BANGOR, Maine — The Bangor High School boys soccer team could have become victims of competitive disappointment after having an early two-goal lead disappear during its season opener late Monday afternoon.
But instead the Rams shook off that turn of events and merely kept working — work that paid off in overtime when sophomore striker Eli Clein scored on an assist from Nate Bach to give Bangor a 3-2 victory over Messalonskee of Oakland.
Bach worked the ball through the Messalonskee defense to the right of the net before slipping a pass to his left to Clein, who quickly grounded a shot past Eagles’ goalie Jacob Smith and inside the far goalpost to end the match with 1:41 left in the first extra period.
“I was just watching Nate go down the line and trying to get open to get the pass so I could put it into the net,” said Clein.
Bach, a junior who had staked Bangor to a 2-0 lead with a pair of first-half goals, drew the attention of two defenders before stepping between them and locating his teammate for the game-winner.
“I was looking for something to do with the ball and I saw an opening between the two of the them and I just tried to muscle myself through,” said Bach. “I forgot how the ball got through to Eli but I’m happy it did.”
The start of the match was moved up an hour because there was no electricity to operate the lights and scoreboard at the Bangor field. But the Rams used a mix of veterans and younger players to generate some early energy of their own, with four seniors, three juniors, three sophomores and a freshman in the Bangor lineup.
“We have a lot of young players,” said Bangor coach Dave Patterson, “and they may be young in years but they’ve played soccer for a long time and they’ve got a lot of experience and they’re talented. They really complement the older players, that’s a good mix out there.”
Two of those younger players, sophomore transfer Andrew Barrowman and freshman Carson Atherly, helped set up Bach’s two first-half goals against Messalonskee starting keeper Jonah Webb.
Bach took a pass from Barrowman, made one touch and scored with a shot to the right corner of the net to give the Rams a quick 1-0 lead, then later in the period scored again on an assist from Atherly.
“Carson played me the ball and I went down the line,” said Bach. “I stayed on the line and I think I got lucky when it went by the keeper.”
But Messalonskee adjusted, switching goalies and changing formations, and the Eagles closed within 2-1 on the first of Quinn Warren’s two goals later in the period.
Messalonskee nearly tied the match at the end of the half when freshman Brandon Nale gained possession in front of an open Bangor goal and flicked the ball toward the net with the outside of his right foot — only for it to trickle across the goal line just after the official had counted down the final second of the period.
Both teams managed several scoring bids during the second half, but it was Messalonskee that finally cashed in as Warren headed a cross from the left corner by Nale just inside the far post to tie the match with 7:58 left in regulation.
“We started the game fairly well and we possessed the ball well,” said Patterson. “But there was something that just didn’t quite click for us today the way it’s been going in preseason. But it’s the first game and we’re going to work hard at it and we’re going to get better.”
But with Messalonskee continuing to dedicate more players to the offensive end, Bangor finally was able to capitalize with a countering offensive foray that produced a sudden victory.
“I think we kind of keyed in that maybe we could be aggressive with their backs and cause some chaos,” said Messalonskee coach Tom Sheridan, whose team fell to 0-2 this season. “When we changed our formation we just kept on sending more people forward and putting pressure on their backs.
“It’s a high-risk, high-reward thing that may have cost us at the end because we pushed a lot of guys forward and didn’t get back in time and support.”