BANGOR, Maine — Bangor senior forward Grace MacLean scored three goals and the defense clamped down as the top-seeded Rams defeated No. 5 Mt. Blue of Farmington 4-0 in an Eastern Maine Class A girls soccer semifinal at the Bangor High School field Saturday.
Bangor, the defending state champion, will host No. 3 Hampden on Wednesday in the East final.
Allison Boulier scored the other goal for Bangor (15-1), with an assist from Anna-Maria Dagher.
All three of MacLean’s goals were unassisted.
The first came with 16:09 remaining in the first half after each team had turned in a couple of offensive surges but came away with nothing to show for it.
MacLean, Bangor’s top goal scorer this year, broke the ice when she ran onto a deep ball near the top left of the penalty area and blasted a left-footed boot back across the grain and into the upper left corner of the goal over Cougar goalkeeper Gabby Foy.
The goal both settled and ignited the Rams.
“Once we got the ball rolling with the first goal, our confidence boosted. We just picked up and started to go strong from there,” said MacLean.
“I thought it was a good one once we decided to settle in and get the ball to the feet and start using some of the skills we have,” said Bangor coach Joe Johnson.
Boulier got the insurance goal when Dagher tapped the ball through a couple of Mt. Blue defenders. Boulier took the pass as she headed straight at Foy, dribbled once and drilled a low shot past Foy from inside the 6-yard box with 3:10 remaining before halftime.
Johnson still wasn’t comfortable, though.
“The two-goal lead in soccer is kinda scary,” he said. “You give up one and all of a sudden the momentum shifts. Three is nice to get.”
MacLean added that third goal 1:08 into the second half.
“We take pride in the condition we’re in and we try to put a lot of pressure on teams in the second half,” said Johnson. “You get a lot of jitter, nerves and adrenaline going the first half and it’s hard to settle in.”
Mt. Blue coach Fred Conlogue knew his Cougars faced an uphill battle with the Rams.
“They’re a really good team. They know how to move the ball and finish the ball and share the ball. Pretty solid everywhere,” he said.
Conlogue acknowledged the third goal was a difficult one to come back from.
“It’s tough to dig deeper, but the kids played hard the whole game,” he said.
The 9-6-1 Cougars — led by Mackenzie Conlogue, Chelsea Newhall, Carolyn Poliquin, Makenzie Thompson and Mallory Parker — tried to get Mt. Blue on the board, but Ram defenders Denae Johnson, Emily Brookings, Emily Smith and Anna Morris worked just as hard to prevent it.
“We always have to stay tight as one unit and always have each other’s backs,” said Denae Johnson, “because the ball can go over our heads and there has to be somebody behind us to go get it and clean up the mess.”
MacLean completed the scoring when she nailed a curling direct kick from 30 yards over Foy with 10:40 left.
“We pass a lot, we get defenders out of position, and [then] we can score,” said MacLean.
Bangor ’keepers Cordelia Stewart and Vanessa Graham combined for five saves on 14 shots, while Mt. Blue’s Foy and Thia Bridges made six saves on 17 shots.
Mt. Blue’s best scoring chances came late, with 1:22 remaining in the game.
Parker booted a shot from the upper part of the penalty box that was blocked by Graham. The ball rebounded out to Eryn Doiron, but her attempt from a couple of yards out on the left side caromed off the near goalpost and Graham fell on it.