SCARBOROUGH—The contender thought it was ready, but the champion simply refuses to surrender its crown.

Tuesday evening, in a highly anticipated boys’ soccer showdown at the Kippy Mitchell Sports Complex, the two-time defending Class A state champion Red Storm of Scarborough, who have heard all the talk about how they’re too young and inexperienced and are a team of the past, hosted the talented and dangerous Rams of Deering, who so many feel are the team of the present.

For one night at least, chalk one up for experience.

As well as heart and talent and an ability to capitalize.

While the Rams had seemingly endless set piece opportunities in the first half, they couldn’t break through, so the Red Storm showed them how it’s done.

In the eighth minute, junior Jake Kacer headed sophomore Noah Stracqualursi’s serve into the net to break the ice.

If that wasn’t enough, Scarborough earned a free kick just outside the box in the 28th minute and sophomore sensation Garrett King fired it home for a commanding 2-0 advantage.

In the second half, the Red Storm focused on defense and they play it as well as anyone. Deering’s scoring chances dried up and Scarborough put the finishing touches on its most impressive victory to date, a 2-0 decision.

The Red Storm improved to 9-0-1, dropped the Rams to 8-1-1 and for the moment at least, reaffirmed their status as the team to beat.


“Tonight was a big result for us,” said Scarborough coach Mark Diaz. “This is a big confidence boost for us. Deering’s a quality club. We’re not trying to live up to standards from years past, but up to our standards and what this group can do.”

Heavyweight fight

Scarborough has long been the Class A gold standard, but Deering came into Tuesday’s game feeling it belonged in that stratosphere as well.

So far this fall, the Rams and Red Storm have been very impressive.

Deering opened with a 2-1 win at Cheverus, then handled host Massabesic, 5-0. The Rams then made a statement with an impressive 3-0 home win over rival Portland. After settling for a scoreless home tie versus Gorham, Deering won at Noble (5-0), at home over Windham (5-2), at Bonny Eagle (4-0) and South Portland (1-0, in double overtime) and at home over Westbrook (1-0).

Scarborough enjoyed a 4-1 win at South Portland in its first game, then won at Portland, 1-0. Home shutouts of Biddeford (6-0) and Marshwood (2-0) were followed by a 3-1 victory at Sanford and a 2-0 home win over Cheverus. The Red Storm then romped at Noble (13-0), won at Massabesic (3-0) and rallied for a 1-1 home tie against Gorham last Thursday.

Prior to Tuesday’s encounter, Scarborough had gone 12-1-1 all-time against Deering (see sidebar, below), a record which included playoff wins in 1973, 1977, 2004 and 2005. Most of the games have been close, including 1-0 Red Storm wins in 2011 and 2013.

This time around, the Rams hoped to match the 2010 squad as the only one to vanquish Scarborough, but the champions refused to buckle.

Deering, which had a strong wind at its back in the first half, came out confident and earned a corner kick in the second minute.

Senior Ahmed Adnan bent the kick right on target, forcing Red Storm senior goalkeeper Sam Warren to punch it out, giving the Rams another corner.

Adnan sent the ball in again and Warren again punched it out. This time the rebound came to Adnan, whose shot was saved by Warren.

“We weren’t running our plays,” Deering coach Joel Costigan lamented. “The goalkeeper punched it out, but we were supposed to have someone on the goalkeeper. That was a clear chance that we didn’t capitalize on.”

Scarborough then transitioned to offense and after a couple of near misses, broke the ice.

With 32:38 to play in the first half, Stracqualursi lofted the ball into the box, Kacer went up to meet it and he headed the shot over the lunge of Rams senior goalkeeper Anthony Russo for a 1-0 lead.

“It was a beautiful ball from Strac,” said Kacer. “He couldn’t have done any better. I was fortunate to get it on frame. It was great. That was really important to pump us up.”

“That goal was a big morale booster,” King said.

“We were fortunate to get that first one,” Diaz added. “That first goal was really nice.It was a beautiful header. We started playing even more after that. It settled us down.”

After Russo denied bids from Stracqualursi and senior fullback Ian Corey (on a free kick), the Rams got several more corner kick chances (six in the first 17 minutes alone), but couldn’t convert.

“We were concerned with their size on set pieces,” Diaz said. “They’re very good in the air. We don’t have a lot of size.”

Deering almost got the equalizer with 18:16 to go in the half when senior standout Stephen Ochan fired a left-footed free kick from 25 yards out right on target. Warren leaped to no avail, but luckily for the hosts, it barely cleared the crossbar (Ochan was already starting to celebrate when it sailed just high).

Four minutes later, Rams junior Paolo DeMarco had a shot deflected just wide.

The Red Storm then went back on offense and with 12:11 remaining before halftime, a foul occurred just outside the box.

Diaz selected King to the honors and he somehow got his shot through the defensive box and past a diving Russo for a 2-0 advantage.

“I didn’t see much,” King said. “I knew I had to put it on frame. I got fortunate with the skip in front of me. When you put it on frame anything can happen.”

“Garrett’s shot was beautiful,” said Kacer. “It couldn’t have been hit any better.”

