HAMPDEN — Even though the Hampden Academy girls soccer team entered Friday night’s rivalry game with Bangor boasting a solid 5-1 record, the Broncos were considered underdogs by some.
But coach Jeff Ingalls’ club proved once again that games aren’t played on paper, as goalkeeper Julia Snyder made three game-saving saves to help the Broncos earn a 1-1 tie with the Rams.
The biggest of those saves came with 17:53 remaining in regulation after Bangor was awarded a penalty kick after a handball in the penalty area.
With Rams’ standout Ashley Robinson staring her in the face, Snyder reacted to the ball perfectly, dove to her left and stopped the shot while also stuffing a subsequent rebound attempt by Robinson.
“I held the (far) side and then I just assumed,” Snyder said. “It was a low-type shot and it wasn’t as quick as I thought it was coming so I tried to react to it.”
Snyder went on to stop a Kim Jordan blast with five seconds left in regulation, and preserved the tie with a diving save on a Grace Maclean breakaway early in the second overtime.
Both goals were scored in the first half, with Robinson putting the 5-0-2 Rams on the board at the 26:06 mark, grounding a low, hard shot through Snyder’s gloves and into the left side of the goal.
But the Broncos (5-1-1) responded valiantly, getting the equalizer 14:52 before halftime.
Michaela Stephenson started the sequence with a direct kick from the left side, and Jordan Maxwell found Anna Michaud along the left side of the penalty area, and Michaud shot the ball to the right of Bangor’s Mia Smith.
“I don’t think anyone expected us to get an equalizer on that,” Stephenson said. “Anna just stepped up, was there and perfectly placed it past the goalie.”
The Rams’ offensive attack intensified in the second half, as coach Joe Johnson’s club finished with a 21-8 edge in shots on the night, but Snyder, who compiled eight saves, was on her game.
“She made some great stops, no doubt about it,” said Johnson. “We put a lot of presure on her, it’s a tough place to score as usual down here. She made some great saves.”
Hampden struggled to counterattack against the aggressive Rams, but the Broncos’ back line and midfielders, led by Katie Cyr, Anna Michaud, Ashley Damforth, Sammy Utecht, Kylee Fogg and Whitney Moore played strong and tightly marked Jordan, Maclean and Robinson.
“We just kept talking and we kept the energy going and we just worked as hard as we could,” Snyder said.
The Broncos are certainly proving they can play with the state’s top teams this year — they had a 1-0 lead on Waterville before losing 4-1 earlier this fall — and Friday’s game further enhanced that.
“I think mentally we made some great gains because sometimes I think we’re doubting ourselves coming into the games against the big guns, and now that we’ve got this tie under our belt it shows we’re ready for anything,” Stephenson said.
It would’ve been easy for the Broncos to lose their focus after Bangor, which is outscoring its opposition 42-4 so far this season, jumped out on top early.
“We got behind, they didn’t fold,” Ingalls said. “(We) scored to tie it up, and we continued to compete instead of all the air coming out of the ball.”
Bangor’s back line kept Stephenson marked tightly throughout the match, and the Rams’ midfield was bolstered by the return of Sadie Redman, who has missed the first six games while recovering from a knee (meniscus) injury.
“I thought it’d be a pretty even match, I really did, back and forth, they have some very good players up front we have some good players up front,” Johnson said. “Their goalie made some great plays. It’s what you get down here, it’s going to be an even game.”
Smith had five saves for Bangor.