SCARBOROUGH—The final act might not have always been pretty, but the Scarborough boys’ soccer team’s season was a thing of beauty.

And triumph.

Tuesday evening at the Kippy Mitchell Sports Complex, the Red Storm hosted Kennebunk and despite dominating possession, shots and corner kicks, couldn’t score a goal in the first half.

Scarborough then broke through with 34:11 to play, as junior Nate Needle scored on a rebound of sophomore Zander Haskell’s shot.

While Rams senior goalkeeper Quinn Battagliese did all he could to keep his team in it, Kennebunk didn’t register a single shot on frame and with 9.9 seconds to go, in transition, senior Trevor Sandler set up Haskell for the clincher and the Red Storm prevailed, 2-0.

Scarborough closed the season on a five-game win streak, finished with a fine record of 8-1-1 and in the process, dropped the Rams to 1-2-2.

“Credit to the boys,” Sandler said. “We played well. It was an emotional season, but we fought as hard as we could every game and the results came. We had great leadership. We played every game like it was going to be our last game and it worked out. We wanted to win every game and we almost did that.”

What might have been

Scarborough believes that in a normal year, it would have challenged the likes of defending champion Falmouth and Gorham for supremacy in Class A South and based on the Red Storm’s results this fall, it’s hard to argue.

“We’d be happy to play (Falmouth or Gorham), but sadly it didn’t work out that way,” said Sandler.

“I think we would have had a shot to get to the big game, but we’re fortunate to get all 10 games in,” said longtime Scarborough coach Mark Diaz. “A couple months ago, we didn’t even know if we’d get out here.”

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), held off host Cape Elizabeth, 3-2, and Friday, won at Windham, 1-0.

Scarborough was supposed to meet Gorham Tuesday for the title of the Champions Cup, but the Rams weren’t able to play and the Red Storm had to scramble to find a new opponent for their finale.

Kennebunk, which had to sit idle for most of the season due to York County having a yellow designation, had played four games to date, beating Biddeford, losing one game and tying two others.

“From the York County perspective especially, it was gutting for all of us to open up the (paper) and read about other teams playing when we couldn’t,” said Rams coach Greg Cavanaugh. “It took a toll on us because we love (playing soccer). When we got the green light, it was such a relief. Adding this game was great. Mark reached out over the weekend and it’s always great playing Scarborough. That will get you better.”

Last year, the Red Storm survived the Rams, 4-3, in Kennebunk.

Tuesday evening, on a very comfortable mid-November night (59 degrees at kickoff), Scarborough closed the year on a high note with its fifth win in a row and for the first time since 2013, left the field happy after its final game.

Haskell was the first to test Battagliese, with a low shot in the 10th minute, but the keeper made the save.

Senior Zach Chaisson put a shot on frame in the 13th minute, but Battagliese stopped that as well.

After Haskell missed just wide and senior Aidan Joyce headed a corner kick high, Battagliese robbed junior Evan Kelleher point blank in the 29th minute.

Late in the half, sophomore Will Fallona and senior Ryan Stimson missed the mark and the game went to the break scoreless.

Play was even more decided in Scarborough’s favor in the second half and while there was some additional frustration for the hosts, they did manage to finish twice.

Five minutes into the second half, Battagliese got an assist from back Noah Marley, who swept a sure goal from Haskell off the line.

Battagliese then dove to rob Haskell, but with 34:11 on the clock, Needle was waiting to bang home the rebound to put the Red Storm on top to stay.

“We were playing well, but we had some unlucky bounces,” Sandler said. “We fought hard and came back strong in the second half.”

“We just had to be patient and not get frustrated,” Diaz said. “That (goal) took the pressure off and we started to play better.”

Battagliese returned to his difficult-to-beat ways by sprawling to deny Kelleher after a turnover, going to the ground to rob Chaisson and later robbing Chaisson.

Kennebunk’s only offensive chance to speak of came with 15:25 remaining in regulation, as it earned a free kick about 40 yards out, but Alex Miale’s serve was cleared by the Red Storm defense.

When Sandler missed wide on an open net and Battagliese robbed senior Griffin Hebert on a header on the doorstep, it appeared the game would go in the books with the score of 1-0, but Scarborough finished with a flourish.

After the Rams pushed numbers up hoping to generate a shot, the Red Storm got possession and transitioned to offense. Sandler raced in and crossed the ball to Haskell, who wouldn’t be denied, and with 9.9 seconds remaining, the lead was doubled.

“I see Zander right place, right time,” said Sandler. “He’s a great finisher and he put it away. If you get the ball to him, he’s going to score.”

“It was nice to get a second one,” Diaz said. “I felt like we deserved it with how we played.”

Scarborough then put the finishing touches on its 2-0 victory.

“I thought our possession wore them down, but (Kennebunk) played really well,” Diaz said. “Their keeper made some great saves. We have a really good keeper too (senior Peter O’Brien). A lot of people don’t know that. We didn’t give up a lot of shots. Tonight was typical, but we would have needed him against top teams.

“Tonight was a good night in terms of moving the ball, possessing and being unselfish. I have guys on this team who really love playing soccer and working together. Tomorrow, they’ll come back out and here and kick the ball around.”

The Red Storm finished with a commanding 14-0 shots advantage and took nine corner kicks to none for the Rams.

Battagliese made 11 saves (and Manning had one on defense), but Kennebunk couldn’t generate any offense.

“Quinn is such a great kid,” said Cavanaugh. “He played for us freshman year, then played with an Academy the last two years. Having him back is a delight. He works hard and he’s really talented. He’s a great leader. I’m pumped to have him back, even for just seven games.

“It was a great defensive session for us tonight. We got to defend for 80 minutes against a legitimate team and that just gets you better. We got a great look tonight at different formations that we can play with. We got to see some guys in different roles.”

Next year can’t come soon enough

Kennebunk closes with games Wednesday at Wells and Friday at home versus Massabesic.

“This is the most selfless season you could ask from the seniors,” Cavanaugh said. “They’re here to make sure the torch is passed and get the other guys better. Scarborough gave us a great outlet to do that tonight.”

As for Scarborough, graduation will hit hard, as Chaisson, Hebert, Joyce, O’Brien, Sandler, Stimson, Jarod Glidden, Alan King, Owen Leadley all depart.

The Red Storm should be well equipped to be right back in the title hunt in 2021, however, presuming life and soccer have returned to a measure of normalcy.

“I’m excited for next year,” Sandler said. “I’ll watch all of their games next year and hopefully they’ll win the (championship).”

“I have nine seniors and it’s tough to say goodbye,” Diaz said. “We have to replace some great players in the middle. Ryan Stimson and Zach Chaisson have played really well. A couple guys in the back will be tough to replace too. We have to get stronger and we’ll do that hopefully this summer as a group. We feel like we have some depth and we’ll be solid next year too.”

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

Comments are not available on this story.