BANGOR — Time and space are two precious commodities to a goal scorer.
Bangor’s Luke Hetterman suddenly found himself not only armed with those two advantages, but with the ball on his right foot heading inside the 18-yard line during the second overtime of Wednesday night’s Eastern Maine Class A boys soccer final — and boy, did he seize the moment.
The senior striker took a pass from teammate Phil Frost, found himself open and kicked the ball high into the net with 10:40 left in the second extra period to cap off a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Brunswick, good for the Rams’ third regional championship in five years.
“It was so late in the game and everybody was working so hard because we wanted this so bad,” said Hetterman after scoring his 13th goal of the season. “And to be working that hard that late in the game, you’ve got to finish a play like that.”
Top-ranked and undefeated Bangor (16-0-1) will finish off its season on Saturday with a match against Western A champion Portland to be played either at Hampden Academy or Falmouth, a decision that is expected Thursday.
Third-seeded Brunswick, which outlasted Bangor in double overtime to win the 2009 regional crown, ends its season with a 13-4 record.
The game-winning goal came suddenly, with Bangor’s Connor Griffin gaining possession along the right sideline near midfield and passing ahead to Frost.
Frost, Bangor’s leading goal scorer this season, on this occasion drew the defense toward him and turned playmaker.
“Connor played it ahead to me, and Luke and I had been trying to connect all night,” said Frost. “I saw him streaking toward the middle and I knew I had to get it to him so I tried to poke it through.”
Hetterman slipped past two defenders to an open area just outside the right goalpost — to exactly where Frost had advanced the ball.
“Phil was making a run down the right side and working hard, and then he got a flick into the middle,” said Hetterman. “I knew I had to make a run to it, and he couldn’t have put it in a better spot.
“I think I was all alone. I just had to stay calm, relaxed and just put it in.”
Bangor finished with a 24-12 shots advantage, with Rams’ goalie Jesse Perkins making seven saves and Seth Holmblad making nine stops for Brunswick.
“We’re big, we’re strong, we’re fast but we can play a little bit as well,” said Bangor coach David Patterson. “We’re going to take advantage of every part of the game that we can, and tonight that physical presence definitely played a part in that game. (Brunswick) is quick, they were fast all over the field and they’re very well coached. They gave us fits but we hung in, we did our thing and it worked out well in the end.”
Bangor had the better of the play during the first half but only a scoreless stalemate to show for it, then Brunswick struck on a counterattack to take a 1-0 lead on a goal by Rodrigo Cepeda with 35:03 left in regulation play.
Brunswick’s Will Bann earned the assist by grounding a lead pass up the middle of the field between two defenders and right to a running Cepeda, who quickly dribbled to his left and rifled a low shot past Bangor goalie Jesse Perkins and inside the left goal post.
“The goal really came as a shocker, but I think we responded well and came out even harder after that and didn’t skip a beat even though they scored,” said Frost.
Bangor did press the attack after the Brunswick goal, though as more time elapsed the pressure to finish off a play intensified.
“We were starting to get pretty desperate because they were playing really well,” said Bangor senior midfielder Jacques Larochelle. “We knew we needed to get one quick, so we started pressing forward and tried to get them on their heels as much as we could to see if we could get them to make a mistake and capitalize.”
It wasn’t a mistake that led to Bangor’s tying goal, but one of the Rams’ primary offensive weapons throughout the season — Adam King’s long throw-ins.
This time a King throw-in from the left wing skimmed just over the first line of defense at the near goal post, right to rangy Bangor midfielder Seth Freudenberger, who got just enough of his head on the ball to redirect it just inside the far post to tie the match with 6:23 remaining.
“With Adam and his long throws I just try to get in the box and get a head on it,” said Freudenberger. “I’d gotten a head on a couple of free kicks before, I just wanted to get at least a piece of it and it skimmed off my head and went in the corner.
“When you’re down a goal but you have those long throw-ins, it always gives you a chance to put one in the net.”