WINDHAM—Scarborough’s boys’ soccer team won’t get a chance to dethrone Class A champion Falmouth this fall, but the Red Storm did earn an opportunity to play for some bragging rights nonetheless.

Friday evening, facing Windham in the semifinals of the “Champions Cup,” Scarborough was frustrated in the first half, as Eagles junior goalkeeper Colby Connolly twice made highlight reel diving saves to keep the Red Storm off the board, but with just over 18 minutes remaining, senior Zach Chaisson, who had several near-misses earlier in the contest, finished and that was enough to send Scarborough on to a 1-0 victory.

The Red Storm improved to 7-1-1, advanced to meet Gorham in the Champions Cup Final Tuesday, at a location and time to be announced, and in the process, dropped Windham to 6-2 and relegated the Eagles to the consolation game Tuesday versus Falmouth.

“We had a bunch of chances and I think we should have capitalized, so I was frustrated, but we pulled it together and we got it done and we won,” Chaisson said.

First meeting

Scarborough and Windham have enjoyed plenty of success this fall, but hadn’t squared off prior to Friday.

Scarborough started with a 2-0 home win over Cape Elizabeth, then blanked Bonny Eagle (1-0) and after tying host Gorham (1-1), won at South Portland (4-0). After a 2-0 home loss to Gorham, the Red Storm bounced back with a 3-0 victory at Bonny Eagle, blanked visiting South Portland (3-0) and held off host Cape Elizabeth, 3-2.

Windham started with a 1-0 victory over Westbrook, then lost by the same score to Gorham. The Eagles then downed Bonny Eagle (2-1), Edward Little (4-2), Gray-New Gloucester (4-1) and Bonny Eagle (3-1). Tuesday, Windham beat host Edward Little, 2-1.

The teams didn’t play a year ago and hadn’t met in 2020. The last encounter was in 2018, when visiting Scarborough blanked the Eagles, 4-0.

Friday, on a surprisingly pleasant evening (a September-like 61 degrees at kickoff), the Red Storm needed some time, but ultimately broke through and advanced.

Scarborough came out sizzling and put Windham on its heels, but Connolly didn’t let the Red Storm break through.

In the third minute, Connolly denied a shot from Red Storm senior Aidan Joyce.

A minute later, after a turnover, Chaisson fired a low shot, but Connolly saved that as well.

With 31:45 to go in the first half, Connolly dove to rob junior Nate Needle and a little over a minute later, senior Trevor Sandler was left frustrated by a Connolly diving save.

Later in the half, Chaisson sent a shot just high, junior Evan Kelleher’s shot was the side was saved and a Scarborough corner kick was cleared.

The Eagles finally generated some pressure late in the half, as in transition, junior Sam Gilcos set up sophomore Connor Langstaff for a shot that went just wide and off a corner kick, junior captain Wyatt Fibbert’s serve to senior captain Hayden Bilodeau resulted in a shot that went just wide.

Just before halftime, off Needle’s corner kick, Chaisson was denied one final time and the game went to the break scoreless.

In the first 40 minutes, the Red Storm out-shot Windham, 7-0, but Connolly stopped all seven shots he faced.

Just 1:44 into the second half, Sandler had a great look to put Scarborough on top, but Connolly tipped his blast over the bar at the last second to set up a corner kick which saw Sandler head the ball wide.

Then it was the Eagles’ turn to carry play, but they couldn’t break through.

After Red Storm senior goalkeeper Peter O’Brien made his first save, on a shot from Gilcos. Windham had a corner kick cleared, O’Brien saved a shot from senior Dylan Gorman and Gilcos momentarily had some space and a good look at the goal, but by the time he fired a shot, it was blocked by Scarborough sophomore back Noah Flagg.

Then, with 18:06 to play, the Red Storm got the goal they sought.

The ball was crossed into the box by Needle to sophomore Zander Haskell, who got it to Chaisson and as a defender slipped, Chaisson found himself one-on-one with Connolly and with the goalie coming out, Chaisson fired a low shot past the keeper and into the goal for a 1-0 lead.

“We needed a goal and had to push through,” Chaisson said. “I knew we needed a goal and it was late in the game, so I really wanted to get that goal. I was working hard up top. I got the ball and when you get those opportunities, you have to finish. I was just trying to put it in. The goalie came out and slid at me and I knew I had to keep it on the ground.”

“There was a little frustration,” said Scarborough coach Mark Diaz. “We had some good looks. We were doing what we tried to do, get the ball in good spots, but their keeper made some nice saves and we hit some right at him. We have to do better on those. We finally got our opportunity and got the one we wanted. (Zach’s) a senior and he buried it. He’s been in these moments. He’s the kind of guy we lean on.”

“They’d been pressuring us, so I think it was a matter of time,” Windham coach Ben Schulz said. “A kid went to make a stop and slipped and it came to (Chaisson’s) feet and he buried it.”

The Red Storm had chances to double their lead, but a header from senior Jarod Glidden off a corner went just wide, senior Ryan Stimson missed wide and a long shot from junior Nick Connolly was saved by Colby Connolly.

Windham’s effort to tie and force overtime saw a cross cleared by a Scarborough defender at the last minute and a long shot from senior Ezra Smith saved by O’Brien.

One final clear from Glidden allowed the Red Storm to finish it off and celebrate their 1-0 victory.

“It was one of my last games as a senior and we knew we needed to amp it up,” Chaisson said. “We have to continue with that mindset.”

“Windham’s athletic and they have a nice team,” said Diaz. “I was happy how we held them off. I was really proud of the way we stayed connected defensively and we did better communicating in the back.”

Scarborough finished with a 12-5 edge in shots and a 5-3 advantage in corner kicks and got five saves from O’Brien.

The Eagles got 11 saves from Connolly, but despite a strong effort, fell short.

“When you’re a program like Windham and you get a chance to play against Scarborough in what felt like a playoff game and come out 1-0 on a slip in front of the goal, I think we’re happy where we’ve come as a program,” said Schulz, who is in his second season. “In some ways, we were kind of overwhelmed by the moment. When Scarborough shows up with the mohawks and their hair dyed, clearly they have the caliber to come out play with anyone in the state, but once we got past our nerves, we had a couple chances. We just couldn’t finish.

“I think we’re really happy with the season. Last year was my first year as varsity coach and we were down a little bit. We’re starting eight underclassmen and I think the future’s very bright. We look forward to the opportunity to play Falmouth Tuesday.”

Cup Final

Gorham is up next for Scarborough and the Rams are a team which has frustrated the Red Storm so far, beating them once and tying them once.

Scarborough would love nothing more than to cap its season with a victory and a dose of redemption.

“I think we have the players and the skill to beat (Gorham),” Chaisson said. “We have to come with the mindset of getting it done.”

“We look forward to playing Gorham,” Diaz said. “We weren’t sure we could get 10 games in, so we’re excited. No complaints. We have to finish our chances and we have to be tougher in the middle (of the field). We can’t have lapses and let them press.”

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

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