Despite Cady Houghton’s putting Gorham atop the Hawks with better than three-quarters of the game gone by, Marshwood turned the plays Saturday morning to tie things up, then steal ahead for a 2-1 victory over the Rams. The Hawks took full advantage in the last five minutes of a direct kick and a penalty kick to erase Gorham’s hard-earned lead and hand them a season-opening loss at home.

“We didn’t defend well,” said Gorham head coach Jeanne Zarilli. “We kept lunging, rather than containing, which we’ve worked on. So it’s our bad.”

“We’ve been struggling to finish,” she said. “That’s our struggle. We do a lot of good work, and then we don’t finish.”

Play unfolded evenly through the first half, and well into the second, with each team’s defensive play thwarting the other’s offensive maneuvering to mire much of the action around midfield, near the sidelines or in the corners.

The Rams charged ahead, however, with just under 18 minutes to play, when Narissa Libby assisted Houghton in a tangle of bodies – flailing arms and flying shoulders and searching cleats – to set the score at 1-0.

In a typically low-scoring sport like soccer, Gorham had reason to be optimistic; with a lead in-hand, they needed only to hold steady to emerge triumphant. In no sport, however, is an advantage ever safe – especially if the team in control starts to slip up, which the Rams did.

At first, after hashing their point, Gorham looked like they might continue gaining momentum. They nearly broke away once, twice; they earned a direct kick; and they lobbed a couple balls into the fray, churning up opportunities – but no additional scores.

Then, with 5:21 remaining, a relatively minor infraction cost them hugely when the Hawks turned a direct kick into a quick pass along the ground. The unexpected choice seemed to throw Gorham just off their guard, and in the ensuing scuffle, Rams goalie Renae Staples made her initial save, but couldn’t halt the rebound. Hawk Marin Smith found the back of the net for 1-1.

“I knew it was going to be a tough game,” Zarilli said. “I’m just really disappointed we couldn’t close it out in the last five minutes of the game, when I thought we were playing smarter than we were.”

A minute and a half later, Lizzie Sullivan almost put Gorham out front once again, but her shot slid just wide.

Another minute after that, with Marshwood’s Lydia St. Pierre cutting threateningly inward from the left corner, the lone remaining Ram defender pursuing her had little choice but to take her down – which earned the Hawks a penalty kick. Korinne Bohunsky took the shot, firing low, along the ground. The ball slipped past Staples to give Marshwood the 2-1 lead – and soon enough the W.

“We’re working hard,” Zarilli said, returning to the idea of finishing, “and then they get two calls in the last five minutes.” She pinned her girls’ difficulty with finishing on their relative youth: “We’re a newer, younger team this year. Sometimes you have a natural finisher; we don’t have that. So we’re working on it a little each week, a little each game.

“But this is a disappointing loss for us. Last five minutes, to lose a game, is hard. We just didn’t close it out,” she said.

Gorham looks to get back on track when they host Bonny Eagle on Wednesday, Sept. 10, at 6 p.m.

Gorham’s Dana Shaw vies with a Marshwood Hawk for control of the ball.Gorham’s Narrissa Libby boots the ball upfield during the Ram’s Saturday-morning home bout with Marshwood.Emily Bragg of Gorham plants her weight against the momentum of an incoming Hawk.Gorham’s Emily Esposito races a Marshwood opponent across Esposito’s home turf Saturday morning.Rams junior Lizzie Sullivan shuttles the ball upfield.

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