BIDDEFORD—The No. 1 Rams slipped into an early hole vs. No. 2 Falmouth when the teams met for Tuesday night, Nov. 5’s A South Regional Final. Now, Nolan Gava dug Gorham out of that hole with a careful touch on the ball midway through the second half. But just when the game began to look destined for OT, the Yachtsmen struck again – and secured themselves a 2-1 W.

“It was a close-fought battle between two pretty evenly matched teams,” Gorham head coach Tim King said. “Both teams really left it out on the field and in the end, they had a little bit more than we did and popped one in there with, what, four minutes left?”

The early action unfolded at midfield; Gorhamite Matthew Phinney fired off an early ball in the direction of the Falmouth net, but the shot sailed wide right. The Yachtsmen soon pushed back, but neither Sam Gearan nor Macklin Williams managed to penetrate the Rams’ defense. Williams lost a battle in the right Gorham corner to Ryan Farr.

The Rams carried the play briefly to midfield, but Falmouth soon turned things back Gorham’s way – and scored. Gorham defender Grant Nadeau positioned himself smartly, but just missed a touch on an airborne ball; Williams ducked past him for control, a duel with netminder Romain Salvi and 1-0.

“I think he mis-kicked it,” King said of Nadeau on Falmouth’s first goal. “And they capitalized. That stuff happens. I trust Grant as much as any player I have on my team; he’s a great athlete. He was right where he was supposed to be, but the play didn’t happen. That was one play in the game, and we fought back and tied it up.”

Less than a minute later, Ram Travis Matheson – on fire for the team lately – powered up the left side of the field in possession. It took two defenders to do it, but those two Yachtsmen did manage to halt Matheson’s progress, forcing him into an awkward cross-ball attempt, one that flew high and wide.

Not even 10 minutes in, Farr plunged up the right and delivered a beautiful, low cross through heavy traffic. The ball skittered past multiple Yachtsmen defenders – but also past a trio of Gorhamite attackers as well. Nobody was within stepping distance; nobody could get a foot on it.

30 seconds after that, Gava fed a left-to-right cross for Matheson to head, but said header missed wide. It didn’t miss by much, but it missed.

The Rams were creating chances, to be sure; they just weren’t converting. Meanwhile, though, neither was Falmouth pulling further ahead. Salvi turned in a ground save for Gorham at 27:30 and a leaping deflection high at 24:07.

Around 18 minutes, Ram Brady King took control near midfield, danced ahead and toed the ball rightward for Matheson, who fired hard. That shot also missed wide, however.

Six minutes later, Falmouth’s Charlie Adams threatened with a dash up the middle. The Gorham defense converged: Nadeau from the right and Mike Darasz from the left pincered Adams, and Salvi slid outward from the net for the stop.

The first half morphed into the second; the sides continued to claw at each other. Immediately off the draw in, Brady King bashed the ball ahead deep for Matheson, who beat his defender and pulled the trigger on yet another attempt. This one went wide left.

The Rams finally got on the board with maybe 20 minutes to go. Following a Gorham throw-in from the left sideline, Falmouth netminder Jackson Quinn pounced on an initial Rams shot. But the wet ball – a steady drizzle fell – squirted out of Quinn’s grip and straight to Gava’s feet. Gava took a touch or two, juking around the splayed-out Quinn, and punched the 1-1 tally home.

“He didn’t start for us,” Coach King said of Gava, “but he’s a good energy guy. He’s kind of a hockey player by trade, and he got in there and kind of sparked us in the first half. He had a really good, 10-minute spurt in the first half, and then happened to get his nose in there and, like chasing the puck around, poked it in. We certainly needed that; that lifted us a lot.”

King continued: “[Gava] broke his nose earlier in the year, so he was out for a couple weeks for that. This is his first year on the varsity…I was really happy for him to be able to poke one in today.”

The contest appeared destined for OT. Falmouth, though, had other plans: The Yachtsmen jumped on top again, 2-1, with 3:26 remaining. Gus Ford served inward, the serve pinballed around for a moment and Rion Dos Santos got a final, successful header on it.

“It’s going to be tough to come back from that,” King said of the late Yachtsmen strike. “But I’m real proud of my guys. We fought – especially our second half was outstanding; had some good pressure on. But Falmouth’s a good team, and you’re not going to break through very often. It’s disappointing for sure.”

Falmouth also upended Gorham 2-1 in the regular season. That bout took place way back on Sept. 14, however.

“No, no,” King said, asked if Gorham did anything different in the Regional Final than they did in their first matchup with the Yachtsmen. “We hoped to play a little better and settle down a little bit more, and I think we did. This was a 2-1 game; the first time we played them, the scoreboard said 2-1, but they really dominated us. I didn’t feel that was the case today; it could’ve gone either way.”

The Rams were, when they faced Falmouth two months ago, still reeling from the loss of superstar Andrew Rent to a season-ending knee injury; after that, the team markedly came together. They suffered another setback in their Regional semifinal vs. Portland, however, when key figure Javin Stickney blew out a knee while scoring a critical goal.

“We have grown as a team,” King said. “We just played tougher; we fought – these guys have hearts of champions. They’re the defending Southern Maine champs, and we weren’t going to go down without a fight, and we fought. It just wasn’t enough today.”

“I’m really proud of my guys,” King reiterated. “Obviously we wanted to keep going, we thought we could. But we knew Southern A was really evenly matched and it was going to be a real challenge to get through. We were almost there, but just not quite.”

“We left everything on the field, and that’s all you can ask.”

The Rams huddle up prior to the start of the match. Adam Birt / American Journal

Romain Salvi unwinds into a Gorham goal kick. Adam Birt / American Journal

Gorhamite Colby Christakis vies with a Falmouth opponent for an airborne ball. Adam Birt / American Journal

Brady King takes a free kick for Gorham. Adam Birt / American Journal

Travis Matheson, on the move up the middle for Gorham, settles a bouncing ball. Adam Birt / American Journal

Kyle Hamblen pulls the trigger. Adam Birt / American Journal

Nolan Gava peels away from the Falmouth goal after scoring midway through the second half. Adam Birt / American Journal

Andrew Farr controls near midfield. Adam Birt / American Journal

Matt Phinney fires forward for the Rams. Adam Birt / American Journal

Colby Christakis (rear) and Nolan Gava (right) comfort a distraught Travis Matheson (crouching) just after the final buzzer. Adam Birt / American Journal

Dissatisfied, Brady King, a Gorham Captain, carries the team’s new Regional Runners-up plaque. Adam Birt / American Journal

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