BREWER — It might have been billed as a battle of rust versus fatigue, as the Bangor boys soccer team traveled across the Penobscot River to play just its third game in the last 17 days against a Brewer squad facing its third match in the last four days.
Those opposing perspectives made for a competitive match Tuesday, with Collin Kimsey’s goal off a John Szewczyk corner kick early in the first half the difference as Bangor earned a 1-0 victory.
“I thought we played pretty well,” said Bangor senior midfielder Alex Shi. “We tried out some new tactics, and we didn’t finish the way we hoped to but I think that will come with playing more games.”
The victory improved Bangor’s record to 9-1-1, and was its second straight win since the Rams’ 75-match unbeaten streak was ended in a 3-1 loss at Lawrence of Fairfield on Oct. 4.
“Obviously no one wants to lose, especially after the streak,” said Bangor senior forward Connor Griffin, “but honestly it’s not about winning every game because that’s really hard to do for any team in any sport.
“Having just one loss is still a pretty good record, so we felt it that night when we lost but the next day it was pretty much gone, we had our heads up and just started getting ready for the next game.”
Bangor went 10 days without a game before the Lawrence loss, including several days when the team was unable to practice due to inclement weather. Since then the Rams have been working to regain the momentum that helped them to a 7-0-1 start this fall.
“I think because of our extended break we lost some of our crispness,” said Shi. “We kind of lost our attacking mentality for a little bit, but we’re regaining it through playing some games.”
Bangor also has unveiled a new offensive formation in recent days, and while it produced just one goal against Brewer it did produce several high-quality scoring chances.
The Rams outshot Brewer 19-13.
“We switched formations and I like it and the guys like it a lot,” said Kimsey, another Bangor senior. ”We were getting more guys forward and we were getting more balls forward.”
Brewer, which entered the match with three wins in its last four matches after an 0-7 start, had the first serious scoring bid just moments into the match when Brad Billings shot from the right wing and teammate Nick Ramsey had two follow-up bids from the goal crease only to have all three shots saved by Bangor freshman goalie Liam Harrigan.
Bangor then struck with 31:24 left in the first half when Kimsey one-timed Szewczyk’s corner kick from the right side past Brewer goalie Ian Burgess.
“We work hard on corner kicks and you just have to outwork the guy who’s marking you,” said Kimsey.
Kimsey began the play along the perimeter of the penalty area but timed his run toward the goal perfectly to redirect Szewczyk’s kick just to the right of the diving Burgess.
“Every single game I see progress on our team, and today we came out ready to play but unfortunately we made one mistake and they scored off it,” said Brewer senior Yuhi Sasaki. “We just lost focus for that one play. We didn’t block the cut and they got through us and scored.”
Brewer, which did not score in its first six matches this season, mounted several other scoring bids during the first half, but while the Witches came up empty their overall play was reflective of the team’s improvement during the last month.
“The first couple of games this season we couldn’t keep possession,” said Sasaki. “Now we’re actually understanding how to play soccer and how the game works, and so our possession is a lot better and that helps us with our offensive game.”
Harrigan finished with 10 saves in goal for Bangor, while Burgess made nine stops for Brewer.