FALMOUTH—Gorhamite Kyle King scored the lone goal in a 1-0 semifinals win for the Rams visiting the Yachtsmen on Saturday night, Oct. 28. Gorham and Falmouth balanced each other out for the huge majority of the contest, King’s decisive strike never arriving until nearly 69 minutes had elapsed.
“We played them earlier in the year, and they got us 1-0,” Gorham head coach Tim King said of Falmouth, “but it was a pretty evenly matched game, and I felt like tonight was the same thing. Two teams going at it hard, two good ball clubs. It’s just one play we made that they didn’t, and that’s the difference in the game.”
“We looked at the matchup with them as almost just carbon-copies of each other,” King said. “The way they set up their formation compared with the way we set up, it’s just going to come down to one-on-one battles. We knew it, all over the field. I guess we won one more battle than they did tonight.”
The action proved back and forth from the get-go. Much of it unfolded at midfield, and both back lines played admirable defense when pressured, though each team’s keeper – Trevor Gray for the Rams and Alvaro Fuentes-Cantillana for the Yachtsmen – did face a bit of danger here and there. Ram Sam Burghardt, for example, nearly broke the 0-0 deadlock with around six and a half minutes to play in the uphill half. Fuentes-Cantillana deflected Burghardt’s shot up and it bounced off the crossbar and out of bounds. Interestingly, the referee awarded Fuentes-Cantillana a goal-kick then, despite his having been the last player to touch the ball – meaning the Rams were, in reality, owed a corner.
(Naturally, the Gorham fan contingent – and especially the student section – loudly expressed their displeasure at the call.)
In the end, of course, it wouldn’t matter. Falmouth crossbarred one of their own midway through the latter half, but the contest was apparently fated to go the Rams’ way. Kyle King, at center, earned his first pretty rip on a feed from Nolan Brown, dashing up the left sideline, with roughly 13:30 remaining, but the ball said just wide of Fuentes-Cantillana. Not until 11:02 did he finally secure the game-winner, crashing Fuentes-Cantillana’s cage at the left corner and thrashing home the point.
It was a scrapper’s goal, an ugly goal – short on finesse but long on adrenaline, long on hunger. The whole scene looked about as messy as a shark eating a seal.
King described the goal. “We practice that every day,” he said, “bringing it down the line. And I knew that Andrew (Rent) does that all the time; he puts it right on the ground, back post. I just took a hard run and luckily it made a nice hop for me past the defender, and I just put it away.”
“Sometimes you call those ‘dirty goals,’” Tim King said. “But those are the goals that win games. You’ve got to be in the box, you’ve got to be fighting – and [Kyle] is a big, strong kid; he doesn’t mind mixing it up in there. It happened to get on his foot and luckily he got it in the back of the net. I was pretty happy to see that, for sure.”
Dirty or not, a meal’s a meal and a goal’s a goal, and just like the shark ends up satisfied, so did King and Co. And though Falmouth turned in another close call – this one at 10:15, on a header that sailed just high of Gray’s crossbar – the Rams would hold on for the W.
“You always start with your defense, and build from the back,” Tim King said. “We were great tonight in the back. I thought Michael Knight was phenomenal. Our outside backs, Cooper Lyons and Garrett Higgins were great, because they’re so dangerous down the wings, and we took that away for the most part. And Aaron Farr, sweeping everything up. We were really sound in the back. And Trevor Gray, when he needed to, was there.”
“We knew we had to defend their set pieces well,” Kyle King said, “because they play quick. Our defense did a great job tonight. I think we won all the one v. one matchups that we needed to…I think everyone really just played well, worked hard. A hundred percent effort for everybody.”
Gorham, who entered the bracketing ranked third (a slot back from Falmouth, and one ahead of Portland) moves to 13-2-1 on the year. The Rams finished 11-2-1 in the regular season. One of those two losses came against the Yachtsmen. That game, also a 1-0 result, unfolded at Falmouth back on Oct. 10.
Next up, Gorham hosts the Bulldogs in the Regional Final; that matchup is slated for Wednesday evening, Nov. 1. Portland, in fact, handed the Rams their other regular-season defeat, 2-1 on Sept. 9. No doubt Gorham will be thirsty for a little revenge.
Adam Birt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @CurrentSportsME.
Kyle King (24) and Nolan Brown celebrate after King’s game-winning goal.
Kyle King knocks his game-winner past Falmouth keeper Alvaro Fuentes-Cantillana.
Sam Burghardt battles a Yachtsmen opponent.
Andrew Rent escapes a Falmouth opponent.
Gorhamite Nick Sturtevant vies for a header with a Falmouth opponent.
Michael Knight pushes past a Falmouth opponent.