WINDHAM — Top-seeded Windham cashed in on its early opportunities, then held off eighth-ranked Gorham in the second half to pull out a 2-1 victory Tuesday night in a Western Class A girls’ soccer quarterfinal.
Jenna Soucy scored both goals in the first 16 minutes as the unbeaten Eagles advanced to the regional semifinals for the second consecutive season.
Windham (14-0-1) will be home against fourth-seeded Scarborough (13-1-1) at a time to be determined Saturday. Two weeks ago they played to a 2-2 tie.
“We came out fired up right from the start,” Windham Coach Deb Lebel said. “We knew we would have to do that against Gorham. They’re really a well-coached team with a solid defense.”
Soucy opened the scoring in the fourth minute when her hard right-footed shot from the left side of the penalty area went in off the hands of goalie Emma Smith, who leaped to make the save.
“The ball came in from the outside so I dribbled it toward the center a little, trying to beat the defender so I could get a foot around her,” Soucy said.
“I just kicked it as hard as I could.”
Less than 12 minutes later, Soucy took a pass from Ciera Berthiaume and tucked the ball inside the left post from close range.
“That was all Ciera,” Soucy said. “She just lifted the ball into me and I had to just put it past the keeper.”
That early two-goal deficit proved too much for the Rams to overcome.
“The first 10 or 15 minutes of the game, our defense just got on its heels and didn’t do what it needed to do,” Gorham Coach Jeanne Zarrilli said.
“Once we settled down, then it was more of a game. You’ve got to play 80 minutes. You can’t be asleep for the first 10 minutes. (Windham) is a team that’s going to take advantage of it, which is what they did.”
Windham goalie Kate Kneeland only had to make three of her eight saves in the first half, including a sensational diving grab of Emily Bragg’s hard shot from the top of the bubble with less than 16 minutes left in the half.
The play was much more even in the second half, and the Rams (11-5) pulled within a goal when Jessica Rexrode converted a crossing pass from Abbie Laporte with 16 minutes left following Gorham’s only corner kick of the game.
“(Gorham) showed in the second half they don’t give up,” Lebel said.
“They came out and played tough. We knew this was going to be a one-goal game.”
A month ago, Soucy scored two goals to lead the Eagles to a 4-2 victory against the Rams — one of the only two teams to score against Windham in the regular season.
“We weren’t playing our game in the second half,” Soucy said. “I think we needed to play a little harder and pass the ball more.”
Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: [email protected]Twitter: PaulBetitPPH