SCARBOROUGH—Third-ranked Scarborough led for much of Thursday evening’s Class A South quarterfinal round field hockey game at the Kippy Mitchell Sports Complex, but not when it mattered most.

That’s because the sixth-seeded Windham Eagles saved their best for last.

And as a result, live to play another day, while the Red Storm’s season has come to a stunning, disappointing conclusion.

Scarborough, which last played a countable game two weeks ago, started fast and took the lead midway through the first quarter when senior Ayden Harris scored on a rebound.

The Red Storm held a 1-0 advantage into the halftime break, but midway through the third period, the Eagles drew even, as senior Hannah Heanssler set up sophomore Zoe Dries for a goal.

But Scarborough roared right back, as Harris scored for a second time, and the Red Storm carried a 2-1 lead into the fourth quarter.


Where Windham struck twice.

With 8:09 left in regulation, Heanssler tied it.

Then, with just 2:05 on the clock, off a penalty corner, Dries set up senior Ella Wilcox for the go-ahead tally.

Scarborough couldn’t respond and the Eagles held on to prevail, 3-2.

Windham improved to 10-5, advanced to host No. 7 Gorham (10-5-1) Saturday at 2 p.m. in the semifinals and in the process, ended Scarborough’s fine season at 12-3.

“It’s absolutely devastating,” said longtime Red Storm coach Kerry Mariello. “It always stings to lose in the playoffs. It was a back-and-forth type of game and they capitalized on one extra goal and unfortunately, we didn’t.”


Uphill climb

Scarborough and Windham, along with the rest of the Class A South, have been chasing defending champion Cheverus all season to no avail, but the Red Storm and Eagles came into play hopeful of getting another shot at the Stags later in the playoffs.

Scarborough got off to a fast start this season, opening with victories at Gorham (2-1, in double-overtime), at home over Massabesic (9-0) and Sanford (8-1) and at South Portland/Westbrook (6-0). After losing a tough one at Biddeford (1-0), the Red Storm had no answers for visiting Cheverus in a 6-0 loss, but ran the table from there, defeating host Noble (1-0), visiting Kennebunk (5-0), host Marshwood in double-overtime (2-1), visiting Portland/Deering (11-0), host Falmouth (2-0), host Thornton Academy (1-0), visiting Windham (4-3) and host Bonny Eagle (5-0) to wind up third in the region.

Windham, meanwhile, lost its first three games and was 1-4 at one juncture, then rattled off seven wins in a row before a one-goal loss at Scarborough. The Eagles closed with a victory over Thornton Academy and took the No. 6 seed into the postseason.

In the teams’ regular season meeting Oct. 11, senior Stella Grondin, junior Emma Lally and senior Daisy Stone scored for the Red Storm, while Heanssler had two goals and Dries scored the other for Windham, but in the fourth quarter, Harris set up junior Maggie Pendergast to give Scarborough a narrow 4-3 victory.

The teams had met just once previously in the playoffs and it was memorable. In the 2011 Western A quarterfinals, a game played in a steady rainfall, the upstart Eagles shocked the top-ranked Red Storm in a game that needed 11 rounds of penalty corners to determine a winner after no one scored in 60 minutes of regulation or 16 minutes of overtime.


The teams were scheduled to play Tuesday, but en route to Scarborough, Windham’s bus was involved in a serious accident in which a motorcyclist was killed and as a result, the game was pushed back.

“We just had to stay together as a team,” said Wilcox. “We were in a low mindset that day, but we’ve worked together the past couple days.”

“We took yesterday to just come together as a team,” said Eagles coach Cory Didonato. “We didn’t really focus on field hockey, more on getting in a good head space. As horrible as the week was, we were there for each other.”

Thursday, on a comfortable late-October evening, which saw the temperature read 61 degrees at the start, but dip into the lower 50s, the Red Storm appeared at times to have the game in hand, but the Eagles had other ideas.

Scarborough showed no rust in the first period, outshooting Windham, 4-0, and earning three penalty corners to the Eagles’ none.

