BIDDEFORD—Falmouth’s boys’ soccer team has done it all and won it all over the years.

With the exception of capturing a Class A state title.

And Saturday afternoon, the Yachtsmen will have an opportunity to check that final to-do item off the list.

That’s because Tuesday afternoon at Waterhouse Field, second-ranked Falmouth had just enough to survive top-seeded Gorham in a well-played Class A South Final that featured strong defense and opportunistic offense.

In the game’s seventh minute, Yachtsmen senior Macklin Williams scored his latest in a series of big playoff goals to put Falmouth ahead, 1-0, a lead that would hold until halftime.

With 20:11 left in regulation, the Rams drew even, as junior Nolan Gava scored on a rebound, but the Yachtsmen weren’t fazed and with 3:26 lead, junior Gus Ford set up classmate Rion Dos Santos for the game-winning header and Falmouth went on to a 2-1 victory.

The Yachtsmen improved to 14-2-1, ended Gorham’s season at 13-3-1 and advanced to square off against defending champion Lewiston (15-1-1) in the Class A state final Saturday at 3 p.m., at Hampden Academy.

“It feels amazing,” Ford said. “We were the underdog at the beginning of the season, but we kept grinding, we kept battling and we’ve progressed all season long and it’s paid off.”

Top two

In a season which featured so much parity in Class A South, it somewhat surprisingly was the first and second seeds who wound up making it to Biddeford for the first-ever regional final played on a neutral field.

Gorham was expected to be here, but when senior standout Andrew Rent suffered a season-ending knee injury in the opener, it appeared the Rams might come back to the pack. Gorham did lose twice and tied another game, but when the dust settled, the Rams had the top seed in the region and after blanking No. 8 Westbrook, 5-0, in the quarterfinals, Saturday, they held off No. 4 Portland, 2-1, in the semifinal round.

Falmouth, meanwhile, opened with wins at Sanford (1-0), at home over Massabesic (6-0) and at home over Gorham (2-1) before erasing a two-goal deficit and settling for a 2-2 draw at home versus Kennebunk. The Yachtsmen’s winning ways then returned at Deering (3-0), at home versus Bonny Eagle (4-0), at Cheverus (2-1), at home over Windham (6-0), at Biddeford (8-0), at Thornton Academy (1-0) and at home over Scarborough (3-2). Falmouth fell from the unbeaten ranks with a 1-0, double-overtime loss at South Portland and after downing visiting Westbrook (3-1), they closed with a 1-0 home loss to Portland.

The Yachtsmen had no trouble with No. 7 Kennebunk in the quarterfinals, rolling, 6-1, then, Saturday in the semifinals, Falmouth blanked No. 3 Scarborough, 2-0, to advance to its first regional final in any class since 2012.

The teams met Sept. 14 in Falmouth, a game the Yachtsmen won, 2-1, behind goals from Charlie Adams and Sam Gearan (Brady King converted a penalty kick for Gorham’s goal).

The Rams won the only prior playoff encounter, 1-0, in the 2017 Class B South semifinal round.

Tuesday, on a drizzly, 51-degree afternoon, Falmouth did just enough to keep its season alive.

Gorham got the first look, in the third minute, as junior Matt Phinney won a loose ball, dribbled in and fired a promising shot with his left foot, but it sailed just wide of the far post.

Then, in the seventh minute, Falmouth got the jump.

The goal was set up by senior Josh LeFevre, who served the ball into the box. The Rams had a chance to clear it, but failed to do so and Williams pounced on it and fired a low shot past Gorham senior goalkeeper Romain Salvi for a 1-0 lead.

After the Rams failed to convert a pair of corner kicks, the Yachtsmen went back on the attack, but Ford was denied by a sprawling Salvi, then Ford fired a shot that sailed just high and hit the football crossbar.

With 17:31 to go in the half, Gorham nearly equalized, but after taking a pass from King, senior Travis Matheson missed just wide.

Williams nearly doubled the lead with 6:03 on the clock, but after taking a cross from Ford, his bid hit the near post.

A late Rams’ free kick was cleared by Falmouth’s lockdown defense and the contest went to the break with the Yachtsmen on top, 1-0.

Falmouth had a 4-0 edge in first half shots. The Rams got three saves from Salvi and had a 2-1 edge in corner kicks, but trailed by one.

In the second half, Gorham drew even, but the Yachtsmen responded like the champions they hope to become.

Just 12 seconds in, the Rams had a golden opportunity to tie it up, but Matheson missed wide on a breakaway.

