It looked like Gorham High was going to break through at any time – like when Narissa Libby fired in a high ball, eight minutes into the game.

But there was Bangor High goalkeeper Emily Gilmore, leaping and tipping the ball over the crossbar.

Gilmore anchored a defense that withstood Gorham’s attack. Then Bangor countered with two second-half goals to beat Gorham 2-0 for the Class A girls’ soccer state championship Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

Bangor (15-1-2) won its first championship since 2011. Gorham (14-4) was making its first state title appearance since 2008.

Megan Conner converted a penalty kick with 22:42 left in the game for a 1-0 Bangor lead. Grace Morris made it 2-0, heading in a ball from Maeve Harrigan with 13:20 left.

“It always comes down to one, two, three breaks,” Bangor Coach Joe Johnson said. “You take advantage of them and you end up winning games like this.”

Gilmore made 12 saves while also coming out aggressively and squashing other Gorham chances.

“Sometimes the ball goes in and sometimes it doesn’t. And sometimes your keeper plays out of her mind,” Johnson said. “We don’t win this game without her.”

The game began with Gorham controlling the flow like it had throughout the playoffs. Libby and forward Emma Forgues were strong with the ball, setting up chances for Emily Bragg, Hallie Shiers and Lizzie Sullivan.

“Everybody worked hard from the start of preseason. We put in 100 percent and that showed on the field today,” said Bragg, one of the team’s senior co-captains. “We didn’t get the outcome we wanted.”

Gorham had four of its seven corner kicks in the first half. Libby sent one in and Cady Houghton headed it – right to Gilmore.

On Gorham’s next corner kick, Gilmore slapped away the ball. A scrum ensued. A shot looked to get by Gilmore, but teammates Harrigan and Morris were there to block it.

“Grace got it to me and I dove on it,” Gilmore said. “My defense made it easy for me. They took away the angles the whole game. I just had to stand there and catch it.”

What about the save she made while tipping the ball over the crossbar?

“That made me a little nervous,” Gilmore said.

Nerves aside, Gilmore made sure the game was scoreless at halftime.

“She’s the best goalie I’ve seen in any game this year,” Gorham Coach Jeanne Zarrilli said. “And they defended hard. It made it tough to get looks on the goal.”

Gorham’s defense made it tough on Bangor. Gorham keeper Emma Smith (two saves) was always in position, fronted by Houghton, Noelle Dibiase and Jennifer Darasz, with Caitlin Callahan subbing in quality minutes.

“They never got a chance in field play,” Houghton said. “They got both their goals off set plays.”

Nearly halfway through the second half, Bangor’s Maddison Cormier was moving the ball through the box when she was taken down. A penalty kick was instantly signaled.

“It was a legitimate call,” Zarrilli said. “We took some fouls we shouldn’t have.”

Johnson called for Conner to take the kick.

“He said my name and I knew not to get nervous about it,” Conner said. “Just relax, shoot for the corner, and keep it low and hard.”

Conner did just that. Bangor led 1-0.

Nine minutes later, Harrigan sent in a long free kick and Morris headed it in.

Gorham desperately tried to get back in it but Gilmore was there. She tipped another high shot – from Jenna Cowan – over the crossbar.

Soon, the Rams in the red jerseys were celebrating, while the Rams in the whites waited to shake their hands.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: @KevinThomasPPH

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