HAMPDEN, Maine — One reason the Bangor Christian boys soccer team hasn’t allowed a goal in six weeks is because its offense rarely relinquishes possession of the ball.
The pinpoint-passing Patriots were at it again Wednesday evening on the artificial surface at the Weatherbee Complex, outshooting Ashland 44-3 en route to a 6-0 victory over the Hornets that secured their fourth consecutive Eastern Maine Class D championship.
“They’re obviously a quality team,” said Ashland coach Mark Stanley. “They possess the ball as well as any Class D school and probably any Class B or C school, too. We were excited to play them, I’ve wanted to try to play them all season, but I think what they’ve done is well deserved. The better team won, they’re a fantastic team.”
Ben Bragg scored twice and Kenneth Van Dine added a goal and an assist for Bangor Christian as coach Aaron Wilcox’s club posted its 14th consecutive shutout and extended its overall winning streak to 41 matches.
“This is one of the typical games we’ve played,” said Patriots’ senior midfielder Rem Poulin. “We like to pace the ball, get as many touches as we can, get the ball up the field and keep
it on the other team’s half.”
Top-seeded Bangor Christian (17-0) will attempt to win its fourth straight state title on this same field at 3 p.m. Saturday in a rematch of the 2011 championship game against Greenville, a 3-0 winner over Pine Tree Academy of Freeport in the Western Maine final.
Bangor Christian defeated Greenville 4-2 in last year’s match.
Third-seeded Ashland, which went just 4-11 a year ago, ends this season with an 11-4-2 record.
Bangor Christian broke on top 10 minutes into the match on a goal by junior midfielder Jay
Teammate Kyle Holmes worked the ball into the left corner before sending a cross back out toward the 18-yard line in the middle of the field, where the charging Bishop gained possession in stride and rocketed a shot that hit the bottom of the crossbar and caromed down just across the goal line.
Ashland goalie J.J. Dozier had denied Bishop in the opening minutes of the game with a sprawling save on a straightaway shot from 20 yards out, then blocked an attempt on the rebound by the Patriots’ Sam Proctor at the near goal post.
Bishop, Proctor and Poulin continued to control the midfield after Bangor Christian took its early lead, but Ashland began to settle into the match midway through the first half only to be prevented from any sustained threats by a Patriots’ defense anchored by junior back Zac Palmeter and sophomore sweeper Seth Pearson.
The Patriots doubled their lead on a goal by Poulin with 4:23 left in the half. Jeremy Miller’s long throw-in from the left wing reached Van Dine in the middle of the field about 25 yards from the goal, and he tipped a pass to his left, where Poulin was waiting to line a low shot through the defense and into the net to Dozier’s right.
Van Dine nearly scored moments later when he got behind the defense with the ball, but Dozier came out from the goal crease and was able to deflect the ball away.
Bangor Christian had a 22-0 shots advantage at intermission. Dozier made 10 saves for Ashland in the first half but had to leave the game after suffering an arm injury late in the period.
The Patriots then picked up the pace after the break.
“We just thought it’s 2-0 and if we did something stupid in the box and they got a penalty kick all of a sudden it’s 2-1,” said Poulin. “We needed to get more goals and that’s what we did.”
Van Dine made it 3-0 4:41 into the second half after working a successful give-and-go with Jacob Guay while advancing the ball down the right wing. Van Dine got the return pass from Guay about 10 yards out, then eluded a defender before driving the ball past freshman goalie Tim Tarr and inside the near post.
Bragg followed with two goals in less than three minutes, the first on a low 20-yard blast from the middle of the field and the second on a similar shot that caromed off an Ashland defender and into the right side of the net to make it 5-0 with 26:20 remaining.
Junior Hunter Cotton added Bangor Christian’s final goal from amid a scramble in the crease with 14:32 remaining.
Ashland’s best scoring bid came five minutes later, a 25-yard shot from the right wing by Michael Cook that hit the bottom of the crossbar before being deflected away by BC goalie Caleb Peary.
“That’s one of our better games,” said Wilcox. “I thought we played pretty well, controlled the ball well and just really had them chasing us most of the night. We had a lot of shots, and ratio-wise it didn’t seem like we were scoring well but we put a lot more shots on goal today than we have been doing.”