Gorham’s Kayli Leavitt put her team on top for good in South Portland Thursday afternoon, picking up an Erin Esty rebound and belting it home for a 2-0 lead late in the first half. The Rams eventually tallied two more, securing a 4-1 win over the Riots.

The Rams charge into their schedule with the victory, going to 1-0, while the Riots encounter a quick hurdle, falling to 0-1. Early-season outcomes are often taken as tone-setters for the winners and motivators for the losers, as the teams’ coaches acknowledge.

“We were dribbling right into them,” South Portland head coach Leslie Dyer said of Gorham’s disproportionate time-of-possession. “It just came down to, I have a very young team; I have six freshmen, six sophomores. I only have three seniors, and only one was out there on the field.”

Gorham laid the attack on thick, early, but couldn’t convert until nine minutes in, when Reagan Emerson slipped the ball to Charlotte Smith near the top of the South Portland circle. Smith pushed forward 15 feet, leaned into her shot and beat Riots goalie Grace Chitham at the lower-left cage corner. 1-0.

The Rams scored again – this the game-clincher – another nine minutes on. Esty dumped the ball inside the South Portland circle; it bounced back out, but landed on the ready stick of Leavitt, who redirected it past Chitham for 2-0.

“Gorham’s a good team,” Dyer said. “We knew they were going to come out strong and aggressive, and we held with them for a solid 40 out of the 60 minutes. We have to learn how to play 60 minutes.”

The Riots grabbed one of their own with seven minutes remaining till the break. In a close-on scrum, Gorham keeper Megan Baker stumbled to her knees near the right side of her net, and when the ball squirted loose again, she didn’t have nearly the time she needed to recover. South Portland’s Sophia Cummings, on the other hand, had ample opportunity to blast a shot left for an easy goal. 2-1.

That’s all the offense the Riots would assemble, though. The Rams returned from the half with still-greater pressure; Chitham defended her space admirably, turning a couple great kick-saves, but Gorham’s lopsided time of possession almost guaranteed them additional notches. They hashed two more – one by Amanda Stemm on a Sarah Jordan assist, and another by Emerson – to seal the conquest, 4-1.

“This is one of their first games,” said of her largely green squad, “where they’re really just trying to play together. It’s just going to be time; 60 minutes is a long time. Half these girls are coming from middle school, and the other is coming from JV.

“It’s learning to play for the full, two 30-minutes halves…We’re going to see many more teams like Gorham, and more advanced. It’s learning how to hang.”

Delaney Shiers fires the ball forward for Gorham in South Portland Thursday afternoon.South Portland’s Maddie Hasson (12) rips a shot at Gorham goalie Megan Baker.Charlotte Smith unwinds into her shot. Smith powered the ball past South Portland goalie Grace Chitham to open the scoring.Riot Lydia Henderson looks Gorham middies, Hallie Thomas (2) and Maggie Shields (16), head-on.

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