PORTLAND—The old adage rang true.

It’s a shame one of these teams had to lose.

Wednesday evening at Fitzpatrick Stadium, in a Class A South quarterfinal that was worthy of being played in a regional final, No. 4 Portland hosted fifth-ranked Scarborough in a contest that needed more than 80 minutes to decide thanks to heroic efforts across the board.

None more so than that of Red Storm junior goalkeeper Seamus Corry.

The Bulldogs, who rolled by three goals at Scarborough in the middle of the regular season, came out on fire and had multiple Grade-A scoring chances in the first half, but Corry acrobatically denied them all to keep the contest scoreless at halftime.

The Red Storm could generate little in the way of offensive chances, but Corry ensured that Portland would remain flustered, making several more key saves in the second half, sending the game to overtime.


An initial 15-minute, “sudden victory” OT session didn’t determine a winner, but the second did, as 89 seconds in, after Corry made a save on a blast from junior Isaac Rodrigues-Nkanza, classmate Paulo Joao was waiting to head home the rebound and the Bulldogs survived and advanced in breathtaking fashion, 1-0.

Portland improved to 12-2-1, ended Scarborough’s season at 10-5-1 and advanced to take on top-ranked Windham (14-0-1) in the semifinals Friday at 6 p.m.

“I’m just pleased it came out the way it did,” said longtime Bulldogs coach Rocco Frenzilli. “(Red Storm coach) Mark (Diaz) and I talked before the game how any of the teams could make a run and get it done. Credit to Scarborough. It was just a great soccer game between two deserving teams and it’s unfortunate only one can get through.”

A doozy of a quarterfinal

With Class A South as deep and balanced as it’s been in recent memory, it wasn’t a surprise to see two teams with legitimate title aspirations doing battle in the quarterfinal round.

Portland was highly touted entering the season and didn’t disappoint, losing just twice, tying a game and winning 11 times (see sidebar for links to previous stories).


Scarborough, meanwhile, lost a lot of talent from last year’s regional champion to graduation and needed some time to hit its stride, but after a 3-3-1 start, the Red Storm closed by winning six of seven games.

Friday, Scarborough blanked No. 12 Marshwood, 2-0, in the preliminary round.

On Sept. 26, the Bulldogs beat the host Red Storm, 3-0, behind goals from junior Francisco Samuel, senior captain Martin Kalala-Wasukundi and junior captain Ronan Mas.

Scarborough had won four of six prior playoff encounters (see sidebar), but the most recent went to Portland (1-0 in the 2017 quarterfinals).

Wednesday, on a beautiful late-October evening (68 degrees at kickoff), the Bulldogs had chance after chance to put the ball in the net, but it would take over 96 minutes of action before they finally sent one home to advance.

In the game’s third minute, Portland came within inches of striking first, as sophomore Baptista Muanda set up junior Felisberto Mamuisi for a blast from Corry’s right, which forced the keeper to dive, get a fingertip on the ball and deflect it off the far post.


The Bulldogs weren’t done, but either was Corry, who dove to rob senior Max Kierstead, then sprawled to deny senior Brandon Chacon.

“I had probably four shots in the first 20 minutes that he saved and I was so frustrated,” said Kierstead.

After Rodrigues-Nkanza shot high in transition, the Red Storm had their first chance, but senior Kilson Joao had a shot blocked in the box.

In the 11th minute, after a nice move, Chacon was denied by Corry, then he robbed Rodrigues-Nkanza after a nice move as well.

“We had some really good shots at the beginning, but (Corry) made some great saves,” Paulo Joao said.

“What do you think’s going through my head the first 20 minutes when that kid literally jumped out of his shoes? I was thinking, it was one of those games,” Frenzilli said. “He was tremendous. I saw confidence in the kids. They were frustrated they couldn’t finish, but that was a function of the kid between the pipes.”


Scarborough’s lone shot on frame in the first half came in the 15th minute, as in transition, Kilson Joao set up junior Cooper Mallar for a blast which was saved by Portland senior goalkeeper Calvin Hale.

Late in the half, Corry saved shots from Kierstead, Muanda and senior Oliveira Nzolakio and the scoreboard read, 0-0, after 40 minutes.

The story would be similar in the second half, which also didn’t produce any resolution.

Again, the Bulldogs produced early pressure, only to see Corry dive to deny a blast from senior Luis Ordonez-Franco, then save shots from Mamuisi, Samuel and Muanda.

