PORTLAND—Cheverus’ girls’ soccer team had a lot to celebrate Tuesday afternoon.

And the Stags’ biggest celebration might still be to come.

Hosting two-time defending Class A South champion and longtime nemesis Scarborough at Boulos Stadium, Cheverus got an enormous save from junior goalkeeper Neve Cawley and a beautiful strike from sophomore Riley O’Mara to prevail.

Cawley robbed Red Storm freshman phenom Ali Mokriski in the game’s first minute, O’Mara scored the lone goal later in the first half and the Stags kept potent Scarborough off the board and went on to a 1-0 victory.

Cheverus beat the Red Storm for the first time in 11 years, capped the program’s best regular season in history at a perfect 14-0, dropped Scarborough to 12-2 and best of all, locked up the top seed for the upcoming regional tournament for the first time.

“We’ve never really focused on being undefeated, even today coming into this game,” said Stags’ coach Craig Roberts, who teaches social studies at Scarborough High School. “It was more about focusing on the opponent in front of us. The girls are really happy about beating Scarborough, because they’re well-coached and they have great players. You have to put forth a strong effort to beat them and fortunately, today, we did.”

Highly awaited

Scarborough has long been the team everyone in Class A South guns for, but this fall, the Red Storm have been joined at the top by Cheverus.

The Red Storm opened this fall with shutout wins over visiting Kennebunk (2-0) and Deering (3-0), host Biddeford (11-0), visiting Thornton Academy (1-0), host Westbrook (10-0) and visiting South Portland (3-0). After downing visiting Portland (4-1), Scarborough blanked host Sanford (5-0) and Massabesic (6-0), then gave Farley his 200th victory with the program, 3-0, over visiting Noble. After edging host Marshwood, 2-1, the Red Storm blanked visiting Falmouth (2-0), then suffered their first loss, 2-1, at Gorham Friday, a setback which snapped Scarborough’s 27-game regular season win streak and its 42-game regular season unbeaten streak.

Cheverus started with a 5-1 home victory over South Portland, then blanked host Portland (1-0), host Marshwood (1-0) and visiting Massabesic (6-0), before downing visiting Gorham (5-2), host Kennebunk (3-0) and visiting Deering (4-0). The Stags then eked out a 3-2 win at Falmouth, before blanking host Bonny Eagle (2-0), shutting down visiting Windham (1-0), rolling at Biddeford (5-0), blanking visiting Thornton Academy (4-0) and winning at Westbrook (5-1).

Last year, Scarborough twice beat Cheverus by a 3-1 score, in the regular season in Portland, then again, in the Class A South Final.

Tuesday, on an overcast, windy, 55-degree afternoon, the Red Storm looked to improve to 17-3 all-time against the Stags (see sidebar, below), but instead, Cheverus was able to snap a 12-game skid in the series and beat Scarborough for the first time since Oct. 3, 2008 (3-2 at home), to punctuate a magical, unblemished regular season.

The Red Storm had a golden opportunity to seize immediate control, as 51 seconds in, senior Ashley Sabatino sent the ball ahead to Mokriski and when a Cheverus defender whiffed on the ball, Mokriski collected in and raced in on goal, but out came Cawley to cut off the angle and make a highlight reel save to keep the game scoreless.

“I just had to make sure I covered as much ground as a I could, so I sprawled out and was able to deflect it,” said Cawley. “It was instinct. Sometimes, you just have to forget about the technical stuff and just keep the ball out of the net. My adrenaline just shot up. It was super-satisfying.”

“We had nerves,” said Roberts. “We had a slip-up in the midfield and then we made another slip-up in the back and she got through. We haven’t trailed this year. When I saw (Mokriski) dribbling in alone, I didn’t know how we’d respond if she put the ball in the net.

“Neve has done a really good job this year coming out and defending breakaways. I don’t think she gets a ton of credit, because we don’t allow a lot of shots, but if you look at her progression, she’s very solid. She’s very composed and good in the air. She’s been locked in pretty much every game. Her first two years, we needed her to make saves a goalie should make. This year, we need her to make those saves and win games for us and that was the case today. ”

“If you give Ali that ball nine more times, she’d score nine times. but the goalkeeper did a good job to come out quick and put pressure on her,” lamented Red Storm coach Mike Farley.

After Cheverus senior Emma Gallant twice missed just wide, the Stags got the only goal they would need with 23:27 remaining in the first half.

The score was set up by junior Mia Kratzer, who won possession in the middle of the field, then sent the ball to O’Mara on her right. O’Mara took a touch, then ripped a shot to the right of Scarborough senior goalkeeper Nikki Young and into the upper left corner of the goal for a 1-0 advantage.

