Gorham batters South Portland in season-opener

Lydia Henderson of South Portland and the Rams' Karen Stemm do battle in pursuit of the ball.


Grace DeWitt and Jamie Juskiwicz notched a pair apiece for the Rams visiting South Portland on Thursday afternoon, Sept. 1, propelling their squad to a season-opening, 6-0 W.

But DeWitt and Juskiewicz weren’t the only Gorhamites to contribute, and head coach Becky Manson-Rioux hesitated to applaud any of her players individually. “I’m really not sure anyone stuck out. We had a couple girls score multiple goals, but I think really it was a great team effort in the passing and communication.”

“We have some work to do,” said South Portland head coach Leslie Dyer. “[The girls] are still immature with their mentality. They need to get the hunger; you need to fight for every ball. Every ball is 50/50 and they know that. They’re okay with reacting instead of attacking.”

After an initial few minutes’ back-and-forth, Gorham settled the play in South Portland’s end, where they controlled for most of the first half. But despite badgering the Riots’ defense over and again, the Rams managed just one goal – DeWitt’s first, which came midway through the stretch.

With South Portland’s attack unable to rev into high gear, that lone Gorham point would’ve sufficed to win the game. The Rams weren’t content, though, and tallied a trio – Grace McGouldrick, Juskiewicz and DeWitt did the honors – to open the second half and essentially secure victory.

Dyer elaborated on what went wrong for her squad. “Transitioning the ball, reading the off-ball movement – those are things, you’ve got to attack, you’ve got to step up. Gorham was hammering our goalie in the first half, and it’s because our entire team was up there. Every time the ball got out, Gorham knocked it right back in. I’ve been working with this team to get up the field, up the field, and keep the ball in the offensive end.”

“Our goal was,” Dyer said, “keep the ball above the 50. Get it above the 25 and take the shots; you can’t score if you have two shots per game. I think at halftime we had two…Eliminating the touch-touch-touch – and the finish: We did have some fantastic crosses there in the end, and no one was there.”

Shortly before her girls’ scoring spurt, Manson-Rioux had called for time. “Using the timeout, and the opportunity to take a deep breath,” she said, asked what allowed her girls to break the game open. “We were [playing] a little frantic, and we hadn’t been playing like that in preseason.”

Manson-Rioux also, of course, used the timeout to deliver a few tidbits of instruction: “Gave them a couple of pointers – keep the field spread – and they did it. They’ve been very coachable.”

To South Portland’s great credit, they pushed back admirably for a long swath in the downhill half, essentially reversing the momentum completely. The Riots drove the attack into Gorham’s end and scrapped after something, anything – one, lone goal to jumpstart their hopes.

“I put my subs in,” Dyer said. “I’m not going to lie. They heard me on the sideline, and they produced. Don’t hang behind the defender; you’ve got to get in front of her, you’ve got to have your sticks down. They heard me say it again and again and again…they went in, and they did it.”

Alas, it wasn’t the Riots’ day; the Rams’ defense withstood the assault, and eventually reversed the flow of play once more.

Manson-Rioux credited her defenders with never faltering. “[They] were continuing their communication, keeping their composure and using the width of the field to carry that ball out. I did a lot of subbing in that case, and the bench came off and did a really good job.”

“Then,” Manson-Rioux said, “getting the other subs back in created a little momentum going in the forward [direction].”

That momentum build allowed Gorham to hash a couple more goals before the final buzzer. With 7:09 remaining, Erin Esty put a ball home, and four and a half minutes later, Juskiewicz echoed her for the 6-0 final.

“It’s a hunger from within,” Dyer said. “This team isn’t used to winning, and I’m hoping we’re not going to be settling for what just happened.”

The Rams fell to the Riots in overtime in 2015, so Manson-Rioux considers Thursday’s victory an especially important indicator. “[It] says that we are pretty hungry for the goal,” she said. “And that we look very strong. But…I have eight seniors, with great leadership, and they’re pretty dominant at this point. I’m hoping we can continue the momentum, going forward.”

South Portland visited Marshwood on Saturday the 3rd, where they succumbed 3-0 to the Hawks. They host Deering on Wednesday the 7th. Gorham tied with TA 3-3 on Saturday, and travel to Sanford on Wednesday.

Lydia Henderson of South Portland and the Rams’ Karen Stemm do battle in pursuit of the ball.

Gorham’s Vanessa Berrill races for the ball at South Portland on Thursday.

Gorham’s Emily Murray cuts back in pursuit of the action.

South Portland’s Kaylee Whitten lunges after a ball Gorhamite Molly Barr just has her stick on.

Gorhamite Mary Adams lines up a drive on the attack.

The Riots’ Amelia Papi and the Rams’ Lauren DiBiase go shoulder-to-shoulder.

The Riots’ Sophia Cummings shuttles the ball ahead.

South Portland’s Lydia Grant fires forward vs. visiting Gorham.

South Portland’s Kiley Callow takes a swipe on the attack.

Gorhamite Grace McGouldrick takes a cut at the ball in her team’s matchup at South Portland last Thursday.

Gorham’s Jamie Juskiewicz celebrates with teammate Erin Esty after the two paired up to score.

Gorham Tri-Captain Erin Esty charges forward on the attack at South Portland on Thursday.

Gorham’s Hallie Thomas helped drive her team to a 6-0 walloping of South Portland in both teams’ season-opener.