BREWER — The Bangor boys soccer team showed signs of vulnerability early this season — the result of heavy graduation losses endured by the Rams after reaching the 2009 Eastern Maine Class A final.
Six one-goal victories — three in overtime — were further evidence that a regular-season winning streak that stretched back to 2006 was in jeopardy.
But most of those close calls came in September, now seemingly an eternity removed from the current state of the Rams, who outmatched Brewer 4-0 at Doyle Field on Thursday evening.
“We definitely have improved throughout the season,” said Bangor striker Luke Hetterman, who scored two goals in the victory. “Coach (David Patterson) has talked all season about peaking at the right time right before the playoffs, so hopefully we’re on the right track.”
Bangor secured the No. 1 seed in Eastern A heading into postseason play with the win, which also stretched its regular-season unbeaten streak to 66 matches (62-0-4 overall, including 12-0-1 this year).
“We always talk about how it’s not how you’re playing in preseason that counts, it’s how you play at the end of the year,” said Patterson, whose team closes out its regular season at Hampden next Tuesday. “We always knew we were going to get better, but it took this team a little longer than normal to find out who they are and to develop a personality. But they’ve worked very, very hard and I give them a lot of credit because they could easily have panicked early in the season when we weren’t playing particularly well, but they’ve scrapped and fought and the quality is shining through.
“I’m very pleased with where we are right now.”
Brewer (5-7-1) sternly challenged Bangor before falling to the Rams 4-3 in their mutual season opener on Sept. 3, but the Witches mounted few scoring threats in the rematch.
Bangor outshot Brewer 26-13, with goalie Jesse Perkins making seven saves to preserve his fourth shutout of the fall.
“Early in the year we were not as effective defensively all over the field, but that’s really been taken up a notch,” said Patterson. “Andy Prusaitis in the back has been a rock, and Jack Stacey and Bobby Winchell as well, and that’s made a big difference.”
Bangor took control with two goals within a 1-minute, 47-second span early in the first half.
Adam King was credited with the first goal when Brewer goalie Ian Burgess (11 saves) couldn’t gain control of his long throw-in from the right wing and the ball went through Burgess’ hands and into the net.
Hetterman made it 2-0 with 31:15 left in the first half as he ran on to an accurate crossing pass by Connor Griffin from deep on the right wing and scored with a 10-yard shot inside the right post.
Hetterman added his second goal of the match and 12th of the season eight minutes into the second half, catching up with a clearing pass from King at midfield for a breakaway.
“A cross came in from Brewer and it kicked out to me, and I put a toe on it and hit it hard enough that it led Luke perfectly so he could finish,” said King. “I didn’t see him, I was just trying to kick it out.”
Phil Frost added his team-leading 17th goal of the season on a penalty kick with 20:49 remaining.