BANGOR, Maine — Dynamic Bangor High School senior striker Grace MacLean made her last regular-season game a memorable one.
MacLean’s 26th goal of the season, coming with just 6:53 left in regulation, supplied the Rams with a valuable insurance goal as they capped a 13-1 regular season with a hard-fought 3-1 schoolgirl soccer victory over archrival Hampden Academy on Monday night.
The Broncos concluded a 10-4 regular season.
Defending state champion Bangor entered the game as the second seed in the Eastern Maine Class A Heal Points standings behind Brunswick while Hampden was third.
The Broncos played much better than they had in a 6-1 home loss to Bangor on Sept. 13 and pulled within 2-1 on a goal by Erin Jeter with 10:55 left in regulation.
Jeter poked home a loose ball off an Anna Michaud corner kick.
The goal was Jeter’s sixth.
But Bangor’s Anna-Maria Dagher won a battle for the ball at midfield and threaded the needle with a long diagonal through ball to the left flank where the speedy MacLean outraced a Bronco defender, took a few touches and then slotted a 14-yard shot past HA goalie Sami Bowler into the far corner.
“Anna-Maria saw the slot and I got to the ball, beat [the defender] and then put it past the ’keeper,” said MacLean.
“It was a well-fought game. It was a good game to end the regular season on. It was a good win. We played pretty well,” said MacLean, who had 26 goals a year ago.
Bangor’s Jordan Seekins scored the lone goal of the first half when an Emily Smith corner kick glanced off a Bronco defender’s head over to her at the far post and she side-volleyed the ball into the exposed net.
It was her sixth goal of the season.
Bangor expanded the lead 9:48 into the second half when MacLean made a run down the left wing and cannoned a low cross that glanced off Bowler’s hands and trickled across the goalmouth to Alli Boulier, who spun around and swept the ball in from eight yards out for her 10th goal.
“I had to turn really fast and hope I didn’t slip,” said Boulier. “I knew the goalie was kind of out and I had a lot of area. I just wanted to get it on net.”
The game was played with playoff intensity as both teams scrapped for every loose ball.
The slippery field invited both teams to engage in a more direct, long-ball style of play.
But both sets of defenders turned in impressive performances as they had to not only battle highly-skilled attackers but the slick field.
Senior Denae Johnson and junior Anna Morris anchored Bangor’s back line as both won a ton of balls with their aggressive play and keen anticipation. Johnson’s speed was a factor as she continually disrupted Hampden attacks.
“Coach [Joe Johnson] wanted us to be tight as a unit so balls wouldn’t get through us. We always backed each other up in case they tried to play a ball behind us,” said Denae Johnson. “Hampden has definitely improved since we last saw them.”
“Bangor has a great group of backs,” said Hampden Academy midfielder Anna Michaud.
The Broncos received a lot of mileage from juniors Kayla Gagner, who had the unenviable task of marking MacLean, and Kristi Reichel.
The Broncos, who play on an artificial turf field, looked right at home on Bangor’s grass field.
Senior striker Laura Marquis and Michaud made dangerous runs for the Broncos throughout the game while MacLean and Boulier were constant threats for Bangor as was Ally Vanidestine.
“I thought we played very well,” said Michaud. “We won 50-50 balls and we gave it our all.
“We came out with a lot more intensity than we did in our first game against Bangor and it showed,” said Michaud.
“We didn’t look for the perfect shot because it was wet and their goalkeeper [sophomore Cordelia Stewart] is inexperienced. So we cracked shots from inside and outside the penalty area,” said Marquis.
Stewart made four saves on 15 shots for the Rams while Bowler finished with five stops on 22 shots.
Both goalkeepers came off their lines to scoop up long through balls and they turned in stellar efforts considering the conditions.
JV: Bangor 4-2