PORTLAND—Scaborough’s boys’ soccer team is dangerous enough when all things are equal.

When you give the Red Storm numerous set piece opportunities, you’re inviting disaster.

Monday, in a sweltering season opener between Scarborough and the host Deering Rams, in a rematch of last year’s Western A semifinal, Deering was reminded that if you leave the door open a crack, the Red Storm will kick it down.

Again and again.

After the Rams squandered some great scoring chances in the game’s early moments, Scarborough finally broke through in the 24th minute, when a pinpoint throw-in from the sideline from senior Matt Caron eluded the grasp of Deering junior goalkeeper Orey Dutton and junior Garrett King banged home the loose ball for the only goal the Red Storm would need.

Scarborough put the game away in the second half, as less than four minutes in, junior Noah Stracqualursi scored on a header, King scored on a rebound with just over 20 minutes to play and with 7:27 left, a header from junior Alex Giles proved to be the coup de grace as the Red Storm prevailed, 4-0.

Scarborough won its season opener for the 14th year in a row, beat Deering for the sixth straight time, improved to a mindboggling 151-6-10 in league play since the start of the 2003 campaign and served notice to the rest of the league that the road to November glory will again go through the Red Storm.

“We got opportunities and made the most of them,” said Scarborough coach Mark Diaz. “The guys are smart. At halftime, we talked about some things and we started to relax. When we relax, we’re OK.”

All Scarborough 

Prior to Monday’s encounter, Scarborough had gone 14-1-1 all-time against Deering (see sidebar, below), a record which included playoff wins in 1973, 1977, 2004, 2005 and last year.

In 2014, the Red Storm held off the visiting Rams in a regular season showdown, 2-0, then eliminated Deering in the Western A semifinals, 3-1.

Scarborough went on to lose to eventual champion Cheverus, 3-2, in double overtime in the regional final.

Both teams came into Monday’s opener believing they’ll be in the mix for a title.

For one night at least, the Red Storm looked stronger, as they ensured their most recent season opening loss remains a 3-1 setback they endured way back on Sept. 1, 2001 at Yarmouth.

Deering had the better of the play early and probably should have scored first, but Scarborough senior goalkeeper Cam Nigro, in his first season as the starter, stood tall.

In the ninth minute, a blast from the side off the foot of Rams senior Paolo DeMarco appeared goal bound, but Nigro leaped and tipped the ball over the cage to set up a corner kick, on which sophomore Muzamell Osmani Azizi set up junior Jonata Mbongo for a great look, but Nigro again made the save.

In the 13th minute, Deering got looks from senior Fernando Lopez-Pereira, who shot just wide and DeMarco, who took a pass from senior Patrick Runezerwa, who was denied by Nigro.

“Cam settled us down a little bit,” King said. “He keeps our minds clear. He makes the big saves at the beginning so we can calm ourselves down.”

“We were kind of nervous and Deering was too, but they came at us,” Diaz said. “You have to give them credit. Cam did a good job. He was solid. We know he can do it.”

Scarborough started knocking in the 23rd minute, when Caron’s throw from the side was misplayed by Dutton and the ball fell free in the box, but the hosts were momentarily saved by senior back Bailey Small, who headed the ball out of harm’s way.

That proved to be a momentary repreive, however, as with 16:09 left, on another Caron throw, Dutton again couldn’t field the ball cleanly, it sat free and King tucked it home for a 1-0 lead.

“It was being in the right place at the right time,” said King. “It’s about being scrappy when Matt throws them in. It’s like a corner. You just crash in the box. It’s all about jumping on the goal. That’s what we’ve been taught.”

“When I was little, I always did the throw in,” Caron said. “As I got bigger and stronger, I could get it in the box. Basically, if we win the second ball, it creates a lot of opportunities. I just throw it in and hope for the best.” 

“(Matt’s throw is) such a great weapon,” Diaz added. “He mixes them up. Today, that worked for us. It gave us the spark we needed. That gave us confidence. Once we settled down, the soccer got better.”

Prior to the break, Deering sophomore Caleb Delano shot high and DeMarco had a shot deflected wide and the Red Storm took a one-goal lead to halftime.

The Rams had a 9-8 edge in shots and earned four corner kicks to none for the visitors in the first half, but five Nigro saves helped Scarborough hold the lead.

Deering had a good chance to draw even with 37:39 to go in regulation, but a low shot from senior Matthew Alvarez was handled by Nigro.

The Red Storm then got some breathing room.