Harris had an early shot saved by Windham senior goalie Emma Theriault, but with 8:32 to go, off a corner, while Theriault was able to stop an initial shot from Stone, Harris was there to bang home the rebound for a quick 1-0 lead.


Lally then threatened to double the lead, but missed just wide.

Neither team scored in the second period, but both had chances.

Wilcox took a shot off a corner which Red Storm junior goalie Jamila Mohammed saved and after Theriault robbed Stone on the doorstep, Mohammed denied Dries on a breakaway.

Down the stretch, senior Anjali Bhatnagar and Stone tried to extend the lead, but Theriault saved both chances and the Eagles, despite being outshot, 7-2, were only down by a 1-0 margin at the break.

Windham came out strong in the second half and with 7:51 left in the third quarter, pulled even, as Heanssler made a nice rush up the right side, then crossed the ball in front where Dries one-timed it past Mohammed.

It took Scarborough all of 76 seconds to answer, as after a Bhatnagar cross to Grondin was broken up, Grondin got the ball and fed Harris, who swept a shot into the cage to put the Red Storm back in the lead, 2-1.


The Eagles had six penalty corners in the frame, but couldn’t score on any of them, including one after time had expired, which the Scarborough defense cleared.

Early in the fourth quarter, the Red Storm looked for an insurance goal, but Theriault dove to rob Bhatnagar and Grondin missed just wide on a penalty corner.

At the other end, senior Emma Morrison missed just wide for the visitors.

Then, with 8:09 left, after Scarborough couldn’t clear the ball, Heanssler pounced on it and ripped a shot that Mohammed couldn’t stop and just like that, the contest was tied, 2-2.

“Hannah’s so fast, so skilled,” Didonato said.

The Red Storm weren’t able to muster another shot and with 2:05 remaining, Windham struck again to go ahead.


Off a corner, Dries attempted a shot which was blocked, but she got the ball back and fed Wilcox, who sent it into the cage.

“We had to change up the strategy on corners a little bit,” Wilcox said. “Before, I was a the top of the circle, but I pushed my way in. You have to be aggressive. You have to want it. Zoe shot the ball and they deflected it out. Zoe got it again, hit it to me and I knocked it in.”

“Ella is my star defender and she scored the winning goal,” said Didonato. “She’s tall and strong and her job was to tip it in if she could and she did.”

Mariello called timeout hoping to inspire a dramatic comeback and while Scarborough did earn a penalty corner with 25 seconds left, it didn’t result in a shot and time soon ran out, allowing the Eagles to celebrate their 3-2 upset victory.

“It feels pretty amazing,” Wilcox said. “It was a team effort. It was stressful to hold them off, but we did it.”

“It’s a big win,” Didonato said. “It feels really good. We’ve had some come-from-behind wins this year. Being behind spurs the girls and makes them want to win more. They thrive under that pressure.”


Theriault made eight key saves for Windham, which finished with a 10-7 edge in penalty corners.

In addition to winning a thriller over a longtime nemesis, the Eagles now get to play into the semifinals, at home.

Windham lost at Gorham, 4-2, back on Sept. 9, but it is ready to keep its run going.

“We’re excited to play Gorham again,” said Wilcox. “We had a tough game last time, but we’ll work hard. We never give up.”

“We’re a different team than we were,” Didonato said. “We’re stronger, better and faster. I’m excited.”

Sudden end


Scarborough had a 10-7 edge in shots and got four saves from Mohammed, but fell just short.

“We had our chances,” Mariello lamented. “It felt like we controlled the tempo and possession a lot of the time. We just couldn’t hold it. They outwilled us at the end. They’re a great team that works well together and they executed when it matters. Windham’s been through a lot and it’s hard not to root for them.

“This league was extremely strong this year. I’m happy with how we played this season. We had a great group. We had great moments.”

Graduation will hit the Red Storm hard, but expect Scarborough to be a top contender again in 2023.

“We lose 10 seniors and it’s going to be hard to fill those spots,” Mariello said. “I’m excited for the girls knowing they’ll do great things in their future.”

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

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