BREWER — The Hampden Academy boys soccer team wouldn’t admit to looking ahead as it battled Brewer in a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A matchup Tuesday afternoon.
But the Broncos — with a match against defending Class A state champion Bangor looming two nights away — did have to shake off a sluggish start before pulling away to a 3-0 victory over the Witches.
“We started out really slow, I think the heat had a little to do with it,” said Hampden junior midfielder Cooper Antone. “The other games we’ve played we’ve played very well. We’re coming together as a team a lot better than last year, and it’s showing this year. We’re scoring a lot of goals.”
Cameron Libbey scored twice by redirecting Ben Clark throw-ins into the net, and Marc Albert added the third goal as coach Josh Stevens’ Broncos improved their record to 3-1 heading into Thursday’s 6 p.m. showdown against the Rams at the Weatherbee Complex in Hampden.
Hampden will be seeking to defeat Bangor for the first time overall since Oct. 19, 2007, when the Broncos upended Bangor 1-0 in an Eastern Maine Class A quarterfinal.
Hampden also was the last team to hand the Rams a regular-season loss, that a 1-0 decision at Hampden on Sept. 12, 2006. Since then Bangor has gone undefeated in 71 consecutive regular-season matches (67-0-4), including a 4-0 start this year.
“We’ve really started to mesh pretty decently this year,” said Clark. “Our teamwork is becoming better. We’re expecting a win against Bangor, we’ve just got to play our game, keep our heads in it and play the ball quickly.”
Three alert plays off restarts provided all the offense Hampden needed against Brewer.
Witches’ goalie Ian Burgess came up big early with a couple of high-quality saves, one on a rebound shot by Myles Safford after an attempt by John Meehan hit the bottom of the right goal post.
The Broncos finally converted with 11:01 left in the first half as Kevin Olver passed an indirect kick to his left to Albert, who lofted a shot from just outside the penalty area over Burgess and under the cross bar.
“Usually we stress that if you have a shot near the 18 available to just shoot it, and no one was around so I just ripped it,” said Albert.
Hampden stretched its lead to 2-0 five minutes later as Clark threw the ball in from the right wing toward the penalty area and Libbey headed it in to the center of the net.
“The whole team knows that I can throw it at least into the box so we all know we need to get our heads or our bodies on it to get those goals in,” said Clark. “I mainly throw it between the top of the 18 and the top of the six, just trying to get it in that general area so hopefully we can get some bodies on it.”
Hampden’s final goal came on a similar play with 28:40 left in the second half, only this time Libbey used his right foot to redirect Clark’s throw-in.
“I wait for him to throw it and then see where it is when it gets in front of me” said Libbey. “If it’s a little higher I’ll try to get my head on it and if it’s lower I’ll try to get a foot on it.”
Burgess finished with 11 saves for 0-3 Brewer, while Logan Poirier made three stops for Hampden.