SACO — Marshwood High boys soccer coach Ben Deschene told his team they would have to weather the storm against Gorham, a team known for its ability to continually control the ball.

For the first 19 minutes of the second half, the Hawks were clinging to a one-goal lead like a life preserver. Gorham bombarded them with shot attempts and dangerous chances. But none found the net. Many were blocked by Hawk defenders. More were off target.

“To Gorham’s credit, I think they are the best possession team,” Deschene said. “We knew this was going to be a tough game for us. In practice we talked about how there are going to be periods of 10, 15 minutes where they’re going to come at us. We told them, ‘Just fight it off, we’ll live to play another minute and we’ll get our goal.'”

Which is exactly what happened, as the No. 4 Hawks (15-2-1) beat Gorham 2-0 to win the Class A South final Wednesday night at Thornton Academy. Rowan Carter scored the clinching goal with just over 20 minutes left on Marshwood’s first shot of the second half, converting a breakaway set up by Declan Fitzgerald.

“They were really outpossessing us most of the time and I think we expected that going into the game,” Carter said. “But I think we also expected to go in and have as many chances as possible and score and come out with the win.”

Marshwood advances to its first Class A state championship game Saturday at Massabesic High in Waterboro against North champion Brunswick. Marshwood was last in a state final in 1995 when it won its second straight Class B crown.

Marshwood senior defender Connor Walker said he could sense – and hear – Gorham’s growing frustration as the Rams’ pressure failed to produce a goal.

“We didn’t say anything back. We kept it calm and we did what we needed to,” Walker said. “I’ve been telling Deschene since the beginning of the year this team is special.”

Gorham had an 18-7 shot advantage, but only six shots were on frame and Andrew Gray made those saves easily for the shutout. Gorham’s Josiah Irish hit the post twice in the first half.

Marshwood on the other hand, was able to capitalize. In the first half when Gorham also controlled play, but to a lesser extent, a direct kick by Marshwood midfielder Trevor Wozny found its target in junior striker Wyatt Yager, who stuck with the play to convert a second-chance shot.

“They have two fantastic players on the counter and they took advantage of it,” Gorham Coach Nick Viola said.

Gorham started the season 0-3 but rallied, then eliminated No. 2 Scarborough and No. 3 South Portland in the previous two rounds.

“We definitely want to be playing one more game, but I’m tremendously proud of these boys, especially after the start we had,” Viola said.

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