The Bangor High School girls soccer team is on a mission this season.
With only one starter gone off last year’s 15-1-2 team that won the Eastern Maine Class A championship, the Rams are setting their sights on winning the program’s first state title.
Undefeated and senior-laden Scarborough beat Bangor 3-0 in the state game last fall.
“Seeing Scarborough being able to celebrate and us not being able to is motivational,” said junior striker Grace Maclean.
“Now that we know what states is all about, we’re ready to take it to the next level,” said senior back Erin Boulier. “We’ve come back a lot stronger. We’re all well-conditioned.”
“It definitely helps having a state game under our belts,” agreed senior central midfielder Hanna Colpritt. “We’re more experienced this year with 10 returning starters. And we’re pretty deep, which is what separates us from other teams. We can put someone in off the bench and nothing will change on the field.”
“I believe we’re better than last year,” said fourth-year head coach Joe Johnson. “The kids have worked really hard over the last year.”
Colpritt said the majority of the team plays for the club team Blackbear United, so “a lot of us are playing year-round.”
Senior goalkeeper Mia Smith said the team’s chemistry is “real strong.
“All of these girls are my sisters, basically,” she said.
The Rams scored 77 goals a year ago and allowed only 10.
They did graduate talented striker Kim Jordan but the dynamic tandem of Maclean and senior Ashley Robinson are back to give opposing defenders fits.
“Robinson is just so quick and she can turn on a dime. She can also strike the ball with either foot,” said former Hampden Academy girls soccer coach Jeff Ingalls, who received 16 goals from Robinson when she was a freshman at HA before she transferred to Bangor.
“She’s amazing. She’s one of the best players I’ve ever seen,” added Ingalls.
He called Maclean “relentless.
“She’s hard to contain and she strikes the ball well,” said Ingalls.
Johnson called the duo unbelievable and he considers them to be the top tandem in the state.
Colpritt is an attacking midfielder and joining her in the midfield will be senior Jade Baumrind and juniors Libby Huber and Jordan Seekins.
A formidable back line includes center backs Boulier and fellow senior Liz Hintz with sophomore Tiffany Gray, who started every game as a freshman, and junior Denae Johnson on the flanks.
“Their defense is outstanding,” said Ingalls. “It seems like they have a pact back there that they’re not going to let anything happen.”
Smith provides them with a seasoned top-notch ‘keeper who made 11 saves in the 2-1 EM championship game win over a Brunswick team that had won 36 straight.
The Bangor girls received a big boost a year ago from beating nemesis Waterville three times including a 2-1 triumph in penalty kicks in the semifinals.
Johnson feels comfortable with his reserves and among the players who will be receiving playing time will be senior Leanne Violette and junior Morgan Johnson in the back; senior Alex Malarkey, junior Ali Vanidestine and sophomores Emily Smith and Anna Morris in the midfield; and senior June Candland as a striker.
Seniors Meri Wicks and Kristen Henigan back up Smith in the goal.
Johnson gave his girls a challenging preseason schedule against southern Maine schools to prepare them of the season and they posted a 4-1-2 record with the only loss coming to Scarborough. They also tied Scarborough in a shortened game.
“It was real good to see some southern Maine teams that we wouldn’t see during the regular season,” said Colpritt. “It’s good to see what the competition is like down there. We could potentially see one of them in the state game.”
“We did very well,” said Johnson. “We should be hard to score on. Our defense is fast and experienced. Our midfielders will do a better job controlling the midfield and we have two kids with speed who can score goals.”
Ingalls said the Rams are going to be “very good.”
Bangor opens the season at Lawrence of Fairfield on Saturday night.