GORHAM — Every other contender seemed to be doing it, so why shouldn’t the Gorham boys’ soccer team also go for a new hairstyle?

Last fall the Rams wanted to set a precedent for their program. Before the beginning of the 2009 Western Class A playoffs, the Rams gathered together and began cutting away, leaving one long strip of hair from the top of the forehead to the nape of the neck – the Mohawk.

The night before this year’s playoffs, the clippers came out again. Once the first head was shaved and designed, it wasn’t too difficult for the rest to follow in a team-bonding ritual.

“We were joking around and we said, ‘If you look at it, every team that’s won a state championship has had a Mohawk the last two years,” senior back Seth Wing said. “We decided we wanted to be that next team.”

The Rams aren’t there yet, but they’ll play tonight in the regional final.

Gorham, the No. 4 seed, faces No. 2 Portland at Fitzpatrick Stadium for a berth in Saturday’s state final – one of the four regional finals that includes local teams.

Brunswick faces Bangor for the Eastern Class A title, Falmouth faces Yarmouth in Western Class B and North Yarmouth Academy faces Waynflete in Western Class C.

“It’s really exciting,” said Gorham Coach Tim King, in his 11th season. “The girls’ program has been very strong for a long time, playing five times in the state title game, and this is really our first opportunity to have the spotlight. I’ve got high expectations for these guys.”

Wing agreed.

“It shows a lot of strength in the program, and we have a lot of younger kids in the program, so it shows that we have the depth,” he said.

While the girls’ soccer program established itself as a state juggernaut in both Class A and Class B, the boys’ soccer program played in the Western Maine Conference before the school was reclassified to Class A in 2005, joining the Southern Maine Activities Association.

Gorham last played in a regional final in 2007, when this year’s seniors were freshmen, including the three senior starters – Wing, Connor Bell and Levi Lurvey.

“We definitely learned a lot,” Wing said. “It definitely showed us what we had to step up to get there.”

But, he added, playoff success is an annual goal.

“That is the whole purpose of the season, to make it to the postseason,” Wing said. “You take it one game at a time and only look at the game in front of you. You can’t look too far ahead.”

In 2008, when Wing, Bell and Lurvey were sophomores, the Rams lost in the quarterfinals to Scarborough, the eventual Class A champion. Last year the Rams lost in the quarterfinals to Greely.

This season the Rams had to contend with injuries, refine their defense, reconfigured after losing three backs and a midfielder to graduation, and learn how to play consistently.

Now they are on the cusp of reaching a state title game for the first time since 1983.

“This is what we’ve played for, for the last 10 to 12 years,” Wing said.

“You don’t think about it when the season ends when you’re a sophomore or a junior, but when you’re a senior, you don’t want it to end.”

They will be properly groomed for it, too.

 

Staff Writer Rachel Lenzi can be reached at 791-6415 or at: [email protected]