BANGOR — Some teams can rebuild in relative anonymity — but not the Bangor boys soccer program.
The defending Class A state champions sport a new-look lineup this fall after graduation sent 16 of the 26 players on the 2010 roster on to the next stage of their lives.
But this year’s Bangor team is picking up where its predecessor left off, getting goals from Joey Kacer and Alex Shi on Thursday evening to remain unbeaten with a 2-0 victory over Brewer.
“Our goal is to improve every game, and we’ve definitely improved, especially from the preseason game with them (a 1-0 Brewer victory),” said Bangor senior Connor Griffin. “Everyone contributed, every one did their part, even the bench players. The morale was high, everyone was positive and cheering on the team, and that’s a big part of the sport, too.”
The win extended Bangor’s regular-season unbeaten streak to 70 matches, a 66-0-4 record that dates back to the 2006 season when the Rams won the first state championship in program history.
“I think the younger players are starting to get used to the pace of the game and the technical aspect of how it’s played,” said Shi, another Bangor senior. “They’re coming up to speed and it’s really helped us.”
But the Rams’ latest victory didn’t come easily, as an even less experienced Brewer squad battled the Rams competitively behind the play of seniors Brad Billings and Yuhi Sasaki, but the Witches were unable to muster many scoring bids.
“We’re really young,” said Brewer coach Mark Savage. “At one point I looked out and our two center-mids were freshmen and we weren’t getting beat up. We’re very inexperienced and young, but it’s a wonderful group of kids who are working hard and doing what they’re asked.
“We absolutely want to win, but we’re tickled with the progress from where we started preseason to where we are now. We looked like a soccer team tonight, we really did.”
Bangor, meanwhile, is working to establish a new, more defensive identity this season, and through their wins over Waterville, Lawrence of Fairfield and Brewer the 3-0 Rams have outscored the opposition by a combined 7-1.
“The big thing for us is we want to be very well organized, which we are, and we want to make it very, very difficult for teams to score,” said Bangor coach David Patterson. “We want to defend well, and once we get that down pat then the big thing for us is we have to figure out how we can be a little more creative going forward.”
Both teams had decent scoring chances early in the match, but it was Bangor that broke through with 3:30 left in the first half on Kacer’s first varsity goal.
Teammate John Szewczyk advanced the ball in the offensive end, then passed it to his right to Kacer, who scored with a left-footed shot just to the right of Brewer goalie Ian Burgess.
“John gave me an assist from the left side of the field and I got around one of the defensive players and laid it in with the outside of my left foot,” said Kacer.
Bangor added to its lead with 32:54 left in the second half when Shi scored his third goal of the season on a direct kick from the middle of the field just outside the penalty area. Shi’s hard, low shot caromed off a Brewer player along the defensive wall 10 yards away and then bounced in to the right of the outstretched Burgess.
Bangor finished with a 10-3 edge in shots on goal, with freshman goalie Liam Harrigan making two serves to preserve the shutout for the Rams while Burgess made three stops for 0-2 Brewer.