SANFORD—Scarborough’s boys’ soccer team ran the gamut of emotions Tuesday evening in the Class A South Final against Windham at Sanford High School, but the ultimate feeling was one of exhilaration and relief.

The top-seeded Red Storm took the lead late in the first half on a goal from senior Jack Moreau and held it until just 2:57 remained in regulation, when the surging, sixth-ranked Eagles drew even on a goal from sophomore Sam Rogers.

With its season and championship dreams hanging in the balance, Scarborough then rose off the deck and after each team had a golden chance to advance just miss, the Red Storm got a break with 2:21 to play in the first of a possible two 15-minute, “sudden victory” overtimes.

Off a failed clear from the goalkeeper which bounced off a defender, the ball landed at the feet of junior Kilson Joao and Joao buried a shot to give Scarborough an inspirational 2-1 victory.

The Red Storm improved to 16-1, ended Windham’s season at 13-5, won a regional title for the first time in seven years and will vie for its first Gold Ball since 2013 Saturday at a time to be announced at Deering High School against reigning Class A North champion Brunswick (13-3-1)

“It feels so good,” said Moreau. “We wanted to win it in regulation, but when it went into overtime, we put it in a different gear and just wanted it more in the end. It feels so great to go to states. In the past, we’ve had good squads and came close. This year, we were motivated to go the extra mile and get there.”

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Long time coming

From 2003 through 2015, Scarborough made it to the regional final 11 times, reached the state game on eight occasions and took home five Class A Gold Balls. Despite having good teams since, the Red Storm hadn’t been able to play into the season’s final week, until now.

Scarborough passed every test but one in the regular season (see sidebar, for links to previous stories), then held off No. 9 Falmouth (2-1) in the quarterfinals and blanked No. 4 Gorham (2-0) in the semifinals.

Windham, meanwhile, overcame a 2-4 start to the year, posted a 10-4 mark in the regular season and wasn’t viewed as a favorite coming into the postseason, but the Eagles eliminated No. 11 Thornton Academy in double-overtime (2-1) in the preliminary round before upsetting No. 3 Marshwood (1-0) on penalty kicks in the quarterfinals and blanking No. 2 Deering (1-0) in the semifinals.

Scarborough blanked visiting Windham, 2-0, back on Sept. 9, as senior Will Fallona scored both goals.

The Red Storm were 2-1 all-time versus the Eagles in the playoffs, with a 1-0 loss in the 2011 Western A Final the most recent.

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Monday, on a pleasantly warm day (63 degrees at kickoff with intermittent rain falling and even a rainbow making an appearance), the teams went to overtime again, where Scarborough simply wouldn’t be denied.

Defense ruled the first half, as there were few chances either way, until the Red Storm got the jump late.

The game’s first shot came from Fallona in the third minute, but it went wide.

The first shot on frame came four minutes later, but Windham sophomore goalkeeper Lukas Hammond denied senior Parker Killiard.

In the 15th minute, Fallona won the ball up top and appeared primed to take a promising shot, but his blast was inadvertently blocked by Joao.

The Eagles then had a couple great chances to strike first, but a cross from junior Nick Marion skidded off the post and off a corner kick, senior Tyler Johnsen got a great look, but Red Storm senior keeper Nick Ouellette, dove to make the save and a rebound bid from Marion was blocked.

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In the 33rd minute, senior Ben LaWind set up Marion for a header which rolled inches wide of the goal, then sophomore Luke Cunniffe ripped a shot just wide.

Then, with 4:10 on the first half clock, Scarborough broke through.

Fallona took a pass from senior Ethan Blanche and managed to get off a low blast which Hammond dove andsaved, but the rebound squirted free to Moreau waiting by the left post and he headed the ball into the net for a 1-0 advantage.

“I saw Will was going to shoot and I know Will, he’ll hit a bullet every time, so I knew the keeper would fumble it and it fell perfectly for me,” said Moreau.

The Red Storm held a one-goal lead at halftime and for much of the second half, they appeared on their way to victory, until Windham turned the game on its ear.

Scarborough had several solid chances to extend its lead in the second half, but Fallona just missed on a low shot, Hammond beat Joao to a cross from Moreau, sophomore Matt Fallona forced Hammond to dive to make a save, a free kick from senior Jett Badger came to classmate Ashton Blanchette at the far post and his shot caused Hammond to dive again to make the stop, Hammond punched out a long free kick from Killiard and Hammond broke up a rush from Will Fallona before punching away a follow-up shot from junior Dillon MacLeod.

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The Eagles then earned a corner kick with just over three minutes remaining and before Scarborough’s defense could set up, Johnsen passed the ball to Rogers, who dribbled into the left side of the box, then ripped a low shot just inside the far post that a diving Ouellette couldn’t stop and with 2:57 remaining in regulation, shockingly, the contest was deadlocked, 1-1.

“They got us with the early corner,” said Moreau. “The kid hit a laser and it skipped too. It was a really good shot.”

“It’s hard to hear out here,” said longtime Red Storm coach Mark Diaz. “We were shouting instructions and I’m not sure if everybody heard what was going on. There was some confusion and credit to (the Eagles). They ran a good play and got a good shot off.”

