May 27, 2018
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Windham tops Bangor for Class A girls soccer championship

By Ernie Clark, BDN Staff

BATH, Maine — A dominant first half lacking any quantifiable results could have left the Windham girls soccer team frustrated and vulnerable Saturday morning.

But the Eagles opted for patience and didn’t have to wait long to be rewarded.

Ciera Berthiaume’s goal 51 seconds into the second half broke a scoreless tie, propelling Windham to a 3-0 victory over Bangor in the Class A championship match at McMann Field.

“We knew we needed to keep shooting,” said Berthiaume. “but once we got one we knew they’d keep coming and they did.”

Luisa Sbardella and Jenna Soucy added late goals for the 17-0-1 Eagles, who won their first state title since winning Class B crowns in 1993 and 1994.

Bangor, playing in its fourth consecutive state final, finished 16-2.

The Eagles outshot Bangor 33-5, with goalie Kate Kneeland preserving the shutout with three saves while Bangor’s Emily Gilmore made 16 stops and freshman Maddie Hodgdon made an additional save in the final minutes.

“They’re big, they’re strong, they’re fast and they’ve got players all over the field,” said Bangor coach Joe Johnson. “I thought we had to play a perfect game and we darn near did for most of the game.”

Windham displayed a crisp short passing game and quick-strike offense from the outset, outshooting Bangor 19-2 during the first half.

But Gilmore and the Bangor defense withstood the onslaught, though Windham had several serious bids. The best came 17 minutes into the match when Soucy and Lauren Shoemaker worked a give-and-go down the right wing, with a 20-yard blast by Soucy striking where the right goal post and crossbar connect.

Moments later, Berthiaume launched a rising 25-yard bid from the left wing that a leaping Gilmore got both hands on to deflect to ball up in the air and then off the top of the crossbar.

“In the first half that was some of the best soccer we’ve played all season,” said Windham coach Deb Lebel. “They connected on passes, they kept it on the turf, they played great. Bangor had come down the other night and watched us play (in the Western Maine final) and he had a few more defenders back there, which makes it really tough to score.

So even though we were playing some of our best soccer it’s tough to get it through four or five defenders.”

Windham needed just one shot to break through after intermission, as Berthiaume gained control of a long, high ball into the offensive zone, then dribbled toward the center of the field before lofting a lengthy shot over Gilmore’s outstretched arms and under the center of the crossbar.

“We talked at halftime about pushing it up and then release and have somebody score from the midfield,” said Lebel.

Berthiaume injured her left ankle with 15 minutes remaining, but her substitute made an immediate impact.

Soucy took a shot from the right wing that both Gilmore and a defender challenged, but neither gained complete control and Sbardella — in the match for barely two minutes — gained control to the left of the goal, spun and sent into the lower left corner of the net with 12:39 to play.

Soucy scored moments later, gaining possession in the middle of the field just outside the penalty area, dribbling past two defenders and left-footing a shot to Gilmore’s left with 10:11 left.

Bangor’s best bid of the final half came on a header by Anna-Marie Dagher off a corner kick with eight minutes left that sailed over the crossbar.

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