SCARBOROUGH—If Saturday’s regular season-opening showdown was any indication, Class A South boys’ soccer is going to be as competitive and entertaining as predicted.

If not even more so.

Scarborough hosted Portland on its new turf field at the Kippy Mitchell Sports Complex in a battle of two of the most highly-touted teams in the region and what ensued what 80 memorable minutes and after a series of near-misses, just one goal that made the slimmest of a difference.

The Red Storm had their chances in the first half, none better than when junior Kilson Joao hit the underside of the crossbar, but the game remained scoreless at the break.

Each team had opportunities in the second half as well and after Bulldogs senior goalkeeper Ben Littell twice made diving saves, including one to rob Joao, it appeared the contest was heading to overtime.

But with 5:35 remaining, Joao got another chance and this time he wouldn’t be denied.


Portland couldn’t counter and Scarborough held on for a 1-0 victory.

The Red Storm started the season victorious for the third straight season and the Bulldogs left the pitch with ample reason to feel good about their chances going forward as well.

“This was a good challenge for us, a good opener,” said longtime Scarborough coach Mark Diaz, after his 297th career victory. “We got some questions answered. Portland worked really hard. I just like the way we stayed positive and stayed together as a group.”

Round one

Portland and Scarborough enter the new season full of optimism and for good reason.

The Bulldogs have a senior-laden roster and after a 10-6 campaign, which ended with a 3-2 loss to Windham in the Class A South quarterfinals, believe they can play with anyone thanks to their skill and depth.


The Red Storm, meanwhile, went 13-3 a year ago, dropping a heartbreaking Class A South quarterfinal to Gorham (2-1, 8-7 on penalty kicks), but even after some key players departed (most notably standout Zander Haskell), Scarborough still has ample talent in reserve.

Last fall, senior Parker Killiard scored in overtime to give the host Red Storm a thrilling 2-1 victory.

Entering the game, Scarborough had gone 16-6-2 all-time (including a 4-2 postseason mark) against Portland, even though the Bulldogs won the first two meetings (see below for previous results).

Saturday, on a beautiful early September day (70 degrees), there was little separation between the powers and it took quite awhile for the Red Storm to get the contest’s lone tally.

Scarborough junior Dillon McLeod races into the offensive zone as Portland junior Ford Myers keeps watch during Saturday’s showdown won by the Red Storm, 1-0. Hoffer photos.

The tone was set in the fifth minute, when Joao took a pass from senior Jack Moreau and raced down the left flank. Littell came out to cut off the angle, but Joao fired the ball past him. Unfortunately for the hosts, and fortunately for the visitors, the ball rang off the bottom of the crossbar, keeping the contest scoreless.

After Scarborough senior Will Fallona and junior Dillon MacLeod each missed wide, Joao headed a throw from Killiard on frame, but Littell made the save.


Portland’s first shot on frame came in the 13th minute, a long bid from senior Jack Fink, which Scarborough keeper Nicholas Ouellette saved.

After senior Brady Toher missed just wide for the Bulldogs and senior Jett Badger did the same for the Red Storm, junior Charlie Howe had a one-timer for Portland, which Ouellette denied.

Ouellette then booted the ball all the way downfield (with some help from the wind) and Joao ran it down. Joao had another good look, but this time shot just high, denying the goalie a rare assist.

“We were a little too charged up,” said Diaz. “We could have finished, but didn’t. We’ll clean it up and get better at that.”

Late in the half, Fallona headed Killiard’s feed just high and in the final minute, senior Nicky Paterniti nearly gave the Bulldogs the jump, but Ouellette dove to make a tremendous save, sending the contest to intermission deadlocked, 0-0.

Portland had a 3-2 edge in shots on frame and a 2-0 advantage in corner kicks in the first 40 minutes, but couldn’t capitalize.


The game remained taut in the second half and it became clear that one goal would be the difference.

