New Coach Zachary Bryant addresses the Gorham High boys’ lacrosse team prior to Tuesday’s playoff game at Lewiston High. Steve Craig photo

LEWISTON  — Justin Chasse found out Tuesday morning that he and six of his Gorham High boys’ lacrosse senior teammates were no longer suspended from the team and could play in the team’s Class A preliminary playoff game on Tuesday evening.

“Everyone was excited to have the boys back, excited to go to a playoff game and we were able to get to work,” Chasse said. “Right off the bat we were putting them in. Right off the bat the energy was high and we probably had one of the best games we’ve had all season.”

The Rams’ faceoff specialist, Chasse scored the game’s first goal just 22 seconds in after winning the first faceoff. He broke a 3-3 halftime tie by doing the same thing in the third quarter, needing only 13 seconds to score. That was the first of six straight Gorham goals as the 12th-seeded Rams beat No. 5 Lewiston, 10-6.

The players had been removed from the team Thursday in the wake of player protests about their head coach, Clayton Jones. They were suspended specifically for leaving the bench area during a May 30 game at Waynflete School in Portland.

Gorham Schools Superintendent Heather Perry said in an email Tuesday morning that the school department decided to reinstate the players after gathering information about their actions and the events leading up to the suspensions.

“While we do not support their actions to leave the bench area during the course of a game, we have received additional information through our internal inquiries over the last couple of days that provide us with a better understanding as to why they made the decision that they did,” Perry said.


The players were suspended a day after Jones was asked not to return to the team by school officials. The seven seniors were not allowed to participate in the regular-season finale at Windham on Thursday evening.

On May 30, the entire team refused to board a school bus for the game at Waynflete, saying they were willing to forfeit unless Jones was removed as the varsity coach. The players eventually were persuaded by Gorham High’s athletic director to board the bus with Jones as coach.

The team’s 12 seniors knew they were benched for the first quarter at Waynflete as punishment for wearing eye black at Gorham’s previous game. Prior to the start of the second quarter, the seniors were told they would not play at all. That’s when the seven seniors left the bench area, walked to the other side of the field, and sat with their parents.

New Coach Zachary Bryant said he and the remaining players prepared for the playoffs expecting to be without the seven seniors.

“We started initiating a new offensive scheme, a new man-up, so I had about 30 minutes before the game to introduce that,” to the reinstated players, Bryant said. “Luckily we had some freshmen who stepped up and filled some roles and did a great job tonight. Three freshmen goal scorers. And, I could tell the boys had not put their sticks down. They had still been working for seven days in a row, so happy to see that.”

During the game, Bryant emphasized composure and accountability on the sidelines, repeatedly telling his team to not talk back to officials or question penalties. Offensively a point of emphasis was to work the ball patiently and avoid unnecessary turnovers.


Gorham struggled early, with nine first-quarter turnovers. Gradually the Rams played more efficiently while goalie Bode Bragdon (12 saves) and his defenders held Lewiston in check.

Gorham scored four goals in the first 3:16 of the fourth quarter to take a 9-3 lead. Goals came from freshman Cole Chasse (his second, both with assists from senior Ryder Spear), freshman Aidan Dudley, speedy senior Joe Cowan (two goals) and Justin Chasse (his third).

Freshman Lucas Graham and senior Brady Alexander also scored goals in the game.

Senior captain Jacob Lehman was one of five seniors who had not been suspended. He described the last week as “hectic, with a couple of hurdles we had to work through,” but was confident Gorham would play well despite the short notice of the suspensions being lifted.

“We have a really strong, tight team and our connections are really strong,” Lehman said. “I had faith that they could come back and reunite with the team and our bond originally was so strong that they would just flow right in.”

Gorham (6-9) advances to a Class A quarterfinal at No. 4 Thornton Academy. Lewiston finishes the season 10-5.

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