Portland High’s longtime boys’ soccer coach, Rocco Frenzilli, preaches about the importance of set plays.

Gorham’s 3-1 win over the Bulldogs on Saturday morning was a case in point, as three of the four goals were on set plays, including the tying and go-ahead goals in the second half.

The victory kept Gorham undefeated, at 4-0. Portland fell to 1-2.

“We can’t give corners away and we can’t give a dead ball foul right outside the box,” said Frenzilli, in his 32nd year at Portland. “A good team (like Gorham) will make you pay.”

The Rams and Bulldogs have met the past two years in the Class A South final. Portland pulled out a penalty kick victory last year en route to an appearance in the state final – a loss to Lewiston. In 2016, Gorham beat Portland in the regional final before a defeat to Bangor in the state final.

This time, Gorham allowed a goal off a corner kick just 1:08 into the match and was outplayed by the home team in the first half.

It wasn’t until early in the second half when Gorham pulled even.

Andrew Rent served a free kick from 20 yards on the left wing, and Ryan Farr scored from in close only 1:17 into the half.

A little more than eight and a half minutes later, a Kevin Mollison throw-in from deep in Portland territory found Kyle Hamblen, who scored on a one-timer.

“Set plays are so important,” Gorham Coach Tim King said. “We are trying to work on those greasy, dirty goals. (Goals are) not always going to have a beautiful setup with pass, pass, goal. You have to get the ball in the box and work hard and look for a rebound.

“We got the ball to our feet a couple times and we put it in. Sometimes that is the name of the game.”

Rent iced the victory when he recorded a goal with a little less than six minutes remaining. The junior captain took advantage of a bobble by Portland keeper Henry Flynn and scored from just outside the left post.

“On the free kick, I was putting (the ball) into a dangerous area and (Farr) just got a touch on the ball,” Rent explained. “Anyone could have touched it – that’s what I was looking for there.

“Sometimes we struggle in the run of play to get finishes. Going forward, I think we will be more aggressive on set plays. It is somewhere we can hurt teams.”

Portland’s goal was set up by Tahn Tiparos, who sent a corner kick into the middle of the box. Mwanja Kaluta got his head on the ball and beat Rams keeper Trevor Gray (five saves). Kaluta had just entered the game for Keto Tchiputo, who was hurt on the previous play and had to come out after time was stopped.

Gray, a senior who only switched to goalie as a sophomore, often roved away from the goal to thwart scoring chances with sliding tackles or intercept crosses and chips before Portland could run onto the ball.

“I wasn’t so concerned with the early goal other than we’ve been working on marking with set pieces and I don’t feel we did such a good job with that,” King said. “Someone ran right by their man. (Gray’s) not going to stop a header from the 6-yard line.”

Frenzilli admitted his team is not where it should be.

“We’re looking for an identity,” Frenzilli said. “When we find it, it will be a good thing. But to be honest, we are struggling a bit.”

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