Portland senior Kosta Nedeljkovic pushes forward as Scarborough senior Ashton Blanchette defends.

Early on, Paterniti missed wide and Joao fired a low shot that Littell saved.

Midway through the second half, Paterniti had a long blast saved by Ouellette, then Scarborough earned consecutive golden scoring opportunities, only to come up empty.

With 12:40 left, Joao took a pass from freshman Sandro Kaumba and went one-on-one with Littell, but the keeper dove to make a highlight reel save.

Kaumba then had a chance a minute later, taking a pass from Joao and having a great look, but Littell made the stop and though he bobbled the ball, he soon recovered.

At the other end, Portland sophomore Paolo Joao then had a shot saved by Ouellette before his bicycle kick bid sailed just wide.


With 7:30 to play, junior Max Kierstead nearly put the Bulldogs on top, but Ouellette leaped at the last moment and tipped the ball over the bar.

“I like being in that spot,” Ouellette said. “I try to keep a calm head and focus. It’s amazing to make those saves. We practice that in practice. There’s not a thought that goes through my head. It’s all instinct.”

Portland’s ensuing corner kick didn’t result in a shot.

After Kaumba hit the side netting with Littell out of the play, the Red Storm finally struck.

It would be Kilson Joao doing the honors, winning the ball up top, finding some room and firing a shot from about 10 yards out which Littell dove and got a hand on, but he couldn’t keep it out of the net.

“I just kept going and going because I knew I could do better,” Joao said. “I got the ball in front and wondered if I should pass it, but I decided to take it and it went in. It was a nice strike. It felt very good.”


“Kilson deserved that,” Diaz said. “He buried it. I was happy for him.”

“It was scary from my angle,” said longtime Portland coach Rocco Frenzilli. “He just went in and I was thinking, ‘Where are we?'”

With 5;35 to play, Scarborough had a 1-0 advantage.

The Bulldogs fought hard for the equalizer and had a couple late looks.

First, with 2:55 to go, senior Oliver Hettenbach took a free kick from 35 yards away, but sailed it high.

Then, with 1:25 remaining, a pass from junior Brandon Chacon was deflected in front, but Ouellette pounced on it.


The Red Storm were able to clear one final Portland rush and at 1:06 p.m., celebrated their hard-fought 1-0 triumph.

Scarborough senior goalkeeper Nicholas Ouellette is congratulated at the final horn of the Red Storm’s 1-0 victory.

“We knew they were a great team and we had to match them,” said Ouellette. “This is how we’re going to match up with every team.”

Ouellette stood tall with seven critical saves.

“Nick’s a natural,” Joao said.

“Nick played well,” Diaz said. “He’s been in these situations, so having him there really helps.”

The Bulldogs had an 8-7 shots advantage, got seven saves from Littell and had a 3-0 edge in corner kicks, but never could find the net.


“We lost a lot of goals from last year,” Frenzilli said. “We’ll tweak the offense. We have dangerous guys. We’ll see who steps up.

“This was a playoff atmosphere. This was a microcosm of what our season will be like. I’m just proud of the way the kids competed. Scarborough’s a great team. Even after the goal, the kids came back.”

Long road ahead

Portland seeks to get back on the right track Wednesday when it hosts reigning Class A state champion Marshwood.

“We’re going to build on this,” Frenzilli said. “We just have to stay focused and play together and move the ball around. Now we get a chance to host the state champs. It’ll be fun.”

Scarborough, meanwhile, travels to Westbrook Wednesday.

“It doesn’t matter who’s left the team,” Joao said. “We have some great kids and potential to win games.”

“We have a lot of pride, “said Ouellette. “We’re so close as a team. Our chemistry is phenomenal. We’ll take one game at a time, but what I want most is to get Scarborough back to the top.”

“There’s going to be a lot of these games,” added Diaz. “A lot of 1-0, 2-1 games. We have to get better with our ball movement and we have to connect better up top.”

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

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