GORHAM — Gorham High forward Jackson Fotter knows – once the playoffs arrive – the better soccer team doesn’t necessarily win.

“It’s more mentality than skill sometimes,” Fotter said. “It’s not about if we’re the better team. It’s about how we play on that day.”

Fotter and his teammates learned this lesson the hard way after suffering upset losses in the quarterfinals each of the past two seasons. This fall, the Rams have earned a bye in the prelims for the third straight year. As the No. 1 seed in Class A South, they’re determined to not make the same mistakes.

“I suppose it’s probably creeping in the back of everyone’s minds,” said Gorham Coach Tim King. “Maybe that adds a little bit of pressure. But this has been a fairly resilient group.”

The Rams are undefeated entering their quarterfinal against No. 9 Westbrook at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Gorham (13-0-1) shut out Westbrook 7-0 on Sept. 27, but Fotter and fellow senior captains – Ryan Firmin, Tyler Richman and Alex York – said they know better than to overlook the Blue Blazes (8-6-1).

“We know we’re going to get everyone’s best game because they’re going to expect us to be good,” Fotter said. “But I think the target has been on our back all season, and we’ve dealt with it well so far.”

The Rams averaged five goals a game in the regular season, led by Fotter, who scored 31. York, the Rams’ goalkeeper, recorded 10 shutouts.

“We’re No. 1, but we’ll approach every game like we’ve got to prove ourselves,” King said. “The guys have made their own way this year and done a great job of it, and we’re hoping that continues. But time will tell.”

One thing is certain: the Rams are ready to move on from the quarterfinals.

On the topic of Gorham’s season-ending loss last year, Fotter shifted his weight onto his heels and looked up. “Bitter” was the word that came to his mind.

As the No. 2 seed, Gorham lost in the 2015 quarterfinals to No. 7 Cheverus 2-1 – a team they also had beaten in the regular season. The game was tied 0-0 at the half, and King said the Rams were just “never able to pick it up.”

“Things were going great, and then it’s all over – it just happened so quickly,” King said. “It was certainly disappointing for us. We had high hopes and high expectations, and it really fizzled out there.”

The Rams also lost in the 2014 quarterfinals as the third seed to No. 6 South Portland, 1-0.

“For some of us, it was the second season in a row where the same thing happened,” Fotter said. “So we were determined this season to prove something. We knew nothing was going to be given to us.”

King said his players have a lot of experience and skill and that they were driven to improve in the offseason, organizing times to lift weights and practice outside of their summer leagues. Fotter, Firmin and Richman also played on the Seacoast United U-17 premier team that won a national title in July.

“This group loves soccer, and they love each other,” King said. “They want to win, they expect to win, and they try to prepare to win.”

Fotter, Firmin, Richman and York said the Rams’ strategy entering the postseason is simple: Take it one game at a time.

“In the past, we’ve focused on what’s going to happen after this game,” said Firman, a midfielder. “This time, we’re going to go, ‘OK, this could be the state final. Here it is. Doesn’t matter who it is. Doesn’t matter who’s after.’ ”

The Rams graduated 10 players last season. This year’s starting lineup includes six seniors, four juniors and a freshman.

“I think we all saw how awful the seniors felt last year and the year before that,” said Richman, a midfielder. “In the back of our heads, we know that we don’t want to end it like that.”

“No one wants to disappoint each other by playing bad,” York said. “We always give it everything we have. Whatever comes our way, we’re going to be ready. We’re not going to take anything lightly.”

King said the difference between this team from last year’s is its tenacity.

“I think we’re tougher mentally and able to fight through more difficult situations and keep more of a level head,” King said. “We’re not running from last year, but this is this year’s team. We’re pretty confident in our ability to make something happen.”