At the other end, Hale handled a long shot from sophomore Brady Moreau.

Down the stretch in regulation, Mas headed Kalala-Wasukundi’s corner kick high, Kalala-Wasukundi had a shot blocked off a throw from Ordonez-Franco, Corry snared a shot from Rodrigues-Nkanza with Kierstead waiting for a rebound which never came, then with 11:20 remaining, Corry made perhaps his most sensational save of the evening, lunging to his right and stretching out his hand to knock away a promising bid from Nzolakio.


“Seamus was great,” Diaz said. “We know he can do that. I’m glad other people got to see how well he can do.”

After junior Esa Antonio’s long bid was saved by Corry, the game went to overtime, still scoreless.

Neither team would score in the first 15-minute OT as it was apparent that fatigue had slowed Portland down.

The Bulldogs did get an early shot from Ordonez-Franco, which was saved by Corry, then Muanda missed wide, a Portland corner kick was cleared and Corry went sprawling to deny Kierstead.

At the other end, long shots from Red Storm sophomore Christopher Coburn and classmate Kahlil Ghosheh were off target, then Ghosheh fired a shot high.

The game would go to the second OT and with the possibility of penalty kicks looming had neither team scored, the Bulldogs finally put it away.


Rodrigues-Nkanza got the ball in the left side of the box, eluded a defender, then ripped a blast on goal. Corry was able to stop the shot, but the rebound caromed right to Paulo Joao at the right post and all Joao had to do was head it home to end it.

“I knew I had to make it for my team,” Joao said. “The ball chose me.”

“Isaac loves to dribble and cut in,” said Kierstead. “He doesn’t like to go wide and cross it. As soon as I saw him take that touch, I knew he’d smash it. Paulo was in the right place at the right time.”

At 7:32 p.m., Portland had a 1-0 victory and the celebration began.

“It was a good feeling,” said Joao. “I don’t have words. I’m so happy. I don’t know how to explain it. I knew we could not lose this game.”

“I watched the ball drop and I exploded with emotion and ran straight to the student section,” Kierstead said. “It was great. It’s super-exciting to win this game.”


“I’m so happy for our players,” added Frenzilli. “They gave everything they had. All week, we talked about energy, matching (Scarborough’s), trying to get as much as we could out of what we had. That first overtime, I looked at our midfield and it slowed down a little bit, but we were fortunate.”

The Bulldogs had a 19-2 advantage in shots on frame, got two saves from Hale and took eight corner kicks to Scarborough’s two, but had to wait a long, long time to prevail.

“I just tried as hard as I could knowing it could be my last game,” Kierstead said. “It was in the back of my head, but I just tried to forget it. We were all gassed but we knew what we had to do. We had to have energy and discipline and stay composed.”

Valiant in defeat

The Red Storm got 18 saves from Corry, but just couldn’t find a way to get the ball in the net.

“Portland’s as good a team as I’ve seen in the state and we took them to the wire,” Diaz said. “My kids did a lot of things right tonight and I’m really proud of the effort. The guys followed the game plan almost to perfection. We just needed a bounce, but we didn’t get one. It was tough at the end.”


Scarborough loses 14 seniors who made a big impact over the past several weeks.

“We’ve come so far,” Diaz said. “I feel badly for the seniors, but the effort was there and I’m so proud of the guys. We moved some people around and I give my senior class credit. They might not be the senior class of last year, but they took pride in their work and turned things around. They made it happen. They really did.”

The Red Storm return a lot of key pieces, however, and should be back among the top teams in the league again in 2024.

“There’s a lot of young guys on this team and this was a good learning experience for them,” Diaz said.

Windham awaits

Portland and Windham (which blanked No. 8 South Portland, 4-0, in its quarterfinal Wednesday) didn’t square off this fall. The Bulldogs have dropped two of three prior playoff encounters, including two years ago, when the Eagles prevailed, 3-2, in the quarterfinals.

“We have to keep practicing hard,” Joao said. “It won’t be an easy game. We’ll have to make decisions and go for it.”

“After a great season, I want to show what we can do,” said Kierstead. “They don’t know what we’re like. I’m excited to just press as hard as we can. We feel good about our chances.”

“We’ll rest tomorrow and we’ll head up to see Windham Friday,” Frenzilli added. “It will be a very interesting game. We’re using house money now. We’ll go up there and see what happens. We’ll give it all we can.”

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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