On a free kick, the ball came to junior Cameron Thibault, who headed it toward the far post, and Stracqualursi was there to head it home for a 2-0 lead.

Scarborough didn’t rest on its laurels and soon had a three-goal bulge.

After Dutton made his finest save, robbing senior Josh Morrissey, the Red Storm earned a corner kick. The ball got free in front after a scrum and King again was in the right spot to clean it up and score for a 3-0 advantage.

“Garrett is a natural scorer,” Diaz said. “He finds his little pockets of space. He finds the right spot.”

Rams coach Joel Costigan replaced Dutton with junior Mustafa Kadhim and the new keeper made a stellar save in the 65th minute, robbing King off a Morrissey free kick.

After Nigro saved a bid by junior Conor Doane and junior Hisham Ramadan shot high, the visitors scored their final goal.

With 7:27 left, on another free kick, senior Samuel Jacob sent the ball into the box and Giles headed it perfectly past Kadhim for a 4-0 lead.

Scarborough ran out the clock from there and got its season off to a terrific start with a 4-0 victory.

“We had four set piece goals today,” Caron said. “We drew a ton of fouls and we capitalized at the right time. Our defense played pretty good. We dropped our outside mid inside and clogged the middle and that worked.”

“It was a hot day, but Coach prepared us well,” King said. “We were conditioned to play the full 80 minutes.”

Deering got seven saves from Dutton and a pair from Kadhim, but fell short.

“It came down to everything we worked on, as far as what we expected from Scarborough,” Costigan said. “Their ability to draw fouls, play the ball in the box and be athletic, we did not do well with that.

“We lost twice last year to Scarborough. All but one of their goals came off a restart. We fouled, they served it in and they scored. Tonight, we counted 12 fouls in the defensive third. They scored on three of them. We have established defensive principles and our players didn’t hit on them tonight, so we wound up chasing and fouling from behind. It’s not good defending and it won’t win games. We know we can be the most skilled team in the conference, but we won’t win games if we don’t do the simple things we work on.

Deering was hampered by the loss of senior Jonathan Bujambi, who got a red card in last year’s playoff loss to Scarborough and by Maine Principals’ Association rule, had to sit out the next game, which happened to be this one.

“It’s hard to play with Jonathan,” Costigan said. “Being without our core midfielder and captain was very difficult.”

No easy games

The SMAA is as deep and balanced as it’s ever been, meaning there won’t be many nights that a team can take it easy and expect to prevail.

Deering looks to get itn the win column Wednesday when South Portland pays a visit. The Rams play their first road game Tuesday of next week at Biddeford.

“South Portland is going to be a challenge,” said Costigan. “We have to revisit our fundmental defensive and attacking principles. We’ll go back to school.”

Scarborough welcomes Sanford Tuesday and Bonny Eagle Saturday, then has what figures to be its next showdown, at Gorham Tuesday of next week.

“We’ve moved on from last year,” said King. “We have a really good team. We’re excited. We had a good run last year and we know we can better this year even though there’s a lot of good teams. There’s high potential for us this year.”

“We’re just trying to get better,” Diaz said. “I have scrappers and hard workers. We have things to improve on. Not many easy games this year.”

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

Scarborough junior Garrett King is congratulated by his teammates after scoring the game’s first goal. King added another in the second half and the Red Storm went on to defeat Deering, 4-0, in the teams’ mutual opener on a sweltering Monday afternoon.

Mike Strout photos.

Scarborough senior Josh Morrissey heads the ball as Deering junior Erick Martinez-Pereira (right) and senior Riley Brennan look on.

Deering junior Jonata Mbongo heads the ball away from Scarborough senior Jacob McGarvey.

Deering sophomore Muzamell Osmani Azizi tries to get past Scarborough senior Samuel Jacob.

Scarborough junior Cam Thibault heads the ball.

Scarborough senior Samuel Jacob defends Deering senior Paolo DeMarco.

Deering senior Christian Castaneda fights Scarborough senior Nick Lorello for possession.

Scarborough senior Matt Caron shields Deering senior Fernando Lopez-Pereira from the ball.

Scarborough senior Josh Morrissey goes all out to head the ball toward the goal.

Deering junior goalkeeper Orey Dutton pounces on a loose ball before Scarborough senior Jacob McGarvey can bang it home.

Previous Scarborough-Deering results

@ Scarborough 2 Deering 0
Western A semifinal
@ Scarborough 3 Deering 1 

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