SOUTH BERWICK—Gorham fell 3-0 to Falmouth in the Class A State Final on Saturday afternoon, Oct. 27. Despite – predictably – strong work from a number of girls, and despite playing the Yachtsmen especially close in the third set, the Rams couldn’t quite complete a perfect season.
The match unfolded at Marshwood.
“Falmouth played great,” Gorham head coach Emma Tirrell said, “and at the same time, we didn’t have our best game.”
“But instead of the girls defining our season by not playing our best in our last game,” Tirrell said, “they’re just remembering how we played throughout the season instead.”
The match kicked off inauspiciously for the Rams. Falmouth standout Annika Hester, just a sophomore, earned the first point, and the Yachtsmen team picked up steam from there. Hester smashed a couple more points, and Gorham missed a dig or two and returned a couple shots long. All too soon, Falmouth led 9-0.
“I don’t think it was nerves at all,” Tirrell said of her girls’ stumbles. “They just didn’t show up.”
What does not showing up look like on the floor? Tirrell elaborated from a coach’s perspective: “They can’t pass, they’re not calling the ball, the setters are putting the ball into the net or two high for the hitters, the hitters are hitting it into the net, the hitters are hitting it out, we’re not getting serves in – the whole shebang.”
Finally the Rams began earning points of their own. Shortly after Hester delivered Gorham their first tally on a hit into the net, Ram Evelyn Kitchen made it 12-2 with a smash; Collette Romatis and Katie O’Donnell teamed up on an epic block for 14-3; and Maiya Carlson pushed the tally to 15-4 on a finesse tip into shallow Falmouth territory.
Still, Gorham never chewed very far into the Yachtsmen’s lead. The Rams came within five at 23-18, when Talia Catoggio landed an ace, but Falmouth hashed the next two points and took the set.
The second set started closer: The sides traded errors to start, 1-1, before inching to 2-2 and 3-3. Falmouth then pulled out front, reaching 9-5 on a Hester cross-court smash. Gorham’s Meg Perry responded with a smash of her own for 9-6, and momentarily the Rams pulled within one again at 10-9. They couldn’t maintain the push, however, falling behind 19-12 on a missed return and eventually dropping the set 25-17.
“The girls went to one of their games,” Tirrell said, asked if Gorham had scouted the opposition. “Annika is their strongest player, so we did a little stuff to practice defending her, and we did a good a job defending her today. We just weren’t playing as smooth as we normally do.”
Set three proved the tightest. Falmouth opened on a 4-0 run, and Hester ensured they held onto to that advantage for a while, adding the 6-3, 7-4 and 8-4 points. But a Carlson ace pushed the Rams to 8-6, and a Perry bullet to the back-left corner of Yachtsmen territory kept them close at 11-9.
Soon, Gorham balanced the books at 11-11; they did so again at 13-13 on a fantastic team-up block by Carlson and Kitchen. But the Rams could never seize the advantage, and Falmouth promptly broke into a run from which Gorham wouldn’t recover. The Yachtsmen capped their victory at 25-16.
Tirrell took a moment to nod at a couple of her girls’ overall efforts, despite their collective defeat: “Meg worked really hard, and Katie O’Donnell worked really hard. All of them wanted it – we just weren’t producing like we normally do.”
Gorham finishes the year at 16-1. The Rams assembled an exemplary run through the regular season, winning all but three of their matches in straight sets, and dropping just four sets total (two to South Portland and one each to Biddeford and Marshwood) over the course of their schedule. They dropped one further set in the first two rounds of the playoffs: After walloping Cheverus 3-0 in the quarterfinals, they bested Scarborough 3-1 in the semifinals.
While Tirrell readily acknowledged her girls’ mistakes, she also stressed the positive: “It’s important for me to say – these girls, I’m not disappointed in them. They’ve played so hard and they’ve had an amazing season, and I wouldn’t take back any of the games. They wanted it so badly. I’m proud of them for coming into this game like they did, being calm and collected like they were. Hats off to them for making it this far.”
Adam Birt can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME.
Gorhamites Collette Romatis and Katherine O’Donnell ascend together to block.
Evelyn Kitchn battles at the net for Gorham.
Meg Perry unwinds into a serve.
Gorham Captains Collette Romatis, Katherine O’Donnell and Evelyn Kitchen pose with the team’s new State Runners-up plaque.