During breakfast prior to Saturday’s state Class A championship soccer game against Scarborough, Bangor High School girls soccer coach Joe Johnson told his players to close their eyes and envision themselves holding up the gold ball presented to the state champion after the game.
Several hours later, that is exactly what they were doing after an impressive 4-0 triumph over a Scarborough team that had beaten them 3-0 in the 2010 state championship game.
Not only did the Rams annex their first state schoolgirl soccer championship, they did it by going undefeated.
“(The state championship) is what we strived for all year,” said senior goalie Mia Smith.
“We started building something our sophomore year when we lost to Waterville in the Eastern Maine semis. Last year, we went even further by winning the Eastern Maine championship,” said senior striker Ashley Robinson. “This year had to be our year. We worked so hard. We knew we had to get it done.”
“By making it to the state championship game a year ago, it made us believe it could be us holding the gold ball some day,” said senior center back Erin Boulier.
“We kept building and building and we finally got it,” said senior midfielder Liz Hintz.
The girls said the feeling after winning the gold ball was amazing and some said the depth of their accomplishment hasn’t sunk in completely yet.
They also never forgot the hollow feeling they had to endure watching Scarborough hoist the gold ball a year ago and used that as motivation.
“We didn’t want to accept that again,” said Hintz. “So we took it one game at a time and each game took us one step closer to the gold ball. We took every game seriously. We knew we couldn’t afford to let down for even 10 minutes because we knew it could cost us (a state championship).”
“We had a T-shirt with the date of the state championship game on it,” said Robinson. “Some people told us they thought we were being cocky.
“But we just set it as a goal. We knew what we wanted. When we had those hot summer days and we were doing wind sprints, we would look down and remember that date.”
The Rams achieved their goal with a definite flair.
They outscored their opponents 98-8 — 102-8 if you include the 4-0 win over Brunswick in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championship game — and never allowed a goal in the postseason. Bangor outscored its four postseason opponents 18-0.
“I couldn’t believe it. I had no idea until coach (Johnson) told me after the state game,” said Smith referring to the four postseason shutouts. “We had been so focused.”
There was another motivating factor.
Most of the seniors have played together since they first put on their uniforms in the Bangor recreation department’s program when they were 5 or 6 years old. Then there was Bangor travel soccer, their school teams and the Blackbear United soccer club. Some played for the Terriers soccer club in Waterville.
“As seniors, we knew it would be our last high school season together, so we worked that much harder,” said Robinson.
“I’ve played with some of these girls for 10 years,” said Smith. “I can’t believe it. Time has gone by so fast. I’ve enjoyed every game.”
It has been a close-knit group from day one.
“We’re really close friends,” said Robinson.
And they’re and a group that loves to play the game.
“It is a passion of ours,” said Robinson.
Bangor was strong and deep in every position.
The Rams had prolific strikers in Robinson (28 goals, 15 assists) and junior Grace Maclean (26 & 24); a balanced midfield comprised of seniors Hanna Colpritt (8 & 4) and Jade Baumrind (6 & 4) along with junior Libby Huber (2 & 3) and sophomore Jordan Seekins (4 & 6) and a rock-solid defense corps with seniors Boulier and Hintz (2 & 1) in the middle and speedy Denae Johnson and Tiffany Gray on the flanks. Johnson is a junior and Gray is a sophomore.
Then there was the aggressive and sure-handed Smith in net.
But the Rams were also deep and had players like Ally Vanidestine (4 & 2), Anna Marie Dagher (3 & 0), Anna Morris (3 & 1) and June Candland (2 & 0) providing quality minutes off the bench. If Smith had gotten hurt, dependable seniors Meri Wicks and Kristen Henigan were ready to step in.
“When the subs came in, it didn’t weaken us at all,” said Boulier.
The Rams received a pep rally in the gym on Monday and said they have been congratulated regularly by their schoolmates, teachers and administrators.
“The whole school supported us and that makes winning it that much better,” said Hintz.
The players also praised fourth-year coach Johnson and assistants Dave McMahon, Mark Boulier and Heidi Niles.
“Our coaches are amazing. They gave us personal attention as well as giving us team attention,” said Hintz. “That’s what made us so good.”
For Johnson, having coached these players since they were freshmen and seeing it culminate in a state championship “makes it special.”
“They have worked very hard for this,” said Johnson. “The program is better now than it was when they got here (thanks to them).”