HAMPDEN, Maine — All through pregame warmups until kickoff time, the five seniors on the Hampden Academy girls soccer team were fired up, smiling and raring to go for Thursday’s Class A showdown with rival Bangor.
The smiles turned into hoots, hollers and hugs a couple hours later, as the Broncos’ back line buckled down after Chelsea Kuzio scored the match’s lone goal in the first half as Hampden earned its biggest victory of the season with a 1-0 victory over the Rams.
“We knew in the beginning we were going to get 20 [Heal] points if we got a win over this team,” said Hampden senior midfielder Abby Neill. “We’re so excited.”
Ironically, on Senior Night at the Weatherbee Complex, it was Kuzio, a freshman, who put the 9-4 Broncos on the board late in the first half.
Michaela Stephenson sent a cross across the penalty area, and an unmarked Kuzio leaped over a Ram defender and sent the ball into the goal’s left side.
“Everybody went over to [the right] side and the whole [left] side was open,” Kuzio said.
Hampden’s tenacious back line of Katie Chambers, Morgan Montgomery-Rice, Ashley Danforth, Whitney Moore and Monique Kelmanson took over from there, giving the Rams limited opportunities at.
That was a change from when these teams met earlier this season when Bangor jumped out to a big lead and held on to win 4-3.
“I think we were definitely on our [marks] more, we knew them really well, we’ve been playing with them since we were little,” senior Montgomery-Rice said. “I think we read them really well today.”
The Broncos’ backs were solid in marking the Rams’ quick strikers and not allowing any second-chance scoring opportunities.
“We knew we had to mark up, we could not leave any girl open, that’s what we had to do we had to clear it, get it out,” Neill said.
Bangor’s best chance to gain the equalizer came with 7 minutes to play in regulation. Jade Baumrind carried the ball down the midfield, dribbled around a couple Bronco defenders and blasted a shot that was headed toward the left post, but HA keeper Julia Snyder made a spectacular, leaping one-handed save to preserve the lead.
“Julia did amazing, came back from an injury. She’s superwoman. She saved us,” said Neill.
Snyder, who came up with four saves on 14 shots, had to leave the game for about seven minutes in the second half after being shaken up on a collision in front of the goal mouth.
“She got wrapped up in the leg, wrapped up in the arm, she’s a tough kid and she bounced back,” said Hampden coach Jeff Ingalls.
Tessa Wood came in and was solid in relief of Snyder.
Kortnie Hudgens finished with two saves on eight shots for Bangor, now 9-3-1.
JV: Bangor 1-0