Javin Stickney dashes ahead with the ball. Adam Birt / American Journal

SCARBOROUGH—Brady King put Gorham ahead two-zip at rivals Scarborough on Saturday afternoon, Oct. 19. Then, just prior to the break, Grant Nadeau really secured the momentum for the Rams, heading home a spectacular notch. Sure, sure: The Storm eventually got on the board, but they scored too little and too late: 4-1 the final.

“There’s a rivalry between Gorham and Scarborough,” King said. “Anytime they’re on our schedule, that’s circled the whole year. So I’ve been waiting for this moment, and we just came out guns blazing, and our gameplan worked.”

“We were nervous,” Nadeau admitted. “We knew they had some talent up top, and we had to lock it down. I think we did a great job doing that in the second half. And then, pressuring up top and forcing the mistakes to capitalize on.”

Gorham controlled a good deal of the attack through the first half. King’s goals came prettily, the first on a penalty kick and the second on a masterful corner. King picked up both within the first 20 minutes or so.

“The first, we were just going hard to the ball,” King said. “And some player took down – I forgot who it was. But we got a PK, and I just stepped up and knocked it down. It was pretty early; it set the tone for the game.”

“Brady is our designated penalty kicker,” Gorham head coach Tim King said. “And, a pressure-packed game, he stepped up, got the goalie going the wrong way and just put it in. Calm, collected. That’s what I expect from him and he delivered.”

“And then, my second goal,” Brady King continued, “was on a corner. It was the second corner back-to-back; the first one he tipped out. I just knew that if I got it hard and on-net, something good would happen.”

Not just any good thing followed King’s kick: The ball curled all the way in, totally untouched – not exactly a common occurrence in soccer.

“Brady also is our corner-kick taker,” Coach King added. “And he was right on with his corner kicks today. He served ball after ball that almost went in, and he got that one that just curved in. They couldn’t get to it. That was a big goal for us.”

With 25.5 seconds remaining in the half, a corner kick led to Nadeau’s strike as well – though he didn’t take the kick himself, like Brady King had. Instead, Curran Bassingthwaite lofted a pretty ball from the corner inward and Nadeau merely (merely!) served as the middleman. Roughly 22 feet tall, Nadeau cleared the opposition with a leap and got his head on Bassingthwaite’s volley, relaying it past Storm netminder Alex Bachman.

“I hadn’t got one yet this year,” Nadeau said, “so I kind of felt like I was due. The fact that I could actually get one – it felt good.”

“We’ve been waiting for him,” Coach King said of Nadeau. “He’s such a big, athletic kid, we’ve been waiting for him to get on the end of one all year. And finally it happened today. To get that 3-0 lead right before the half, that’s a huge, huge momentum swing.”

The Rams went into the break up 3-0 and sitting pretty. All the energy sat with them; even a team as skilled, determined and seasoned as Scarborough will find it difficult to erase a 3-0 deficit in soccer, especially vs. an equally-tough – and hungry – rival.

“I feel like that really put the nail in the coffin,” Nadeau said of his point. “The fact that we’re up 2-0, 40 seconds left, it’s almost halftime, and then – getting another goal scored on you is pretty tough to come back from, going into the second half.”

The Rams continued to apply pressure through the start of the downhill half. Ryan Farr tallied Gorham’s fourth during the stretch, blasting a hard shot past Bachman from the top of the 18.

“When I get the ball at the 18, I try to get it on-target, test the goalie,” Farr said. “So the ball comes in, the defender steps, and the ball kind of just falls to me. And then, left-footed, I just try to curl in – not with the most power, just to put it in the net. And that’s what I did.”

Eventually the Storm – perhaps desperate by now and dialing in because of it – drove the action back into Gorham’s end. Scarborough began weighing heavily on the Rams’ inner sanctum; at 24:18, they found a way to tally. Tom Donahue did the honors for the Storm, punching an in-close point past Rams keeper Zach Beaumont.

“Scarborough’s known for playing over-the-top; they have speedy kids, kids who will work hard,” Farr said. “So we just had to shut that down, play our game, pass the ball and finish when we got chances – which we did pretty well today.”

Gorham boasts an impressive defense, and despite Scarborough’s persistence, the bout ultimately went the Rams’ way.

“First half, we had the ball a lot and we were really moving it around well and our spacing was great,” Coach King said. “And we got those goals. And then in the second half, Scarborough righted the ship a little bit and we didn’t have the ball as much, so we had to play more defense. But I’m confident our defense.”

It’s no doubt a reassuring win for the Rams, given the loss of superstar Andrew Rent at the beginning of the season. “I miss him every single day out on the field with me,” Brady King said of Rent. “But it’s made us stronger. Every one of our players individually has stepped up; we’ve all gotten better without having to rely on Andrew. Everything just worked together in that first half. It was the best we’ve played all year.”

“Oh yeah,” King said, asked if the Rams’ victory over Scarborough was their most important of the year. “Definitely. It feels good.”

The Gorham boys – currently ranked first in A South, at 11-2-1 – closed their regular season at Noble (13th, 5-8-1) on Tuesday the 22nd, winning 3-0. The Rams dropped a 4-2 matchup a couple weeks back to Westbrook, this autumn’s dark horse; Gorham tied Marshwood 2-2 near the start of their schedule.

Falmouth occupies second place, at 11-2-1. The Yachtsmen bested Gorham 2-1 early in the autumn; their first loss came 1-0 against No. 5 South Portland (9-4-1), and they fought fifth-ranked Kennebunk (8-3-2) to a standstill, 2-2.

Initially, it looked possible for Falmouth to still retake the top seed, since they trailed the Rams by a mere Heal-Point-and-a-half, and their final regular-schedule opponent was No. 4 Portland (10-3-1), worth more to the Yachtsmen than the Knights to Gorham.

Falmouth, though, succumbed to the Bulldogs. And since Gorham bested Portland at the very start of the fall, it all shakes out like so: The Rams sit fastly in first place; they will enter the tournament as the one-seed.

“I think, after the start of the season, Andrew got injured, everyone’s confidence was not as high,” Farr said. “We still believed in ourself, obviously. But now we’re really rolling, ready for playoffs.”

“It feels great,” Nadeau confirmed. “We’re in a good position, going into playoffs.”

The Storm, at 9-2-3, rank third.

Gorhamite Brady King had two goals in the victory. Adam Birt / American Journal

Curran Bassingthwaite had an assist in the win. Adam Birt / American Journal

Travis Matheson settles an airborne ball. Adam Birt / American Journal

Sam Orlando controls for the Rams. Adam Birt / American Journal

Sebastian Irish heads a ball for Gorham. Adam Birt / American Journal

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