SANFORD—Three powerful feet plus four perfect shots added up to a surprisingly decisive victory for Scarborough’s girls’ soccer team against Gorham in the Class A South Final Tuesday evening at Sanford High School.

The top-ranked Red Storm got the only goal they would need in this battle of unbeatens in the game’s third minute when junior star Lana Djuranovic scored her latest highlight reel goal.

Senior standout Ali Mokriski then took center stage, blasting home a pair of nearly carbon copy strikes to make it 3-0 at halftime.

With Scarborough holding the second-seeded Rams’ attack at bay, senior captain Julia Black then iced it on a long free kick with 26 minutes remaining and Scarborough went on to a 4-0 victory.

The Red Storm stayed perfect at 17-0, handed Gorham its first loss in 17 outings and advanced to the Class A state final Saturday at a time to be announced at Deering High School in Portland where it will square off against Brunswick (15-0-2).

“It feels so good,” said Djuranovic. “We’ve worked so hard and we really showed what we can do today. I’m so proud of our team. When you keep the shots going, they just keep going in.”

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A rarity

It isn’t uncommon for one regional finalist to have an unblemished record, but it’s almost impossible for both teams to enter 16-0.

This fall, however, the Southwestern Maine Activities Association’s schedule didn’t have Gorham and Scarborough squaring off and both teams excelled.

The Red Storm ran the table with an 80-2 goals differential, then eliminated No. 9 Portland (4-0) in the quarterfinals, before ousting No. 5 Cheverus (2-1) in the semifinal round (see sidebar for links to previous stories).

Gorham ran roughshod over the competition as well, winning all 14 regular season games by a composite 75-6 margin before eliminating No. 7 Falmouth (2-0) in the quarterfinals and ending third-seeded Windham’s title reign (1-0) in the semifinal round.

The Rams and Red Storm had split six prior playoff meetings (see sidebar). The most recent came in the 2016 regional final, a 2-0 victory for the Rams.

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Tuesday, on a most comfortable first night of November (59 degrees at kickoff), Scarborough scored some memorable goals and advanced to the state game yet again.

The game’s first shot resulted in the first goal and it came on a play that began inauspiciously.

After the ball went out of bounds off Gorham, the Red Storm inbounded it and a throw from junior Avery Pettingill found Djuranovic moving away from the right sideline. Djuranovic ran after the bouncing ball, then lofted a shot from about 25 yards out that appeared destined to sail over the crossbar, but instead, it dropped behind Rams senior goalkeeper Katie Martin and bounced into the goal for a quick 1-0 advantage.

“Whenever I get a throw, I try to turn and do something useful with it,” said Djuranovic. “I just ripped it. I didn’t think it was going in, but I saw it hit the net.”

“That first goal was awesome,” said Black. “We started off strong.”

“That goal picked up our intensity,” Mokriski said. “Lana hyped us up. When she takes shots, we know we can all take shots.”

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“Hardly ever do you have a kid that athletic that can turn a throw into something like that,” added Red Storm coach Mike Farley. “(Lana) was big-time all day. She can do whatever she wants with the ball.”

Gorham roared right back and nearly tied the score, but seconds after Djuranovic scored, Scarborough sophomore goalkeeper Sophia Rinaldi robbed Rams sophomore Ashley Connolly on the doorstep, then after Connolly got the ball to senior Faith Connolly in the box, Rinaldi saved that shot too.

Mokriski then tried to extend the Red Storm’s lead, but she was stymied by a couple bids that missed wide, another that sailed just over the crossbar and another that was saved by Martin. Martin also dove to make a save on a shot from junior Talia Borelli and sophomore Delia Fravert barely missed as well.

Mokriski kept firing and would be rewarded twice in less than two minutes.

With 13:22 remaining before halftime, Mokriski got a pass from sophomore Emma Blanchette, took a couple touches to her left and while being hounded by two defenders, she lifted a shot over the defense and over Martin and in to make it 2-0.

“It’s hard to stay in the game when you keep missing or the goalie saves them, but Lana helped me stay in the game,” said Mokriski. “Having her next to me is helpful. I love playing with her. She just told me to keep shooting. I saw tons of space in the left corner. I drove by the outside back and shot it at the goal. I’m confident with my left foot.”

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After Martin saved a Djuranovic shot, Mokriski struck again with 11:30 left, as she shot from a little further out and this one sailed over Martin and went just inside the far post to extend the lead to 3-0.

“I thought the second one went over,” Mokriski said. “I was hard to see with my angle. It went in and that’s all that matters.”

