BANGOR — Conditions were ripe for an upset as Bangor battled Mt. Blue of Farmington in their Eastern Maine Class A girls soccer quarterfinal Tuesday.
Overnight rain left the playing surface in less than ideal condition, and seventh-rated Mt. Blue had the confidence of a team that already had battled the second-ranked Rams to an early-season tie.
Those facts inspired the Cougars for nearly 66 minutes — until Ashley Robinson restored a sense of seeding normalcy with a moment of brilliant individualism as Bangor remained undefeated with a 1-0 victory.
“It was much different than when we played them before,” said Robinson, a junior forward. “It was much more intense because it’s a playoff game and everyone’s pumped up. We just tried to play our game.”
Robinson’s goal came with 14:03 remaining as she gained possession to the left of the net and was challenged by two defenders, only to break free with three quick changes in direction.
Robinson then blasted a 15-yard shot just over Mt. Blue goalie Allison Brown and inside the far post.
“Honestly,” said Robinson, “there were two players on me, so I was just trying to get it on net.”
That Robinson not only possessed the ball for several seconds before shooting but shifted it from foot to foot to elude the defense defied conditions that were muddy in some places and slick everywhere.
“I would never have guessed given how slippery the conditions were out there that someone could cut back two or three times and make a play like that,” said Bangor coach Joe Johnson. “But she’s certainly one of the best players in the state, and her making a play in the slop like that was just unbelievable.”
Bangor outshot Mt. Blue 26-15, with Brown making 14 saves and Mia Smith preserving the shutout with eight stops.
Bangor (13-0-2) will host No. 3 Waterville in Saturday’s semifinals after the Purple Panthers edged No. 6 Mount Ararat of Topsham 1-0 Tuesday. Bangor has already shut out Waterville twice this season.
“We just want to get as far as we can, play one game at a time and know what we’re going up against in our opponents and work on what we need to so we can get to where we want to be,” said Bangor senior forward Kim Jordan.
Jordan, Robinson and sophomore Grace MacLean put considerable offensive pressure on Mt. Blue early in the match, highlighted by two narrow misses over the crossbar.
But Mt. Blue soon settled in and mounted some threats of its own against a Bangor defense that lost starter Denae Johnson to injury midway through the period.
“The last 18 minutes of the first half, just before their last flurry, when one of their key players got injured our midfield players were able to do some nickel-and-diming passes and we got a little more possession than we had the first 20 minutes,” said Mt. Blue coach Fred Conlogue. “That allowed us to get the ball down at their end. We didn’t generate any quality shots, but I was happy with the ball movement.”
The early stages of the second half produced some back-and-forth activity, with Bangor dominating the possession time only to have Marlie Mochamer lead Mt. Blue on some dangerous counterattacks.
“We just had to keep our heads in the game and remind people to stay calm and pass to feet and talk so we could keep playing as a team,” said Jordan.
Finally that collective focus led to Robinson’s game-winning goal.
“It was a beautiful, beautiful play,” said Conlogue.