SCARBOROUGH—Emotions were high, the talent was undeniable and on a night where a playoff feel was certainly in the air, Scarborough and Gorham’s girls’ soccer teams settled absolutely nothing Thursday evening at the Kippy Mitchell Sports Complex.

Except that each squad has what it takes to go deep in the playoffs and that each team took something positive away from a memorable game.

The Red Storm, three days removed from their first loss, came out inspired and in the third minute were rewarded, when senior Natalie Bilodeau set up junior goal-scoring machine Ali Mokriski for a quick 1-0 lead.

But Scarborough, despite some good chances, couldn’t add to its advantage and after a controversial call in the box, the Rams tied it up in the 30th minute, when senior Madison Michaud banged home a shot on an indirect kick.

Then, with just 51.5 seconds remaining before halftime, senior Brylee Bishop scored for a 2-1 Gorham lead and the visitors appeared to have all the momentum.

But the Red Storm proved that their heart and will are strong and with 25:14 to play, drew even, as sophomore playmaker Lana Djuranovic set up senior Evelyn Boardman for the equalizer.

Neither team could score the remainder of regulation, nor in 10 minutes of overtime and the Rams and Red Storm settled for a 2-2 draw.

Gorham is now 9-1-3 on the season, while Scarborough is 11-1-1.

“These are games that really matter,” said Red Storm coach Mike Farley. “A game like this will pay dividends for us down the road. It’s always tough to play a good team like Gorham. They have good players throughout their lineup.”

“This was a playoff atmosphere,” said longtime Rams coach Jeanne Zarrilli. “It’s good to play this well against Scarborough, at Scarborough, with their speed and skill.”

Lesson learned

The Red Storm started with an 8-1 win at Deering and a 4-0 home shutout of Biddeford. After edging host Thornton Academy, 1-0, Scarborough had its way with visiting Westbrook (17-1), host South Portland (6-1), host Portland (5-0), visiting Sanford (6-0) and visiting Massabesic (10-1). After a 2-0 win at Noble, the Red Storm downed host Kennebunk (5-1) and held off visiting Marshwood (2-1) before letting an early slip away in Monday’s 3-1 setback at Falmouth.

Gorham started with victories over Portland and Marshwood, settled for a 0-0 tie with Falmouth, then defeated Cheverus, Deeering and Biddeford before playing another scoreless tie versus Bonny Eagle. After beating Westbrook, the Rams suffered their first loss, 3-1, to Windham, then bounced back to defeat South Portland (Zarilli’s 300th victory as coach), Thornton Academy and Sanford.

A year ago, the teams played two defensive battles, setting for a 0-0 tie in Scarborough before Gorham won at home, 1-0.

Thursday, on another beautiful mid-October evening (66 degrees at kickoff), the Red Storm looked to beat the Rams for the first time since Oct. 12, 2018 (1-0 at home), but neither squad would come away with a victory.

Scarborough sophomore Lana Djuranovic races up the field with senior Gwen Diaz keeping her company during the Red Storm’s 2-2 tie Thursday versus Gorham. Hoffer photo.

Scarborough struck quickly, as with 37:46 to play in the first half, on the game’s first shot, Mokriski got the ball in the box from Bilodeau, and launched a shot past Gorham senior goalkeeper Rachel Gross for a 1-0 lead.

“We came out great, night and day compared with the other night,” Farley said.

“Scarborough was coming off a loss and came out without a lot of fire and we weren’t quite ready for it,” said Zarrilli.

The Red Storm had some great looks to double the lead, but senior Una Djuranovic fired a blast off the crossbar, senior Darby Stolz, who in the middle of the action all night, missed just wide and Boardman had a shot saved by Gross.

Gorham then went on the attack and after Scarborough junior keeper Savannah Beaulieu broke up a rush by junior Kathryn Gooch, Bishop shot wide and Beaulieu was able to beat freshman Ashley Connolly to a loose ball in the box.

Then, with just over 11 minutes left in the half, Connolly collided with a Red Storm defender near the goal and obstruction was called, giving the Rams an indirect kick from inside the box.

Rest assured that the call didn’t make Farley very happy, but it stood.

Scarborough built a wall, but it didn’t matter, as after a teammate touched the ball, Michaud rocketed a shot over the Red Storm defense and into the net to tie the score.