“Ali’s incredible,” said Djuranovic. “I told her to keep shooting. She knows what she can do when she gets her left foot on the ball. She’s my role model. I just watch her score.”

“Ali got shut off four times in a row and she kept going at them,” added Farley. “If Ali and Lana play at a high level, and Delia up top too, she’s kind of an unsung hero, we get the ball into dangerous areas. Their goalkeeper was very aggressive on the front post, so we just took good shots. We had good attacking pressure the whole time. We won the ball in the midfield, we found Ali’s feet, found Delia’s feet, got them turned and got Lana in the gaps between their backs and midfield. We did just what we talked about and did it better than I ever imagined.”

Despite a seemingly comfortable lead, Scarborough didn’t take its foot off the gas pedal when the second half began and eventually got a fourth goal that ended all doubt.

First, Rinaldi robbed Ashley Connolly on the doorstep, then Faith Connolly couldn’t quite get to a feed from junior Kaitlyn Nichols in front.

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With 26:07 remaining, after a Gorham foul, the Red Storm earned a free kick from about 35 yards out Black did the honors.

Before she stepped to the ball, Farley told her to put a shot on frame and what a shot it was, a blast that sailed right into the net for a 4-0 advantage.

“Coach just told me to hit it low and hard and I was hoping it would go in,” Black said. “I knew I hit it well. I hadn’t been able to get a kick like that on target since last year.”

“Julia’s my best friend and I’m so ecstatic for her,” Djuranovic said. “That was just phenomenal. She’s such a great center-back and captain and I’m so glad she got that moment for herself.”

“We just came out for the second half as if it was 0-0,” said Mokriski. “The first half didn’t matter because Gorham could come back. They wanted to win just as much as we did. That shot was perfectly placed. She has a rocket. She kept getting closer this season and I knew one would go in one of these times.”

“We know that (Julia) can hit a ball from 50 yards and in,” Farley added. “Most of the time we have her loft balls in, but she can rip balls hard and she let it fly right into the goal.”

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Scarborough nearly got a fifth goal, but a shot from Fravert went off the post and a bid from sophomore Grace Carlista was saved by Martin.

The Rams had one final chance, but a long shot from senior Erin Lawrence was snared by Rinaldi.

The Red Storm then ran out the clock and at 8:21 p.m., celebrated their decisive 4-0 victory.

“We did a good job keeping pressure on, attacking them and keeping them out of our goal,” Djuranovic said.

“It’s really awesome,” said Black. “All season, this is what we’ve been going for. We came out strong and played hard for 80 minutes. We marked up and communicated really well and our back line is really fast.”

“We just really wanted it,” Mokriski said. “We knew it would be a tough game, so we knew we had to come out with the most intensity we’ve had all year and I think it paid off.”

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“Gorham’s a great team, so for us to get on top of them like that just shows that we played well,” Farley added. “I don’t think they played poorly. We were just ultra-aggressive attacking them and getting balls to the back post area. We knew their forwards were really good attacking and our backs held up well. They’re talented, but we withstood their pressure. I was scared of their forwards because they get after you. When you don’t play fast, they’re on you right away. To shut them out just shows how good we can be defensively.”

Scarborough finished with a 12-5 advantage in shots on frame and got five saves from Rinaldi.

Gorham had a 3-2 edge in corner kicks and got eight saves from Martin.

“That’s one of the best Scarborough teams I’ve ever seen, said longtime Gorham coach Jeanne Zarrilli. “They came at us quickly and we had to work to try to bounce back. That was a tough one for us after such a successful season.”

Another chance

Since winning its last Gold Ball in 2012, Scarborough has lost three times by a goal to Camden Hills on the big stage, 3-2 in 2017, 1-0 in 2018 and 2-1 in 2019.

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This time around, the Red Storm will draw Brunswick in the state final. The Dragons, who lost to Windham in last year’s state final, defeated Camden Hills, 5-1, in the Class A North Final Tuesday.

Scarborough and Brunswick didn’t play this season and have no playoff history.

The Red Storm will be seeking their their fifth Gold Ball Saturday and after the way they played in the regional final, it’s hard to see anyone keeping them from their date with destiny.

“This year is our year,” Black said. “I think we’ll be ready. We just have to do our thing.”

“We just have to do what we did today, score early and keep it going,” said Djuranovic.

“I’m so excited,” Mokriski said. “The high intensity games are so exciting. Our team is really close. We’ll be in it together and we’ll help each other out during pressure times. I think we just need to give it our all and walk off the field with no regrets.”

“We have a motivation,” Farley added. “Hopefully we have one more in us.”

Press Herald staff writer Travis Lazarczyk contributed to this story.

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

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