HAMPDEN, Maine — The Bangor Christian Patriots earned their fourth consecutive Class D state boys soccer title on a chilly overcast afternoon Saturday at Hampden Academy.
East champ Bangor Christian defeated West champ Greenville 1-0.
The victory extended the Patriots’ winning streak to 42 consecutive games and Saturday’s shutout of the Lakers is the 15th straight Bangor Christian has completed.
“I’m very excited and just really happy for this group of guys,” Bangor Christian coach Aaron Wilcox said. “There’s three players that have been on all four teams and I kept telling them that they have to keep their heads on their shoulders, but what they’re about to do is phenomenal.”
The Patriots haven’t trailed in a game since the 2010 state final on Nov. 6, 2010.
“These seniors have four state balls, have never lost a championship and only lost three games in four years,” said Wilcox. “It’s just amazing what they’ve been able to do, so I’m really excited for all of the guys.”
Bangor Christian is the fourth boys soccer team of any class to win four state titles in a row, and the Patriots are the first Class D boys soccer program to win four consecutive championships.
“It feels great,” senior co-captain Rem Poulin said. “Being on all four teams, it’s just a really good feeling to get all four. It doesn’t happen very often so it’s great.”
Patriots senior midfielder Ben Bragg scored the game-winning goal with 32 minutes remaining in the second half as he gathered the ball at the top of the goalkeeper’s box, turned, and fired a hard shot skimming just above the field surface to the left of Lakers goalkeeper Corey Henderson.
“I was going through the middle and Rem [Poulin] gave me a cross pass,” said Bragg. “I settled it and volleyed it into the left corner.”
Bragg’s goal provided the Patriots, who outshot Greenville 16-11, with a lead they did not relinquish.
“When we’ve moved Ben back into the midfield he’s been able to get some of those long-range shots, he has a really good foot,” said Wilcox. “Fortunately for us that worked out again today.”
Play started at a murky pace to begin the first half, and the teams locked each other up at midfield, playing a boot-and-chase style. As play progressed in the first half, Greenville applied periods of heavy pressure and carried play.
Strong defense and solid goaltending highlighted the half as the teams headed to intermission tied 0-0.
“I knew we were going to be up against it in the second half because Bangor Christian is so deep,” Greenville coach Jeffrey Richards said. “It’s always a fast-pace game on this surface and our kids love playing on the turf because it plays well to our game, but after awhile the runs wear you out.”
The Patriots established possession at the start of the second half with solid passing and tight defending. They capitalized on an opportunity less than eight minutes into the half and then defended all the way to the final horn.
“They played four or five defenders back,” said Richards. “That’s the most I think they’ve played back all season, they were playing to defend the speed.”
Greenville challenged the Patriots to the end, pressuring hard and narrowly missing on multiple opportunities to snag the game-tying goal.
The Lakers were denied a goal on a key save made by Patriots keeper Caleb Peary in the first half. Greenville sent a quick header onto the net off a corner kick and Peary reacted quickly to knock the ball away.
Greenville carries 14 players on its roster and depth became an issue for the Lakers as they pushed to even the score.
Junior midfielder Matthew DiAngelo was injured earlier in the game after colliding with a defender and missed considerable time. He re-entered and exited the game multiple times so the trainer could attend to his injury.
“Our team spent everything they had tonight, they really did” said Richards. “There were three players on the bench and one of them was injured. Matt DiAngelo is a transition player and without him in half of the game, it was tough for us to generate offense. It really made a big difference.”
Patriots goalkeeper Peary made seven saves as he earned the win. Greenville’s Corey Henderson stopped 11 shots.
“Coach told us at half to make sure we played our game and we would win,” said Poulin. “That’s what we did.”