BATH, Maine — There are times in sports where if the powers that be decided that co-champions were to be crowned after a hard battle, few would complain.
Such was the case Saturday night in the state Class D boys soccer final at McMann Field, as Western champ Richmond battled four-time defending and undefeated East titlist Bangor Christian through 80 minutes of regulation and another 30 of sudden-death overtime, deadlocked at 1-1.
Both teams had their chances, with the Patriots holding a slim 22-20 shots advantage and each squad attempting seven corner kicks.
In the end, penalty kicks decided the game, with the Patriots (19-0) winning 4-2 for a 2-1 victory and their fifth consecutive Class D title, while the Bobcats (13-3-2) had to settle for runners-up for the sixth time since 2005, three of those losses coming against Bangor Christian.
Bangor Christian is the first Maine boys soccer team to win five consecutive state titles.
“We knew that we were going to play a very good team, the No. 1 and 2 defenses in Class D, and I just hoped our experience and composure would pay off,” Bangor Christian coach Aaron Wilcox said. “There were mistakes by both teams on the goals, and both teams just kept coming.”
The game turned late in regulation. Richmond had claimed a 1-0 lead after Bangor Christian starting goaltender Bryon Boutot was whistled for handling the ball outside the penalty area with his hands. Richmond quickly set up for a direct kick, with senior Nate Tribbett’s hard shot beating the Bangor Christian wall and Boutot with 16:24 remaining in regulation.
Bangor Christian charged forward for the tie. Both teams played physical soccer, with few whistles slowing things down.
As the clock ticked down to under one minute, Patriots senior forward Jay Bishop tangled with a Bobcats defender and tumbled inside the penalty area. The referee called a foul, awarding Bangor Christian a penalty kick. Bishop calmly stepped up amid all the pressure, along with deafening silence, and beat Richmond senior goaltender Dustin Sullivan inside the left post to tie the contest with 52 seconds remaining.
“It’s just hard to see the kids work so hard and a game is decided by a call coming from the middle of the field, especially when there was a lot let go,” said Richmond coach Joe Scribellito.
Bangor Christian backup goaltender Caleb Peary, who relieved Boutot with 11 minutes remaining in regulation, made three key stops in the extra periods.
In penalty kicks, Bangor Christian’s Kyle Holmes gave the Patriots a 1-0 lead. After Sam Lorbeski missed high of the cage on his first attempt, Sullivan kept his team in it with a diving stop of Brandon Messer.
Seth Pearson and Zac Palmeter scored on Bangor Christian’s next two shots, with Cameron Emmons and Sullivan answering for Richmond.
Again, Bishop had a chance to make a difference, and his shot found the back of the net to end it and continue the Patriots’ reign in Class D boys soccer.
“I just wanted to put the shot into the back of the net,” Bishop said. “I just tried to clear my mind and put it where I wanted to put it. I knew that their goalie was good, but I made the right shot.”
Wilcox explained his goalie switch in regulation.
“The goalie I brought in from the bench started and won the state title as a sophomore,” said Wilcox of Peary, who had four saves. “As a junior, he lost the starting position but came in after an injury and won states again. We had swapped all season, and I would bring Boutot out to give us some energy in the midfield, and we did that tonight. It worked out for us.”
“This is unbelievable and hard to describe,” said Bishop after lifting his fourth gold ball along with fellow seniors Palmeter, Messer, Kyle Holmes, Ben Miller, Peary, Tucker Rice, Cody Collins, Hunter Cotton and Boutot. “This and last year’s titles [a 1-0 Bangor Christian win over Greenville] were the hardest ones to win. This year, all the way to PKs, back and forth for 120 minutes! It was a hard game to win.”