SANFORD — The undefeated Gorham and Sanford girls’ soccer teams have had mirror starts to the season – each defeating Maine Girls’ Academy, South Portland and Biddeford, while tying powerful Scarborough.

On Wednesday night there was little to differentiate the likely playoff-bound squads in Gorham’s 2-1 victory, as the defending Class A South champions won despite being outplayed and trailing by a goal in the first half.

“They took it to us in the first half and we sort of regrouped at halftime,” said Gorham Coach Jeanne Zarrilli, “and I think we had a better, more organized second half.

“We were taking too much time (in the first half) and they were all over us. Kudos to them; they’re quick and punish you if you make a mistake or take an extra touch.”

The Rams’ adjusted approach paid off right away in the second half.

Following a near conversion off a corner kick by Sanford – the ball teetering on the goal line – Emma Forgues countered for Gorham. She beat two defenders after gathering the ball just past midfield and firing a left-footer to tie the game at 1-1 at 41:28.

Seven minutes later, the Rams (5-0-1) scored the winner off a one-timer by Courtney Cushing from just inside the box on the left side of the net.

“Coach (Zarrilli) had been saying we needed to one-touch or two-touch – that’s how we are going to break their defense. So I knew I had to one-touch it,” Cushing said.

The Spartans (4-1-1) had many early chances as they controlled the tempo in the first 20 minutes of the first half.

Julia Allen hit the crossbar four minutes in, followed by two chances for Kristen O’Connell – a close-in shot to the far post that trickled just wide, and an attempt from 20 yards that popped over the net.

O’Connell finally cashed in when she converted a rebound with 5:43 left in the first half. Allen dribbled down the right wing, beating two defenders, and sent a cross to Vanessa Hodge in the middle of the box. Her shot was blocked but O’Connell collected the ball near the left post and buried the shot.

Sanford Coach Chris Coleman, whose team made the playoffs last season for the first time in two years, was pleased with the players’ preparation.

“We lost three-nil to (Gorham) last year and I think we came into this game more mentally … physically and tactically prepared,” he said. “It could have gone either way.”

Both goalies played strong games. Gorham’s Emma Smith made seven saves; Nikki Perez had 11 for Sanford.

Zarrilli said the Rams presented problems for them.

“You have to play a good 80 minutes or a good team like Sanford is going to punish you,” she explained. “They’re fast and they capitalize on your mistakes. We hadn’t seen that yet (this year).”

Coleman hopes to see Gorham again in the playoffs because he feels his team played toe to toe with them.

“I don’t think too many teams will give them the test we gave them tonight. We were outstanding tonight,” he said. “We got to see Gorham and Gorham got to see us. We know what we need to do next time to get the edge on them.”