“It was a beautiful ball by Mia,” O’Mara said. “I made an inside run and she just passed it past the defender. I just wanted to get it away from the middle. It felt good off my foot. It was very satisfying. We’ve worked really hard this season. We’ve connected really well. It’s nice having so many scorers and so many players touching the ball.”

“We’ve worked on finding space on the opposite side of the field and switching the point of attack,” Roberts said. “Mia got the ball on her foot and did a good job finding Riley behind the defense and Riley hit a good shot there. She’s so fast and athletic.”

Scarborough tried to answer, but senior Sarah Callahan shot wide, Cawley got to a long serve from sophomore Caitlin Noiles before Sabatino could reach it and Cawley fell on a loose ball in the box after a Noiles throw-in.

In the first 40 minutes, the Red Storm had a 3-1 edge in shots on frame, but trailed.

Scarborough sought the equalizer early in the second half, but Sabatino missed high and a corner kick was cleared.

With 20:41 left, the Red Storm had their best chance to tie the game, but after taking a pass from Noiles, junior Grace Pettingill had a great look, but sent her shot just over the crossbar.

A minute later, off a Scarborough corner kick, Gallant had to clear the ball away from Mokriski at the last second.

After Sabatino missed just wide, Noiles missed wide and senior Lauren Jordan broke up a Mokriski rush, Cheverus ran out the clock and celebrated its 1-0 victory.

“Our whole defensive line just locks down,” said Cawley, who saved all three shots on frame that she faced. “There are some games where I barely touch the ball. It’s important for me to stay focused, but they’re like a brick wall back there. We’re like a family, working hard for each other.”

“Scarborough’s pressure gave us fits at times, but we matched their physicality and I thought defensively, we were really organized and that was enough,” Roberts said.

The Stags had a 4-3 edge in shots on frame.

Scarborough got three saves from Young and had a 3-1 advantage in corner kicks, but the Red Storm couldn’t score and suffered back-to-back losses for the first time since Sept. 13th and 15th of 2001.

“The difference in the game was we didn’t play particularly well between the boxes,” Farley said. “We didn’t have it technically. The game was choppy for us. We like to keep the ball moving. They made us stay not composed. That’s what good teams do. If they get one mistake, they’ll make you pay. I’m pleased with how we defended as a whole, but players who don’t normally mis-hit balls did that all over the field.”

Lofty goals

Scarborough projects to be the No. 3 seed in Class A South for the upcoming playoffs and will next take the pitch next week for a quarterfinal round playoff game at home. Falmouth, Noble or Thornton Academy are the first likely foe.

“We have to refocus,” said Farley. “It’s a new season and now we start over. The kids are resilient. I don’t suspect we’ll cry over spilled milk. We’ll get after it. Anybody can beat anybody now. We have to go in and be the best we can be. It’s going to be a tough road.”

Top-ranked Cheverus will play at home, on its grass field, in the quarterfinals and if victorious, in the semifinals as well (the regional final is on neutral turf, in Biddeford, for the first time this autumn). Possible quarterfinal round opponents include Bonny Eagle and Kennebunk.

“We just have to focus on the full 80 (minutes), stay in the moment and go from there,” said Cawley.

“Now we have a clean slate,” Roberts said. “It’s now one game at a time. Everyone gives us their best shot, whether we’re .500 or undefeated. We know we’ll have to give our best effort. We have to find open space and use our speed and athleticism.”

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

Previous Scarborough-Cheverus results

2018
Scarborough 3 @ Cheverus 1
Class A South Final
@ Scarborough 3 Cheverus 1

2017
@ Scarborough 3 Cheverus 0
Class A South semifinals
@ Scarborough 1 Cheverus 0

2016
@ Scarborough 3 Cheverus 1

2015
Scarborough 2 @ Cheverus 1 

2012
Scarborough 3 @ Cheverus 0

2011
@ Scarborough 1 Cheverus 1 (tie)
Western A quarterfinals
@ Scarborough 2 Cheverus 0

2010
Scarborough 2 @ Cheverus 0
Western A semifinals
@ Scarborough 2 Cheverus 1

2009
@ Scarborough 1 Cheverus 0 (OT)

2008

@ Cheverus 3 Scarborough 2

2007
Cheverus 2 @ Scarborough 0

2006
Scarborough 3 @ Cheverus 0

2005
@ Scarborough 3 Cheverus 0

2004
@ Cheverus 3 Scarborough 2 (OT)
Western A semifinals
@ Scarborough 1 Cheverus 0 (2 OT)

2003
Scarborough 3 @ Cheverus 1

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