PORTLAND—So far this autumn, discussion about the best teams in Class A boys’ soccer has centered around the likes of Windham, Portland, Gorham and Deering.

But it looks like the defending regional champions are none too happy to not be part of that discussion and like so many times before, is doing something about it.

Friday afternoon at Boulos Stadium, the Scarborough Red Storm, who fell one goal shy of a championship in 2022, continued their late-season surge with an impressive display of offense against the plucky, host Cheverus Stags.

The Stags staggered the Red Storm in the fifth minute, when senior Shane McGrath scored on a penalty kick, but Scarborough roared back, scoring three times in 11 minutes, with junior Matt Fallona producing the tying goal before senior Kilson Joao found the net twice for a seemingly safe 3-1 advantage.

But the wild first half continued with Cheverus getting a second goal from McGrath before junior Anselm Arbogast tied it up with 3:24 remaining.

If that wasn’t enough offense, with just 48.3 seconds showing, senior Dillon MacLeod served in a corner kick and senior Kevine Paulino headed it home to finally put the Red Storm ahead to stay.


Early in the second half, junior Cooper Mallar added some breathing room with a highlight reel finish, then Joao ended all doubt with his third goal, with 11:30 left in regulation, and Scarborough went on to a 6-3 victory.

The Red Storm’s fourth consecutive victory lifted their record to 7-3-1 on the season and in the process, they dropped the Stags to 4-7.

“We got rattled a little off the first goal, then we settled down and things went our way,” said longtime Scarborough coach Mark Diaz. “It was a learning experience. We responded. I give credit to my guys. Offensively, we played really well and in the second half, we really locked it down.”

It takes time

Scarborough was the team to beat in 2022 when it won the regional title and fell a goal short of a Gold Ball, but after losing some key players to graduation, this year’s squad needed some seasoning and there have been some speed bumps before the recent surge.

The Red Storm started with a 0-0 draw at South Portland, then beat visiting Bonny Eagle (5-0), before losing at home to Windham (3-1). Scarborough then fell at Kennebunk (1-0), before beating visiting Sanford (7-0) and host Marshwood (5-1). After a 3-0 home loss to Portland, the Red Storm turned the corner for good, blanking visiting Falmouth (4-0), earning a hard-fought 1-0 victory at Deering, then shutting out host Thornton Academy (4-0) Tuesday.


“I really thought we played well (against Portland),” said Diaz. “It just didn’t show on the (score) board. We never stopped fighting in that game. That’s when I thought we could do some things.”

Cheverus, under new coach Ben Schulz, started with losses at Marshwood (4-1) and Deering (5-3), then blanked visiting Thornton Academy (3-0). After a 5-1 setback at Bonny Eagle, the Stags edged visiting Massabesic in an overtime thriller (5-4) before falling at Windham (4-0), at home to Westbrook (4-3) and at home to Gorham (2-0). Cheverus then won back-to-back games for the first time, 3-2 at Biddeford and 7-1 at Noble.

The teams didn’t meet in 2022. Two years ago, Scarborough won in overtime in Portland, 3-2.

Friday, on a misty but otherwise pleasant afternoon (63 degrees at the start), the Stags looked to beat the Red Storm for the first time since Oct. 4, 2018 (1-0, on the road), but instead, Scarborough continued to play winning soccer.

Cheverus freshman Ange-Michel Liwanga tries to get past Scarborough senior Freddy Uzzi during the Red Storm’s 6-3 victory Friday. Hoffer photos.

In the game’s first two minutes, the Red Storm had a couple chances, but Stags freshman goalkeeper Griffin MacLeod denied Joao and collected the rebound with Mallar bearing down, then junior Dillon Grant headed a throw from senior Zakary Sanders just high.

Cheverus’ first offensive foray then led to the game’s first goal, as with 35:18 remaining in the first half, after a Scarborough hand ball in the box, the Stags was awarded a penalty kick and McGrath did the honors.


With Red Storm junior goalkeeper Seamus Corry guessing incorrectly by diving to his right, McGrath went the other way and easily sent the ball into the net for a 1-0 advantage.

Cheverus senior Shane McGrath scores the game’s first goal, beating Scarborough junior goalkeeper Seamus Corry with a penalty kick.

The visitors tried to respond, but were initially flustered, as after Mallar headed a cross from Dillon MacLeod just wide, Griffin MacLeod dove to rob Dillon MacLeod, his brother, on a free kick and sophomore Carter Blanche pounded the rebound off the post.

“It was interesting playing against my brother, especially when he saved my shot,” Dillon MacLeod said. “I wanted to score on him pretty badly. I think he did well today. He had to face a lot of shots.”

With 26:50 left in the half, Dillon MacLeod sent a free kick in from the left side of the box and Paulino got his head on it, but Griffin MacLeod dove to make the save.