It appeared the contest would go to halftime tied, but with 51.5 seconds on the clock, the ball bounced off a Scarborough defender and a Gorham player in the box and squirted out to Bishop, who lofted a shot over Beaulieu and in for a stunning 2-1 halftime advantage.

The Red Storm had a 3-2 edge in shots on frame and a 3-0 advantage in corner kicks in the first half, but suddenly found themselves behind.

“We had a little letdown after that call,” Farley said. “Obviously, it was tough to deal with.”

With its season suddenly at a crossroads, Scarborough showed what it was made of in the second half.

Just four minutes in, Lana Djuranovic eluded a defender, then launched a 30 yard blast that Gross had no chance to save, but fortunately for the visitors, the ball hit the crossbar.

With 25:14 to play in regulation, the Red Storm did get the tying goal, as Lana Djuranovic got some room on the left side, drew the defense, then sent a perfect cross to Boardman on the right side of the box and Boardman just had to send the ball past Gross and into the goal to make it 2-2.

“I saw a huge gap in the defense and it was a perfect ball by (Lana),” Boardman said. “I just had to sink that one.”

“Unfortunately, we gave up a couple goals, then we were right back at it and getting the tying goal was big,” Farley said. “We got in behind and did a good job of getting chances.”

“You can’t let your guard down against (Scarborough) for a minute,” Zarrilli said. “That was a beautiful goal. It was a beautiful cross. I couldn’t get mad at that.”

Lana Djuranovic had a chance to put Scarborough back in the lead with 16:15 remaining, but her 20-yard left-footed blast was snared by Gross.

Down the stretch, the Rams had consecutive corners and the second resulted in a loose ball in the box which senior Leah Woodbury sent on target, but it deflected off a defender and didn’t find the target.

Time then ran out in regulation and the contest would go to overtime, where two five-minute “sudden victory” sessions would be held and if no one scored, the contest would end in a tie.

The Red Storm had the only chance in the first OT, but Mokriski was off-sides on a Lana Djuranovic feed.

Scarborough then got a corner kick early in the second overtime, but couldn’t convert.

Stolz then sent a long shot wide.

With 1:37 left, Mokriski’s rush was broken up at the last moment.

Mokriski then got one final look with time winding down, but Gross made the save and the contest ended, 2-2.

“We’re so motivated when we play a team like Gorham, one of our top rivals,” Boardman said. “We had a good pep talk at halftime and came out hard. We realized that we could have beaten Falmouth and we needed to show what Scarborough’s all about in this game. I think we definitely could have won, but a tie is OK.”

“Games against Gorham are always a battle,” Farley said. “It’s good because Falmouth and Gorham have pressed us in a way we haven’t been pressed yet and that will help us down the road. We have a young team, so we need that. We have young players in areas that are important. They need to be in these pressure-cooker situations.

“We have to do a better job winning 50-50 balls. Gorham’s always strong at that. They’re forceful around the center of the field and when they get the ball up top, they can beat you with speed and shoot from distance. They have a lot of athletes. We did a good job limiting chances and we defended hard. Everything was much cleaner tonight.”

Scarborough finished with a 9-5 advantage in shots on frame, a 5-4 edge in corner kicks and got three saves from Beaulieu.

Gorham got seven saves from Gross.

“We’ve needed to learn to play for 80 minutes and I think tonight, we played for 70 or 75, so that’s a big win for us,” said Zarrilli. “We’ve put things together all season. Windham was a big test that we didn’t pass, but this was a big test too.”

Playoffs will be fun

Both teams believe they’ll be a major factor when the postseason begins later this month.

Gorham is ranked third in the Class A Heal Points standings at press time. The Rams’ final game is at Noble Tuesday of next week.

“I think every game in playoffs will be a battle like this one,” said Zarrilli. “We have to maintain our composure. I’m hoping to finish second or third and avoid (top-ranked) Windham’s bracket.”

Scarborough (currently fourth in Class A South) finishes at home Tuesday versus Cheverus and has a chance to move up the standings.

“A game like this prepares us for playoffs,” Boardman said. “We have to come together as a team and be composed. Going back to basics is what we’ll strive for. We’ll come out strong for Cheverus.”

“For us, it’s about playing a consistent 80 minutes,” said Farley. “We always want to win, but we want to be consistent all the time.”

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

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