BANGOR — In the face of elimination, confidence can be a powerful weapon.
With the clock ticking down in Saturday’s Class A semifinal match against Waterville, the Bangor girls soccer team was once again staring down a semifinal playoff exit in the face of one of its most bitter postseason adversaries.
But the Rams turned to the leadership of seniors Kim Jordan and Sadie Redman, who have experienced the heat of such moments over the years, and rallied to win in penalty kicks and advance to Wednesday’s regional final at defending state champion Brunswick.
Game time is 2 p.m.
Jordan wound up scoring the equalizing goal against Waterville late in regulation, while Mia Smith made the deciding stop on a shot by Jordan Pellerin, the No. 2 all-time goal scorer in state history, to put the Rams into their first regional final since they won it in 2005.
Now, Bangor’s tough defense will be looked upon to do the job again against another dynamic threat in Brunswick senior Allison Walton.
“I’m not sure what we’re going to do with her, but we really need to make sure she doesn’t get the ball and control the middle,” Redman said.
“We’ll be aware of where Allie is at all times,” added coach Joe Johnson.
The Rams (14-0-2) and Dragons (16-0-0) mirror each other in some ways, such as offensive power, skill, quickness and toughness in the back.
“They posses the ball well, they play hard, they look for quick transitions, so they do everything we do,” Johnson said.
The Rams have plenty of quickness up front with Jordan, Grace Maclean and Ashley Robinson, while defenders Tiffany Gray, Denae Johnson, Erin Boulier and Liz Hintz will be looking to slow a Brunswick offense that outscored its opponents 70-2 during the regular season.
Bangor outscored the opposition 73-5, with four of those goals coming from Mt. Blue of Farmington.
The two teams met in the KVAC Championship game a couple weeks ago, with Brunswick winning 1-0 in what the Rams felt was a well-played contest.
“It was a pretty fair-matched game, it could’ve gone either way,” Redman said. “I think it will help us a lot, because we just got to see what it was like and we know how they’re going to play against us.”
The 75 goals the Rams have scored over the course of the year reflect how dangerous Bangor is, especially with Jordan, Robinson and Maclean, but the Rams’ depth and speed could be the difference.
“We’re quick all the way across the board, we have speed at every position,” Johnson said.
The other difference that Bangor has noticed in its team this season as opposed to years past is that they are not only tougher offensively, but more confident, and that showed against Waterville.
“We knew we had to come out and play our hearts out and play as hard as we can,” Jordan said. “We just played together as a team and stayed focused on the game.”
It helped that Redman and Jordan, along with midfielder Jade Baumrind and forward Hanna Colpritt, were members of the Rams’ softball team that played for a state championship last spring.
“Kimmy and Sadie have been outstanding leaders. I don’t pick captains, but those two have definitely stepped up (in) that role,” Johnson said.
Smith feels the Rams have nothing to lose going on the road against the defending state champions.
“The pressure’s on them, we’ve just got to play well,” she said. “I think that if we stay physical in the game we can definitely win.”
Johnson believes it’s going to be a defensive struggle.
“I think this game is going to go right back and forth, it’s going to be tough to score right away,” he said. “It’s really going to come down to who takes advantage of the break(s) they get.”
In other regional championship action Wednesday, rivals Presque Isle and Caribou will tangle for the third time this season in the Class B game in Caribou.
The Vikings won both regular-season meetings, 5-3 and 3-1.
The Class C game features a rematch from the 2009 contest between Orono and Fort Kent, won by Orono, while Ashland hosts Van Buren in Presque Isle in the Class D contest.
The state championship games will be played Saturday at Falmouth High School and Hampden Academy, both of which have artificial turf fields.
Game times will be announced by the Maine Principals’ Association on Thursday.