With 31:41 to go, Gorham got another good look, as Phinney set up senior Sebastien Irish, who fired a bid toward the near post, but Falmouth senior goalkeeper Jackson Quinn went to the ground to make the save.

After Salvi denied bids from LeFevre and senior Noah Piers, the Rams earned three straight corner kicks.

After failing to convert on the first two, Gorham stayed with it on the third, the ball got knocked loose near the far post and Gava sent it into the net to tie the score, 1-1, with 20:11 to go.

“(Nolan’s) a hockey player by trade and he sparked us,” said Rams’ coach Tim King. “He got his nose in there like he was chasing a puck around and poked it in. We needed that and it lifted us a lot.”

Gorham had momentum, but couldn’t build on its equalizer and late in regulation, Falmouth went back on the attack and got the winner.

With 3:26 remaining, LeFevre sent the ball in to Ford in the box. Ford stopped the ball with his shoulder, then crossed the ball to Dos Santos, who had an initial header deflected, but he climbed the ladder again and headed the ball past Salvi and into the net for a 2-1 lead.

“Gus was in a difficult situation and I made the run far post, looked up and the he chipped it perfectly,” said Dos Santos. “I headed it the first time and it was deflected. It came back to me and I headed it in. It’s amazing. I was so happy. Not just for me, but for the team.”

“All season, when we let up a goal, we huddle up and make sure we don’t give up the next goal,” Ford said. “The ball got served in, the defender didn’t see me coming, I touched it with my shoulder, there was a scramble in the box and I served it over to Rion. I just put it over there and he had a nice finish.”

“I was the one who hit the keeper (on the tying goal), unfortunately, so I had to keep my head in it,” LeFevre said. “I felt a lot better after we scored.”

“Sometimes you have to have a little bit of luck and the ball bounced our way at the end,” longtime Falmouth coach Dave Halligan added.

Gorham had one final chance to answer with 2:18 remaining, but a shot from senior Colby Christakis was saved by Quinn and the Yachtsmen held on from there and at 5:32 p.m., celebrated their 2-1 victory.

“It’s a great accomplishment to win (Class A South) for the first time,” Ford said. “We’re super-proud of each other.”

“Gorham is a really good team, especially when they press like they did today, but we kept our composure,” Dos Santos said. “We’ve worked for this since August. It’s a big step. We’ve adapted really well, moving players to different positions. Coach really helped with that.”

“It feels amazing, my first time here senior year,” said LeFevre. “Seeing Coach fired up got our team going. Playing in bad weather is hard for us, but we battled hard and played the best we could.”

“We’ve been competitive transitioning to Class A, but every team is good,” Halligan added. “We had to dodge some bullets tonight. We got back on our heels and they were pressing. We gave up the goal, but we kept fighting back. These kids have been persistent all year. They keep working.”

Falmouth had an 8-4 edge in shots on frame and got three saves from Quinn.

Gorham had a 6-3 advantage in corner kicks and got six saves from Salvi, but saw its regional title reign come to a close.

“It was a hard-fought battle between two evenly matched teams and I felt like both teams really left it out on the field,” Tim King said. “At the end, they had a little bit more than we did and they popped one in there. It was going to be hard to come back from that. I’m really proud of the guys. I thought we fought hard, especially the second half was outstanding. We had some good pressure, but Falmouth’s a good team and you’re not going to get through very often.

“Obviously, we wanted to keep going and we thought we could. I’m really proud of the guys. I think we left everything on the field and that’s all you can ask.”

Heading north

Falmouth won nine Class B titles between 2000-12 and also captured Class C crowns in 1996 and 1997, but they’ve never taken part in a Class A state game.

Saturday will be the first.

The Yachtsmen have no playoff history with the Blue Devils, who won Class A not just last fall, but also in 2015 and 2017. Lewiston has shown vulnerability at times this fall, but its athleticism and technical skill makes it a tough foe.

“We have to go back to basics in practice,” LeFevre said. “We have to play to feet. We didn’t do a very good job of that tonight. That’s going to be the key to our success.”

“It’ll be a challenge,” Ford said. “We have to move the ball, play to feet, play our game.”

“We’re ready for states and I’m excited,” said Dos Santos. “I haven’t seen Lewiston play, but we’ll have a game plan and try to counter them as much as we can. We’ve played really well and hopefully we can keep doing that Saturday.”

“Lewiston’s a good team,” Halligan added. “They have a lot of talent back. We’ll play as a team and see what happens. I think our team deserves to be there. We were young at the beginning of the year, but now we’re experienced. We’ve played really good teams. We’ll give it our best shot and see what happens.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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