GORHAM—Lauren Fotter secured a close-call W for the Rams vs. visiting Marshwood on Friday night, Oct. 5. Fotter converted in sudden-death on some help from teammates Hallie Shiers and Olivia Michaud to beat Hawks keeper Natalie Clavette and cap the 2-1 triumph.

“I thought Marshwood played us really tough,” Gorham head coach Jeanne Zarilli said. “When we were trying to win balls, they were running right through us. That’s what I was frustrated with: We kind of lost that urgency, that intensity. I almost think we grabbed it back for overtime.”

The action in the first half – indeed, the action throughout the game – unfolded evenly. In the 40 uphill minutes, neither offense could get the better of the other’s defense. In fact, neither offense even logged any particularly close calls.

“Marshwood’s the only team I really hadn’t scouted,” Zarilli said. “Because I couldn’t get to a game. But we were basically the same team coming in; we both had one loss, a couple of ties, and some wins. So I knew it was going to be evenly matched.”

In the later half, however, play began to unknot. The Rams struck first, Maddie Michaud capitalizing on a penalty kick opportunity with 33:18 on the clock. The penalty itself proved controversial – when don’t they? – but the goal stood. 1-0.

“Their coach was upset,” Zarilli said. “I think she thought my player tripped her player or something like that. I don’t know; I think they were just colliding. I think that’s all it was.”

Then, in the 36th minute, Marshwood answered. Casey Perry tied things up, scoring on a long shot – from roughly the 18 – that she placed, with a little luck and a lot of skill, with laser-guided precision. Perry’s kick sailed just high enough: just under the Gorham crossbar, but just over the outstretched fingertips of Gorham’s leaping sophomore keeper, Lily Courtney. The net billowed. 1-1.

“I am always yelling about marking and stepping,” Zarilli said of her girls’ defense in the moment just before Perry’s managed her shot. “But we had a player right on her. She just happened to turn and get the shot. It was a beautiful play.”

The game wended into OT. The Rams appeared to refocus in the stretch, and their first solid effort – Shiers took control out front of Clavette on a Michaud cross from the right Marshwood corner, but couldn’t quite convert – signaled the team was working well together.

Not long after, then, Michaud powered into the Hawks’ right corner once more, fed centerward for Shiers, who spun into some fancy footwork before shoveling further left for Fotter. Fotter took control, took a moment to line up her shot and – pow! – blasted the ball across, past Clavette, to the top-right of the Hawks’ net.

2-1 the final.

“I was almost glad that we went to overtime and finished that way,” Zarilli said. “I didn’t want to win on a controversial penalty kick. And we just lost a game in overtime, so I was like, ‘We are not doing this again.’”

“I made a couple of substitutions to change up the lineup,” Zarilli said, asked about Gorham’s approach to OT. “And just some adjustments to what we were going to do. We want to hit the ball out to the corner, where there’s space. And [Clavette’s] a really good goalie. We’re hitting the ball too much straight up the field; out-and-in is what we’re always looking for – and we finally did it. That’s the best way to score.”

Clavette and Courtney each tallied seven saves on the evening.

Zarilli applauded a handful of her girls. “Caroline Gross played phenomenally well in the right-back. The back line, our center-backs, Avery (Germond) and Katie (Kutzer) played well. And then Emma (Forgues) in the middle, she’s always triple-marked, and Hallie gives you so much energy.” 

Gorham advanced to 9-1-1 on the win. The No. 2 Rams dropped their first game of the season just days ago, 1-0 to No. 3 Bonny Eagle (7-3-1). Of the three games left on their regular-season schedule, at least two are liable to prove extremely tough: Gorham hosts sixth-ranked Windham (8-2) on Wednesday, Oct. 10, and travels to No. 1 Scarborough (10-0) on Friday the 12th. They visit No. 12 Sanford (4-5-1) on Tuesday the 16th.

No. 7 Marshwood falls to 6-2-3. The Hawks’ other loss this fall thus far came 2-1 against fifth-ranked Falmouth (5-3-3).

“It’s wide-open,” Zarilli said of A South. “I know Scarborough hasn’t lost, but I still think it’s wide-open.”

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

Gorham’s Katie Kutzer weaves among Marshwood opponents.

Jill Nichols vies along the sidelines while multiple Hawks descend.

Hallie Shiers connects with a ball for the Rams.

Ram Madisen Sweatt collides with Hawk Zoe Boyer.

Gorham’s Caitlin Chasse and Marshwood’s Carmela Kriz clash.

Emma Forgues chases down an airborne ball for the Rams.

Gorhamite Caroline Gross and Marshwooder Casey Perry vie for a header.

Gorhamite Avery Germond fires forward.

Madison Michaud wheels away from a Marshwood opponent.

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