GORHAM – The ball went to the right and Seth Wing of Gorham was there to kick it out. The ball went to the middle and Wing was there to block it. The ball went to the left and Wing was there to clear it.

“It seemed every time we started to get something going,” said Bryan Hoy, the boys’ soccer coach at South Portland, “Wing was there to blast it out. We just didn’t do what we were prepared to do.”

Wing, or Levi Lurvey, or Steve Albanese, any of the other backs that played for the Rams on Thursday night. Gorham put together a tremendous defensive effort to win its Western Class A quarterfinal with South Portland, 2-1.

The fourth-seeded Rams (10-3-2) got two goals in the first half, both assisted by Connor Reagan, to advance to the semifinals at home Saturday against Kennebunk. The time will be set today.

A couple of weeks back, Gorham rallied from a two-goal deficit to tie South Portland. This time the Rams thoroughly dominated, allowing one quality chance in the first 72 minutes.

“Quite frankly we were a little disappointed in how we played in that game until the end,” said Rams Coach Tim King. “We were confident coming into this game. We thought we could play well. We had a good week of practice and the kids played well, especially in the first half

“We kind of fell off a little in the second half, but we did what we needed to finish off the win.”

The Rams weren’t as aggressive in the second half Thursday night as they were in the first. But the fifth-ranked Riots (10-4-1) still couldn’t penetrate the defense until late, when a Gorham player was called for a handball in the area, leading to a penalty kick.

Nemanja Kaurin put it in, making it 2-1 with 7:12 remaining. But South Portland got only one weak shot on Carter Bowers the rest of the way, and Wing broke up the Riots’ final gasp as the clock wound down.

“He’s a tremendous player,” said King. “He was actually just voted the SMAA Defensive Player of the Year and tonight you saw why. He’s just so solid and makes very few mistakes. You love to coach a kid like that. He goes out there and plays with his heart, and he’s an excellent player.”

Wing was more than happy to pass the defensive credit along to Lurvey and everyone else who plays back there with him. He was just happy to win. Last year Gorham was upset in the quarterfinals.

“I was going to do everything I could to see my team through the first round, unlike last year,” said Wing. “It’s a great experience to be in the playoffs and now we’ve got home-field advantage again.”

If the Rams learned anything from that playoff loss a year ago, said Wing, it was to finish chances. And they did that in the first half, scoring early and late.

Connor Bell got the first goal, just 5:32 into the game. Reagan dribbled the ball up the right and just before it went out of bounds, kicked across to Bell, who kicked the ball out of midair in one motion to score.

“After that we just had momentum and kept the ball in their end the rest of the half,” said Reagan.

Nate Bucknell made it 2-0 with 1:33 left in the first half. It came off a corner kick, with Reagan playing a short ball to Bell, who passed back to Reagan. His low through pass was deflected up and Bucknell headed it in.

The Rams could have had more goals, but South Portland goalkeeper Shawn Shannon made several big saves. The Riots, meanwhile, had only one good chance in the first half, when Kaurin’s direct kick from the 30 nicked the top of the crossbar.

“This (victory) is huge,” said Reagan. “Tonight we played a full 80 minutes as a team. Like, sometimes we play one half really good and the other half not so good. Tonight we didn’t do that.”

 

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

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