Boys Soccer: Gorham drops Westbrook, moves on to semis

Gorham's Sam Burghardt pushes upfield with the ball.

Gorhamite Jackson Fotter – as he so often does – led his boys on the attack Tuesday night, Oct. 25, tallying a hat trick vs. visiting Westbrook. The Rams cruised to a 5-1 win, despite the Blazes’ possessing frequently and pressing hard.

“We knew Westbrook would give us a better game than the first time we played them,” said Gorham head coach Tim King. “We scored some goals on them the first time, but the possession wasn’t as lopsided as the score.” The Rams battered the Blazes 7-0 in the teams’ first meeting, back on Sept. 27.

Possessing was Westbrook head coach Vince Aceto’s primary aim in facing the Rams. “That was exactly it. [My guys] wanted to have more control of their play, and their counterattacks; they wanted to defend better, which they did. We just couldn’t get the ball up top, into the final third.”

“We try our best; they were [a] tough game, and [a] tough team,” said Blazes middie Noor Abdulabas. 

Abdulabas, a senior, was pleased with the way his boys played. “Yeah. They play hard; very, very hard. But [Gorham] was tough.”

Fotter’s first two goals – which came midway through the opening half and with 8:11 to play before the break – looked remarkably similar. Fotter scored both from low on the right side of the Westbrook cage, though he slipped one ball past keeper Jacob Brackett at the near post, and the other at the far-post.

The Rams took a 2-0 lead into halftime. 2-0 is a solid advantage in soccer, but hardly unassailable. So Westbrook continued to push in the downhill half, and finally earned a notch in the waning minutes, Shammah Gahomera, assisted by Isaiah McGill, besting Gorham replacement keeper Trevor Gray. But by then, Fotter had completed his hat trick, and Rams Kyle Patterson and Tyler Richman had also hit paydirt. 

“I think we create good chances even when we don’t have the ball,” said King, asked what allows his boys to hash a lot of points in games where overall possession might be roughly even. “We have good skill players that can make plays, we have good speed. So when we do get the ball, we can attack pretty quickly. And when they have the ball, we do a good job getting back behind the ball and defending. So Westbrook didn’t really have any great shots, even though they had the ball.”

Westbrook retires till 2017 at 8-7-1. The Blazes entered the bracketing ranked ninth, then bested No. 8 Kennebunk 4-0 on the road in the prelims. 

Abdulabas reflected on the season. “Actually, in the beginning, we’re struggling, with our team, because we didn’t have that many players. But after that, we play very well. We faced a lot of teams and did a very good job.”

Gorham, meanwhile, advances to 14-0-1, not to mention Saturday the 29th’s semifinals round. The Rams will host No. 4 Scarborough.

Gorham’s Sam Burghardt pushes upfield with the ball.

Andrew Rent fends off a Westbrook opponent.

In pursuit of a header, Gorhamite Kyle Patterson gets air over Westbrooker Marcus Lawson.

Tyler Richman grabs an airball for Gorham.

Gorham’s Ethan Orach works the midfield on Tuesday.

Kyle Patterson celebrates his goal vs. visiting Westbrook on Tuesday evening.

The Blazes’ Marcus Lawson and the Rams’ Tyler Richman go shoulder-to-shoulder in pursuit of the ball.

Westbrook’s Grayson Post and Gorham’s Jackson Fotter collide in midair.

Aaron Farr blasts the ball away on defense.