Scarborough got a corner kick out of it, however, and struck 37 seconds later, as sophomore Brady Moreau played the ball in and Fallona headed it in by the near post to make it 1-1.

After senior Anton Behuniak and freshman Ange-Michel Liwanga were off-target on looks to put the Stags back in the lead, the Red Storm went on top with 19:31 on the clock, as Joao worked to get the ball in a dangerous spot, then finished with his left foot.


“Coach told me to get in there and get a goal and everything would be just fine and that’s what I did,” Joao said.

With 15:19 remaining in the half, Joao struck again, as he ran down a long feed from Dillon MacLeod, and one-timed the ball past Griffin MacLeod to make it 3-1.

But the fun was just beginning.

Back roared Cheverus, as off a Behuniak corner kick, Corry punched the ball out, but it came back to McGrath and with Corry out of position, McGrath was able to finish to pull his team within one with 10:34 to go.

Then, with 3:24 left, off a corner, Behuniak’s serve found Arbogast at the far post and Arbogast got the ball into the net to tie it up.

But not for long.


With 48.3 seconds remaining before the break, the Red Storm earned a corner kick and Paulino was waiting for Dillon MacLeod’s serve at the far post and he headed it home to put Scarborough ahead for good, 4-3.

“Set pieces are a strength for us,” MacLeod said. “I can’t give away my secrets, but I’m looking for whoever is open.”

“‘D-Mac’ got us going,” said Diaz. “He’s a great ball-striker. We didn’t have him for a couple weeks there so it’s great to have him back.”

The Red Storm had an 11-5 edge in shots on frame in the first half, but Griffin MacLeod’s seven saves and the Stags’ ability to take advantage of offensive opportunities kept the game close.

The scoring would settle down a bit in the second half, but it took Scarborough awhile to completely put the game away.

Cheverus junior Henry Huntley boots the ball away from Scarborough sophomore Carter Blanche.

With 35:27 to go in regulation, the Red Storm got an insurance goal, as Grant raced down the right side, then sent the ball in front, where Mallar came sliding out of nowhere and redirected it into the net to make it 5-3.


After Griffin MacLeod kept his team alive by robbing Peterson on a header, Cheverus nearly pulled within one again, as Behuniak got just enough room to spin and fire a left-footed shot, but Corry dove to make a critical save.

“If their keeper didn’t make an amazing save, all of a sudden it’s a one-goal game and we’re right back in it,” Schulz said.

Scarborough ended all doubt with 11:30 on the clock, as Joao showed off his individual brilliance, lofting a floater into the net with his left foot while falling to the pitch.

“I don’t know what happened,” Joao said. “I just got the ball, shot the ball and it went in. I was so happy. Give me the ball and I’m going to score.”

“Kilson got in a rhythm there and he could have had a couple more,” Diaz said. “He was the difference today. I thought he played really well.”

Down the stretch, Griffin MacLeod twice robbed Peterson and the Stags couldn’t generate any more chances as the Red Storm went on to a 6-3 victory.


“We’re a really young team and we needed some time to wake up,” Dillon MacLeod said. “We know can play with anybody.”

Scarborough wound up with a 16-7 advantage in shots on frame, got four saves from Corry and took eight corner kicks to Cheverus’ two.

Griffin MacLeod made 10 saves for the Stags.

“We’re super-young,” said Schulz. “We’re playing five freshmen at a time, but we don’t quit. We’ve played a lot of teams tough and I think we played Scarborough tough most of the game. It’s just tracking back and finding marks on set pieces. This team’s got heart and as a first-year coach, that’s all I can ask, that we don’t quit and keep on playing.”

Playoffs loom

Cheverus is 11th in the Class A South Heal Points standings at press time (12 teams qualify from the region) and hopes to finish strong to make the playoffs for the sixth consecutive year. The Stags welcome Falmouth Monday, go to Sanford next Thursday, then close at home versus Deering Oct. 17.


“It’s going to be a process, but we’re confident we’re heading in the right direction as a program,” said Schulz. “We have freshmen playing in key spots in big games and they’re holding their own, so we’re really excited about the future and what we have. If we can sneak into the playoffs, I wouldn’t want to play us because we can give teams fits. If we can put each game together, we’ll see what happens. It’s all about Falmouth Monday. We can’t really look to far ahead with this much youth. If we talk about two weeks from now, it might as well be 2030.”

Scarborough (now fifth in Class A South) has home games next week versus Westbrook and South Portland, then finishes at Gorham in a pivotal contest Oct. 17.

“We just have to keep doing what we’re doing,” Joao said. “If we keep playing like this, we’ll win games.”

“I think we’re playing our best when it matters most,” Diaz said. “Everyone’s good this year. Next week is no different. We’re looking forward to it. We can still be a factor in the playoffs. If things go our way, maybe we can creep into the top two or three. We’re excited.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. For game updates and links to game stories, follow him on Threads: @foresports2023

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