Wednesday’s schoolboy soccer regional finals feature some familiar opponents.
Four of the five games involving teams from the region represent postseason rematches from a year ago — including three encore presentations of 2009 regional finals as Bangor hosts Brunswick in Eastern Maine Class A, Orono visits Fort Kent in Eastern C, and Richmond travels to Greenville in Western D.
Eastern B combatants Ellsworth and Camden Hills of Rockport met in last year’s semifinals, and while Eastern D contestants Calvary Chapel of Orrington and Bangor Christian have not played each other, there is some familiarity in that the schools are less than 10 miles apart.
Eastern A: No. 3 Brunswick Dragons (13-3) at No. 1 Bangor Rams (15-0-1): These schools own the last four Eastern Maine Class A championships, with Bangor winning in 2006 and 2008 and Brunswick in 2007 and 2009 — the Dragons’ most recent crown coming via a double-overtime win at Bangor in the regional final.
Bangor enters this match coming off perhaps its more impressive effort of the season in a 5-0 semifinal win over No. 4 Morse of Bath.
“I think collectively as a team everyone was playing hard,” said senior striker Phil Frost after the game. “We were moving as a team, we were defending as a team, attacking as a team and it showed on the scoreboard today.”
Frost (23 goals, seven assists) and classmate Luke Hetterman (12-5) lead Bangor’s offense, while senior Adam King leads the team with 13 assists, several coming directly off throw-ins. Jacques Larochelle and Seth Freudenberger have played a key role in the midfield for the Rams, while King, Andy Prusaitis and Jack Stacey have anchored the defense in front of senior goalie Jesse Perkins.
“From Day 1 we’ve talked about the regular season and how important it is so if we can get to the point where there are two games left, we’re playing the Eastern Maine final here and not getting on a bus,” said Bangor coach David Patterson. “With all of the work we do in practice, we continually come back to that. We’re trying to get to this place to give ourselves the best chance possible to advance through the postseason, and the way to do that is being home.”
“The boys buy into that tremendously,” Patterson added, “and all of the hard work we’ve put in through preseason and during the season has given us another shot at it and we’re at home.”
Brunswick has bounced back from a 3-3 finish to its regular season with postseason shutouts over Mt. Blue of Farmington and Messalonskee of Oakland.
Brunswick’s offense is led by Konnor Scarponi (nine goals), Rodrigo Cepeda (six goals) and midfielders Matt Kasabian (seven goals) and Mitchell Black (six goals). Will Brann is another strong presence in the midfield for coach Peter Gardner’s club, while goalie Seth Holmblad has helped the Dragons register 11 shutouts so far this fall.
Eastern B: No. 2 Camden Hills Windjammers (15-0-1) at No. 1 Ellsworth Eagles (16-0): These teams last squared off in the 2009 semifinals, when Ellsworth earned a 1-0 victory en route to its 16th regional championship during 37th-year head coach Brian Higgins’ tenure with the Eagles.
Both schools suffered some significant graduation losses from those teams, but several key players on both sides return, including Cote Card (16-4), Andrew Austin (seven assists), Kyle Haslam (9-8), Mike Curtis and goalie Jordan Carter of Ellsworth, and Sam Predham (18-11), Malcolm Steele (11-12), Yani Stanicoff (14-4), Andrew Flanagan and goalie Ian Cushing of Camden Hills of Rockport.
Under first-year coach Ryan Hurley, Camden Hills was a dominant force in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference ranks, outscoring its opposition 70-1 during the regular season and 76-3 overall through its two playoff victories.
Ellsworth has outscored its opposition 73-7 en route to its unblemished record.
“We’ve been playing hard all year,” said Austin, a senior stopper whose flip throw-ins have been a primary source of offense for Ellsworth. “We’re playing well as a team, and it’s just been really fun to play with all these great people.”
Eastern C: No. 2 Orono Red Riots (14-1-1) at No. 1 Fort Kent Warriors (12-1-3): This rematch, half of a boys and girls EM championship doubleheader between the schools, is a rematch of last year’s boys regional final, won 5-1 by Fort Kent thanks to a four-goal second-half outburst.
The defending champion Warriors are led by senior striker Tom Levesque (19 goals), midfielder Jared Soucy and goalie Alex Charette, while Orono features Alex Calballero in goal and his brother Miguel, who scored twice in the Red Riots’ 2-1 semifinal win over Penquis of Milo to avenge a loss to the Patriots in its regular-season finale.
While Fort Kent is seeking its second straight EM crown, Orono is in pursuit of its first regional title in boys soccer since playing as a Class B school in 1992.
These teams did not meet during the regular season.
Eastern D: No. 3 Bangor Christian Patriots (14-1-1) at No. 1 Calvary Chapel Sabers (16-0): These two Bangor-area teams did not play each other during the regular season, and in fact play radically different schedules.
Bangor Christian, the defending state champion, played eight of its 14 regular-season matches against Class C opponents, with its lone loss and tie both against Eastern C semifinalist Penquis of Milo.
Calvary Chapel of Orrington, upset in the quarterfinals as a No. 1 seed a year ago, played 10 of its regular-season matches this fall against Western Maine Class D opponents — including a 3-0 record against Western D finalists Greenville (two wins) and Richmond (once).
BC and Calvary feature two of the top goal scorers in Eastern Maine in Bangor Christian junior Brad Wilcox — already the school’s career goal-scoring leader, including 33 goals and eight assists this fall — and senior Stephen Berenyi of Calvary Chapel (34-14).
Western D: No. 2 Richmond Bobcats (10-3-2) at No. 1 Greenville Lakers (11-2-2): Top-ranked Greenville will attempt to end Richmond’s five-year reign as Western D champions after earning an overtime win and a tie over the Bobcats during the regular season. The Lakers, seeking their first regional title since 1995, feature high-scoring forward Tony DiAngelo (38-11) and Tristan Richards (15 goals, school-record 15 assists) on a team that lost at Richmond 6-2 in last year’s WM final.
Greenville’s lone losses this fall have come against Eastern D finalist Calvary Chapel, while Richmond also lost to the Sabers in their only meeting of the season.