“I don’t think the keeper picked it up,” Diaz added. “Garrett brings athleticism and energy. He wants to get better all the time. He wants to help us out. I think he enjoys being part of what we’re doing and I’m glad we’ve got him.”

Scarborough senior Sam Ware almost scored another goal right before halftime, but Russo made the save.

The Red Storm had not only survived the wind and the onslaught, but actually had a fairly comfortable two-goal lead to show for it.

“We know how good and athletic Deering is,” Diaz said. “They’re already a good team and them having the wind really hurt us. We wanted to get to the half 0-0 and we got a couple fortunate goals.”

The Rams had a solid chance to cut their deficit in half early in the second half when an Ochan free kick was bobbled by Warren, but the goalie managed to cradle the ball just as senior Hany Ramadan arrived for the rebound.

Scarborough looked for a third goal to put the game away, but a Ware flick on a corner was saved by Russo and a rocket by King was also denied.

As the second half moved along, the Red Storm became more defensive and Corey stepped up, breaking up a rush by Ramadan and heading out a serve by Ochan.

“We came in like it was any other game,” Corey said. “Deering’s a good-sized team. We were definitely worried about Ochan. Ramadan up top is very fast.”

“The defense, Ian and (junior) Nick (Lorello), nothing gets by them,” King said.

With 14:55 to play, senior Francisco Alvarez sent a shot just wide and moments later, Ramadan headed a corner high.

Scarborough slammed the door from there and celebrated its 2-0 victory.

“We expected a good game,” King said. “We knew they’d be solid. We played well. We’ve come together. There’s a lot of pride.”

“We played well as a team tonight,” said Kacer. “We did what we had to do. It was a good win. Diaz is doing a great job coaching. I couldn’t ask for a better coach.”

“This is the second toughest game we’ve played,” Corey said. “We came out even harder in the second half.”

Shots wound up even, 12-12, but the Red Storm put seven on frame to three for Deering. Warren made three saves.

The Rams got five saves from Russo and had a 9-2 advantage in corners, but were left frustrated.

“We had a lot of corner kicks and we outpossessed them in the first half, but we just didn’t capitalize and Scarborough capitalized on their chances,” Costigan said. “In the second half, I think we got a little tired and started to do our own thing and got disconnected.  To Scarborough’s credit, they capitalized on set pieces and played big balls diagonally. We made too many mistakes. Going into halftime down 2-0 was tough.”

Race to the finish

Deering (now fourth in the Western Class A Heal Points standings) hopes to bounce back Thursday when dangerous Thornton Academy pays a visit. The Rams also have home games remaining versus Biddeford and Marshwood and close at Sanford Oct. 21.

Scarborough (third behind Gorham and Falmouth in Western A) returns to action Thursday at Westbrook. After hosting Windham Saturday, the Red Storm close with games at Thornton Academy and at home versus Bonny Eagle.

They would love to once again have the road to a championship come through Scarborough.

“We have to finish strong,” King said. “We’ve played some of the better teams. Anything can happen in this league this year. We’d love to be able to play at home.”

“I feel that if we keep going hard in practice, we can go really far,” Kacer said.

“We’ll keep improving, especially come playoffs,” Corey said. “We get our youth into it and we have a great coaching staff. We haven’t reached a climactic point. I can’t wait to see how good we’ll be.”

“Are we good enough? I don’t know, but we’ll find out,” Diaz added. “We need to pass the ball better. We’re not passing great. We just have to build from this. We still have more work to do. Homefield would be great. I don’t mind going on the road, but being home would be great with a young squad like this.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Deering junior Christian Castaneda shields Scarborough sophomore Garrett King from the ball.

Scarborough junior Sam Jacob soars to head the ball away from Deering senior Francisco Alvarez.

Deering sophomore Jonata Mbongo races upfield as Scarborough junior Matt Caron tries to keep up.

Scarborough sophomore Elliot Nordstrom plays the ball as Deering junior Fernando Lopez-Pereira (left) and senior Hany Ramadan give chase.

Deering senior standout Stephen Ochan brings the ball forward.

Scarborough senior Sam Ware fights off Deering senior Yannick Sendama.

Deering senior goalkeeper Anthony Russo somehow manages to keep the ball out of the goal as Scarborough senior Wyatt Bridgham looms.

Previous Scarborough-Deering results

Scarborough 1 @ Deering 0

Scarborough 3 @ Deering 1

@ Scarborough 1 Deering 0

@ Deering 1 Scarborough 0

@ Scarborough 4 Deering 0

Scarborough 5 @ Deering 0

@ Scarborough 3 Deering 0

Scarborough 5 @ Deering 0

Western A quarterfinals
@ Scarborough 1 Deering 0

@ Scarborough 1 Deering 1 (tie)
Western A quarterfinals
@ Scarborough 4 Deering 2

Scarborough 1 Deering 0 (2 OT)

Western A quarterfinals
Scarborough 1 @ Deering 0

Western A semifinals
@ Scarborough 8 Deering 0

Sidebar Elements

Scarborough junior Nick Lorello congratulates senior goalkeeper Sam Warren while the rest of the Red Storm rush out to celebrate Tuesday’s 2-0 home victory over Deering in a battle of undefeated teams.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.