ armor wide open, Carignan did not hesitate; blasting the ball into the rear of the net for the 1-0 lead.

“I’ve been playing with Cortney for as long as I can remember, and I know that she has an extremely strong kick,” Carignan said. “Coach is always telling me as a striker to follow the ball, because goalies always bobble it. So with Courtney’s kick as strong as it is, I kind of just went with it.”

For the remaining 20-plus minutes, the Red Storm redoubled their efforts on defense, and barely missed on several scoring opportunities. In the end, Scarborough would have to survive a final Thornton corner with under a minute to play, but when the ball was nailed back across midfield, the Storm began to celebrate. This was their year.

“I think it definitely comes down to which team wants it more, and I thought that one goal would determine it,” Carignan said. “It’s exhausting to play with a slim lead like that. You have to give everything you have and just do all you can to help your team out.”

With a throw-in about the fall into their midst, Thornton Academy senior midfielder Ashley Kane (20) and Scarborough junior midfielder Meghan Tyson (4) struggle with one another to get a head on the ball Wednesday night.
Staff photo by Emory Rounds

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