HAMPDEN, Maine — Brandon Wilcox wasn’t certain he’d even be part of the Bangor Christian boys soccer team this fall, given a back injury that had sidelined him since last winter.
But the senior midfielder rejoined his team in the sixth game of its schedule and capped off that abbreviated season in the grandest of styles Saturday — scoring on a penalty kick with 2:20 left in the second half to lift the Patriots to a 2-1 victory over Richmond and the school’s second Class D state title in the last five years.
“This is incredible, because I didn’t know if I could play or not before the season began,” said Wilcox, the son of Bangor Christian coach Aaron Wilcox. “And then once I got clearance to come back, I had to get back in shape and that took a while, too.”
Wilcox was awarded the penalty kick for being taken down inside the 18-yard-line after being sent in on a breakaway thanks to a long kick by sweeper Nate Kutz.
He then calmly kicked the ball into the lower right corner of the net, as Richmond goalie Bruce Carver dove in the other direction trying to guess where Wilcox would aim his shot.
“In the Eastern Maine championship I missed one 5 feet wide,” said Wilcox, who scored eight of his team’s 11 postseason goals. “I tried to put that out of my mind and just stepped forward with confidence. I wanted to bury one for my team.”
Bangor Christian (16-2) took a 1-0 lead with 21:18 left in the opening half on a goal by Zach Sirois, who grounded a 15-yard shot inside the right goal post after taking a pass from coach Wilcox’s other son on the team, sophomore Brad Wilcox.
“The ball came in from the left side and I saw a defender coming from the right, so I turned the ball to my left leg to get away from the defender and it opened up a shot for me,” said Sirois.”
Richmond (13-3) nearly tied the game on a penalty kick with 21:16 left in the second half after Bangor Christian’s Nate Fowler was red-carded for a hand ball on a shot headed into the net off a corner kick by the Bobcats’ Michael Christie.
But that hand ball proved advantageous to Bangor Christian, as Patriots goalie Tyler Alexander dove to his right to block the penalty kick by Richmond’s Joey Scribellito, then watched a follow-up shot by Nick Woods go wide of the far goalpost.
“We work on those in practice all the time, so I’ve gotten good at reading guys,” said Alexander. “I just knew he was going right, so I guessed that way and guessed right.”
Still, the red card meant Bangor Christian had to play a man short for the rest of the match, and Richmond increased its offensive pressure until Eric Murrin beat Alexander and another Bangor Christian defender to a long lead pass from Tom Carter and scored the tying goal with a 15-yard shot just under the cross bar to tie the match with 11:22 left.
Moments later, Brandon Wilcox, who had been moved back to defense to help the Patriots cope with being a man short, switched back to the midfield to boost the offense.
And when he saw an opportunity, he didn’t hesitate.
“We had a free kick back there, and in a tie game you’ve got to take a chance,” said Wilcox. “We were down a man anyway, and to go through overtime that way you’ve got to figure they were going to have chances. So I moved up, took a chance, and the guy clipped me. He clearly clipped me.”
Alexander finished with 14 saves on 23 shots for Bangor Christian, while Carver made six saves on 11 shots.