GORHAM—Haley Lowell batted home two of the Rams’ four goals in a shutout victory of visiting Windham on Thursday afternoon, Sept. 13. Gorham dominated much the attack – especially in the uphill minutes – and Lowell notched a goal in each half en route to the W.

“I knew they had beaten Massabesic, and they’d beaten South Portland,” Gorham head coach Becky Manson-Rioux said of the Eagles. “So I knew the girls who scored those goals. But other than that, I didn’t really know a ton about them.”

“They just beat Massabesic,” Manson-Rioux reiterated – her emphasis makes sense, given how strong Massabesic traditionally is. “So I thought this was going to be a very competitive game. We’re not taking anyone lightly, because it’s anybody’s game.”

Gorham wasted little time getting on the board: Hailey Morrill posted the team’s first just under two minutes in, assisted by Faith Dillon.

Manson-Rioux described the goal: “[It came off] a corner, which was a direct shot and then a rebound off the goalie with kind of a hit from high in – but it was clean because it was past all of the defense.”

Lowell notched the first of her two just last the midway mark of the opening half, unassisted.

“We had another rebound,” Manson-Rioux said of the second point. “Haley shot it, and she got her own rebound, and instead of going back into her pads for the second time, she flicked it into the cage.”

Nine minutes later—with five remaining before the break – Molly Murray made it 3-0 Rams on an assist by Lydia Gaudreau.

Manson-Rioux remarked on Murray’s strike. “I think it came off a cross,” she said. “We’ve had quite a few crosses. We’ve been working on that, coming down the right wing and crossing it. It’s a typical thing in field hockey – any sport, really.”

Her girls’ first-half efforts made quite the impression on Manson-Rioux.“Just unbelievable goals,” she said. “Our passing, and our vision of the field was on today. We’ve been working on seeing teammates, seeing the open space, going to the open space.”

Gorham continued to apply pressure in the downhill half. The Rams picked up a couple corner opportunities early in the stretch, but couldn’t capitalize as they had at the start of the outing.

Manson-Rioux noted her girls’ inability to convert on any of their second-half corners:

“Sometimes, as they get tired, their focus starts to wear,” she said. “So we need to work on that, for sure. We’ve been working on perfecting our corners, just like every team. We try to do corners at all times of the practice, so that sometimes they’re fresh, and sometimes it’s at the end.”

Windham vaulted onto the attack around the 24:00, earning a corner of their own. They couldn’t convert on the chance, though, and despite pinning the ball in Gorham’s end for the next three minutes, came away empty-handed.

In general, even when Eagles managed press the attack, they couldn’t generate many top-caliber opportunities.

“We had some footwork, and a couple of obstruction calls, that they got defensive corners on,” Manson-Rioux said. “But our girls had their sticks down, and the goalie made some tremendous saves – and clears, as she’s making that save.”

Lowell capped the day’s scoring at 16:35, shouldering her way up the right-middle of the Windham zone, ducking around a dogged defender and flipping a little ball just inside the near Eagles post for the 4-0 result.

“They all did,” Manson-Rioux said, asked which of her girls played a great game. “I don’t know if someone stuck out more. It was a collective effort, really, today. I was able to sub in everybody, and everybody played the game.”

The win bumps eighth-ranked Gorham to 4-1. The Rams dropped their season-opener 2-1 at home to Marshwood (sixth at 3-2), but then topped Deering (15th at 0-5) 4-2, Noble (14th, 1-5) 2-0 and Bonny Eagle (eighth, 2-4) 3-2. The team travels to Cheverus (10th, 2-3) on Saturday, Sept. 15; they host Kennebunk (ninth, 3-2) on Monday the 17th, then visit Massabesic (11th, 2-3) two days later.

The 12th-place Eagles, meanwhile, slip on the result to 2-3. Windham fell 4-0 to Falmouth (fourth, 4-1-1) at the start of the season, and later suffered a 6-0 loss to Biddeford (second, 6-0). They’ve also, though, earned hard-fought, 1-0 triumphs over Massabesic and South Portland (17th, 0-6). The squad travels to Thornton (seventh, 4-2) on Monday the 17th and hosts Sanford (13th, 2-3) on Wednesday. 

A South features a great deal of parity this season. For Massabesic—traditionally a very strong team—to sit in 11th is surprising, for instance, and suggests an “any team, any time” dynamic among the ranks at present. Manson-Rioux observed as much:

“There’s, like, a top-10 team; an even 12,” she said. “Some years, there are some teams that are really not strong. It’s just not this year. It’s good to take that competitiveness through the whole season; you know every game is a big game. What I like about it the most is that your team comes to play. Your team is prepared for that.”

Adam Birt can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME.

Carissa O’Donnell battles for the Eagles.

Anna Rathbun dumps a ball inward from the sideline in Gorham’s win over Windham.

Sarah Stevens is one of Gorham’s three Captains this season, alongside Isis Adams and Lydia McCrillis.

Haley Lowell posted two of Gorham’s four goals on Thursday.

Ram Alex Ferrigan charges through Eagles territory.

Windhamite Chloe Wilcox vies in her girls’ bout with Gorham.

Eagle Lily Beaton swoops forward in her girls’ road loss to Gorham.

Molly Murray seeks out a pass opportunity.

Gorham’s Faith Dillon battles in a fray on the Windham doorstep.

Ram Hailey Morrill blasts the ball ahead in her team’s 4-0 victory over the Eagles.

Windham’s Carlee Richmond chases the action in a road bout at Gorham on Thursday.

Lydia Gaudreau fires forward for the Rams in their win over Windham.

Gorhamite Isis Adams battles a Windham opponent for control of the ball.

Additional photos can be found here:

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