GORHAM – Sisters Marina and Amelia Pappalardo led the Rams’ charge – the former tallied four and the latter three – against visiting Bonny Eagle on Thursday afternoon, May 11. Gorham recouped a minor deficit early and never relinquished the lead after that, successfully holding big Scots names like Cat Biegel and Jenna Litif to low totals. 10-6 the final.
“It’s always a good game with Bonny Eagle,” said Gorham head coach Mary Guimond. “Our girls were slow to get started, but figured it out; we’re at the point in the season where things are starting to click.”
“We played Bonny Eagle in preseason,” said Amelia Pappalardo, “and at first it was iffy – but we beat them by a lot. This game, we were hesitant. Over the scores that we’ve seen, we were like, ‘It’s going to be a tied, even game.’ But we just kept scoring, and had the momentum.”
Gorhamite Bridget Rossignol had a goal waved off early in the match for a crease violation; Bonny Eagle capitalized on that little momentum shift and scored – Litif did it, cutting in front of Rams keeper Paige Hume – less than a minute later.
But Marina Pappalardo wasted little time in responding. Pappalardo made it 1-1 at 17:37, when she curled inward on Scots keeper Katelyn Michaud and, despite heavy defense, managed to pull the trigger on a successful shot.
The Rams added two in a row after that, Hallie Shiers beating Michaud on a juke-and-spin combo move in from the top-right and Jillian Nichols following her up with a free-position point. 3-1.
“We’ve had a lot of different people scoring,” Guimond said. “I think people expect Marina to be driving, so we’ve talked a lot about, ‘Okay, you see that she’s covered; what else can you do?’ We’ve had a lot of different people stepping up, a lot of freshmen lately.”
Kayley Rumery soon got one back for the Scots, but Amelia Pappalardo answered in 17 seconds flat; Marina then assisted Amelia on the 5-2 strike and Gorham were, if not securely or comfortably, at least impressively out front of a solid Bonny Eagle squad.
Amelia talked about her chemistry with her sister. “Me and Marina, we have stick-to-stick connection in a way; she just passes to me and it works really well.”
Guimond elaborated on the aspects of the game that’ve been coming together for her girls in recent days. “Ground balls have been ugly all season long,” she said. “And with this field and with a team that grinds like Bonny Eagle does, it’s always going to be a battle, so getting to those 50-50 balls. And basics – passing, catching – have been slow to get started for us this season, so that started to click a little bit more. And just not forcing plays on attack…Making smart passes, smart shot decisions, taking care of the ball. We did that a lot better.”
Nichols added her second of the day at 8:01, underhanding the ball past Michaud on a free position, and Marina Pappalardo cranked the Rams’ advantage to 7-2 at 6:13, also beating Michaud down low. Bonny Eagle next notched a pair to keep things interesting: Biegel added her first of two on the day and Allexius Theberge added her solo contribution for 7-4 at the break.
Marina Pappalardo kicked off the second half with a scoring drive up the middle. Six minutes later, Biegel retorted on a free position. Down by three, Bonny Eagle still had hope. To realize that hope, however, the Scots would need a major push in the downhill minutes.
They didn’t get it. Marina Pappalardo added yet another at 16:06, before the action settled into a long defensive stretch. Biegel scored her second on a free position at 7:00 for 9-6, but the game’s final point would go to Amelia Pappalardo, who capped the W for the Rams with under 90 seconds to play.
Guimond praised her girls’ defensive efforts. “Our defense is solid,” she said. “They work hard and they usually come up with a lot of key plays for us – a lot of good, caused turnovers. Our goalie made some awesome saves today; she’s a freshman. Keeps getting better.”
“Goalie was a big unknown at the beginning of the season,” Guimond said. “But Paige has come up huge for us, and every game has gotten better and better…Coming out, and playing those hard one-on-[zeroes], basically, she’s just doing awesome.”
“She really has stepped up,” Amelia Pappalardo said of Hume, who stopped several key shots.
“She wasn’t originally our goalie,” Marina Pappalardo said of Hume. “Then she decided to step up. She’s worked super-hard in practice, and she showed it. She’s amazing. For being first-time-ever in goal? It’s crazy.”
Guimond offered additional praise for both Pappalardos. “Amelia had an awesome game today; she and Marina, I think, figured out how to work together.”
Marina Pappalardo discussed how she manages to ever get open in a game – after all, any smart opponent is going to key on her, sticking a defender on her like glue. “Just changing my levels,” she said, “and going from one pace to another, running-wise. Stick-wise, keeping my head up and looking for my teammates, because if [the other team has] two people on me, I know one of my teammates is open. A lot of the time it’s Amelia. Like she said, we have a stick-to-stick connection; we’re sisters, we’ve been playing together since, like, third grade.”
Gorham jumped to 3-4 on the result. Next up on the docket for the Rams: a May 16 trip to the Maine Girls’ Academy. The Rams travel to Westbrook on Thursday the 18th and Noble on Monday the 22nd.
Amelia Pappalardo remarked on Gorham’s present state of development. “From day one, we were kind of hesitant in what we had. These last few games have been a reality check; this is bringing up our team, and showing what we can do.”
“Celia Begonia did very well on the draws,” Marina said when asked, as a senior and a Captain, who among her teammates played well. “Faith Dillon has been a key person on the circle all year round; I think she has the most draw controls. Definitely Hallie and Jillian; they know how to switch up their levels, switch up their pace. They drive when Coach tells them to drive. Brooke Greatorex on defense.”
Bonny Eagle slipped to 2-4. The Scots visited Edward Little on Saturday the 13th, and travel to Noble on the 16th. They host Biddeford two days later, and St. Dom two days after that.
Adam Birt can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME
Bonny Eagle freshman Allexius Theberge contributed for her team at Gorham on Thursday.
Carson Battaglia is one of several freshmen on the Gorham roster this season seeing good field-time.
Bonny Eagle’s Mollie Ward cuts inward on the attack.
Gorhamite Hillary Robbins drives for the Scots goal on a free position.
Marina Pappalardo tallied four goals – including one on this very shot – vs. visiting Bonny Eagle, last Thursday.
Bonny Eagle has a reliable goaltender in Kaitlyn Michaud, but even her presence in the cage couldn’t secure a W vs. Gorham on Thursday last.
Hallie Shiers logged an early goal in Gorham’s in over Bonny Eagle.
Gorham middie Hailey Morrill pushes forward in the Rams’ home win over Bonny Eagle.
Polly Rae unwinds into a shot for Bonny Eagle at Gorham last Thursday.
Cat Biegel added two for the Scots at Gorham last Thursday.