Scarborough had one more chance in regulation to win it, but a Joao cross was headed wide by Will Fallona and the contest went to overtime.

During the five-minute break between regulation and the first OT, the Red Storm weren’t downcast, but instead regrouped and returned to the pitch confident.

“We knew we were dominant in the second half, so we knew we just had to come out and play like that and (the winner) would come,” Moreau said.

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“There was no panic going into overtime,” Diaz said.

With a state game berth hanging in the balance, both teams came out hungry and didn’t sit back, providing the fans on hand with several thrills before the game suddenly came to an end.

Early in OT, a Will Fallona rush was broken up by LaWind, Moreau took a pass from MacLeod and fired a shot which Hammond saved, then Moreau got the rebound and tried again, but Hammond again made the stop.

After a corner kick serve from MacLeod to Blanchette at the far post was just out of reach, LaWind put a shot on frame for the Eagles which Ouellette bobbled, then grasped.

With 7:42 left, Windham came within inches of winning it, when Cunniffe fired a rising shot from 30 yards that appeared ticketed for the upper 90, but Ouellette leaped at the last second and tipped the shot off the crossbar to keep the game going.

“(Nick) just got a piece of that one,” Diaz said. “That save was big.”

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At the other end, with 5:57 on the clock, Moreau had his chance to end it with a 25-yard rocket heading for the upper left corner, but Hammond managed to tip the ball out at the last instant for a corner kick.

“That was a great save from the keeper,” said Moreau.

After Joao missed just wide, the Eagles had one final chance, earning a 30-yard free kick with 3:15 on the clock, but junior Connor LeClerc played the ball short to Johnsen instead of driving it into the box and Windham couldn’t muster a shot.

Scarborough then transitioned and ended the game in a stunning turn of events.

MacLeod got the ball to Will Fallona, who sent it on net, but Hammond made the save.

Hammond then tried to throw the ball up the middle of the field, but to the Eagles’ horror, it instead deflected off a defender and came right to Joao and with 2:21 remaining in overtime, Joao turned and one-timed the ball into the empty net to win it 2-1.

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“(The goalie) threw it and it bounced off his defender and I was there,” Joao said. “It was a gift. An easy goal. I had to finish it and I did. I just have the mindset that no one was going to stop me.”

“I almost turned around to run back, but I knew Kilson would work for it,” said Moreau. “Credit to Kilson for being locked in the whole time and taking that chance.”

“Our pressure had a lot to do with it,” Diaz added. “I didn’t see exactly what happened. The ball got deflected and then Kilson put it in. He works so hard.”

At 5:52 p.m., Scarborough’s regional championship celebration began.

“It feels so great,” said Joao. “That was amazing. We always focus on winning. We just had to keep working hard. We just had to keep pressuring. We’re a hard-working team and we have talent.”

“When I saw Kilson there, I started to celebrate,” said Moreau. “We were all cramping and tired, but when you win, it all goes away. It was all adrenaline and joy. We’re all glad we could win it.”

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“We knew it would be a tough game,” Diaz added. “Give the kids credit for getting it done. I thought we played really well in the second half and we played well again in the overtime. I thought the kids worked hard enough to get this victory today. I’m really proud of their effort. We knew how tough they are to score against. Their keeper made some great saves and they played really hard. It was a well-fought game. Both teams were classy. My guys have been fighting all year and I knew they’d fight and they did. I thought we played better in OT than we did in (regulation). We moved the ball really well.”

Scarborough finished with a 13-3 advantage in shots on frame, got two saves from Ouellette and had a 5-4 edge in corner kicks.

Hammond made 11 saves for Windham, which had its win streak snapped at 11 games at the most inopportune time.

“It hurts bad but I’m very proud of the team, what we accomplished this year,” said LaWind. “We made it so far. Went through a lot of adversity and people getting a lot of injuries. We did the best we could.”

“I don’t want to focus on one particular moment,” said Windham coach Jeff Neal. “You win as a team. You lose as a team. I want to focus on the fact that the kids battled all year long and Lukas made some ridiculous saves. We wouldn’t have even been at that point in the game.”

One more hurdle

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Brunswick, the reigning Class A North champion, which lost a heartbreaker to Marshwood in last year’s state game, advanced Tuesday with a surprisingly decisive 6-0 win over Lewiston in its regional final.

The Dragons and Red Storm didn’t meet during the regular season.

Scarborough is 3-0 all-time versus Brunswick in the playoffs, with a 2-1 win in the 2009 Class A state final the most recent encounter.

Slaying the Dragons again won’t come easily, but the Red Storm will give it all they’ve got.

One final time.

“We’re going to be so hungry for the final,” said Moreau. “We know Brunswick’s a great team. We know we’ll have to go up another gear to give them the competition.”

“I’m really happy for the kids,” Diaz said. “There’s so much parity in our league. If you get to this point, you’ve beaten three good teams to do it. We have to play the way we did during the second half and overtime today. Brunswick’s a good team and they’ve been there and they know what it’s like.

“It’s going to be a challenge.”

Press Herald staff writer Steve Craig contributed to this story.

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

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