A bit of luck dropped from the sky Wednesday night, and Gorham was there to catch it.
Austin Bell converted Cole Houghton’s 50-yard free kick 10 minutes into the second half to give Gorham a 1-0 victory over Deering in a Western Class A boys’ soccer quarterfinal at Deering’s Memorial Field.
Fifth-seeded Gorham (12-3-1) moved on to a semifinal Saturday at top-seeded Scarborough (14-1). No. 4 seed Deering finished the season at 11-3-1.
The winning play began when Houghton drove in a high, arcing ball from near the right sideline toward the far post. A miscommunication among Deering defenders and keeper Anthony Russo (eight saves) let the ball bounce free in the 6-yard box.
“A defender hit it off his back foot and put it over the keeper, and I just got the last kick on it,” Bell said. “It could have gone either way. It was definitely a scrap goal.”
And a big break for Gorham. It was just the seventh goal allowed all season by Deering, which had 10 shutouts and was 6-1 in one-goal games, including a 1-0 victory over Gorham on Sept. 17.
“I wasn’t expecting (a goal) off that play,” Bell said. “I thought it was going to be off a through ball or one-on-one with the keeper. But I’m certainly happy that we got that one.”
From there, Gorham assumed a more defensive posture, content to scuttle Deering in the final third and send the ball deep along the flanks.
“We probably played a little too defensively but we played well, played smart and packed bodies in behind the ball,” Gorham Coach Tim King said. “And we didn’t really give them a lot of dangerous chances.”
Deering’s best opportunities came in the first half.
“We possessed the ball, had numerous opportunities but it came down to losing the ball in the final third,” Deering Coach Joel Costigan said. “They were able to take advantage of our mistake. That’s soccer. It’s been a tremendous season. The kids have a lot to be proud of.”
Deering put a scare into Gorham about four minutes into the game on a left-swinging corner kick by Ben Peterson. Stephen Ochan leaped high and drove a hard header in, just under the crossbar. Gorham keeper Matt Bennett (nine saves) managed to knock the ball over the bar.
“I got excited at that point,” Bennett said. “It’s going to be a fun game when you start off with a save like that.”
“About 15 minutes in, we righted the ship a little bit,” King said. “We possessed the ball a little more and from that point on I thought it was pretty even.”
The teams finished tied on corner kicks (5) and free kicks (9). Deering held a 19-14 edge in shots and Gorham managed 10 shots on frame to Deering’s eight.