The Gorham boys lacrosse team closed out their 2014 season a couple weeks back with a semifinals loss. In fairness, though, it wasn’t just any loss; it was a loss to South Portland, the monster squad who went on to win States, and focusing on it risks ignoring the Rams’ progress. Because they have made a huge strides in the past several years, and this season were home to both the SMAA Coach of the Year in Dan Soule and the state’s second-highest scorer in Colin Harvey.

For Soule, the recognition he’s recently received is less reflective of his own success in the position of coach, and more reflective of the program’s growth as a whole. He sees all the moving parts, and counts himself as just one.

Soule applauds his freshmen. “The young group…[was] a very mature, good-character group,” he says. “They weren’t the typical freshmen. They really stepped up and wanted to make a difference in the program.”

For his own part, Soule tries to be crystal clear with his kids. “I think I’m very consistent with the expectations. I want the kids to respect and understand how to achieve those expectations. Overall, the clear communication is something the kids like, and they benefit from it.”

Foundations are critical, though, as Soule emphasizes: “The big thing – just because this is voted on by the SMAA coaches – is that they realize what’s gone into the program in the last three years. It’s been more of a fundamentally focused program. We don’t have the best lacrosse players right now, but we’re developing hard workers, and they’re starting to understand…they had to push to get things done a lot quicker this season.

“They didn’t wait, they worked hard in the off-season, and they were prepared, based on two years’ previous work with me and my coaches.”

Harvey, a senior headed for a year at Bridgton Academy in the fall, exemplifies Gorham’s accomplishments. With 58 goals and 78 points total, Harvey was the state’s second-highest scorer in 2014, a feat he achieved after multiple injury-plagued years.

“It was awesome,” said Harvey of his team’s year. “I want to owe it to my trainer; he really helped me get my fitness in check.” Harvey clearly looks up to his personal trainer, Joe Schacht at Dynamics Fitness on Forest Avenue in Portland. “I think that’s one of the main reasons I had a healthy season, just injury prevention. My off-season work helped a whole lot.”

“It was nice to see [Colin] have the kind of year he should’ve had a couple years ago,” Soule said, adding that Harvey is quiet, but nevertheless a leader by example. “Just watching him, especially the young freshman, they saw how it needs to be done.”

Harvey tore both calf muscles in his sophomore and junior years. Physical therapy and rigorous training, though, ushered him back onto the field as a senior for his best season yet. He doesn’t know quite what to pin the caliber of his actual play on, but teamwork and shot placement are definitely central.

“Obviously I can’t do it all for myself. I got a lot of good looks from my teammates, and I just had an open net. Stuff like that. I just made smarter plays this year, I want to say,” he said.

Asked what makes one play smarter than another, Harvey returned to the shot itself. “Shot selection, being smart with the ball, speed. Everything. There was just a huge difference in my playing style this year,” he said.

Having played so well himself on a team that couldn’t quite go all the way doesn’t leave Harvey feeling like he or his squad somehow failed. “Regrets? No. We had a great season – it was the best season we’ve had in a long time. I think we made history, winning our only home playoff game we’ve ever hosted. I was definitely satisfied with the season, I think we did amazing. I can’t complain. We lost to the state champions and we can’t really hang our heads for that.”

Soule, who Harvey calls “the best coach I ever had, for any sport,” echoes that sentiment. “This was the first 10-win season in program history. It was the first time that Gorham has ever hosted a playoff game. There’s some good energy in Gorham right now, based on even just those two things alone.”

Gorham head coach Dan Soule and star senior Colin Harvey led their team to its best season yet in 2014.


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