Gorham High’s 1972 New England Champion boys’ soccer team was honored at the school Thursday. Attending the pregame ceremony were, from left, team members Rusty Keene, Ed Quinlan, Coach George Stevenson, Greg Dugas and Jim Philbrick. Steve Craig photo

GORHAM — They were a small town team from Maine that believed in their coach, their teammates and their ability to win.

Fifty years later, members of Gorham High’s 1972 New England Champion boys’ soccer team were celebrated prior to Gorham’s season-opening 8-0 win over Massabesic on Thursday.

“I think a lot of people have seen the movie ‘Hoosiers.’ We lived that. The fire trucks met us at the turnpike in Westbrook and led us back here to the gym and it was a packed gym and it was crazy. We were the toast of the town,” said Ed Quinlan, who was a junior right wing on the ’72 team and now lives in San Diego.

Quinlan was joined by former teammates Greg Dugas, Jim Philbrick, Rusty Keene, Coach George Stevenson and family members of several other teammates. In 1972, most of Gorham’s players were multisport athletes but soccer had taken hold in the what Dugas called “a farm town,” under the direction of Stevenson, the varsity coach from 1964-81 and a high school math teacher.

“We all knew each other and rode bikes everywhere and played soccer and played baseball and basketball and loved life,” said Rusty Keene, the team captain and a defender. “(Stevenson) convinced us we could win and so we just thought we could.”

Gorham beat Cathedral High of Springfield, Massachusetts, 2-0, on Nov. 18, 1972, before a large partisan crowd at Bowdoin College on a grass field that had to be plowed of snow before the game. Gorham High had about 600 students at the time, Dugas said. Cathedral High was a school of 4,000 with a rich sports history and athletic alumni like 1943 Heisman Trophy winner Angelo Bertelli and NFL linebacker Nick Buoniconti.


Quinlan scored the first goal late in the first half. Dugas made it 2-0 midway through the third quarter. At that time, high school soccer games were divided into four quarters.

For Gorham, the win capped a memorable three-year run in the earliest days of boys’ soccer being sanctioned by the Maine Principals’ Association. Gorham won the first MPA title in 1970, beat Fort Kent in 1971 by virtue of having more corner kicks (11-1) after the game ended in a 1-1 tie, and beat Fort Kent again in 1972, 3-2.

“Soccer was in its infancy but we had been kicking the ball around since third grade,” Dugas said.

At the 1971 New England Championships, Gorham had reached the final but lost to New Bedford, Massachusetts, 4-1. Gorham graduated nine senior starters from the 1971 team.

“I remember when we lost I told George we’d come back and win next year, but I don’t think anyone believed it,” Keene said.

The other members of the 1972 team were Tommy Bachelder, Jim Burnell, Dennis Burnham, Ron Charrier, Danny Doyle, Archie Howe, Jim Kramlich, Steve Labrecque, Pual Lurvey, Craig Marsh, Greg Nason, Randy O’Brien, Joe Ramsdell, Bruce Rust, Norman Shiers, Bill Snow, Doug Stevens, Jeff Stevens, Jim Welch, Tom Williams and Ted Woodbrey. Five have died: Rust, Labrecque, Woodbrey, Charrier and Nason.

“We had good athletes as well as good soccer players,” said Stevenson, 85, who still lives in Gorham. “And they were just very competitive. A lot of them played in small group games in the summer, which was hardly known at that time.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.