GORHAM—Gorham star Andrew Rent – arguably the single best high school player in Maine – secured a 2-0 win for his boys vs. visiting Cheverus on Friday night, Oct. 26: Rent scored twice in the second half for the Rams, who’ve been strongest all fall in the downhill minutes of a game.
“Ahh, yeah, we were pretty good,” Gorham head coach Tim King said, asked if his boys – as they seemed to – did everything right against the Stags. “I thought [Cheverus was] really good in the first half. Their midfield is a really talented group and they gave us some problems.”
Play pingponged up and down the field through the uphill half; not until after the break, though, did either side get on the board – Gorham, obviously. Rent struck initially in the sixth minute, picking up a feed inward from the top-left of the Stags’ box, then settling, turning and firing left-post past keeper Harrison Bell.
“I thought [Cheverus] dictated play a little bit in the first half,” King said. “It was pretty even, but I thought we played much better in the second half. And of course, when you’ve got a player like Andrew who turns it on and makes a couple great goals, it really lifts our team.”
10 minutes later, Rent reasserted his dominance: He broke, with control of the ball, up the right side of the field and beat a Cheverus defender with seeming ease to secure a one-v.-one showdown with Bell. Bell blocked Rent’s shot – but Rent picked up his own rebound, dribbled around Bell and converted. 2-0.
“Honestly, it’s been like this all year,” King said. “We’ve played pretty good in the first half, but we always seem to find another gear in the second half.”
Those weren’t Gorham’s only opportunities, of course, and other boys on the powerhouse squad deserve ample credit. Take Ryan Farr, who crossbarred a blistering shot in the first half.
“We created some good chances against a good team,” King said. “In the playoffs you’re not going to get a whole ton of them…Ryan hit the crossbar with a hack of a shot.”
Javin Stickney generated more than one high-quality chance, too. Stickney managed a breakaway in the opening half that might well have gone his way, but for a Stags slide-tackle-from-behind that brought him crashing to the turf like so much timber. Stickney also set Rent up on a quality try with eight minutes to play before the break, but Rent’s attempt in that moment flew just wide of the Cheverus net.
Stickney picked up another good go with 7:30 remaining in the game, on a break up the right side; Bell proved sufficient to his challenge, however. Not long after, Farr launched a shot in Bell’s direction, but like Rent’s earlier, unsuccessful try, Farr’s ball missed just wide.
When the No. 1 Rams locked horns with the No. 2 Stags earlier in the season, the teams battled to a draw.
“Cheverus is the one team we hadn’t beaten,” King said, “so I think we were really looking forward to this rematch. Not that we didn’t respect them, but we wanted another shot at them, and I think the guys responded.”
Gorham’s win this time around bumped them to 15-0-1 on the season, and earned them a berth in Wednesday, Oct. 31’s Regional Final – a rematch berth, to be specific. The Rams will host No. 3 Portland (10-3-3) at 6:30 p.m.
Adam Birt can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME.
Travis Matheson pursues the ball near the sideline for Gorham.
Brady King powers upfield for Gorham.
Gorhamite Matt Phinney boots away the ball.
Ram Michael Knight and Stag Will Mullen collide.
Kevin Mollison drives upfield for Gorham in their 2-0 win over Cheverus.
Gorham’s Andrew Rent – who tallied both of the Rams’ goals in their win over Cheverus on Friday night – politely squeezes past Stags opponent Mike Nason.
Brendan Waterman works along the sideline for Gorham.