GORHAM — Stingy defense and a strong game by goalkeeper Lydia McCrillis led Gorham to a 1-0 victory over Falmouth in a game between two of Class A South’s top field hockey teams Monday.

McCrillis made five saves but also came up big with numerous clears while always being in the right position.

“(McCrillis) is just tremendous. She’s been the backbone of our team all season. And my sweeper, Kacie Walton, stepped up and made some huge stops,” said Gorham Coach Becky Manson.

Molly Murray scored with 14:09 remaining in the first half, deflecting in a shot that was sent in front of the net by teammate Isis Adams.

“(Falmouth) is a tough team. I really wanted to beat them and I wanted to be the one to score,” said Murray.

Gorham (9-2) entered the game ranked fifth in the class. The victory against third-ranked Falmouth (7-3-2) vaulted the Rams into third place and dropped the Yachtsmen to fourth.

Liberty Ladd of Falmouth played a strong game, displaying excellent playmaking and a powerful shot.

“(The plan against Ladd is) to keep the ball away from her,” said Manson. “She is by far one of the best players in our league.”

Ladd had a pair of good scoring opportunities in the second half.

The first was off a corner, when Ladd blasted a shot from the right side that skirted wide left with just over 20 minutes to play in the game.

“(Ladd) is versatile. She does a lot for us on both ends,” said Falmouth Coach Robin Haley.

“What makes her stand out is her speed and her strength, and obviously her skills. She finds opportunities for players and she just has a never-quit attitude, which inspires others.”

Thirty seconds after the near-miss, Ladd let loose with a backhand shot that just missed the net wide right.

“We had our opportunities. We just couldn’t finish it off,” said Haley.

“(McCrillis) is really quick and their defense did a really nice job of getting it done as well.”

The Rams held an 8-7 edge in corners, but neither team was able to convert any of the opportunities into a goal.

The game had a playoff atmosphere for the final 20 minutes, when both teams kicked up the intensity.

Gorham spent the final 10-plus minutes of the game focusing on its defense and keeping the ball on the outside, rather than the middle of the field where Ladd and the rest of the potent offensive threats for the Yachtsmen lurked.

“(Falmouth has) all of those dangerous (players) right there in the middle so the goal was to keep (the ball) out wide,” said Manson.

The Rams, who have three regular-season games remaining, will need to win them all and receive some help as they try to get into the top two of the class and earn a bye in the opening round of the regional tournament.

“We’re really hoping to (win out) so we can get the bye, then keep practicing to get to states and win it,” said Murray.

“Thornton Academy is worth some points, Sanford is right in the mix,” said Manson.

“It’s nice to have this win but we are right back to business basically right now.”

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