BANGOR, Maine — On the surface, Friday’s 6-2 victory over Hampden Academy looks like another ho-hum win for the Bangor High girls soccer team.
The statistics may suggest that as well, as the Rams outshot the Broncos 28-9 and had a decisive edge in ball possession.
But this win was anything but easy for coach Joe Johnson’s club, as the Rams saw a 4-0 halftime lead sliced to 4-2 thanks to goals by Broncos striker Michaela Stephenson — both from more than 25 yards away.
“They were really good shots, there was nothing [Bangor goalkeeper] Mia [Smith] could do about it, really,” said Rams senior striker Eliza Estabrook.
Bangor, which improved to 7-0 and maintained its position atop the Eastern Maine Class A Heal points, kept constant pressure on the Broncos’ back line, and Hampden struggled with Bangor’s quickness at times.
“They’re accomplished players, they’re older than a lot of our kids,” Hampden coach Jeff Ingalls said. “Their speed is terrific.”
The Rams scored the first of their four first-half goals at the 23:02 mark, as Ashley Robinson slid a cross to Megan Doucette, who placed the ball inside the right post.
Kim Jordan struck again nine minutes later, as she emerged unmark on the far right corner and sent a high, arching cross toward Estabrook in the penalty area that somehow found the net.
“I was looking for a cross on it, it kind of went in instead,” Jordan said. “Eliza was there for it anyways.”
Estabrook scored the final two goals of the half for Bangor, the first coming on a loose-ball scramble which HA goalkeeper Julia Snyder came out for, and Jade Baumrind found an unmarked Estabrook at the goalmouth.
Hampden came out of halftime with plenty of fire, however, as Stephenson’s goals, both unassisted, made things a bit less comfortable for Johnson.
“Michaela Stephenson’s a great player. She can shoot those from 24-30 yards out,” Johnson said.
But the Rams showed the resolve that has led them to an undefeated start, as Estabrook pounced on another loose ball with 10:57 to play and deflected it home to give the Rams a 5-2 cushion.
Shannon Broznya capped the scoring with five minutes left, with Grace MacLean collecting the assist.
Ingalls, whose Broncos dipped to 2-4-1, was happy with his team’s character in the second half.
“They’re my heroes, the way they fought back like that,” he said.
The Rams, however, had too much team speed, especially offensively, and they possessed the ball well along the wings.
“We were really consistent throughout we had a couple breakdowns but overall we were pretty solid,” Estabrook said.
Bangor’s defense did an effective job of keeping Hampden’s attackers away from the penalty area, and Smith made a highlight-reel point-blank save on a Stephenson breakaway in the game’s final seconds.
Smith had four saves for Bangor while Snyder turned in a solid effort in net for Hampden, coming away with 10 stops.