BRUNSWICK, Maine — Down 3-0 after Brunswick forward Konnor Scarponi’s second goal of the afternoon with 21 minutes remaining in an Eastern Maine Class A boys high school quarterfinal contest, the fifth-seeded Bangor Rams might have considered shutting it down.
But, the proud Rams refused to fold, forcing the fourth-seeded Dragons to sweat it out over the final six minutes of regulation.
In the end, Brunswick held on for a 3-2 victory, sending the Dragons to the Eastern A semifinals on Saturday against the winner of Wednesday night’s game between No. 8 Waterville and No. 1 Mount Ararat of Topsham.
Bangor left the field with an 8-3-4 mark.
“The quality of soccer today was first class. I have a relatively young team and I’m very proud of how we came back today and played good soccer,” said Bangor coach David Patterson, who loses 15 seniors but returns a bevy of solid underclassmen.
The host Dragons used their speed to gain a 2-0 advantage in the first half.
Ryan Black gathered a pass from Blake Gordon and powered a shot inside the post past the dive of Bangor goaltender Colton Markevich to stake Brunswick to a 1-0 lead with 19:58 remaining in the opening frame.
Brunswick kept coming, outshooting Bangor 8-5 in the first 40 minutes and doubling its lead when Scarponi finished off a long pass from Jesse Arford with 6:53 left on the clock.
“One of our weaknesses is we have given up some goals early, forcing us to try and climb out of a hole, but we’ve done it all year and almost did it again today,” said Patterson. “Scarponi is a quality player and proved that today. We didn’t come in with a set plan to guard him, and he took advantage of a couple opportunities.”
Scarponi had a chance to give the hosts a 3-0 lead after teammate Cameron Glover was tripped inside the 18 for a penalty kick three minutes into the second half. But Scarponi’s try clipped the crossbar and harmlessly settled out of play to keep the Rams down just two.
However, Scarponi made no mistake on his next opportunity, this time taking a feed from Cullen Shea and chipping the ball past the hard-charging Markevich (seven saves) with 20:59 remaining.
Bangor wasn’t done, getting a goal on a hard shot by Dominic Veilleux, assisted by Joey Kacer, with 13:12 left, and when game-long standout Chapin Frost’s shot deflected off the Dragons’ defense and past crossed-up Brunswick netminder Greg Walton (six saves) with 6:46 remaining, the Rams were within a goal.
“I give Bangor credit. They fought to the final whistle, and we started to show some cracks,” said first-year Brunswick coach Mark Roma, whose Dragons improved to 9-4-2. “I must have watched the film of the first game with Bangor (a 1-0 Brunswick victory) 15-20 times, and it was big being able to have stuff to work with. A lot of times this year, I went into games blind. We were able to strategize for this game, and I think it was huge.”
Bangor’s best chance to tie it came with 3:19 remaining on a direct kick by Mateo Laredo, but Walton made the save and the Dragons played keepaway as the time ticked away.
Brunswick held a slight 15-14 shot advantage and 3-2 edge in corner kicks.